Mafi Kumase is a small town of 2500 persons in the Volta region of Western Ghana, about an hour from the border with Togo. Other than its technical high school and a weekly market, it is a fairly nondescript place: basically a crossroads with low slung shops, cinderblock houses and simple structures that serve as churches. The main thoroughfare is busy with 2-, 3- and 4-wheeled vehicles, herds of goats and groups of schoolchildren.
To the outsider's eye, what is most striking are a handful of buttes that rise up in and around the town as well as the plastic garbage strewn everywhere. The buttes make for nice hikes and views over the surrounding fields of cassava and okra. The plastic is an eyesore and probable health hazard that makes one not want to look too closely.
The Hope Homeopathy Clinic is located just at the outskirts of town on the main road. It consists of a few rooms and front porch of a house set back behind some shops and another home. But it is a well-utilized facility that everyone in town knows - along with the man who created and runs it.
Samuel Tsamenyi, who is universally known as 'Emperor', is a water engineer by training in his early 60's who comes a relatively prominent family in a nearby village. Amongst his 10 or so siblings, there are successful professionals who have moved to the capital city of Accra or emigrated to Australia and the UK as well as those who chose to nearby.
With an ever-present smile and booming laugh, Emperor is without doubt one of the warmest and most magnetic persons I have ever met. This serves him well as a highly respected member of his community, clinician and as a host to innumerable healthcare professionals, mostly from the UK, who have worked with him over the years.
The origins of the Hope Homeopathy Clinic as well Emperor's evolution into a homeopath goes back to the mid-1990s when the area was suffering from a lack of safe water and the prevalence of guinea worm, a painful, debilitating parasitic disease. An international humanitarian organization founded in India known as AMURT became involved in remedying the problem by developing a water project. Emperor was brought on as an engineer to help develop and then manage the project once it was up and running.
Auxiliary to the dam, water filtration station and pipes that distributed the clean water to six different villages, a community health center staffed by nurses and midwives was also created in the village of Mafi Seva. The local healthcare providers were augmented by a series of international volunteers who would spend a few months there.
Subsequently, a British homeopath who also was a member of AMURT visited the area and suggested that homeopathy would be a effective, low cost treatment modality to add to the services of the health center. Thus the Ghana Homeopathy Project was born to facilitate the staffing of the clinic with volunteers, mostly from the UK, as well as promote homeopathic education so that eventually the clinic would be self-sufficient.
With his perfect English and charismatic nature, Emperor was the perfect host and translator for the volunteers who have number in the hundreds over the years. This was a task he assumed on top of his responsibilities with the water project. Over time, being particularly fascinated by the many remarkable cures at the hands of homeopathy that he witnessed first hand, Emperor slowly transitioned from translator to practitioner. He had the benefit of learning from the volunteers and was even supported by the Ghana Homeopathy Project that facilitated both study trips to India as well as visits from India homeopathic teachers.
Eventually, Emperor wished to dedicate himself full time to homeopathy and, again with the aid of the GHP, he began to build a dual purpose building in the nearby town of Mafi Kumase that would serve as both a home and clinic. This dovetailed well with the end of water project itself as the government was now running water from the dammed Volta river into the region.
In 2017, with the completion of construction, the Hope Homeopathy Clinic was inaugurated. It is registered with the Traditional Medicine Council - which oversees the 100,000 or so traditional healers in Ghana, the vast majority of whom are herbalists - and is staffed by Emperor, his assistant Patience and various homeopaths from abroad who generally volunteer for a month or two.
A busy day may bring upward of 25 persons to the clinic. Farming families from the surrounding villages and townsfolk equally avail themselves of its services. Intermittently, there are patients from neighboring towns or Ho, the region capitol some 50 kilometers away. During my stay there were even a few people who had traveled from the capitol Accra, some 3 to 4 hours away by car.
A wide variety of maladies - ranging from fever, diarrhea and injuries to hypertension, stroke and diabetes - present daily at the clinic. There are also many gynecological complaints, a fair percentage of which are a consequence of 'family planning', that is, the aggressive means of birth control widely promoted throughout the country.
Of all the various diseases, malaria is far and away the most common and the majority of cases are young children. Malaria is a fact of life in Ghana and most people seem to have contracted it multiple times. As with antibiotics in the United States, drug resistance to conventional malarial drugs is a rising concern throughout Africa.
By the conditions of its registration, the clinic is compelled to provide conventional therapies mostly in the form of ACT, a combination of the Chinese herb artemesia annua (wormwood) and some variation of quinine, which seems to be quite effective in most cases. In addition, homeopathic remedies are prescribed that are individualized to the particular symptoms in each case to both augment the treatment and to strengthen the individual's resistance to the disease.
Overall, in comparison to the a First World practice, the cases tend to be less psychologically focused, less immunologically compromised and less complicated by complex histories of pharmacological and surgical interventions.
The product of the good will and contributions from so many people, the Hope Homeopathy Clinic offers low cost, effective and caring treatment. Hopefully, with the ongoing support and educational projects facilitated by its backers, this unique and quite remarkable little institution will continue its work well into the future.
For more information - or to make a donation - visit http://ghanahomeopathy.org/