Our Plants, Our Health
Herbal Guide Training
When our parents or grandparents got sick, their parents went into the shamba or forest and brought back herbs to treat their illnesses. Today, when our children get sick, we often are too far away from our grandparents to seek their help and we have forgotten exactly how they made these natural medicines. More often than not, this means that we wait until we are even sicker and then seek expensive medical attention when early treatment might have made this unnecessary. Rather than using what is effective in our traditional ways of treating illness, we run to the pharmacy and buy an expensive pill or salve that may have originally come from a plant that grows nearby. Knowing when to buy that pill and when to use something closer at hand can mean the difference between health and ill-health and between spending money wisely and paying a lot for something you could have done yourself at home.
Knowing how to tell what is wrong with us and when to seek help when it is necessary means that we will make informed decisions about our health and the health of our children. This premise that we are our own first healers and that knowing how to prevent and treat common conditions using simple household remedies can help our families stay healthier is the basis of our training program.
Our program is targeted at men and women who are members of pre-existing groups such as community groups HIV+ support groups or even church groups. We train both HIV+ and HIV- individuals as we have found that the course is applicable to all, irrespective of their sere-status. The curriculum uses our publication, Using Our Traditions - A Herbal and Nutritional Guide for Kenyan Families as its cornerstone.
The training is structured to support participants in improving their health and their skills to deal with common illnesses as well as improving their skills at getting the services and attention they need from their providers. We aim to improve participant knowledge of herbal and nutritional approaches to managing health and illness by teaching a range of topics. These include:
- Health and Illness
- Teaching about causes, symptoms and treatments of specific illnesses identified by trainees. These include HIV/AIDS, gastrointestinal tract problems, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, common viral infections and Candidiasis
- Bi-lingual English/Kiswahili case studies for discussion
- Use of Health Journals to monitor individual health, including the factors influencing and affecting it
- Basics of nutrition
- Community specific nutritional challenges
- Practical demonstrations on plant identification and harvesting and preparation of medicines
- Review and assessment of community herbal treatment suggestions
- Development of a list of key herbs and spices to include in household pharmacies
- Medicinal and Nutritional Gardening
- Identifying appropriate herbs and foods to grow
- Practical demonstration of a variety of low-labor and space saving organic farming techniques
- Management and evaluation of community and individual gardens
To date we have taught communities in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Mt Elgon and are in the process of developing a training of trainers program to enable selected trainers to teach community groups with technical support from TICAH's training team.