(Xinhua) -- When doctor Li Xinwei first set foot in
Namibia in southwest Africa, he felt disoriented.
“It is a place you have difficulty
finding the right direction; I always felt as if the sun rose in the
west,” this is the first sentence Li wrote in his new book about his
experiences in Africa.
Li works in a traditional Chinese
medicine (TCM) hospital in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s
Zhejiang Province. He went to Namibia with his medical team on an
international aid mission in 2004 and stayed there for four years.
In the northern hemisphere, the sun
shines longer on the south side of a building. However, in Namibia,
the sun shines longer on the north side, and the difference confused
During his stay in Namibia, Li worked
in Katutura Hospital in the country’s capital Windhoek as an
acupuncture and moxibustion therapist. “Many locals were curious
about what I did,” Li recalled.
Li worked differently compared with
other medical staff in the hospital. He often used long needles, but
without tubes at the end. He burned herbs in the room and heated
bottles on an open fire.
Oliwa was one of his patients. He was
treated in the hospital for a broken bone, and after an operation,
he felt pain in his thighs and bottom. One day, he was attracted by
the smell of burning herbs in Li’s office.
After a consultation, Li invited him
to try the TCM therapy. In just one session, Oliwa’s pain was
“He asked whether I used secret
potions in the needles,” Li said, “And I explained to him the theory
TCM believes that Qi and blood
circulate through the body and pain happens where the Qi-blood
circulation is blocked, Li said. “Oliwa was very interested in the
Oliwa was finally cured after a few
sessions, but Li’s quest to spread TCM did not stop there.
Zuleka, who opened a hospice to
provide care for terminally ill patients became one of Li’s
“Zuleka wanted to help those suffering
great physical and psychological pain in her hospice, and I taught
her some basic skills of acupuncture and moxibustion,” Li said.
After learning for several weeks,
Zuleka gave the therapy to his patients. Many said they have a
better appetite, sleep easier, and have less pain after being
Li met his wife on holiday back in
China, and the two maintained their long-distance romance for
several years. They communicated primarily through e-mail, sharing
their daily adventures with each other.
The e-mails Li wrote to his wife about
Africa later became part of his new book. Li also named his son
“Yuan Fei,” meaning romance with Africa.
Now back in Hangzhou, Li still pays
attention to the news in Africa. He invites African interns in his
hospital to experience acupuncture and moxibustion in his office and
talks about the continent with them.
“Over the years, I wrote my thoughts
about Africa in my notebooks and mobile phone whenever I was
inspired,” Li said, “Life in Africa is a journey of personal