A Gentle Breeze in Ghana
by Didi Ananda Kaomudii

This is about Didi Ananda Vinumbra from Congo, who has nursed, trained and built a number of clinics in Ghana. The extraordinary thing I find about her is that she is 56 years old and running like a 22 year old:

A gentle breeze rustles from the river through the thicket. Cocoa fruits, pinapple and banana are growing within the shelter of swaying coconut palms. There is a life here, within the blessings of nature, that fill the mind and heart with pleasing calm. One could say a soothing balm exists within those leafy green plants, eminating a healing balm.

It is within that jungled nature that Didi Ananda Vinumbra chose her site. She has built a clinic that serves at the junction of a number of villages running along the river and valley areas. Her choice is logistic, as the bridge within view is the junction for three main high-roads, each well stocked with transport vehicles. An easy location for the more remote village dwellers.

She paints an unusual picture within the swaying foliage. Her uniform that frames a vibrant smiling face, is bright orange. Her tendency is to speak with her arms, so that the veil she wears is often flowing around her animated form. When dwarfed by the tallest trees, she appears as a flower, aflame and dancing.

Those she greets seem to melt in gratitude. She is a woman of mature age and wisdom, who can sum up quickly the needs of a late delivery, a child in the throws of malarial fever, or a quiet gentleman hobbling with infection in his feet. She greets all who come, at any hour, concentrating her energies upon healing them.

Her clinic is not only a home to the patients. It is a training center for those who wish to follow in her steps and bring medicine and nursing to their villages. She instructs them at first, then monitors their work and finally, after years of rigorous application, they are allowed to work as clinicians within their home areas. In this way, the work of Didi is mushrooming beyond the precincts of the surrounding villages, and moving further afield into under-resourced rural areas. Women and children's health and safety are their highest priorities.

Those training with her, also live within her compound. They can see that the germination point of inspiration springs from her daily meditation. As a nun her belief in the power and love of her God reflects clearly in her advice and teaching. Without faith and love, one cannot heal.

She trains the simple people. Women who have mothered, men who have worked on the land and farmed for their people. Those whom the villagers look to as leaders and moral guides. The chosen can carry the load of helping others in their lives. For the responsibility that they will carry as village clinician can determine a life or death.

In many of the cases that Didi has met, women have walked or been carried by family members long distances. Their labour heavy with complications and desperate to be helped through delivery. Didi's clinic is simple, even rudimentary in it's equipment. But Didi is accustomed to being called upon to utilize all of her mental recourses. The babies she has brought safely into the world are many. She and her team work successfully in areas where infant mortality is known to be unnecessarily high. They are turning that tide.

At a clinic party the new mothers arrived dressed in white, (the traditional costume for childbirth), arms laden with the bow-and-lace bundles of soft-skinned babies. Aglow and radiating confidence. So very different from the villages where a woman is alone with her concerns and failing health, struggling with un underweight child that isn't gaining strength after a traumatic birth. There are traditional doctors who may wail a prayer and burn some herbs, but cannot compare with the modern medicine and hygienic methods of Didis teaching. And the rational strength of her inner conviction. To serve each of humanity is to serve God.

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A Gentle Breeze in Ghana

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