My Journey from being a doctor to setting up an international charity, MEDyARTE

By Dr Goska Trubshaw

Dr Goska Trubshaw is a GPwER in Headache, but also does amazing work worldwide for her international charity. She describes some of her projects here.

How it all began -a shocking encounter

It was the Summer of 2016 when after years of planning I finally managed to fulfil my dream of visiting Borneo island in Indonesia. Many years back as a final year medical student I intended to spend a couple of months working on a floating clinic, travelling between villages lost in the Bornean jungle. For a variety of reasons, it did not happen. Now I was here visiting remote tribes together with my family.

But once a doctor you are always a doctor, no matter what time of day or which part of the world you are in. Our guide, without revealing a reason for it, took us on a detour to a village where a sick man needed medical attention. Considering the local circumstances, the man was very rich and influential, nevertheless he clearly struggled to get the medical input he required. After a few minutes of chatting to him with the assistance of an interpreter, it become apparent that he suffered with stomach cancer and was dying. Unfortunately, he was completely misdiagnosed during his recent trip to Jakarta to see a specialist. He still did not realise what was wrong with him and my interpreter refused to convey the diagnosis and my advice to the patient as he was terrified of the consequences which this revelation could cause to him and me. The man died 3 months later.

Experiencing a different world

During the same trip I also travelled to Sumba island in Indonesia where I visited a charity led medical clinic which achieved near complete eradication of malaria from the island. The charity also provided free school lunches to all children on Sumba to battle malnutrition. Commonly this meal was the only food the children would get during the day. When I was serving beans and rice from massive vats I was astounded to see that some of the 5-year olds would take a small plastic container with food away to share it with their family.

MEDyARTE, an international charity, begins

Both of these experiences shocked me deeply. If a rich man on Borneo was unable to receive adequate medical attention and had to undertake at significant personal expense 2 days journey including trekking through the jungle, many hours car journey and several hours flight to another island to see a doctor what are the chances that the rest of the population would receive appropriate medical care. And what opportunities are open to children who need to share their charity lunch with the rest of the family to survive. It occurred to me that no matter how small is the contribution I could make to improve things it would be invaluable. I decided to start my own charity. MEDyARTE Foundation was born a year later and I have never looked back. This was and is the most rewarding experience of my life.

The goals and purpose of my charity, MEDyARTE

The charity principles are clear and deeply resonate in the souls of all of the trustees:

MEDyARTE Foundation works all over the world without any limitations initiating projects which become self-sustainable in the long term. It aims to improve local standards of living and healthcare provision, it supports the use of natural raw materials. MEDyARTE values, helps to protect and supports traditional forms of art and craft. It was set up with the view of providing an opportunity to lead a life with dignity to those who need financial support to achieve such a goal.

From Nepal to Borneo, Bolivia, Tanzania and beyond

Gradually we have developed wide ranging projects,  from running a medical clinic at 4300m in the Himalayas in Nepal, to providing water filters and supporting schools in the Bornean jungle, teaching children in remote areas of Bolivia to learn to play traditional Peruvian instruments to running cervical cancer screening in rural Tanzania and supporting artisans in Kyrgyzstan.

We run medical camps in El Salvador, Nepal and India.  Each one of theses projects changes the lives of hundreds or thousands of people.

In Nar Phu valley in Nepal for example, where in the past people had to walk for three days to the nearest medical facility our clinic provides free medical consultations and medication to all the local villages.

Helicobacter eradication work helps reduce gastric ulcers & cancer

The overall health of the population has significantly improved and mortality has dramatically reduced. During the medical camps I run there it became apparent that up to 90 percent of inhabitants suffer with infection of the stomach called Helicobacter pylori which can lead to various problems such as stomach ulcers and cancer. As a result, we were able to offer an eradication therapy to over 500 people in the area. We are hoping to offer a free dental camp to people who commonly never see a dentist in their lives.

In El Salvador people waited for hours to see me with my neurology specialist hat on and discuss for the first time in their lives with a doctor their persistent headaches and other neurological problems.

In India I had a first-hand experience of managing leprosy which should have been eradicated with modern treatments but is not because of the financial limitations.

Early years -a crucial time to help

It is enlightening to observe how support provided at an early age such as learning to read, write, offering basic health education, knowledge about environmental protection and promoting pride in own culture and tradition reaps huge rewards a few years later.

Our project in villages on Borneo has converted struggling, impoverished communities suffering with significant health issues, drug and alcohol problems into thriving and happy populations which look forward to developing further skills, protecting the jungle and promoting Dayak culture in the country.

And in Kyrgyzstan, a country ravaged over centuries by other nations, the population struggles to maintain their own identity. Kyrgyz love their country and want to keep the local wisdom and traditions going for the generations to come but the poverty and globalisation prevents them from being able to engage in teaching, manufacturing promoting their traditional values.

The modern way of life is something they detest as it leads to squalor and unhappiness. The health and culture are closely linked. Only working with communities across the world has this become vividly apparent to me. Our mental health is closely intertwined with our happiness stemming from who we are, where we live, who surrounds us. And this has an effect on our physical wellbeing.

Individual drops of water make a sea. I hope that my drops will make a difference.

If you would like to learn more about MEDyARTE Foundation please visit our website where you will have an opportunity to donate should you wish to support any of the projects.

Dr Goska Trubshaw

GPwER Headache and Founder MEDyARTE

Goska is one of our BASH GPwER group. To find out more about the group, visit our GP page here

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