Volunteer Chiropractor in Africa

Most African’s have no idea what a chiropractor is, they hear Doctor coinciding with free and race in. My first experience as a chiropractor is Africa was in Luanda, Angola, a big city war torn for 30 yrs still with bullet holes and bombed buildings. So it was a little shock to say the least. I happened to coincide my visit with the POPE or papa as they call him, of course no coincidence that I arrived with the most important man in Angola, fitting to our shared promise to the people. I then moved to Zanzibar, for long white beaches and coconuts and then Zimbabwe for the animals and lifestyle.

My next experience Zanzibar in Tanzania, This possibly is the most beautiful place in the world, long white sandy beaches, coral reefs, coconuts and seafood. Did you know there are 100 ways to use a coconut, well there is to a Zanzibari. I would spend my mornings in my coconut leaf thatched roof office that had 2 long seats outside. I would work till they were empty and then I was free to enjoy the sun and the sand. This time I had a translator, so my word count was increased from only 1. The people here suffered terribly with disease of manual labor, degeneration in their knee’s and hips and no money or resources for care. There were no facilities on the island so they would have to travel to mainland Tanzania which already was out of the budget. Traveling to town on a crowed minibus was enough of a stretch for the average household.

I volunteered with a Canadian couple who have dedicated their lives to offer more to the people of Zanzibar. The Husband is a Chiropractor whose clinic stands next door to his wife’s school for free tourism education, offering a real resource for the people. Other industry is export of cloves and seaweed, not the seaweed you eat but the seaweed that goes in fillers like toothpaste, so you can imagine what price that comes at. There was lots of hard work with little return, including long hours of bending, picking and heavy lifting. It was amazing to see children, grandma’s and mothers with babies strapped to their backs standing in the knee deep waters of low tide, twice a day every day, rain hail or shine. Mostly shine though, this is Zanzibar.

I truly loved it there, being able to communicate with patients gave me much more insight into their lives and their stresses which opened me up to the country and the people. There was another volunteer working at the school and together we made friends with the students who invited us to celebrations and even dinner, which was an amazing experience. After ritually washing our hands with water we continued to eat with them, we sat in the covered eating area of the house which was made out of crushed up coral and water then after dinner we moved to the uncovered part of the house and took many photo’s, they do love the camera and the digital phenomenon.

The school included English education, befriending volunteers was a good way for them to practice and we were mutually interested in each other’s way of life. Our friends were mostly students and were male and female. I mention this because it is not very common for women to either do extra education or become friends with westerners, especially in Zanzibar which is a heavily Muslim community.

My third destination was Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Now Zanzibar may be the most beautiful but this was my favourite. Zimbabwe gets a bad rap for all that has gone on politically and although perhaps right, Zimbabwe is still safe, happy and a wonderful place to visit. You would be amazed of the courage and integrity of the people. My father was a Zimbabwean so I felt very at home here, and although opportunities are less, life is grand. I had many friends and caught up with old family ties. Victoria Falls as you may know is a tourist town, at the edge of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and one of the seven wonders.

I worked in schools as well as hospitals where I saw chiropractic patients. Remarkably Zimbabwe has the best English literacy rate in Africa, higher than South Africa, the schools and hospitals were once a standout in Africa and now unfortunately totally unmaintained. So I had full communication with all the people I worked with and lots of work to do.

I got the opportunity to see the famous Victoria falls many times with my volunteer group but I also took a special trip at night on the full moon, they stay open once a month for the spectacle, which was amazing. The Company I was volunteering with also ran a lion conservation and education program which involved walking with the lions. I was working with the community but when I felt like I needed to get back to nature the lions were always there. The lions walked on private land that was free roaming for wild animals so every so often on an innocent lion walk the cubs would come across warthog, impalas or buffalo which made an exciting stalk then chase. We did lose the lions one morning after they clumsily but determinedly chased buffalo. We desperately called our body guards back as ironically the lion became our friend not our foe.

So after much-loved traveling and adventure I have finally come back home to Australia to settle into life and share my story of Africa. I am now a Chiropractor in Goondiwindi and loving my new home at Life Chiropractic Goondiwindi

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