There are only a few osteopaths* in Africa, as for example in Kenya there are four. Luckily one of them introduced osteopathy into charitable Medical Expeditions to villages that lack regular access to medical care. The charity is called Divinity Foundation (not associated with any church) and is led by the British-Kenyan citizen Navdeep “Nav” Matharu.
I participated in two such expeditions and was amazed by the amount of help provided, and by the amount of kindness offered to one another during the two-week time. Usually, the expedition consists of a volunteering team of Kenyan medical doctors, foreign osteopaths**
and a support group. Help is provided mainly to women and children who first go through a medical evaluation and are prescribed medications. In some cases, they are referred to the temporary osteopathic clinic which can be situated in the outpatient hospitals, schools or sometimes it is setup under the trees when in a remote area. Usually, there are 10 osteopaths on board who come from either a European country or a North American one.
People in Kenya suffer mostly from malnutrition, infections, inflammation, parasites as well as structural issues due to their lifestyle (carrying babies and toddlers a lot, walking barefoot), and injuries (including emotional stresses). A big issue is of course female genital mutilation (FGM)
. This why visceral and craniosacral manipulation is urgently needed. Before we get to work, the whole team is introduced with a presentation on local problems and safety measures. Every evening, the cases and challenges of the day are discussed. One day we worked on cerebral palsy students in Nairobi, for example, but most of the time the team goes to Maasai villages; Quite an experience!
Bozena Niedziela is a compassionate osteopathic practitioner
that has been an OsteopathyBC (OBC) member for five years, she is currently an Inactive OBC memberas she is away from Canada helping family. She became aware of Divinity Foundation humanitarian work when in Europe searching for a way to share her osteopathy skills with those in need. She has enjoyed the combination of being able to explore, meet new people, make new friends, and having lots of fun while doing this type of volunteer work.
If you wish to contact Bozena about her volunteer experience, she can be reached at bozena.therapy [at] gmail.com.
Article written by Bozena Niedziela, DOMTP and edited by Sonia Lam, D.O.M.P.
Osteopathy helps a lady complaining of pain around her clavicle.
(Outpatient hospital Oct-Nov expedition, 2014)
An osteopathy clinic setup literally under tree cover in order to service people in remote
locations in Kenya (Oct-Nov expedition, 2019).
Translators, patients and helpers (2019)
One can also volunteer in an outpatient hospital in one spot in Makindu with the Divinity
Foundation for a few weeks. It has been a very enriching experience for me.
Internationally, there are two streams of osteopathy recognized, ‘Osteopathic Physicians’, who are doctors of Osteopathy and
‘Osteopaths’ who practice manual osteopathy only. In BC the title‘Osteopath’ is reserved for Osteopathic Physicians therefore
OsteopathyBC (OBC) members use the title ‘Osteopathic Practitioner’.
Volunteering with Divinity Foundations is open to both professional streams of osteopathy