16. DOCTOR BAGAYAKO

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I had used up all the acupuncture needles I had in Timbuktu. My friend Tahara’s uncle, Congressman, offered me some boxes he bought from his acupuncturist in Bamako.

I visited this acupuncturist while in Bamako to clear the wind turbine from customs. He is not Chinese! Dr. Bagayako is from Mali, but he is as fluent in Chinese as he is adept at using acupuncture needles.

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He studied Chinese medicine in China for years and is an expert who is in great demand in West Africa. Dr. Bagayako teaches acupuncture in Mali and abroad. He seems to have absorbed quite a bit of Chinese culture and philosophy.

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I spent a day with him in the clinic with his patients, and he had the kindness and generosity to teach me a bit of his knowledge.

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17. THE LANDS OF BOKIAT

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The land in Bokiat is not owned by the people who live there. Everything belongs to the municipality and will remain so as long as the local government will not divide the land into lots that can be sold to the inhabitants.

Until then the residents are only occupiers, not the owners, even if their families have lived there for generations. All the land belongs to the municipality because the inhabitants are not in possession of a written certificate of property. This is the problem.

And this seems deeply unfair. These poor people have been trying for years to obtain a certificate of property for their own homes through an endless bureaucratic process, and with no success, despite promises from petty politicians and money spent fruitlessly on applications and fees.

My remedy seems indirect but is quite simple: dig a well, place the turbine pump on top of it, and build a tank with 10 big taps.

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A fence must be built enclose the structure, so that the children cannot climb on the masts of the turbine, which are 12 meters high, and also to protect the well and the tank. But the water-dispensing taps will remain outside the fence.

On the masts I will place my small (12-volt) electric wind turbine, which will enable the local residents to recharge their phones and radio batteries without having to go into town to do it.

On the roof of the tank I will put my solar water heater, so the locals will be able to save on the coal they use and heat water for cooking and bathing. For them it will be an economic gain, and for all it will be an ecological one.

I will also have to build a small house for the guard and provide an annual budget for his salary, as well as for the maintenance of the windmill, the well, the tank, and the house, which will need repair after every rainy season. This is the price for a priceless wealth in the desert—water in abundance and without effort.

It is clear that I’m not going to build all this on public land. I must therefore ask the municipality to allow me to buy the land where the residents asked me to build the well.

Now my next move is to pay a visit to the mayor and ask him to sell me that piece of land.

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INDEX

18. THE PERFUME HOSPITAL

With the month of March came the season of sand storms.

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Sometimes you cannot see more than three meters away, as if it you were in a fog valley, engulfed in a red cloud.

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But it is not just sand. It is the dust of the city, polluted by the expectorations of the sick and excrement from the gutters, all dried by the sun and the wind. It’s a poison that causes most of the diseases of the eyes, ears, and respiratory tract of the local people.
It is no longer possible to treat people in the tent; the hospital of the poor is no longer working. I am getting sick myself. Therefore I rented a villa, as all the NGOs do in Timbuktu, from a rich trader of the city.

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It is a very fine house. Although I paid him the full rental price, however, the owner will not allow me to use the rooms to treat people. I understand why, for certainly he fears that the patients will spit everywhere.
I myself have struggled with the spitting; the patients cough and spit anywhere. In the hospital of the poor, I filled cans with sand and asked patients to use them as spittoons; and I threatened not to treat those who spit in the sand inside the tent, where I walk barefoot and where the children play. I eventually won.
At the new location, in the end it doesn’t matter that the rooms are off-limits, because I have two porches available—one for the women and one for the men.

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19. THE POOL OF TIMBUKTU

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During the month of March the heat is intolerable in Timbuktu. The job I have taken on here is healing people but I also find it to be psychologically exhausting. I treat people without pausing from when I commence in the morning until the afternoon.

As soon as I finish treating my patients, I set out to Tahara’s hotel, where the warm smiles of my friends help me to forget the stress of the hospital. Then I hop on my bike and travel to The Hotel Palmeraie. If it wasn’t for the allure of the pool at this hotel, I would not be able to sustain my work.

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I dive into the pool and immerse myself in its cool, azure water, that is chlorine free and purified with salt. I spend at least one hour swimming in this paradise. Like an oasis, it is a swimming pool that looks out on the Sahara Desert.

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I emerge cleansed of any negativity that may have been absorbed from my work with so many people in poor health.

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20. AROMATERAPY IN TIMBUKTU. HEMORRHOIDS AND HEADACHE

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The streets of Timbuktu in a day of sand wind

 

 

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Patients waiting outside the perfume hospital

For a long time doctors have observed strange epidemics of non contagious diseases, for example rheumatism or ulcer. Cosmo–geological causes have been assumed –  that means solar winds or the fluctuations of terrestrial magnetic field. Two years ago in Timbuktu the major disturb I was asked to cure were haemorrhoids. A real epidemic disease. So when I returned this year I brought with me a big supply of a truly miraculous remedy for this problem – the essential oil of cypress.

Use it in its pure form of essential oil (although a bit hot) or diluted in olive oil (40 drops for 8 ml), it has to be used externally every time one goes to toilet. One should clean oneself with water instead of paper tissues, and then apply the product. Results are rapid and definitive.

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22. AROMATERAPY IN TIMBUKTU: THE EARACHE

The earache is so widespread in Timbuktu that even I got it after a month. It is probably the desert wind that transports the poisoned dust street into people’s ears. Fortunately before it happened to me, I had a lot of practice with curing the population, so that I did not suffer from it for more that one day. If some day earache should happen to you without any medicines around, simply use warm olive oil inside the ear. This all Italian home remedy functions well, but for aromatherapy and extra efficacy I have always added one drop of lavender essential oil to it.

At the beginning in Timbuktu I continued to successfully cure earache with lavender and olive oil. But since I had brought little lavender with me and I had many patients, my supply ran out quickly, so I thought I had to find a substitute remedy. Read more

21. AROMATERAPY IN TIMBUKTU: RINGWORMS AND OTHER

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Ringworm is a disease that affects mostly children. It makes them suffer a lot and the itching is so strong that they scratch their head until it bleeds, sores get enlarged and the pain prevents them from sleeping. Ringworm makes children’s life miserable. Timbuktu hospitals’ or traditional therapists’ remedies are so expensive that most families cannot afford to buy them.
Traditional medicine in Timbuktu is no alternative to hospital for the health problem. The remedies are prepared and sold by the “tradithérapeutes” themselves. They depend entirely on their sale for their living and when they do not overprice them, they convince their patients that their case necessisates several remedies, quickly making a sum that amounts to several days of wages.
In Timbuktu people fear the doctors more than the disease. Read more

Aromatherapy in Timbuktu – Haemorrhoids and headache

vento-di-sabbia
The streets of Timbuktu in a day of sand wind

For a long time doctors have observed strange epidemics of non contagious diseases, for example rheumatism or ulcer. Cosmo–geological causes have been assumed –  that means solar winds or the fluctuations of terrestrial magnetic field. Two years ago in Timbuktu the major disturb I was asked to cure were haemorrhoids. A real epidemic disease. So when I returned this year I brought with me a big supply of a truly miraculous remedy for this problem – the essential oil of cypress.

Use it in its pure form of essential oil (although a bit hot) or diluted in olive oil (40 drops for 8 ml), it has to be used externally every time one goes to toilet. One should clean oneself with water instead of paper tissues, and then apply the product. Results are rapid and definitive. Read more