Graduates Welcome!

For the past few years World Medicine has had an active policy of encouraging new graduates to apply for a volunteer post in our yearly Chaparda project. Although it may seem like a stressful idea to emerge yourself in a demanding multi bed clinic with a big daily caseload, there is something of the “baptism of fire” approach that has proved very successful and rewarding for our past graduates. There are few environments early in clinical practice that will provide the breadth and scope of experience that Chaparda affords. Our graduates will work either in the ladies or men’s clinic alongside 2 experienced practitioners. Generally, we would pair a graduate and practitioner for the first couple of consultations and treatments to ease into the pace and style of treatment and then we encourage them to begin their own work, under a nurturing eye!

The good thing about the setting is that no one is isolated, which means that if anyone is a bit anxious or struggling to establish a treatment strategy there is always someone to cast a quick eye and make a suggestion. We trust our graduates and they never fail to amaze us with their capacity to get stuck in and become valuable members of the team. Learning is always a 2 way dynamic and whilst we hope to model good practice for our graduates we are always up for learning from them too! One of the important things to remember is that multi bed treatments will always be different to the treatments that would be provided in a private, one to one session. The emphasis is on extracting the key information from our patients and providing a targeted treatment that best matches their need.

Because our patients return up to 6 times there is an opportunity to refine treatments, or add an adjunct such as cupping, moxa etc. Not everything needs to be done on that initial treatment! There is no denying that the clinics are very hard work. We put in a full day Monday to Friday and a half day Saturday. We definitely are looking for our graduates to be robust, flexible and grounded! The trade off is that we also have a lot of fun, our teams the last few years have been picked to encourage a sense of team stability and cohesion, and for sure the welfare of our graduates is extremely important to us.

Sally, Gary, Marta and Catherine, some of our more recent graduates have written blogs that can be found on the website that give a fuller flavour to the graduate experience.They are all thriving in their own practices now but am sure each of them would tell you that they absolutely loved their time in Chaparda with us, remaining very much part of our World Medicine family.

So, if you feel INSPIRED, up for a CHALLENGE and can spare 3 weeks to VOLUNTEER and are about to graduate ( or have very recently graduated) please do get in touch with us to request an application form. We generally interview over the summer with a view to travel in January of each year. (self funded*)

This year there will be an opportunity to volunteer with a more local project based in London, so if the idea of India is rather overwhelming but you would like to still be involved with World Medicine, than please do still get in touch. We definitely would love to hear from you!

*Every volunteer with World Medicine needs to be able to self fund their travel costs to and from India. Accommodation and meals ( and fabulous vegetarian meals they are too) are provided at no additional cost. We strongly support fundraising efforts to pay for your costs and every year engage the team in various activities in order to help you achieve this.


Local Sustainability

Blog post by Emma Vaughan, Trustee of World Medicine

The struggles of introducing local sustainability into our work in India.

35258766-645e-4967-bc2c-1af0452f43a3For anyone reading our blogs about World Medicine’s long term project in Chaparda, India, they will certainly get a flavour of the enormous popularity of this project. This is true for our hosts, the community we serve and the volunteers that commit their time and energy to it. There is a special energy and palpable buzz during our time there and over the years we have built up close relationships with the staff at the ashram and Jay Ambe hospital where we run our clinic.

Every year we have local staff that assist us for the duration of our work there… this may be clerical staff who book patients in and organise the waiting area, physiotherapists who come to assist in the clinic and more recently student nurses who we train to help us with specific treatments, such as cupping or moxabustion therapy. We see their input as enormously valuable to both us and to themselves. We try to model good practice in clinical care but also to demonstrate that empathy and respect should be part of the work when treating patients. Last year particularly we were able to see our local students gain confidence in their skills and witnessed their growing commitment to good patient care.

028This is incredibly important to us as a charity since we are mindful about our wider aims when delivering a complex project such as our Chaparda one. In the past, previous teams had explored ways of trying to encourage a self sustaining dimension to the project. We had been hopeful that by training local staff to use a microsystem, namely Auricular acupuncture, that they could continue to run a meaningful service for the community in between our visits. This was an ambitious target especially as acupuncture as a profession is rightly regulated to a high professional standard. ( we are self regulated within our professional body which requires adherence to a robust code of ethics and practice, professional accountability and a requirement for continuing education) This made it complex when considering safety and supervision in our absence. However, the other big issue that is a real block to local sustainability is migration of local staff. We find, that with exception of a few staff, many of the hospital staff do not have long term posts. Younger female staff often leave the area after marriage and other staff leave for opportunities in the cities. It is always lovely to see familiar faces but we also have to accept that sometimes we will only work with staff for one visit.055

I believe the future of our work in Chaparda is very much on a firm footing. The communities surrounding the hospital are familiar with our work now and we do see returning patients to our clinics which is also wonderful. We always remain open to ideas that will make the project more expansive and inclusive.. it’s important that we continue to build strong relationships there that support opportunities for local staff to develop their own skills and knowledge, so that wherever they end up working they take a sense of professional pride with them which we hope they achieve during their time working with us. We certainly value them!


A Spring in your step …

Yes, we are walking again.  Our eagle-eyed observers have commented that most of our fundraising involves walking, and there is a reason for this: its accessible to so many people.  The essence being that it doesn’t have to be an arduous marathon slog over swampy terrain in rubbish weather – all you have to do is step outside your door and put one foot in front of the other.  How easy is that?

Of course, you might want to check the weather forecast and put on some sturdy shoes – but its all about getting out into the fresh air.  Maybe your luck will be in and you glimpse a bit of early Spring sunshine, robins scrapping in flower beds, sparrows twittering in hedgerows.  Snowdrops are out there nodding their heads waiting for the first bees to venture out of their hives ……………..  and we too should venture out, breathe deeply, sun on face – and take the first step of many.

I’m fed up with talking about lockdown, the challenges and restrictions; you know them all as well as me, so I’m not going to. I am going to tell you about a brilliant challenge being created by WM that is accessible to everyone!  It’s a virtual journey from our HQ in York to the Jay Ambe hospital in Chaparda, Gujarat, where we run our annual acupuncture clinic. That’s almost 6000 miles!  Before you say “I couldn’t possibly walk that far” – well, of course you couldn’t – by yourself: but this is all about contributing to a team effort, so however many, or few, steps you take could all add up to getting to India in time for the next clinic in January 2022.

Your personal goals have a part to play here – its about getting out for a walk regularly, making it a habit and reaping the rewards of better health, having a (distanced) chat to neighbours and feeling your mood rise.

So, watch this space – details coming soon and perhaps you could raise some small amount to help our fundraising.  All money raised will be used to support World Medicine projects, and not exclusively Chaparda.

I hope you will feel inspired to join us, its going to be amazing!  Let’s do this!


Emma on 2021

Hello everyone!

Although we have been very quiet over recent months, much has been going on behind the scenes as it were! Firstly, we hope that all our friends at World Medicine are safe and well. 2020 was a very difficult year and so far 2021 continues to be challenging. We were unable to continue any of our projects due to COVID restrictions and so both the work at Grenfell and Chaparda were put on hold. Many members of our previous Chaparda team keenly felt the loss of being in India this year and so we were delighted that Barbara has managed to maintain regular contact with Babubhai at the hospital and have been reassured that the pandemic has not overwhelmed the community there. We intend to return in 2022 but will be cautiously planning for a few months to come before we make a final decision. We also have another exciting London based project in the pipeline which will be announced in due course.

This brings me onto FUNDRAISING! On Easter Day we are going to launch our CHAPARDA challenge fundraiser. Our intention is to walk, swim or cycle the entire length of the journey from our HQ in York to the Jay Ambe hospital in Chaparda. We aim to complete the challenge virtually, logging our journey onto an online platform which will help us map the journey ! Please don’t be put off if you think this sounds complex. Barbara, Dave, Jude and Emma walked a virtual West Highland way last week to road test the system with our IT support Chris supporting us ( literally) every step of the way. It is very straightforward! We will be looking for folk to sign up to our teams at a cost of £12 per person. This will cover everyone’s admin and registration cost etc. We will then link you to a fundraising platform in the hope that your friends and family might donate a little money to spur you on to help us complete our truly epic journey! More detailed information will follow but in the meantime if you or anyone you know are interested in taking part please contact emma@ world medicine.com and I will add you on to our fundraising what’s app group for easy access to information and support. All money raised will be used to support all World Medicine projects and not exclusively Chaparda.

We hope you feel inspired to join us, it’s going to be amazing.. !!!!

Let’s make 2021 a fabulous year of getting fit, being outside as much as possible and RAISING money for World Medicine!!

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Gujarati cuisine? Yes please!

A tribute to Sangeeta, our magical cook in Chaparda – by Marta Koszo, Chaparda volunteer 2020

My first encounter with vegetarian Indian cuisine was back in the ‘90s when as a teenager I came across some devotees of the Krishna Consciousness Movement. It was love at first sight. I was blown away by the richness of flavours, combinations of dishes, variety of spices, many of which I have never heard before. That love got even stronger when I travelled through India for a month back in 2007. Ever since, blending spices has been the essential part of my cooking. Even if the dish is not necessarily Indian, it would still have a hint of Indian flavours.

When I got selected to be a member of the 2020 team of acupuncturists to volunteer in Chaparda, I was over the moon! It really meant a lot to me to be able to help and provide care for people from disadvantageous communities. A small part of me was also super excited to go back to India and enjoy the flavours of my favourite cuisine. I’ve been told by some of the team members who have been there in previous years that the food prepared in the ashram is divine. I just couldn’t wait to taste it!

Gujarat is a dry state and predominantly vegetarian but there are also communities which incorporate non-vegetarian food in their platter. The ashram in Chaparda, the village where we stayed during our project, prepares strictly vegetarian food. The property spreads across a large estate with several facilities such as two guest house buildings, dormitories for college boys, elderly homes, a home for children with partial or total visual impairment a small temple etc. There is a large stable with cows producing enough milk for the entire ashram, acres of land where crops, fruit and vegetable are grown- all organic!

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Our breakfast was seemingly simple but lush with fresh fruit from their farm such as papaya, bananas, guava, medlar, and freshly baked roltli (type of flatbread). We would also often get caramelized peanuts for dessert or sweet balls made of dates which we would wrap up and take with us to the hospital to enjoy during our short tea breaks. Walking back from the hospital, either for lunch break or at the end of our working day, we would all wonder with excitement what Sangeeta had prepared for us. And we would be in for a treat every single time! Our lunch and supper were always cooked and comprised of rice, dal, fresh home made yogurt from the cows farmed on the estate, 3-4 different vegetable dishes (shaak or curry), a fresh salad, papadoms and rotli and ladu-sweets. The dishes would be served in a buffet style and we would carefully put two-three spoonful of each so as to be able to try them all. The abundance of taste and the mixture of spices would just explode in our mouth making every mouthful such a joy! Even if some of the dishes were spicy, we always had the homemade yogurt to extinguish the hotness of spices.

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During our first week in Chaparda on one of our lunch breaks, a cook came out of the kitchen and started serving something orangey that looked like a pumpkin potage from a distance. Then someone said “Oh, it’s mango purée, it’s delicious!” Well, I never heard of mango purée before but having tasted all the food so far, I knew it had to be nothing but delicious and I was so right! This delight in a bowl is one of the best things I have ever tasted and it has made it to the top of list of my favourites! Made out of their organic mangoes, so sweet, creamy and cooling, I was in culinary heaven. Gujaratis eat it with a bit of powdered ginger sprinkled over it and it gives the purée a little kick in taste and helps to digest it. Sadly, we couldn’t have it as a regular dish but on those few occasions we did, it was everyone’s highlight of the day, food wise.

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The second most memorable meal treat was a special dinner when Sangeeta and her little army of cooks made a South-Indian pancake- dosa feast for us. That experience was literally out of this world! Served fresh and hot off the pan, crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, filled with a vegetable mix and couple of cool chutneys on the side, she took us all again on a heavenly culinary journey. That was one of those moments that made you think “why do we have a limited stomach capacity” because we just simply couldn’t get enough of them!

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Sangeeta is a wonderful woman who would always greeted us with a smile, always positive and always very determined to fill us up with food! A few minutes after we would help our selves from the buffet, she would waltz out of the kitchen in her beautiful sari and take the big dishes from the buffet and start making rounds from one table to the other and try to sneak in on our plates another spoonful of curry, salad, a piece of rotli or some sweets. As you can imagine, I was among those who usually couldn’t say no to her cheeky smile and swift hands. Often she would just slide a piece or a spoon of something without us noticing it at all.

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I wholeheartedly appreciate her cookery skills because she would make at least one new dish for us every day. Her creativity in combining ingredients in not just one delicious dish but 6-7 different ones every day twice a day is worth every admiration and respect and I’m sure our whole team would agree Sangeeta is a 5 star cook! She definitely made our stay in Chaparda even more memorable!

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Blog Post by Catherine Watkins, Chaparda 2020 Volunteer

I have travelled to India a few times before my time with World Medicine in Chaparda and thought I remembered it well, however when we left the airport at sunrise I realised I had completely forgotten about the bombardment of sights and sounds on your senses!! India is like no other, an organised chaos seemingly disorganised to the newcomer!  Bet as you let go of where you have just come from and ride with it, the charm of India takes you under her wing and guides you along…with many laughs along the way.

1This was my first time volunteering with World Medicine; we were based in an ashram in Chaparda, a small village a million worlds away from the noise of the cities from where we had just come.  Here, you are immersed with sounds of the birds, insects, children playing, and women in the ashram clapping and singing.  It is so peaceful.  The grounds are full of organic fruit and veg and a family of dogs roam happily free with a stunning sunrise and sunset.


I recall thinking how modern the hospital was that we were to be working from, after a day setting up the clinic, selecting our own treatment area within the multi-bed set up, we were ready for clinic to begin.


We quickly form a daily routine, with early breakfast, morning clinic, delicious lunch, afternoon clinic, delicious evening meal, chatter and rest.


It was refreshing after the cold winter and busy festive period to be in such beautiful, peaceful surroundings practicing acupuncture 5 days per week with such a high turn over of patients and a great team.  We could gauge how busy our day ahead might be by firstly the number of shoes lined up at the hospital entrance and secondly the number of people sat on the mats awaiting our arrival up on the first floor of the building.  I must admit I succumbed to the wearing of socks and flip flips…those mornings could get so cold!


I was based in the women’s clinic; the majority of the women we saw worked hard in the farms and sought help for various musculo-skeletal problems associated with that type of work (predominantly back, knees, shoulder injuries).  There were also many women with varying degrees of numb extremities, pins and needles and digestive complaints such as indigestion and constipation.  I was surprised at how many of the patients were yang deficient (aka very cold!) but I soon realised that they walked around in cold wet socks all day, heat lamps and moxa were loved by these women.

Each patient was given access to 6 free treatments and it was fantastic over those sessions to witness the cumulative effect of the acupuncture treatment.  With the help of our fabulous translators, many of the women used percentages to express how much better they felt, however the most encouraging information was when we would discuss what they could do now compared with what they couldn’t do previously.

I would hear such encouraging accounts from them….

“I can now sit and eat on the floor with my family, rather than on a chair on the outside”

 “I can sleep on the mattress on the floor…I used to have to sleep upright on the chair”

 “I went for a walk yesterday so I could tell you how much it hurt, but it didn’t hurt at all!! I don’t remember when I was last able to walk pain free for 2km”  I recall this lady holding my hands tightly as she started to cry with appreciation.

“My hot flushes have completely gone!”

 “I have had a headache constantly for 2 years, no tests could diagnose why and no medication could help, my head has been pain free for 5 days, I can sleep again”  Over the 6 treatments this young woman greatly improved and gradually the number of pain free days increased.   When the pain returned it was at such a low level that no longer affected her quality of life, her face looked much more relaxed and she smiled again.  I would have loved to have been able to treat her for longer to see what further improvements could be achieved.  I sincerely hope they are able return again on the next visit for further treatment.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this experience was truly humbling and to have the opportunity to be immersed in nothing but Chinese Medicine during our time in Chaparda really highlighted how powerful the practice of acupuncture can be.  The three weeks we were there went so quickly and as well as feeling humbled, it was a whole heap of fun too.

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Returning to Chaparda

Blog Post by Sally Connelly, Chaparda 2020 Volunteer

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At beginning of 2020 I was fortunate enough to embark on my second trip with World Medicine, to Chaparda in Gujurat, India. This year, fully versed in what to expect in terms of accommodation, food and clinic life I was far less trepidatious and was able to enjoy the excitement. I also knew to pack a 12 cup cafetiere and copious packets of coffee. Oh, and lots of chocolate.

The adventure began immediately on arrival at Ahmedabad airport, with a mad dash to catch our train to Rajkot. Those who have travelled by rail in India know it isn’t for the faint hearted, the crowds, the chaos, the sights, sounds and smells were all overwhelming. Coupled with 2 suitcases a piece and a hefty does of jetleg we stood out a mile. After waking the entire carriage on our sleeper train we finally managed to find somewhere to sit and were on our way once more.

The peace and tranquillity of the Ashram awaited with open arms, and arriving there felt just as welcoming as the first time I stayed. There is something really special about this place, the people, their hospitality, the food! The view from my room is now a screen saver on my phone, drinking my morning coffee everyday with my fellow acupuncturists with the sun peaking over the horizon is something I will never forget. After a days rest we were ready to open our clinic up to help the local population with a wide variety of ailments. Let the hard work commence!

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The challenges faced by the patients we were helping were very different to those of the people we work with at home, the access to healthcare, the physical work expectations and poverty all contribute in ways we don’t experience in the west. As an acupuncturist it’s a such a great opportunity to witness just how much the medicine that we practice can achieve, with one patient that we treated particularly highlighting this.  A gentleman in his early 50’s attended the clinic, his chief complaint being severe dizziness on lying down, so severely that he was unable to sleep at night. He had been blind for around 15 years after an unsuccessful cataract operation. He returned to the clinic after his first treatment to report that his dizziness had gone, he was understandably ecstatic as it had impacted his quality of life so much. Galvanised by the success of his first experience of acupuncture, he asked the translator if we could help to bring his eyesight back. A heartbreaking request. We explained that this was highly unlikely, but that we would continue to treat him with the focus being on eye health. We administered points Bl 1, St1, GB1, GB37 & Liv3 to treat the eyes, and He7 and yintang to calm the mind. He was instructed to return the day after next.

Return he did, and with much excited chatter the translator finally reported (having checked 4 times to be sure he could believe what he was hearing) that the patient had experienced some improvement in his sight and was now able to make out his hand in front of his face (lots of visual demonstrations and hand waving at this point!). After 6 sessions he was able to differentiate light from dark and see blurred shapes moving towards him. This enabled him to grow in confidence and gain a small amount of independence, his spirit was well and truly lifted too. We were moved to tears at this point and it was a true reminder of how incredible acupuncture is. This is just one of the remarkable changes we were able to facilitate in Chaparda for the people who live and work there and each and every patient was a privilege to help.

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My second year working with World Medicine was just as humbling, inspiring and life changing as the first, a reminder of how lucky I am to do what I do, and how important it is to put energy into helping others. Thank you World Medicine for having me along, and thank you to my fellow travellers, acupuncturists and translators.


3 for 2!  The 2020 trip to Chaparda

3 for 2!  The 2020 trip to Chaparda, Gujarat,  13th January to 31st January, and onwards ……

Blog Post by Barbara Robinson

Our hosts in Chaparda have always encouraged the WM team to go more frequently, double up the camps, treat more people. To have a longer camp of 3 weeks was the logical step to find out a) if we could manage the demand, b) if we could form a team happy to leave UK for 3 weeks and c) if team members were able to work at the Chaparda pace without burnout, illness or getting on each other’s nerves!

The enthusiasm and energy of everyone working as a cohesive team, right from the off, was heart-warming.  Queues of patients waited for us when we arrived, and the first were through the clinic doors by 8.30am Monday 13th Jan.  In the 3 weeks we were there, 6 practitioners delivered 1907 treatments to 573 patients – an amazing number, made possible by the help of our wonderful translators and local staff who, after training, also moxa’d, massaged and removed needles.

As previous years, we found that 80%+ of patients suffered from pain and musculo-skeletal conditions.  Most of our patients live in nearby villages and either have physical work on the land or labour-intensive jobs, so that is not so surprising, but we were struck this year by the number of patients presenting with pain after surgery.
The remaining 20% suffer with migraines, hypertension, diabetes, kidney stones, gynae problems, auto immune disorders, and various digestive problems.  It is a low risk area for malaria, but patients can present with sequelae of other mosquito borne viral diseases, such as chikungunya and dengue fever, and may be affected for many years.


The 2020 team
Back row: Sally, Zehra, Catherine. 
Front row: Kuman, Najma, Marta, Jude, Satish, Barbara, Batul, Sheela, Emma. 
(Not pictured: Pushpa)

This was my 6th Chaparda visit and previous camps had all been 2 week duration, but the 3 week trial was very much a success: we saw more patients pro-rata but with less stress and a sense that events and patient numbers could be anticipated and managed more easily knowing that we had the extra week.

The camps take place over three weeks starting on Monday morning week 1, and ending Friday afternoon week 3. Additionally, 2 days travelling each end need to be factored in.  The clinics are closed Saturday afternoon and all Sunday, and a further afternoon off is taken by each volunteer during the second week.  All acupuncturists have slightly different work rates, some patients may present with more challenging problems and those unused to multibed may take a little while to ‘get into the zone’! However, we find that a general work rate of 21 – 25 patients a day, per practitioner, can be achieved while still maintaining enthusiasm and energy.

New Graduates

Up to 2018, volunteers were required to have solid experience backing up their skills and training – however, for the 2019 trip the trustees decided to create an opportunity for newly qualified acupuncturists to join the team.  We felt that the core of ‘old hands’ could provide solid mentoring and support to new graduates with a view to widening their experience of volunteering and working in a multibed setting. Sally Connelly and Gary Carvil joining the team was such an outstanding success in 2019 that we continued the idea and Catherine Watkins and Marta Koszo joined the team for 2020.  Indeed, Catherine was so new she missed her graduation day – but we had an impromptu celebration anyway!


If you are an acupuncturist or Gujarati speaker reading this and considering volunteering, please do not be put off by the 3 weeks – it can be hard work, you will need to be resilient – and reflective at times – but it’s also good fun resulting in hundreds of appreciative patients, a feeling of satisfaction and enduring friendships.

While we remain committed to the Chaparda Camp project, the current virus pandemic has caused us to rethink the timing and logistics of the next camp.  There is much media talk of ‘second spikes’ and ‘winter spikes’ and World Medicine is mindful that there should be no increased risk either to our team or our hosts. Before any final decision is made the trustees have a number of considerations in light of this unpredictable virus, not least the ability of WM to form a team and travel, and the impact on our friends at Chaparda and their ability to receive us.

We will be delaying a decision until late summer; however, the most likely scenario will be to postpone the January 2021 trip until at least November 2021.  More of this over the next few months.

Barbara x

Trustee and TL 2020


It is not all work!  Travelling to next village for shopping expedition!


Lochgilphead to Chaparda

Emma Vaughan, Chaparda volunteer and World Medicine Trustee, describes her journey…

I live and practice Chinese Medicine on the west coast of Scotland. Ordinarily, I would say I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, unscarred by development and with a perfect combination of remoteness and community. However.. when it comes to travel the journey even from where I live to Glasgow can be fraught with difficulties and can involve 60 mile detours when we experience landslides through the hilly pass known as “ the rest and be thankful “, sometimes unexpected ferry journeys and often shocking weather conditions making driving extremely challenging.

So I wanted to describe this years journey to Chaparda to give a flavour of a different aspect of our time.

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On Tuesday the 7th of January a friend dropped me off with my cases at the bus stop in Lochgilphead. The journey takes 2.5 hours to Glasgow and it poured with rain the whole way. I feel excited but also vaguely sick. ( I am a notoriously bad traveler) To help with the nausea I eat crisps and chocolate. I feel more sick naturally.

Once in Glasgow, I have a 40 minute window before my train to Oxenholme in the Lake District, so I rush to Debenhams with my cases and get my eyebrows threaded… a travel essential. I am excited with my eyebrows ( I’m extremely vain sadly!) and lug the cases through the rain to central station.. where I find my train has been cancelled.. no driver apparently! I immediately text Barbara ( team leader and great friend) to share my panic and then Jude who I am staying with in Sedburgh. I am directed to another train pretty quickly however and am soon on my way on a 2 hour journey to. Oxenholme.


Jude , my wonderful friend and world medicine colleague comes to collect me from station along with her husband and dog. We immediately compare baggage, stress about weight allowance and pick each other’s bags up to decide if the stress is warranted! It is! They feel very heavy but we are sure we can manage. We have 3 bags each. One large case, 1 smaller cabin size case and a small passport etc size bag. I stay the night with a Jude, and then lunchtime on Wednesday, Hugh drops us back off at Oxenholme to catch the train to London. It’s my son’s birthday and I ring to chat to him and feel a little homesick before I have even left the country! Jude and I have journeyed to India together 3 times now and each time we feel stressed and excited in equal measure. We have developed small rituals now.. almond cookies and a cup of tea on the train to London marks the start of the journey..and a travel sickness tablet for me! We then both rummage in bags for things we think we have forgotten and generally find them. It’s comforting!

In London we wait at Euston about 20 minutes for Barbara who is arriving in on a different train. We soon see her huffing up the concourse, pulling two ominously large bags with her.. so far so good. We are a team of three!

We jump in an Uber with all our bags and head across London to a Heathrow hotel. We have a minor hiccup with our room booking, but once sorted we dump our bags and head to the bar ( no indecent haste, rest assured)!

The following morning ( Thursday 9th January) we are up early ready to meet the rest of the team at terminal 5. One by one we find each other, Sally, Marta, Catherine and Satish. It feels so wonderful and we are all full of beans and full of chat. We have a few more issues…. Sally exploiting the luggage allowance!!! Catherine’s travel jumpsuit! ( don’t ask!)

The acupuncture team 2020!
The acupuncture team 2020!

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Our flight leaves for Ahmedabad on time but we have an extra 90 minutes of flight time as the plane was rerouted for political and safety reasons, giving us a 10.5 hour flight. I feel a little anxious about this as we have a train to catch from Ahmedabad to Rajkot and I know we will now be cutting it fine. Immigration clearance at Ahmedabad is a nightmare, long queues adding to the stress. Eventually, we emerge and secure a couple of taxis to the train station. We know we will be lucky if we catch the train!

It’s a wild ride in the taxi but we all feel we have arrived! Who doesn’t love an Indian taxi journey? We pile out at the station, a fairly shambolic group and race ( no exaggeration) towards the platform that says our train is at. We have a 5 minute window. We literally run with our bags, hurtle downstairs and find…. we are on the wrong platform. Out of nowhere 6 coolies arrive, pile our bags on their heads and instruct us to “ run” as they set off at an unbelievable pace to the correct platform. We hand over the rupees and jump on the train that our bags have been dumped on. The train is heading for Rajkot! We are now starting to feel exhausted, it is about 5am and we have a 4 hour journey ahead of us. The train conductor then informs us that only 1 of us has a confirmed booking and there are not bunks for everyone. Our fellow passengers were sleeping which we don’t quite grasp and manage to waken the entire carriage with the rumpus that ensues! Surprisingly several of them take pity on us however and make space until eventually we get a little cabin for the 6 of us. At this point we had lost Satish at the train station in Ahmedabad!! ( He found his way to Chaparda, don’t worry)

When we arrive in Rajkot we negotiate two tuk tuk drivers to take us to our overnight hotel. This process is rather chaotic as we have attracted a circle of onlookers and drivers offering to take us to our hotel, and demonstrating how 6 passengers, 12 pieces of baggage can fit into two tuk tuks! This journey marked my undoing! I have been on many tuk tuk journeys and this one was not exceptional. Fast, bumpy, thrilling! We get to the hotel remarkably with all our luggage intact and are shown to our lovely rooms. Jude and I shared, but within 5 minutes I am profoundly sick and need to lie down. Things settle quickly and after a wee sleep I feel much better. Jude and I have a cup of tea on our balcony and relish those first few hours of being in India.

We have a really nice dinner all together and then head to various beds ready for the last leg of the journey in the morning !

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We are collected from Rajkot by car and our driver Jay makes easy work of the 3 hour journey to Chaparda. We are all excited to be reunited with the rest of our team and the Ashram staff. We arrive Saturday lunchtime…. it’s been quite a journey, but one I feel privileged to make and hope that I will make it many more times yet!

So that’s my journey, home to chaparda!


Fundraising Teamwork

In this blog Marta Koszo describes how she raised funds to support what will be her first visit to Chaparda.

I first learned about World Medicine and the Chaparda project during my second year of acupuncture studies when I attended the ACMAC conference in 2016.

I was amazed at the wonderful work they have been undertaking for several years and wanted to join them. However, I was not yet a qualified acupuncturist. The requirement is to have at least one year of experience as a practitioner before one could apply. So after graduating in 2018, I applied and was accepted to be part of the 2020 Chaparda team.

In January 2020, I will be going to Gujarat in India as part of a 12- member World Medicine team made up of 6 acupuncture practitioners and 6 interpreters, to provide acupuncture to local people of the area. We will be treating for 3 weeks and expect to provide in excess of 1500 treatments, using 30,000+ needles in that time, approximately 6000 needles per practitioner!

Click the photographs for a full size image...

Marta doing cupping and Gua Sha at the fundraising day

World Medicine projects are often self-funded, meaning that we volunteers have to fund-raise to cover costs of travel and clinical supplies. As I was trying to figure out what I could do to raise funds for my trip, I realised that the best way to do it was to offer acupuncture and tui na treatments in exchange for donations! That way, people could receive a treatment whilst contributing to a good cause. And so, I reached out to several colleague practitioners and we set a date that worked for everyone, the 10th of November.

As I also work as a Teaching Assistant at the City College of Acupuncture where I graduated from, I asked for permission to use our clinic and one adjacent classroom for the fundraiser and they kindly agreed without any charge for rental. I also contacted Phoenix Medical and explained the purpose of the event and they generously donated acupuncture needles. I advertised the event on several social media platforms, as well as through my network of friends and colleagues and the acupuncture students at our college.

My team of 6 very enthusiastic practitioners for the fundraiser were graduates as well as acupuncture student practitioners from our City College of Acupuncture who are qualified in tui na and the NADA protocol. I had set up a booking schedule for tui na and body acupuncture treatments, whereas the NADA treatments were set up as drop- in. Tea, fruits and biscuits were offered as refreshments and treats in the waiting hall.

Kaye doing Tui Na at the fundraising day
Sophie doing the NADA Protocol at the fundraising day

The response we had from people coming, and the atmosphere on the day, was amazing! We used the opportunity to talk to people in the waiting hall about Chinese Medicine and benefits of acupuncture and tui na, over a nice cup of tea. That resulted in having some of the people who came for the NADA treatment, wanting to wait and try tui na or body acupuncture, as they hadn’t experienced it before! Everyone attending the fundraiser made generous donations and some even asked if we are going to organise similar events, as they would recommend it to friends and family.

Fleur doing Tui Na at the fundraising day
Annette doing the NADA protocol at the fundraising day

The outcome of the fundraiser was more than incredible - we raised a total of £450! I have also received generous donations prior to the event from people who wanted to contribute but were unable to attend. I continued to receive donations for a couple of weeks after the fundraiser, reaching the grand total of £800! These funds will be sufficient to cover my travel costs and clinical equipment.

Besides the needles we will need for the 2020 visit I will also purchase additional equipment that will remain in Chaparda for future use, such as glass cups for cupping treatments and one machine for electro-acupuncture.

I feel really humbled by the result of the fundraiser but it couldn’t have happened without the selfless help of my colleagues Anjulie, Kaye, Fleur, Annette and Sophie. I feel really grateful to all of them for being so enthusiastic and donating their amazing skills and time!

Anjulie doing acupuncture at the fundrasing day
Thank you to everyone for supporting me!