Participating in this study abroad program, opened my eyes to realize that you don’t have to limit your education to just reading books, but you can also learn by experience. It has been a great experience so far and there is so much to learn. While staying at the Gobabeb Research and Training Center, I got the pleasure of going on multiple tours, in particular, the cultural tour. The cultural tour guide told us how the Topnaar people use different kinds of trees to make traditional medicines. While the tour guide, Subsedeus, was speaking, it reminded me of my grandparents and how they grew their own herbs to treat different ailments to survive back in Ethiopia.
According to the healthsystem2020, only 16-18 percent of Namibians receive medical aid and 50 percent of the working population has medical insurance. So most people in Namibia have to utilize natural resources to formulate medicine out of trees. In fact, rural areas lack clinics and transportation, so they have to travel long distances to see a doctor. It is obvious that transportation is vital for people to access health services. In the majority of the world, the government invests money for research in finding cures for diseases. Plants such as the Bottle Tree are used to treat coughs and stomach problems.
I was given the chance to visit different tribes in Namibia such as the Topnaar, Damara, and Himba. These tribes don’t have access to hospitals like most people do in the United States, so medicinal plants are widely used. These tribes have excellent knowledge of medicinal plants in the environment they live in. It was quite fascinating to see the variety of medicines used for diseases like skin problems and chest pain. It must be hard for someone who never experienced living in this area to understand exactly why they do this, but this is their last resort. In fact, the majority of people refuse to go to hospitals because it is too expensive. Surely, if I had the opportunity to ask someone from the Himba tribe whether they prefer western or traditional medicine, they probably would choose traditional because it is part of their culture. According to the World Health Organization, “Asian and African countries up to 80% of the population relies on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs.” Traditional require and skills to make good use of the plant that’s being used. There are still people in some parts of the world who still use traditional medicines. In every activity that I have participated in has taught me so much and has changed my perspective on how I view the world.