We’re honoured to bring you another interview in Matoyana Media’s Warrior Women series and to introduce you to Dr Eseza Nambassi who is a Medical Doctor and General Health Practitioner. Dr Nambassi reminds us of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi who told us. “In a gentle way, each of us have the capacity to shake the world.” We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did.
Hello Dr Nambassi, tell us a bit about yourself?
“We live in a world which no longer has no borders, so I like to consider myself a global citizen who is very adaptable – because I’ve had to adapt. I’m a mother and a wife and I graduated as a medical doctor about 34 years ago, that was in the mid 80’s.
I think I was destined to go on the journey through medical school to learn something. What I learned has given me my passion for advocating for health and wellness. I think life throws things at us. Looking back, I thought it was a major mistake going to medical school, I kicked and screamed. But now I understand that I’m in a much stronger place having done that. I didn’t want to do it but it prepared me to deal with the disease crisis and the health crises we have today.”
Tell us about your biggest battle?
“I think the biggest battle has been to come to terms with my purpose and to come to understand that ingrained in my purpose was my career through medical school. You know a lot of people think medical school is glamorous but speak to any doctor and they will tell you that it’s not fun. You think you are going to come out at the other end and have it made. No, it’s not like that. So my biggest battle was to tease out my purpose – and my purpose is to be truthful, to actually be honest with everyone I deal with.
So the battle has been to unlearn everything I was taught at medical school and come back and ask ‘But what are the basics? What did my Creator say? Did my creator say that when I have pain, that I have a deficiency of some drug?’ No, that’s not what He said. So that has been a big battle. But it’s also been a natural battle for me because that is how I was wired, if I may put it that way.”
Which women warriors do you look up to?
“Wow, there are so many and actually I’m loath to pick even one because there are so many women out there doing so many good things. But a warrior for me is one who has chosen a path she knows is for the greater good, a path which she knows will leave a lasting legacy.
One picture which comes to mind is my biological mother and my mother in law. Because they grounded us, they set the stage for us and they sometimes denied themselves in order to put me in a better place. My mother passed away last year but my mother-in-law is still here on earth with us, she is in Uganda, and through thick and thin, she had decided to be a disciplined woman of integrity – literally her word was her bond. It’s so easy to be fickle, but a warrior woman should actually have their word as their bond.”
What do you think it takes to be a warrior woman?
“One thing is to identify your purpose, and that’s a journey all on its own. Some identify it quickly, others have to be guided, but there is a lot of guidance around. After that, be committed, be disciplined, have respect for yourself and you’ll be able to respect others.
Respect is so closely linked with love, because if you can love yourself, you’ll respect yourself and you will actually choose what you do to yourself, what you feed your body and how you exercise it. I have an exercise routine that helps me stay flexible, because I’ve realized that if I don’t set time aside – I’ll be 60 in a few months time – I’ll be running into problems.”
It’s also a difficult time for women – there’s too much peer pressure, so it depends on which peer group you choose to belong to. Unfortunately it is so easy to fall into the peer group of the victim and then you can never be a warrior. Find a group where you will be encouraged by your peers. I really believe in community. You cannot do life alone, and so one thing that characterizes a warrior in our time, is to recognize community and the importance and value thereof.”
What makes you a warrior woman?
“What qualifies me as a warrior woman is that after what I’ve seen in my medical career, I think I can actually get up and say, ‘Wait a minute, can’t we go back to the basics now?’ In my medical practice I chose to focus on HIV because I lost a lot of relatives from HIV – my eldest brother passed away the year ARV’s came on the market, so he just missed it.
This has grounded me in that groove to talk about HIV. But I’ve always been talking to people about the value of nutrition and I’ve seen it countless times whereby just nourishing one, the symptoms are dealt with and the person can then handle ARV’s better than if they were mal-nourished or immune-compromised.
So, I have a purpose as a warrior for people living with HIV. I like to give them hope, I like to encourage them. I remember telling a patient to change what he was eating because we’d just changed his medication. Now unfortunately because of our history, he quickly adopted the victim mentality, ‘I cannot afford that’. But I reminded him it wasn’t anything exotic and not to eat junk food. One can go to the supermarket or the farmers market where you can get fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and eat those.
I tell my patients to eat healthily and then come back in a month and we’ll have a look at the difference – I’ve done that many times and I’ve seen a difference – it enhances how the medication is working.”
Thank you for your powerful words Dr Nambassi.