Article from the series: Staying Safe and Healthy in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo
Whenever you are visiting Gisenyi or embarking on the Thriving Countryside trek, stop by at Mr Neza’s. This is a man who wanted to heal, so he opened a clinic after a 30-year secondary school career in all the three countries of our region.
“I got tired of teaching languages but not of playing a significant role in our society. This last period of my life makes me happy,” says 67 years old Bimenyimana Neza.
Gisenyi (Rubavu) was an easy location choice for Neza to settle down. He’s originally from the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and there are many family members of his living in this Rwandan border town adjacent to Goma (Congo). Being among your own people, notes Neza, means they can keep an eye on your property when you are absent, refer patients to you and provide encouragement.
He obtained most of his medical knowledge from Kigali. In 2016 he attended a course for a year — learning from senior healers, books and the internet — and got certified. But he keeps expanding his knowledge, as this is his passion. He even passed it onto his children; two of the three have become nurses.
Neza sees herbal doctors as complimentary to the practitioners of what he calls “classic medicine”. He would not mess with patients suffering from Covid-19, HIV/Aids, cancer or madness. His magnetic healing hands (he will tell you more when you meet him), massaging machines, mountains of honey, olive oil bottles and other natural cures are there to supplement not replace.
“When the other side is failing, when the weakness of classic medicine is exposed but I am succeeding in making people feel better, I get motivated,” Neza explains.
TWO NEZA’S PIECES OF ADVICE
Mix honey with sesame. This will help keep your memory fresh, increase intellectual skills, defeat insomnia and take away stress.
To boost your immune system or fight inflammations, remember the 9-5-1 formula. Take 9 spoons turmeric powder (stops inflammation, fights cancer, keeps your mind and body firm), 5 spoons of ginger powder (helps with inflammation, motion sickness and pregnancy nausea) and 1 spoon of black pepper (helps turmeric reach deeper in the body) and mix them with water or put into your food.
He lists wounds that don’t heal, leg and foot pain, back pain, liver problems, heart disease, poisoning, worms, ulcers, cough and skin diseases as the main problems clients bring to him. He can also sort out children who urinate in their beds and adults addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Unlike the traditional culture that looks down on drinking water, Neza is a big proponent of hydrotherapy. “Water is very important to the human being, take it regularly,” he advises, “If you weigh 60 kilograms (132 pounds) you should drink at least 1.5 litres (51 ounces) of water per day. When you sweat or go for a short call, you have to replace that.”
Secondly — and you are not going to be surprised by this — Neza emphasises the need to do physical exercise on a daily basis. At least 30 minutes of moving per day, he says (and thousands of classic doctors nod in agreement).
But his special thing is honey. He gets his extensive stock from the nearby Gishwati forest, an official supplier visits Neza regularly. “Honey cures over 100 diseases!” he stresses. He also commonly uses it to help wounds get better.
“You are what you eat,” says Neza to summarise his philosophy. The food we consume contains many medicines and a balanced diet will keep a person out of harm’s way.
As he dispenses his advice and gives treatments, Neza never forgets his patients’ relative poverty. His services need to be affordable, and sometimes he charges nothing. This is his calling.
“When you love your work, your business will be OK,” concludes Bimenyimana Neza.