Friday- July 9th, 2010
I am writing this at about 1:00 PM Ghana time. I just finished my last lunch here- white rice with chicken- I sure will miss that! Last night, we had some interesting adventures. A bunch of us went out to a bar/restaurant in town called "virgin lips." After drinking a few beers and talking about our experience and what we are looking forward to eating most when we get home, we then proceeded to get some "street meat." This was not our first time getting street meat- maybe my 5th or 6th time, but basically there are a bunch of vendors on the street that grill meet for one cedi (about 75 US cents). Usually, we have some sort of sausage, last night they were serving cow and gizzard kabobs. It was a bit spicy, but sure did taste yummy! We then decided that since it was our last night, we should also get some egg sandwiches. There is an egg sandwich lady (Evelyn) that makes an incredible late night snack for also one cedi. Basically, it is an omelet in between two pieces of bread which are drenched in palm oil. Even though it is one of the worst oils to consume, it just tastes so amazing.
This morning, we were supposed to go to the RCH, but of course, plans were changed. They do not seem to like plans and schedules here, which is why they are so relaxed and easy going. So instead, we decided to go with some other volunteers to teach hygiene and health education at the schools. We were only able to teach two classes because Friday is market day, so they had a half day of school so that the children can help their parents bring stuff from the farms to the market. However, as always, it was very rewarding to teach. I will really miss teaching the students here- they are so willing to learn, they ask questions and they are always smiling and paying attention- definitely not like this in the states.
I will soon have my final meeting with Makafui at about 2:00 PM. We will talk about my placements and my overall experience here. Then at about 5:00 PM we will be leaving to go to the airport. It is about a 4 hour drive to the Accra airport. My flight takes off at 1:00 AM tonight (Saturday morning) and is a grueling 11 hour flight straight to Atlanta. I should be into Orlando at about noon on Saturday. I can't wait to see my family once I get home! It is going to be very difficult deciding on what to eat when I get home. Most of all, I think I miss Italian food, but I also miss a good steak cooked by mommy and funfetti cake for dessert. Surprisingly, I do not miss fast food too much- I have been craving Taco Bell for quite a while, but I do not really miss McDonalds or Burger King too much. I must say that I will miss the food here- it is quite unique. However, I doubt that I will want to eat white rice for a long time- unless it is sushi. Anyways, I definitely am looking forward to being home tomorrow, but I think it will be very weird to get back to the western world and civilization.
Well, I cannot believe that I am heading home tonight. 5 weeks has gone by way too fast! Even though I have missed my family, friends, American food and hot showers, I must say that I have really enjoyed the way of life here in Ghana. I could definitely stay here longer, but ultimately, it is time to go back home. For sure, I will come back to Africa soon.
Thursday- July 8th, 2010
Today, my placement was at the bone setter. I was really looking forward to this experience after going there two weeks ago. I will never forget what I saw that time- some of the most unsanitary conditions I have ever seen. But today, was somewhat different. We arrived there around 8:30 AM and met with Michael- the bone setter and also owner of the clinic. Two weeks ago I just went with Megan, but since there were two new girls with us, he talked with us for about an hour and a half. His discussions were similar to what we experienced when we first came, but he went into further detail on how he combines his three specialties: bone setting, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. He uses all three of his specialties to treat each patient. I won't get into too much detail because I wrote about this two weeks ago in my journal, but there were some new things he discussed today.
First, he discussed with us the process of how his patients come to him and also how he gets paid. First, patients usually go to the hospital and depending on the condition, they get referred to a herbal center such as Michaels. However, most of the time, these patients cannot afford to go to the hospital, so they go straight to the herbal clinics since they are much cheaper. Michael said that he does not do this to make money- he makes just about enough for supporting his family, but he does not make much profit from his services. He said that he charges a small fee to his patients- usually 20 cents for any treatment. I asked Michael what happens if someone cannot afford to pay. Michael replied "I treat them anyways." He stressed the fact that money is not important to him- he does this because he enjoys it and was passed down from his father and grandfather. He only charges a small fee to offset the costs of needles, bandages, etc. This was very interesting to hear from him, because he is such a sincere person and wants to help people, yet he does not make much money at all. He said that someday the government will help herbal clinics, so he is waiting for that day to come.
Next, he was explained acupuncture again. This did not really interest me too much, but it is something to think about for alternative medicine. He said that he has been doing a lot of research lately with skull acupuncture and how there are different regions on the skull to help with pain in several body regions and organs.
After listening to an interesting lecture for quite a while, he finally started to do bone setting. But first, he said he had to take a shower. We waited about 20 minutes and he was finally ready to do some bone setting. It was pretty amusing to hear him say he is going to take a shower, while his patients have been waiting for him for hours already. When we first got to the clinic, I recognized quite a few patients from 2 weeks ago. Almost every patient that I saw 2 weeks ago was here again today. I asked Michael how often they come, and he said that depending on the severity of their condition, they come once a week. He also said that some patients actually stay at his clinic because they cannot walk anywhere. I was able to see the room where patients can stay- basically sheets on the floor and a toilet in the corner, and he said that they are responsible for feeding themselves, going to the bathroom, and everything else. He just provides somewhere for them to stay to recover.
Anyways, the first patient was an older man that was suffering from epilepsy. Michael started to make some sort of herbal liquid. He took three different leaves and used some tree bark, got them wet with a bit of gin, and squeezed them to make some sort of medicine. He asked the patient to lie down, and Michael poured about one tablespoon of the liquid into each nostril. I can only imagine how that must of felt- he looked like he did not enjoy it, I didn't blame him.
We then went into the alleyway where he does bone setting. It was already about 11:00 AM at this time, and we only had one hour left until we were to leave to go back for lunch. I clearly remembered his first patient from two weeks ago- he had a fractured tibia which protruded through the skin. Two weeks later, it seemed to be healing. Michael took off his bandages and wooden cast and had him try to walk with a chair for support. Surprisingly, he was able to very well. He was actually one of the patients that have been staying at the clinic because he has not been able to walk at all.
I could have never forgotten the next patient. She was an older woman who had the most disturbing wound on her leg. Michael took off her bandages and not surprisingly, her wound looked a bit worse than two weeks ago. It was about a 2 inch wide wound that basically wrapped around her whole leg. The muscle, bone, tissue and cartilage were all fully exposed. It looked like there was also some type of green fungus growing on the tissue. It was so nasty to see flies land on her wound and hover around it- she is definitely asking for an infection. Anyways, it sure was disturbing to see that again, but at the same time, it was pretty awesome.
After Michael finished re-bandaging her wound, it was just about time for us to leave to go back to the home base. We were able to see one last patient- I remembered him from last week. He was an older man whose knee was totally dislocated. I could clearly see his patella about 3 inches down from his femur. Same as last week, Michael pushed up on the patella to try to maneuver it back into place. However, this was not working- he was screaming in so much pain, so he kept drinking his bottle of gin.
All in all, I really enjoyed my visits to the bone setter. Between the unsanitary conditions, the patient's wounds, and just the way of going about treatment and healing, it has been extremely memorable.
Wednesday- July 7th, 2010
Today I finally got to go to the RCH (Reproductive Child Health) Clinic! I believe I have mentioned the RCH before- we were supposed to go there the past few weeks, but we had to be approved to go there from their administration and something got mixed up, so we finally were able to go this week. I have been waiting quite a while for this experience.
We arrived at the RCH main office in Hohoe around 8:30 AM. There, we met two nurses- Reva and Joe. We picked up the supplies and headed to a village which was about 15 minutes drive outside of Hohoe. Once we arrived at the village, we unpacked the supplies and put them aside for a little bit. The head nurse Reva said that we have to wait for about an hour until 10:00 AM because the mothers are in the farms getting their crops ready for the market on Friday. We waited with the local villagers for about an hour- they gave us some fresh bananas right off of the tree and talked with us about our schools in the states and what we want to do with our future.
After a nice discussion with the local villagers, we setup the clinic- which was basically a hut with a table. I helped Reva and Joe organize the charts and patient records, as well as prep the syringes and vials for vaccinations and setup the scale. While setting up, I had the chance to talk with Reva and ask some questions. I asked Reva about the general structure and organization of RCH. She said that they are a government organization that provides free health care to children under 2 years old. The only thing that is not free is vaccinations- they are 20 pesways (about 15 cents in the states), which is still expensive for a lot of people here. I also asked Reva about their schedule and what they do on a weekly basis. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays they do outreach- a different village each month. They cover about 12 villages in one month so that they can see each child once a month in different villages and keep track of their health. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they are at their main office in Hohoe where they have mothers bring their children in there to have checkups.
At about 10:30 AM we saw the first patient. The mother took the 5 month old baby off of her back and undressed him. We put the baby into some sort of contraption that weighs the baby. Basically, it is a gravity scale that is suspended off of a rope and scale off of the ceiling. The baby was put into an overall type of cloth and the baby hangs on the scale, almost like a swing and we take the weight. It sure was a different way of weighing, but it does work well. I felt bad for the babies because it seems so uncomfortable hanging there for a few seconds- most of them cried. After weighing each baby, I assisted the nurse with recording and graphing the baby's weight. Most of the babies had about a 7% weight increase each month. However, there was one baby that had under a 1% weight increase- it was about 0.4% weight increase in one month. Reva was fairly concerned with this so we made sure the mother knew about it and educated her on proper nutrition. It is important to see weight growth in babies- especially in the first 12 months.
It was somewhat strange how their system works. Once the first baby came, there was a whole line of mothers waiting to have their babies checked on. What the nurses do is take the weight of all of the babies first and check their nutrition. Then, once all the babies have been weighed, they administer vaccinations. So, once the first baby is weighed, they have to wait until all the other babies are weighed until they can get vaccinated. I found this a bit strange, but that is how their system works.
Unfortunately, our placement time was up at 12 PM and we had to be picked up once the weighing was finished, so I was not able to see anything more than the weighing of babies. However, we will be going to another village with the RCH on Friday- my last day and hopefully I will be able to see more there. Tomorrow I will be going to the bone setter. I absolutely loved going there last week, so I am really looking forward to seeing some more nasty, yet awesome procedures.
Tuesday- July 6th, 2010
I just returned to the home base from the spiritual center- quite a unique experience it was. My expectations were pretty much the same as what I actually saw there today.
After driving down a bumpy dirt road for about 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the spiritual center. It was a medium sized hut made out of bamboo and leaves. A woman in a long green and yellow outfit with three big red crosses on her clothes greeted us once we arrived. She said that she was the leader of the church- she was a catholic for quite some time and then she said that she had some sort of a calling to talk to spirits and heal people, so she opened this church about 20 years ago. She was extremely friendly and showed us around the small church and surroundings for a few minutes, and throughout the service she helped translate from Ewe to English for us. She did not tell us her name, so I will just call her the leader lady.
The three other interns and I had a seat behind a table that contained a large cross, a lit candle, flowers, and a small bucket of water. The leader lady said that the water is blessed by two men in white robes. They fast for three days and bless the water. Then, that water is used to heal the sick- they dip a leaf in the water and shake it over the sick- supposed be some sort of a blessing for them. Anyways, the service started with about 8 people singing and dancing. There were different outfits for different titles of people. The leader lady said that the leader of the church, she, wears green and yellow. Her assistants wear white and green, the head leader wears all yellow, the leader's assistant wears white and red, and so on and so forth. They have such an organized system for each person's title.
Once the opening singing and dancing came to an end, which was probably a good 30 minutes, the head healer started to read from the bible in Ewe for about an hour- I started to fall asleep. This was when I asked the leader lady a few questions. I asked her about the church and what faith they actually are. She said that they are from all different churches- they come together once a week on Tuesdays to hold a healing session for anyone in the community. I then asked her the ways that they heal there. She told me that their main source of healing is from prayer, but they also administer herbal medicines in the form of drinks and bathing liquids. Like the witch doctor yesterday, here they have some people drink the herbal medicine and also rub the liquid on their skin to get rid of the evil spirits. However, here at the church, they rely heavily on prayer- they believe that people get sick because spirits make them sick, so they use prayer to get rid of the sicknesses.
There were about 15 people sitting in front of us waiting to be healed. Before they were able to get healed, the head healer took us back to an outside little prayer room- basically a small hut with a rug on top of rocks, a lit candle and a wooden cross. He said a few words in Ewe- I think some type of prayer, and then told our intern group a mini future reading. He said that we should all be careful because we are white volunteers in this country- and that a lot of people are jealous of us as Americans. He also mentioned terrorists envying America- he said that is why they flew into the world trade center. Then, he said that I should be careful on my way home to America this weekend because people envy me because I am a white American and he said to be careful because some want to do harm to us. Even though I did not believe what he was saying, it was just somewhat amusing to see him try so hard and saying halleluiah and praise Jesus every other word. The whole time in the church today reminded me of those infomercials on T.V. that are of thousands of people in a stadium going crazy praying for Jesus, dancing around and yelling halleluiah- it was just quite an experience to see it here.
After getting our fortune told, or somewhat told, we headed back into the church and sat down. One by one, he called up the people that have been waiting to see him to get healed. The first woman came up and stood in front of the head healer guy. He placed his hand on her head and started to shout some sort of prayer. She finally tried to walk, but was limp and shaky- just like on the T.V. infomercials where they shake and fall to the ground for some reason. She finally returned to her seat and the next person came up to be healed.
It sure was interesting to watch, but I highly doubt praying is going to heal cancer and other diseases/illnesses. I do respect their beliefs and everything, but it's just not scientifically proven to work. As a science major, it is hard for me to believe something if it is not proven. All in all, that's what they think works for treatment, so I must respect their beliefs. It sure was an interesting day, and I am glad I had the chance to experience a spiritual way of healing.
Monday- July 5th, 2010
Well, today was my last day of teaching- so sad! I must say that when I started teaching a few weeks ago, I was not too enthusiastic about it. After a few days of teaching at the schools, I started to fall in love with it. Between the questions students asked and the activities we did with them, it was so rewarding. Today, we taught hygiene and malaria prevention at the New Town basic school in Hohoe. We had three classes: two 4th grade classes and one 5th grade class. It is so interesting to hear the misconceptions that so many students have about malaria. One student today thought that you can get malaria by touching someone, and another student thought that malaria can turn into HIV. Of course, we cleared those misconceptions up and told them the truth, but I think that the students here are not being taught the proper aspects of health. I do understand that we are in a third world country that is very poor, but the teachers should be educating their students on the basics of how to stay healthy, preventing malaria, and other diseases that are so prevalent in the area. Since these students did not know too much about health care, it was even more rewarding to teach them, because no one else may have gave them this information if we did not come.
Since today was my last day of placement teaching, the rest of the week will be somewhat mixed between a few areas. My last week, so sad! Tomorrow I will be going to the spiritualist- supposedly a priest or some sort of religious figure that cures sick people by praying, etc. I am not exactly sure what it is all about, but will find out tomorrow. Wednesday I will be going to the hospital, Thursday I will be going to the bone setter, and Friday (my last day) I will be going to the RCH. Placement wise, this week will be the most diverse. I am really looking forward to the spiritualist and the RCH. It will also be nice to experience one last surgery/hospital experience and also going to the bone setter should be rather interesting.
After lunch today, we had quite a different experience. Four other volunteers and I went to the Voodoo shrine to visit the witch doctor. Once we arrived, Kofi- the witch doctor greeted us in ewe. He did not speak any English, so our intern supervisor George helped us understand what Kofi was saying by translating. He led us into his office, or so called "shrine," where we were able to ask questions about his so called work.
The first question that I asked was about how he became a witch doctor and how long he has been practicing. Kofi said that voodoo can only be acquired from a past experience. His experience was when he fell sick and got healed by a witch doctor- he got better and thus acquired the voodoo. He realized he had this sort of special power, so he was trained by a witch doctor in his hometown and then moved to Hohoe in 1973 to start his own practice. I then asked him what he usually cures and how he cures his patients. Kofi sees patients with all sorts of diseases and viruses. He said that he can treat any disease at all, and if he is not able to cure it- it means that they will die soon. I didn't want to sound like a smart alec, but I asked him if he can treat HIV- and he said he can. I guess he found the cure for HIV! He also said that he can cure any type of cancer, disease or virus.
When we arrived, he only had one patient there. She was a young girl, probably in her early teens and has been suffering from seizures. Her mother stated that she has been having at least one convulsion per day for the past few weeks, sometimes up to five per day. The doctors at the hospital did not know what was causing her convulsions and the mother did not want her daughter on any medicine, so the doctor suggested for them to see the witch doctor to try a herbal/spiritual remedy. So we were all outside under a huge tree and Kofi brought two bottles of some type of potion. I asked him what was in it, but he said he did not want to say- just plants and some other herbs. He had the young girl drink one full bottle of the potion, which took her about a half hour to drink- it seemed like it tasted extremely bad. After the young girl finally finished the full bottle of the potion, Kofi had her get completely naked. The other bottle was half full with the same potion, and he had her smear the potion on every part of her skin. Kofi said that drinking it is for her to feel better medicinally, and smearing it on her skin is for the spirits to escape.
After the young lady was treated, Kofi wanted to read us our fortunes. This was my favorite part of the day, I was so excited to hear my future! Individually, we went into his shrine area- with translator George of course. I sat down right in front of him on a straw rug. There must have been about 50 different types of stones, shells and bones right next to him on the rug, along with three strands of beads with some sort of wooden pieces all along the length of the beads. He first had me hold an oval stone in my hand, whisper to myself something that I wanted to "cure in my life," and something that I "want in life." I whispered these two things to myself, then he had me touch the stone to my forehead and then to my chest and then he had me spit on the rock and put next to his feet. Once this interesting introduction came to an end, he started to move around rocks all over the floor and shook the beads and dropped them and picked them up a few times, and repeated. He finally stopped everything. Kofi told me that he cannot see any troubles or major problems in the near future. He said that I should beware of making close friends and to be careful with trusting people too much. Then, he told me to look after my family- to treat my parents very well and to buy them lots of gifts. I was happy with my fortune- nothing too bad. Jessica, the girl that went before me said that Kofi told her to beware of her health because something is going to happen soon to her. I was happy that nothing like that was told to me- Even though I don't believe it's true, I would still worry about it. For example, if he told me my plane was going to crash on Saturday, do you think I would have an enjoyable and relaxing flight? It would always be in the back of my mind what Kofi said.
Even though I do not personally believe that this type of medicine works, I think it was very interesting to see the way people are treated herbally and spiritually. It is surprising that people really do believe that this type of treatment works. There may be a few coincidences where someone gets better for some reason, but casting a spell and having them drink plant extracts is not going to cure cancers and diseases.
Like anything in life, I believe it is important to have an open mind. Everyone has different beliefs and we must respect them. Some people really do believe that voodoo exists and the witch doctor can heal the ill. If that is what they believe, I cannot argue with them. Just like tomorrow- I will be going to the spiritualist. Even though I do not believe in spirits and all of that, it still interests me to see how someone believes it works and their reasons for believing in it to treat and cure sick people.
Friday- July 2nd, 2010
Wow, I cannot believe I have been in Africa for one month already. Time sure has been flying by fast. It is still hard for me to believe that I am actually in Africa- I guess it hasn't sunk in yet. A week from today, I will be leaving to go back home to the states, very sad. But, everything has to come to an end at some point or another, and I think 5 weeks will be the perfect amount of time to stay here. Any shorter, I wouldn't have been ready to go home. Any longer, I think I would have already done everything I wanted to and I would want to go home. I will save next Fridays journal entry as more of a summary and what I have learned here, etc, but for today, I just wanted to say that I can't believe I have been here for a month already!
Today for placement, we went to teach about hygiene and malaria to three classes: 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Each had about 25 students in a class. The students had a ton of questions for us, which made it feel all worthwhile to clear up a lot of the misconceptions they had about hygiene, malaria and staying healthy in general. It is always a good feeling to know that I have made a small impact on a student's perspective and awareness of hygiene and malaria.
This weekend we decided to stay here in Hohoe. We were going to go to Mole national park, but it about a 17 hour bus ride to get there on tro-tros, and it just does not sound too safe. There is supposed to be a safari there, but nothing too big like in central Africa where there are lots of wild zebras, elephants, lions, etc. In mole, they have some elephants, but mainly monkeys, cheetahs, and birds. I figured it wasn't really worth taking off and missing placement Friday and Monday to travel 17 hours each way. Hopefully sometime soon I will come back to Africa and experience a real safari. It will be nice to have my last weekend here in Hohoe with all my friends. Also, Ghana plays tonight versus Uruguay and they better win tonight! I think we are all going to a restaurant downtown called Bundocks- we went there last Friday, so good! Pizza, French fries, and beer, yum! But the pizza here is equivalent to a cheap freezer burned pizza in the states, but after a month of the food here it will be good. I have been contemplating on what to have when I get back to the states. Part of me wants Mexican, and part of me wants a good burger. It will be a tough decision, just as long as I don't have white rice in a very long time, so tired of eating that every day. I must say that I will miss the food here though. I do enjoy the sauces and meats that they prepare here.
For my last week, Makafui and I created a schedule so that I can accomplish everything else I wanted to. On Monday I will be going to teach for my last day about hygiene and malaria, and in the afternoon I will be going to a spiritualist center that supposedly cures people by praying, so that should be interesting to see. Tuesday- I will be going to the witch doctor/ voodoo center for the day. Wednesday- I will be going to the hospital to hopefully see a surgery, and in the afternoon I will finally get to go to RCH. Thursday I will be going to the Bone setter, and Friday I will be going to RCH for my last day. I also plan on spending some afternoons at the orphanages. I really enjoyed that the past few weeks and I would like to spend some time there during my last week in Hohoe.
Thursday- July 1st, 2010
Happy Independence Day! (at least here in Ghana and in Canada). Today, Ghana celebrated their 53rd anniversary of independence as an African country. Since we did not have placement today, Patrick and I decided to take a day trip to Ho- which was about a 2 hour drive from Hohoe. We arrived at the tro-tro station around 10AM. Tro-tros are basically old beaten up 12 passenger vans that carry people from town to town- basically it is their public transportation system. I was somewhat nervous because of how unsafe they are and since there are no seatbelts, but it was only 2 dollars to get to Ho, so why not. Going there was not too bad- we had a decent driver, but on the way back was probably the scariest drive of my life- but I will talk about that in a little bit.
Once we got to Ho, we decided to grab some lunch since it was already noon. We stopped at a place called "West wing," where Patrick and I split a chicken fried rice dish and fufu groundnut soup- which was delicious. Fufu is a popular local food- basically made from cassava mixed with plantains which makes a gooey, dough like substance to eat with the soup. After a tasty lunch which only cost 8 dollars for 2 dishes and 2 Fantas, we headed to the Volta region museum. It was a rather small museum, and exhibits there included several displays of past village chief's crown, jewelry, and chairs. There was also ancient pottery, drums, and paintings from the Volta region hundreds of years ago. I am not sure if I mentioned this, but the Volta region is one of the states in Ghana- Ho is the capital of the Volta Region. Anyways, the museum was definitely worth going to.
After we left the museum, we visited the soccer stadium which was right down the street. This was where the soccer team for the Volta region plays- it was a huge stadium, not too many seats but supposedly people just crowd around the grass area. Then as we left the soccer stadium, there was a street vendor selling all sorts of Ghana merchandise. I already have two Ghana hats and some Ghana stuff, but I really wanted a Ghana flag to take home- so I had to get one. For 5 dollars I got a bunch of Ghana stuff- a big flag, another hat, 2 stickers, a sweatband, and sandals. Definitely might have been the best 5 dollars I have spent here in Ghana so far. And of course I will wear my gear tomorrow for the big game of Ghana versus Uruguay. It was so exciting last week when Ghana beat USA! Ghana is the last team from Africa left in the world cup, and if they win the game tomorrow it will be absolutely insane here.
All decked out in my new Ghana merchandise, we walked towards the market where there was a small festival going on for their independence day. Basically, they were just having a lot of Ghana music playing, people dancing and traditional food served all around the streets- that's supposedly how they celebrate their independence day here. They don't have any fireworks like we do in the states. It was quite an experience to walk thru downtown Ho and around the market. Downtown Ho reminded me of Hohoe, but just a whole lot bigger.
It was around 4PM when we decided to head out of the market and catch a tro-tro back to Hohoe. Now, this is where it gets interesting. We went to the lorry station (bus station) where there must have been about 40 tro-tros ready to leave to all different parts of Ghana- mainly Accra and Kumasi. We found one tro-tro that was empty and had a sign saying it was going to Hohoe. We figured we would hop on that one since it was fairly empty and was leaving right away, mind you that these tro-tros are 12- passenger vans which must be at least 15 years old and are all rusted, the floors all torn up, etc. So Patrick and I hopped onto the van thinking it would just be us going to Hohoe. Little did we know, we got into a "taxi" tro-tro which picks people up off the side of the road and drops them off along the way wherever they chose to go. At one time, there must have been 19 people in the van- 4 in each of the 4 rows, and 3 in the front row with the driver. A few times I was squished against the door because they crammed 4 into one row. There was this one guy that came in and sat next to me for about 10 minutes- he had the worst body odor you could ever imagine, and at this time it started to rain so we had to close the windows- I thought I was going to pass out from the smell. Along the way, we must have picked up and dropped off around 40 passengers- ranging from a young child to the elderly. These people basically stand on the side of the road and flag down a moving tro-tro to give them a ride.
We finally made it back to Hohoe a little after 6PM. It was extremely bumpy, stuffy and of course, amusing. Everyone here says that you have to experience a tro-tro ride while you are here, and I will definitely recommend that to everyone- it sure is quite an experience.
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
This morning, Jess, Beth and I arrived at the hospital to observe some surgeries- since Wednesdays are popular surgery days. We first went into the surgery ward to see what was booked for this morning, and of course there was nothing booked, but nothing is ever booked or reserved in Ghana, people just come as they please and the doctors show up whenever they want- seems like a nice stress-free life.
Nevertheless, we waited about an hour and a half at the surgery ward to see if there would be any emergency c-sections or anything like that, but nothing came in. Although we did not see any surgeries this morning, we still got to talk with the head surgical nurse for quite a while to gain some valuable information on surgeries at this hospital and in Ghana, and also got to know how she became a surgical nurse. It was interesting to learn how relaxing the surgery ward here is. She said that usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are surgery days. There are hardly ever any surgeries booked, but the male and female ward and the emergency ward tells the surgery ward whenever they need a surgery done that day. Normally, there is at least one c-section each day and another type of surgery, but some days there is nothing at all. It is so different compared to the surgery wards at the hospitals in the states where everything is booked way in advanced and there are always surgeries throughout the day.
After waiting a while for a surgery and talking with the head surgical nurse, we decided to stop by the male ward for a little bit. We got there just in time for vitals during the hourly rounds with Dr.Danoo and the nurses. In a room of about 20 male patients, there were two that I will never forget. The first, Atsu is his name- was suffering from severe malaria. Dr.Danoo stated that he had a fever of 103 for the past few days and has had severe stomach pain and nausea. I also clearly remember seeing his dark yellow eyes- jaundice. Dr.Danoo told the nurses to start another IV of some type of malaria medication. Hopefully Atsu will make it- he looked deathly ill, but the medication should hopefully work for him.
The second patient was an elderly man whose name I did not catch. He was lying in his bed on his stomach with only a small tee shirt on- everything else nude. His bottom was clearly visible with a large bandage on one of the cheeks. Dr.Danoo said that he came in yesterday from an accident he had. Supposedly, he was working on someone's yard cutting their grass with a machete (they don't use lawn mowers here, they use machetes) and his partner got a bit too close and accidentally hit his bottom, putting a big slice on one of the cheeks. So the nurses took off the bandaged to dress the wound and it sure was a deep slice he had there, must have been painful!
Even though I was not able to see a surgery today, I think I had a very productive day at the hospital. Tomorrow is Independence Day here so everything is closed in town. I think some friends and I will be going to Ho tomorrow- about a 2 hour drive from Hohoe.
Tuesday- June 29th, 2010
Today was sort of an ordinary day compared to the past week. We were supposed to go to the RCH today, like last Tuesday, but today there was another issue with the administration at the clinic there. For some reason, they are not allowing volunteers or observers there temporarily at the RCH, so we most likely will not be able to go next week either. Anyways, we went to teach hygiene and malaria prevention at a public school just outside of Hohoe. We taught four classes: two 4th grade classes, one 5th grade and one 6th grade class.
It sure was quite tiring to teach four classes today- each had about 30 students in a class and it was extremely hot out today. I think since I came here I have lost 10 pounds from just sweating from the heat- but it's supposed to be good to sweat- releases your toxins. Anyways, it was a great feeling to have the students so interested and asking a lot of questions. I feel that there is a lot of misconceptions about malaria here, and I feel that I have achieved something by telling them the right things about malaria. A lot of kids think that mosquitoes can transfer HIV, and malaria can turn into HIV. Also, some think that malaria can be spread by touching someone or using the same toothbrush as someone with malaria. Of course, we cleared up these misconceptions they had and made sure they understood the actual signs, symptoms, modes of transmission, and treatment for malaria.
It is always a great feeling to know that I have taught these students how to better their health and prevent getting malaria and other diseases. I sure am excited for tomorrow- I will be going to the hospital to view some surgeries. Last Wednesday was quite the experience being able to see two live surgeries. Hopefully tomorrow there will be some real good ones to watch.