Monday, 16 March 2015

Homeopathy Project, Kenya. An Open Letter

    As regular readers will know, one of the primary aims of this blog is to enable more people to know about, and have access too, Homeopathy. There are a number of homeopathy projects in Africa which seek to bring this beautiful, safe and effective medical therapy to the people there.

This open letter from Steve Smith shows how we can all support this process, and by posting this blog, I hope lots of my regular readers, who know about the power of homeopathy, will be able to contribute to the amazing work they are doing there.


Greetings all from TORU Health Centre Homeopathy clinic teams at Manyanga and Kambi-Mawe villages.
May I ask a little… (hmmn, rather more than a ‘little’!)… of your time, to read below…or preferably, the attached word doc. (which will be in a more orderly shape for reading comfortably)

It is my appeal from one homeopath to another, cross-continents. It is not a dry ‘project proposal’.  My appeal is borne from conscientiousness and commitment, and a grave desire for our continuity and enhancement as practising Homeopaths. Apologies for any rambling or repetitions!

You are unlikely to have heard of us. We have been treating patients with Homeopathy for 11 years now. ‘We’ comprises 8, (7 Kenyan, I British), Homeopaths… 4 homeopaths at each of the 2 clinics …plus support staff of laboratory technicians, clinic manager, receptionists, interpreter (for myself), cooks/cleaners. This is quite a unique set-up for front-line homeopathic practice in the world.  It is an organisation employing homeopaths, working as clinic teams.

Altogether we have treated almost 40,000 local people, either attending the permanent clinics or the regular outreach monthly mobile clinics we have conducted in around 30 additional villages in Toru’s lifetime. Yikivumbu, Matalani, Katangini, Welovea, Nthongoni, Katuaa, Kangundo, Muliili are just a selection of villages we visited for many years, or currently visit.

We do this without fanfare, and because we have genuinely tried to be a self-sustaining organisation from inception, our mindset has not tended towards funding from sources external to our practise in Kenya.

Patients have always been expected to pay a nominal/affordable amount for consultation and treatment (currently = approx between £3 and £4) , and for any tests conducted in our ‘in-house laboratories’, and we
see this as a respectful, non-patronising exchange for our services. We do not have a ‘charity’ mindset, and we are averse to Homeopathy having any connotation with ‘aid’, thus we avoid a policy of offering
consultation and remedies to patients for free. On average, most of our patients can budget for their health-cost needs like anyone else in the World, though it can be a struggle at times, so we do offer flexibility in charges.

From the outset we have grown organically, through patient referral, getting on with practise and trying to pay our way. (NB. All of us are living down-to-earth ordinary Kenyan-style lives. No excess, no wastage. Most of the things you take for granted like tap water, mains electricity, personal cars, are the exception for us based in the villages).

We in Kenya were the first rural Homeopathy project of this kind in Africa, and we are somehow proud of our approach and achievements so far. We are well grounded by now, and established as an entity
providing good medicine in the minds of people near and far.

We are currently engaged in various activities beyond the day to day attending to patients at the two permanent clinics. These include participation in International research on the efficacy of Homeopathy
in treating malaria, village outreach doing weekly children’s clinics providing homeopathy and nutritional supplement, the growing of spirulina in ‘ponds’, the setting up of a new urban ‘Alternative Health’ clinic, and the usual monthly mobile clinics conducted in further villages. 
We recently hosted some Rwandan Homeopathy students, and wish to assist them in establishing Homeopathy in Rwanda (very unknown, and needed, there) through sharing our experience and providing some help on the ground.
Mutually invigorating over the years, has been hosting and sharing practise with numerous volunteering homeopaths from around the world. We own a specific plot of land, poised to be constructing a clinic to
serve clientele living and working in an impending Technocity. (see below for more detail of these activities and plans)

TORU Modus OperandiClinicsThough operating as a ‘non-profit’ we are a business, and, as is often the case with persons in the world who are motivated to become Homeopaths, we are not the most keenly ‘business-minded’ of homo sapiens! As the saying in Kenya goes…’we tried’…and we keep on trying to find ways to make ends meet! 
It is a challenge. We have reasonably ‘pitched’ salaries (in the early days we paid ourselves a pittance) for us 15 employees in total at the 2 clinics to find from our income from patients, and this contributes to the usual monthly challenge of shortfalls of this income in relation to total monthly clinic expenditures.

This we have always overcome if we have been particularly busy in a month, but invariably, and especially with ‘lean’ patient attendance in months like December, we have needed a top-up of income from somewhere, and it has come!...maybe from the fees of a homeopath volunteer staying with us, or a random donation, or in the earlier years a targeted donation (for clinic infrastructure) from an organisation knowing us personally (eg. SHEAF in UK…no longer in existence). We have seen the need to diversify into other enterprises to earn income (we set up Toru Enterprises Ltd).

{Maybe we can run ‘tighter ships’, meaning to down-size our staff teams , but it is a difficult thing to do…in effect to withdraw that support to a staff member and their nearer and extended families. Should we care… as a business?  Well, for >, or for <, it seems we do!}

In the past few years a particular homeopath in the UK heard about us, got in contact out of the blue, and has displayed he also does care, by giving us some support on an annual basis. Thus with capital, Toru has been enabled to invest in enterprises to bring in extra income to the clinics…these include Mpesa (money phone transfer) outlets and a tuk-tuk trailer for water transportation. As mentioned above, we have bought a small plot of land near Konza, 60km from Nairobi, to eventually construct a new Toru clinic adjacent to an
awesome Technocity soon to be built on 5000 acres of savannah.

Most critically of all, this benefactor has covered the basics, the intermittent end-of-month shortfalls of patient income in relation to clinic expenditures, so we have continued ‘in business’ providing
homeopathy.

Toru financial tension has been eased, but only temporarily, and has brought a new concern…in effect all the eggs have been in one basket, and they have inevitably hatched. The basket is currently empty. (Are
we thus a ‘basket-case’ of an organisation?...after 10 years of  ‘ends of the month’ trying to make ends meet …I am wondering! Some months, between the 2 clinics, we can be £500 or so short).

Well-being of HomeopathsYou, as a Homeopath reading this, may well empathise with the difficulty of making a living solely from earnings from homeopathic practise. Here, our earnings (Toru Homeopaths, myself included, receive clinic salaries of about  £130 per month) are still rather less than those of comparative Kenyan health professionals, so we have regular struggle (and for clinic support staff on smaller salaries, even more-so) to cover the costs of supporting a family, especially at times of insufficient rains equating to a failed or poor harvest (all staff are connected to land/subsistence farming ). This gets magnified when with commitment to provide full educational opportunity to our children. Secondary school/further education fees need be budgeted for.

The monies in the ‘basket’ have latterly provided individual staff more room for manoeuvre to develop…zero-interest loans, repaid monthly from salary deduction, to enable their other income-generating
activities in addition to their salaries from Toru. This help, with careful budgeting, has given us a ‘push’ (the colloquial term here).

Profiles of Homeopathy Projects on the African ContinentWe can compare and contrast ourselves with other Homeopathy projects which have commenced in different African countries in subsequent years set up on a different basis. You may indeed be supporting one of them! 
The majority of these projects acknowledge they would immediately collapse if external donations enabling their existence ceased to flow.

We have always sincerely aimed for a self-sustaining modus operandi, and have achieved a fair measure of success. But truly, once we grew in size, and started paying ourselves more of a ‘living wage’ we have always had a certain vulnerability, and we have never been able to save for a ‘rainy’ day (though here in this part of Kenya this is the inverse…a ‘sunny’ day…as we generally need more rain!).

Of course, our profile in broader Homeopathy circles has been miniscule…we have put little time and energy into peddling our worth on Facebook, (or should it be fazedbook?), ‘look at us’ style, or on a
crafted Toru website with our every act photographed or filmed and broadcast to the world. We have not been masters or ms’s of ‘cultivating the image’. We have had neither the inclination, nor the funds, to dedicate to ‘spinning’ a story.

But nowadays the internet is omnipresent in many peoples’ lives. Creating, and regularly maintaining, a website is almost a default option for a seriously practising homeopath, or a Homeopathy project within Africa.

It is more and more about marketing…of which we are novices.It rather goes without saying that I have had hesitation to follow this route for publicising our ‘worthiness’. But there are 7 Kenyan Homeopaths attending patients in the Toru Clinics. Such a team of indigenous Homeopaths is unprecedented on the continent to my knowledge (the exception being maybe South Africa, where Homeopathy had earlier establishment), and their continuity, and the spawning of new full-time practitioners, is imperative. It is a pain that we are not yet self-sustaining in our work. In my heart I feel a degree of failure. We have to ask for external help. And to ensure eggs are found in many baskets so we can breathe a certain sigh of relief.

The New Stance of TORUWith many Homeopathy projects ‘on the go’ in various African countries fuelled by external funds, it shows there is a certain well-spring of interest to be tapped. (sudden gush, flowing trickle or steady drip drip?)

We believe Toru has admirable aims, ethos, approach and practise, so we are deserving to be considered for funding to enable greater long term security, and the exponential potential for expansion of Homeopathy through established and new clinics run by Kenyan/East African Homeopaths, whilst we continue to pursue our primary aim of achieving a basis of self-sustaining clinic operations.

ONWARD WITH ASSISTANCE
To those of you who have read thus far, now is the moment to take a certain liberty and make a request for some financial support specifically from you. In short, we hope that your interest is stirred in reading what we are achieving in this still fairly virgin territory for Homeopathy, and that you are encouraged to explore the idea to make a commitment to support the work of Toru.

This could be as a donor, or a fund-raiser on our behalf, or to experience and contribute on the ground through volunteering with us.

I drafted the beginnings of this ‘Open Letter’ some months ago when starting to work on creating a Toru Website. This is not completed (Duh) but we do have a Facebook site nowadays. If interested to get more of a flavour of us, you can check us out on Toru Health Clinics.

Feel free to ask more, please fire off any questions to me direct, or I can give you the contacts of my colleagues to communicate with. They will have a different outlook to me, and I expect would never have
initiated such a communication as this with strangers. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I can also give you the contacts of homeopaths from abroad who have volunteered with us. Some have had comparative experience of different Homeopathy Projects on the African Continent. They will all have
something to say!

NEW, PLANNED & EXISTING VENTURES
A)  My writing to you in this unsolicited manner has also been spurred on by the additional, also immediately pressing, financial challenge we face in creating a new and fresh- focussed Toru Clinic based in Wote town. This is 12 km from the Kambi-Mawe rural clinic. It will be different from our existing clinics, more ‘up-market’, more akin to a Western-style ambiance with carpets and ceilings and office furniture (as opposed to smooth concrete floors, exposed rafters, and wooden chairs), providing a more specialised Homeopathy incorporating allergy protocols, and other alternative therapies (additional skills the Homeopaths have)… acupuncture, reflexology and  massage…and in a more managed way with booked appointments. The importance of nutrition will be given more emphasis. It will have a small laboratory for the usual blood, urine, stool tests we conduct. Overall (apart from the inclusion of the lab) it will be more akin to a small Alternative Health Centre in UK. It will likewise aim to charge fees commensurate with the increased time and attention given, and the overall quality of services offered. This venture,being organised by the enterprising Julius Wambua, Homeopath and Kambi-Mawe Clinic Manager, with close support from Abha Light, has the potential to financially support the rural Toru clinics. 
The Wote clinic is a rented property and the internal embellishments of structure are in place. The full kitting out of the clinic is now to be completed. We have zero money to do this at the moment. We need £2,000. (ps. Funds have been granted by Abha Light Foundation, along with a loan secured, to get this clinic underway. Its inauguration took place on 6th March 2015) This is a pilot urban clinic. We will learn from this for expanding more in the future in this kind of way for the Konza (Technocity) clinic, and also for a clinic we would like to start within Kibwezi (the nearest town to Manyanga clinic) following a similar model.

B)  Hahnemann plainly stated that the mainstay of good health is sound nutrition. Many of our patients are nutritionally challenged. Spirulina, a superfood you probably know of, grows well in our climate. Ponds have been constructed near the Kambi-Mawe clinic. The harvested and dried spirulina is for sale at clinics, for export, and for distribution to local children, as and when possible. The venture also falls short of being self-sustaining at the moment, reliant on those who initiated the project to give ongoing financial support.  We
have a wish to start a 2nd site for spirulina production. With increased production, and with regular export sales, this would enable cheaper distribution to local people.

C)  For the past 6 months, entirely proposed and sponsored by Heal International Foundation, via Abha Light, we and other Homeopaths have been conducting regular village outreach clinics , dispensing
Homeopathic rxs, colloidal silver and spirulina for free to infants and children. HEAL has also contributed to upgrading the facilities for the production of the home-grown spirulina.

D)  In the early months of 2014 the Toru Clinics underwent an open study recording our Homeopathic treatment of malaria. Very soon it is planned to do a more comprehensive research which should show to the wider world the efficacy of Homeopathic treatment of malaria in comparison with the current artemesia- based allopathic protocol provided by the Kenyan Ministry of Health clinics.

E)  In recent months we were happy to have some Homeopathy students from Rwanda come visit us on two separate occasions to see our work. They are doing an online homeopathy course. We passed on to them our donated McGurk rx machine, and Abha Light provided sets of remedies. They now have the means to practise! Homeopathy is really in infant stage in Rwanda, and needs support to get established.

YOUR INTEREST/INVOLVEMENT?
You, my fellow homeopath, having continued to read to this point, means we have whet your appetite?  You feel a bit involved already? Putting it another way, in my usual colloquial fashion…this is a ‘cold call’ from a hot and semi-arid Ukambani (our region within Kenya), and I hope you have warmed up to TORU.

Fancy, (one has to be optimistic)… if you so wish to donate to TORU on the basis of this email alone, I include below the various options available.

Clarification:. you will see the accounts are mostly in my name.  I am co-founder of Toru. My pockets helped create the initial (Manyanga ) clinic. I scrupulously ensure no clinic money diverts into my pocket...the exception being my salary as an employee of course!  I mention this because this is Kenya, where unfortunately it is too often the norm for monies to get siphoned off from their intended objective. Thus I feel to be straight and reassure. This open letter is not a scam!

1) SANTANDER BANK (IN UK)
Stephen John Smith
Acc no. 72976102
Sort Code 090136
IBAN no.   GB86ABBY09013672976102
BIC no.      ABBYGB2LXXX

2)     Alternatively to send directly to Kenya Sterling £ account in Nairobi I set up for transfers from UK

DESTINATION BANK 
EQUITY BANK LIMITED
DESTINATION SORT CODE AND ACCOUNT NUMBER 
0880196604429
DESTINATION NAME 
SMITH S. JOHN
BANK CODE
068 
BRANCH CODE
047 
SWIFT CODE FOR EQUITY BANK
EQBLKENA 
Payments from UK will need to come from your UK Bank through SWIFT, which is facilitated through CITIBANK. Please ask your bank for details, including charges for sending.

3) Otherwise, we have a PAYPAL Account. (for transfer  from your own paypal account)
Our paypal email address is  toruhealthcentre@gmail.com  
This is linked in with a Kenyan shilling Equity Bank account

In future we are to make ourselves more donor-friendly setting up for monthly standing orders etc.

It just remains for me to say thank you for giving the time and energy to have read through this… and please feel free to get in touch to ask specific questions regarding aspects of our work which may interest
you, or for a more general enquiry about us overall. Furthermore, if you think of others who might be interested in supporting us, please could you forward this on to them.

With Best Wishes
Steve Smith
Homeopath  (Licentiate of The College of Homeopathy [London] 2002 )
TORU Project Co-ordinator
Toruhealthcentre@gmail.com