Community Health Projects

How my disease taught me to reclaim my health

Maras*, P & Maras*, M
*pseudonyms at request of the authors

Mike had been feeling unwell and extremely tired for a long time before he desperately decided to go and see a doctor for a diagnosis. After undergoing the usual medical examinations he was diagnosed with Hepatitis B. The only comment made by the specialist at the Academical Hospital who examined him was that it is not possible to cure this chronic disease.

Hepatitis B is a severe liver inflammation caused by the Hepatitis B virus. The liver plays an important role in breaking down and removing wastes from the body and is located in the abdomen, right below the rib cage. The virus is spread through direct contact with contaminated blood and bodily fluids1.

Nevertheless, Mike was left with many questions about his recovery. At the time when he developed the liver inflammation and associated complaints2 he was working in a warehouse where he had to use several dangerous (chemical) substances, metals, and tools. He wondered what he had done wrong and what he could do to improve his health situation, i.e., which type of nutrition could have a positive effect on his recovery process.

As Mike was willing to do whatever it took to get rid of his complaints, he started to do his own research about Hepatitis B and other diseases, the human body, and nature-based cures. His body, and therefore also his life, were out of balance. By changing his way of living he was able to fully recover from this disease.

Being diagnosed Hepatitis B was a significant turning point in Mike’s life – especially as the doctor thought the disease was chronic and that his body would never recover.

After this experience, he kept studying and researching about the human body. Together with his wife, he now applies his knowledge to his own life and strives to provide the right information to others, teaching them how to maintain good health. There are still many people suffering and dying from various diseases, many of which could have been prevented. The food and pharma industries have turned health into a business model.

Better quality of life

After this experience, the couple emigrated from the Netherlands (Europe) to Suriname (South America). Although they were aware that a consumer society differs in many ways from a developing country, they still expected to get a better quality of life in Suriname, where they would be surrounded by unspoiled nature and a less hectic and individualistic society.

The Republic of Suriname is situated in South America and its capital is Paramaribo. The country borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the North. Until the 25th November 1975, Suriname was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has a tropical rainforest climate with one major and one minor rainy season, as well as two dry seasons. The country has a variety of flora and fauna. The largest part of Suriname is covered by jungle, which is part of the largest jungle in the world: the Amazon Rainforest. Suriname is geographically divided into districts.


Due to the historical development of Suriname, the Surinamese population (573,311 people in 2014) includes Indians, Maroons, Creoles, Chinese, Hindustani, and Javanese people. To a lesser extent, it also includes other groups such as resident Boeroes (white farmers), Jews, Lebanese, and Brazilians.

These  population  groups  came  from  all  corners  of the world to this beautiful country. In doing so they preserved their own languages, religions and customs, thus giving Suriname its authenticity.

This mixed cultural background makes it interesting to learn about the health situation of the inhabitants of Suriname.

Suriname: Status Quo Health

A 2013 study about the risk factors for chronic diseases amongst the population of Suriname showed that 85% of people have an unhealthy lifestyle. Moreover, the results of an updated report on health in the Caribbean show that people in Suriname have high-caloric, fatty, and sugary diets and do little exercise3. Further to these results, the government decided to regularly organize health information gatherings in all districts of Suriname.

Mike and his wife Priscilla saw this as a perfect opportunity to take part in health-related events to inform people about how to have a healthy lifestyle, as well as point out the risks and dangers of unhealthy habits.

By organizing educational activities, they try to motivate others to invest in good health and contribute to the development of the community.

Several activities took place on request of the local inhabitants. These projects included groups for women, a school, and a dance group.

Women’s Group Project

We offer educational meetings to a group of women. The theory people learn in these meetings is immediately applicable to real-life practice. For instance, after participating, one of the ladies who spent most of her working day sitting down, had to take diuretics because her legs were retaining too much fluid. After our training, she started drinking more water and taking less salt and sugar with her meals. Even before the training sessions were finished, the pain in her legs had almost gone and, after consulting with her doctor, she stopped taking the diuretics.

School Project

Mike and Priscilla contacted the head of a secondary school, who happened to be one of their previous students. In Suriname, many students drop out of school due to various reasons. Mike was therefore asked to organize a reading for students in their final year,  to  motivate  them  to  lead  a  healthy  lifestyle in   order   to   improve   their   school   performance. The subject was “Nutrition, Health & the Human Body”. Additional topics, such as the importance of healthy nutrition, getting enough rest and water, were also discussed. This reading was so successful that they also asked him to give interactive training sessions to the other school years, on subjects such as the human body and preventing diseases by staying healthy.

Dance Group Project

Mike and Priscilla also organized interactive training sessions for women of a Javanese dance group. The general knowledge of these women about a healthy lifestyle was very limited and their physical condition was not too good. In the training sessions, which were attended by 24 Javanese women of all ages, several presentations, videos, and other media were used to explain the theory in an interactive and practical way. A total of 5 entertaining and educational meetings were organized, including cookery classes. Indonesian cuisine is very famous; however, using the right oils, salt, and sugars etc. was not always easy for these Javanese women. Their final assignment was therefore to prepare a five-course dinner in which they implemented the knowledge they had gained. They ended their training with a spectacular dance performance. A perfect example which shows that the words “healthy and tasty” certainly go well together: ‘it takes two to tango’!

Holistic, Health & Beauty

Recently, Mike and Priscilla started their own business, “Holistic, Health & Beauty”, aimed at promoting health by providing information, training sessions, and other educational activities about a healthy lifestyle. In addition, they offer a variety of health products – in particular, high-quality nutritional  supplements – to prevent and improve diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, and improve quality of life. They also promote unsprayed organic agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables. In this context, they have started a collaboration with Dr. Rath.

Health has become a global business model, mainly caused by the food and pharma industries. In Suriname, people suffer from diseases caused by unhealthy life styles. Education is essential to make a change to this worrying development and for people to spread the importance of a healthy lifestyle amongst their own families, in their neighborhoods, at school, and at work etc. However, the people themselves need to be willing to make these changes happen. Improving the world really starts within ourselves!