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Three cheers foh pa-pa-yaw

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Dey say dat 518 years ago, when Christopher Columbus came to de Caribbean he got sick like ah dog! He had Dem-Gay: Nausea, high fever, vomiting, pain in de joints and muscle, pain at de back ah de eyes, and coughing.

One ah de Natives, ah young female Mid-wife/ Nurse, Arawak or Carib of course, saw him vomiting over board and ran to her grand-dad foh help, he was ah Bush Doctor, de Medicine Man. Very close to de beach was ah Pa-Pa-Yah tree laden wid ripe yellow fruits. Grand-dad broke off ah couple leaves, pound dem an ah flat stone at de far end of de beach, squeeze de Pa- Pa-Yah juive wid his hands, poured it in ah Calabash and gave Christopher to drink. Within hours de vomiting had stopped, fever gone and by de next day he was ready to sail again. Before leaving Columbus thank de good Bush Doctor and his community Nurse, den he asked dem foh de name of de fruit. Pointing to de Heavens, dey said “Pah Pah Yah” and Columbus said: “ Yes, whatever, call it Angel Fruit!” When Columbus pulled up anchor and was leaving, he heard de sound of flutes playing Harry Belafonte’s Folk song: “Jah-mek-her Farewell.” De lickle native Caribs were making musical sounds from blowing de long stalk of de “Pa Pa Yah leaf.”

After my Radiation Treatment for Pass-Straight Cancer in 2011, ah went on ah rigid Fresh Fruit and Herbal regime: Man-go, Banana, Guava, Coconut, Sour Sop, Pa Pa Yah, was like ‘Numero Uno’. And foh Herb Tea ah use Ginger, Local Chocolate, Saffron, Mint, Sour Sop leaves, Kojo Root de master foh Cancer and Sugar, Tam-brand (tamarind). Den ah read way Pa Pa Yah was laden wid Vitamin C and Antioxidants which prevent cholesterol build up in your arteries, improves Eye-sight, lower Pressure and Die-or-be tease, Asthma etc good foh like everything., And de Leaves was ah master treatment foh Dem-Gay! One of our family friend from de Buccama area, told us of ah bad experience she had while bathing in de sea. She got entangled wid Jelly Fish (sea Man-ah-war) and was stung all parts of her body. She was nauseous, had ah fever and pain all over. De near-bars advised to put meat tenderizer on her skin, but de only tenderizer dey knew about was green Pa Pa Yah when cooking tough meat. Her parents crushed de green Pa-Pa-Yah covered her skin wid de pulp, and it worked like magic.

I tried making ah drink from the Pa-Pa-Yaw leaves, just to see how it tasted and it was bitter. So ah decided to stick to de Ripe Fruit, ah does eat de flesh, de skin which is bitter, and ah pulp de seeds in my mouth den swallow them Interestingly ah read someway dat Pa Pa Yah seeds was good foh parasites or worms. Ley me knock board: “No Dem-Gay yet!”

So for me it was like ah breath ah fresh air when ah heard on de SVG TV news and read in de Searchlight Newspaper dat de Pharmaceutical Services, Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, is advocating the use of Papaya Leaf Extract in the management of Dengue Fever. De Release went on to give instructions and guidelines on de extraction of de Pa Pa Yah juice. It also states dat de remedy is already in use in St Vincent and the Grenadines as a homemade preparation, and is becoming an important adjunct treatment in the face of our present Dengue Fever Outbreak.

We are blessed in de Carry Beyond to have an abundance of Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs that have both Nutritional and Medicinal Properties to keep us Healthy and Strong. And ah sincerely want to Big-Up de Pharmaceutical Services in de Ministry of Health foh dis bold step. Sending us back in de Garden of Eden from whence all Foods and Medicine came. Trust me, just like how we uncover Pa-Pa-Yah to treat Dem-Gay, we have nuff things, Ginger, Saffron, Asthma Bush, Kojo Root and others yet to be uncovered to treat COVID 19. And wid dat, is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.