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E63 I Am Because You Are with Laurika Booysen

Tagline

We are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others: A South African doctor from a teaching and military family shows how to be in service to a multi-ethnic population.

Bio for Laurika Booysen

Dr. Laurika Booysen is a family doctor passionate about empowering people in their own health journey. She has served in South African Military health services and has been empowering Canadians to own their healing journeys for 3 years.

She currently works at a community holistic health and wellness center in Edmonton which not only serves the community but the whole city. She loves the snow and mountains of Canada and is still awed at the kindness she comes across here.

Episode highlight

As a South African family doctor, Laurika Booysen helps her patients see themselves as the beautiful and capable souls they are while taking on her own homework of detaching from any preconceived assumptions about what they should do or be to live whole and healthy lives.

Links

Quotes

  • “[It] has been a privilege for me to be a part of a medical system that encompasses so much ethnic and cultural differences.”
  • “Not only physical but health is mental, psychological, spiritual – there’s so many aspects to health.”
  • “We are all so different and unique so what works for one patient… might not work for another patient.”
  • “I’m learning… from naturopaths, learning from chiropractors, learning from physios, learning from every allied health professional and every alternative medicine. We can collaborate and come together, we will have… stronger bodies, stronger people, and stronger communities.”
  • “Everybody deserves not just equality but equity… In the world, everything is about equality but you can’t treat people equal. There is no level where you can say, you’re equal now. It’s about equity.”
  • “The person that sits in front of you, imagine that it’s your mother/father/sister/brother/child – when you see people like that, you will never not do your best.”
  • “When you can dream it, you can believe it.”
  • “Your culture plays a role and your culture is part of your strength.”
  • “Maybe we will just agree to disagree and that’s a way too.”
  • “I had to learn to meet people where they are at and really accept them where they are at, not accept their potential, but accept who they are, right at that spot and not just look at the dream and what they could be and what they could become.”

Takeaways

Childhood Incidents

Growing up in South Africa, Laurika didn’t understand segregation even though she was surrounded by it. When beggars came to her door asking for bread, she would open the door (even though it was unsafe) and add meat and cheese (luxury foods in South Africa), which would upset her mother.

She recalls making concoctions for wounds while playing dollhouse as a child and feels assured about what she is doing in life based on those memories. She also feels driven to contribute to the medical system because her family members were not treated well in it, in South Africa.

She was privileged to attend a good all-girls school with exposure to multiple events and competitions. She was also the head of the entrepreneurial group and developed her confidence there. “I hope other children experience a really good education”, she wishes.

One of her teachers took her Grade 5 class to her first theatre play – Fiddler on the Roof, and she remembers that day as having made a big impression on her, following which she resolved to have a better life.

As a teenager, she was involved in many cultural activities, brought home people of different cultures and visited their homes. She has always enjoyed learning about other cultures and experiencing different family dynamics.

Influential groups

Laurika comes from a family of teachers – her mother and all her siblings are teachers. She looks at her medical practice as similar to teaching and coaching as well. Her family also has a military background, which taught her about righteousness and justice.

Traditionally, the aspects she has imbibed from her culture are about loving people and loving food! Addressing people with respectful titles goes hand in hand with authenticity – “people say what they mean and they mean what they say, whether you like it or not”, she explains.

She has learnt to adapt the culture she grew up with to align with her values and beliefs today, breaking free from cultural expectations of how she should be. As an adult, she has also had to dispel stereotypes others hold about her culture and highlight the unjust roots of those stories.

Temperament and Personality Influences

Laurika finds that she has become more understanding of people. She desires the best for everyone and wishes they reach their highest potential, but she has learnt to be more accepting of who they are now and what they need, without pushing them to do what she thinks is good for them.

As a doctor, she recognizes that her job comes with a level of respect and responsibility. However, she also acknowledges the boundaries of her work. “I need to learn where I stop; basically where I do the work, they do the work and God does the rest”, she notes.

Cultural Epiphanies

8 months into living in Canada, Laurika felt depressed, dissociated and disconnected due to a cultural shock, and was not able to shake it off. Her accent is different and her humour isn’t always understood. However, she has worked to replicate “the community ubuntu spirit” in Canada too.

Advice to an Employer

Laurika claims the biggest gift she can receive is “seeing people flourish”. She values freedom and autonomy on the job so she can flourish too. The intergenerational impacts of the injustice Africans have faced make her cherish freedom and autonomy even more.

More Great Insights!

Laurika and her team are working to build a community health center on the west side of Edmonton to help community members and their future generations live empowered, autonomous lives. She believes that “Canada is for the healing of the nations”.

She tries to be more mindful and centred in her daily life, stopping to speak to someone at the grocery store, or being present with the patient in front of her, even if there are 30 waiting outside. She also empathizes with and ensures she speaks to immigrants in South Africa when she goes back.

She suggests having conversations to dissolve biases. By opening up our hearts and minds to learning about different cultural groups, we can trade our assumptions and ignorance for acceptance. Walls can be broken down with the suspension of judgement.

Extro

Laurika Booysen is a brilliant and emotionally wise medical doctor who has built a life around helping others and devoting her learning to multiple ways of healing. Her mission to heal is actualized as she applies both her strong western medical training and a deep curiosity about people’s actual experience to the lives of marginalized and dispossessed.

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