Month: July 2019

Spotlight on World Medicine Translators

Emma Vaughan, one of our Trustees and a volunteer in Chaparda, reflects on working with translators:

Our work in India would not be possible without the skill, dedication and patience of our amazing translators. They form an integral part of the team and enable communication between patients and practitioners in a highly skilled and sensitive manner.

We ask them to offer literal translations rather than summarising conversations in order for our practitioners to develop a greater sense of what is really going on, and, most importantly so that they can identify what the patients’ needs are. This unique 3-way rapport can provide surprisingly rich, moving and sometimes humorous encounters.

Our current Gujarat speaking team of volunteer translators are fabulous, bringing a sense of compassion and integrity to their work that has been invaluable. They come with a great deal of goodwill, committing a lot of time at their own expense and have maintained strong, personal investment in the work of World Medicine.

Batul and Najma are two of our volunteer translators:

Batul describes her experience:

I thoroughly enjoy being a translator and part of the World Medicine team. It is a very rewarding experience and one that has seen me about to return for my third time in January 2020.

It feels good to be part of a project where you can witness on a daily basis the positive impact on patients’ lives.

On our last trip, Barbara and I saw a young man, a diamond polisher who attended the clinic with multiple problems that had resulted in very poor mobility. His medical history was complex resulting in many visits to hospitals, different specialists and complementary therapists. He was feeling desperate and was doing everything he could do help himself – including walking on cow dung! Over his course of acupuncture with Barbara, we observed gradual improvements in his mobility and more importantly he himself started to feel the change. It was fantastic to see, and also to be part of a process that brings positive changes to people’s lives. I definitely appreciate the contribution the whole team make to the people living around Chaparda who have no access to this type of health care. To provide the service at no cost to the patients is even more amazing!

Najma, another seasoned translator and also a trustee for World Medicine reflects on the collaboration of the team:

I see my role of translator as a bridge between patients and practitioners. By feeding back to the practitioner the content of the patients’ story and what had bought them to the clinic we are able to begin a course of treatment, tailored to the patient’s problems and subsequent progress.

There have been times when it feels emotionally challenging, relaying these personal stories to the practitioner as often their issues reflect the harsh reality of living in isolated, rural communities. However, there are often lighter, funny and touching moments too. I was once very impressed when a patient very eloquently asked me “if the “doctor” could reduce the tyre around her waist!”….a familiar wish that many of us are conscious of these days!

It is easy for these nuances to be lost in translation but I believe that the team works effectively and efficiently so that every patients experience with World Medicine is a positive and worthwhile one. 

Of all the work I have done in my life, I can honestly say that my work as a translator in this setting has been both the most rewarding and the most enjoyable. 

Although our current projects are based in the UK and India, we are keen to build a database of volunteers who speak a second or indeed several languages who may like to consider working with us in the future.

Please get in touch if you are interested in working with us! We absolutely need you!

Reflecting On My Volunteering Experience

Sally Connelly; new graduate volunteer

When I initially applied to be considered to join World Medicine on their 2019 trip, I had not yet graduated, nor ever been to India, so both of these possibilities seemed somewhat abstract and very far off events! By the time I set off for Gujurat, I had been in my own practice for just 6 months and was treating an average of 10-15 patients each week, sometimes less, sometimes more.

World medicine occupied two wards within Jayambe Hospital in Chaparda, creating a men’s clinic and a women’s clinic. I was working within the women’s clinic. On my first day, as I turned the corner towards our allocated wards, I was greeted with a long queue of patients who were waiting for treatment with us. Some had been sleeping on the cold floor all night in order to be seen. Many had traveled from far off villages, setting off from home in the early hours.

I was eased in gently to the work and only expected to start treating when I felt ready, but I was really keen to get started and on my first day I treated 11 patients. There was a real sense of being new again, and I was taken back to my first day in student clinic when I suddenly felt like everything I ever thought I knew had abandoned me. Like a rabbit in the headlights, I felt as though I knew nothing.  But, and this is one of the many valuable lessons I learned during my time in Chaparda, I did! The knowledge was there, I just had to trust myself and dive in.

I kept my treatment plans simple and treated what I saw, I wasn’t too adventurous with my point choices to begin with.  With the help of the incredible translators I was able to establish their primary concern and take it from there. The primary issues people sought help for were very often musculoskeletal and each patient was asked to commit to at least 3 sessions.

By the end of the first week I was giving around 25 treatments a day, and had built a rapport with the returning patients. As a new practitioner it was really exciting and rewarding to see the improvements and changes in returning patients, and to witness how transformative intensive treatment can be. Many of the locals who sought treatment earned their livelihoods through physically demanding work, so enabling them to continue this with less pain and hindrance was a privilege. The days were long and tiring, but always ended with a delicious chai tea, incredible food and good humour.

My time volunteering with World Medicine so early on in my professional career has been an absolute gift. The intensity of work allowed me to cement my newly acquired abilities, to trust my instinct and to hone my diagnostic skills. I have made lifelong friends and mentors, whose depth of knowledge and experience has been shared with generosity and humility. I have seen first hand what an incredibly effective and adaptable form of medicine acupuncture can be, and have returned to my own practice with a renewed sense of confidence and purpose.