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.

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!

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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!

Experience at Grenfell

My Experience at Grenfell

Sarah Clifford, one of the volunteers who offers acupuncture to victims and families of the Grenfell Tower fire, reflects on her experience using the NADA Protocol:


The community atmosphere is heartwarming.  Living far from London I am only able to get to the centre once a month; however, after each session I come away feeling like one of the community. It is great to be able to offer help to a group so willing to receive it.

Being a non-verbal therapy, the NADA protocol allows the client and therapist the space to communicate in different ways. Often this leads to a profound level of communication, as without words I have found a common ground is always reached. This allows for a deeper treatment.

With the intention of creating a quiet yin atmosphere in the room, it’s always a miracle to me to witness the clients experiencing true relaxation.  To me this is what makes the NADA protocol so unique.  It allows a deep ability to experience relaxation, which in turn results in physical and mental healing.

I come away feeling inspired and energised at the same time.

To me, NADA is a true gift that needs to be spread to different communities, both at work and at home.  To be able to work in a relaxed way when there are so many pressures in life, is a challenge for everyone. I feel hopeful however that whoever comes to these sessions may leave feeling  brighter, lighter and more at peace.

Chatting About Chaparda

During the October training weekend for Chaparda 2020 four current and former volunteers members of the team, Emma, Alison, Jude and Barbara (behind the camera!) met to talk about the experience of working in Chaparda over the years, and what new volunteers can expect from the experience.

It's just over 8 minutes in length and very informative, so grab a cup of tea, click the video, and listen in!

NADA Acupuncture at Al Manaar Mosque post Grenfell

To coincide with publication of the first phase of the report into the Grenfell Tower fire, Rachel Peckham, director of the World Medicine project there, reflects on the the work carried out with survivors.


NADA Acupuncture at Al Manaar Mosque post Grenfell

The unimaginable event that was the Grenfell Tower block fire happened last year on June 14th. Nearly 80 people are known to have lost their lives. It was and remains horrific. Nearly a year later, the block stands as a crime scene only partially covered by scaffolding and white sheeting. Mental health experts say the haunting image of Grenfell against the skyline is affecting both survivors and the community. Latest reports say that 11,000 people in the surrounding areas as well as survivors will experience mental health problems as a result of this terrible tragedy.

The huge volume of help that arrived literally from the next day onwards was extraordinary and wonderful. I live and work five miles from the area and have patients and NADA contacts who were involved with that very early support. They would report how the distress was unbearable and that the chaos was very difficult to deal with. Understandably there was and is a lot of anger.

Dr Michael Smith MD DAc (1942 – 2017) was the director of the Lincoln Recovery Centre in the South Bronx, New York, and he is the founder of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association – most commonly know as NADA. Dr Smith used the acronym NADA because it means nothing in Spanish. The NADA protocol is a simple Taoist-based concept of acting without acting. Taoist philosophy suggests that the name NADA is important, because, as Dr Smith has told us, in treating people we do a lot, maybe even too much, and we can forget that the rest of life is out there. Until you get out of things, you can get trapped by your own mind. NADA has to be simple because everything else is so complicated.

And the fire at Grenfell Tower falls most unfortunately into these latter categories. I was in admiration of the acupuncturists who were there at this time, treating and helping all who were affected – and managing to do this on the streets amidst all the chaos. At this point I was thinking of the work that had been done by NADA US following the Twin Towers attack 9/11. A NADA clinic was started two weeks subsequently at St Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, close to Ground Zero. I’ve been showing a short film to NADA trainees every time I run a NADA training about the St Vincent’s clinic, plus other trauma settings where NADA has been offered. The film, Unimagined Bridges, demonstrates the power of NADA acupuncture in helping to cope with trauma following a catastrophic event. This clinic ran regularly until 2010 and was open to anyone affected by the event. It showed that people chose to have acupuncture rather than counseling as they didn’t want to talk about the trauma. Reports showed that the acupuncture helped with sleep, anxiety, grief and generally enabling people to feel a sense of calm. Plus it brought communities together as people sat quietly in a group all having acupuncture treatment for a common cause.

I began to have telephone conversations with Alison Gould chairperson of World Medicine Charitable Trust, and we spoke about the possibility of a collaboration between NADA GB and World Medicine (WM) to set up a volunteer service delivering NADA treatments. I also spoke to Gisela Norman and later on Sheira Kahn who were among the first responders of acupuncture and did such a remarkable job in terrible conditions. They went on to head up Emergency Acupuncture, a large body of volunteers which preceded the NADA clinics we began delivering four months after the fire.

Emergency Acupuncture had established a venue at the Al Manaar Mosque in North Kensington and had been given a room for delivering acupuncture treatments. The mosque wanted to continue the service as they had seen the benefits acupuncture treatment was bringing to the survivors and to the Grenfell community. This was clearly something NADA could offer, so early in August last year Gisela set up a meeting with myself and Mr Sayed, CEO at the Mosque. We agreed to start a weekly NADA clinic there and committed to run clinics for a year provided the service was taken up. The clinics started on 3rd October and have been running weekly on Tuesday mornings ever since.

Later in August, World Medicine held a NADA training day for BAcC members who wished to volunteer at the then future NADA clinic at Al Manaar Mosque. I ran the training which was free of charge. All the World Medicine trustees at that time were there plus eight attendees, a few of whom had already volunteered at Grenfell under the auspices of Emergency Acupuncture.

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Fundraising – How We Use What You Give Us

This month, Barbara, Catherine and Emma (supported by Dave, Barbara’s husband!!) all part of Chaparda 2020 team, head to Edinburgh to take on The Big Stroll a 15 mile walk through historic Edinburgh.

We have been very committed to fundraising through 2019 and this will be the third walk by various combinations of the team to raise money for World Medicine. ALL funds raised for World Medicine are used to support our projects and apart from a small amount of administrative running costs we have no fixed overheads that require donated money to be used for.

We have two projects at the moment. One in London, providing auricular acupuncture for the community impacted by the Grenfell disaster – a lot of this work focuses on post traumatic stress. (For further reading on this condition and how acupuncture can help go to acupuncture.org.uk) Costs for this project include, auricular needles, sharp boxes, insurance and training etc. Annual costs at present stand at around £1000 annually.

Our second project is in India, and January 2020 will see a team of acupuncturists and interpreters travel to Chaparda to run an acupuncture clinic for 3 weeks. One of the reasons that we remain committed to this work is because over the years we have witnessed incredible healing in our Indian patients, that in turn has allowed them to continue working and supporting their own families. This is key to our work, bringing effective treatment to areas where healthcare resources are limited. Each year the numbers attending our clinics continue to grow and the impact of our work continues to spread out into the surrounding communities.

Travel is the biggest cost to the volunteers and stands around £700 per person.

We have estimated each acupuncturist will need 5000 needles each for our next project so, a total of 30,000 needles. A box of 1000 needles costs approximately £24. This year our needles will cost us around £720. In addition many of us will use moxabustion therapy and so we may spend a further £100 on moxa. Other equipment includes, sharps boxes, forceps, cupping sets, alcohol wipes, cotton wool, hand sanitizer, paper for documentation etc. Another cost is insurance and training.

This year we plan to offset our carbon footprint as a charity by donating the carbon cost of our travel into an environmental project as local to our project as we can manage. (Look out for future blogs with further information about this!)

We very much hope that our supporters understand just how much we appreciate their willingness to help us raise money. We are passionate about our work and we know that many, many people, who will never be able to voice their gratitude personally, are similarly appreciative for the opportunity to benefit from the service that World Medicine offers.