Friday, January 14, 2011
Ok, it is my 4th day at a clinic/outreach and I am exhausted, I really have sooooo much respect for the staff at these clinics. I just want to point out to all the donors who donated over $2000 to my fundraising efforts; your money is totally well spent. I worked with Northwestern Clinic today on an outreach clinic. The doctors and nurse really work such long hours to help the villages in these outreach programs. All the individuals have families and usually start work at 7 am and end at 8 in the evening. They always seem to have a smile on their face. It truly is inspiring to work with people like this. Today we were picked up at 8am and four of us heading with the NW clinic to a small village northwest of Accra, Mankrong. Our drive was about 1 ½ hours there and 3 hours back, Accra traffic is horrible in the evenings. The drivers here are amazing; they have to maneuver within inches of the next car. I am not exaggerating. You have to be an aggressive driver if you are “willing” to drive here; there is also“create your own lane” tact involved. So after we headed out of the city, we were on a lot of dirt roads driving thru tiny villages. The scenery was amazing, lots of plantain and mango trees everywhere. The skies have been overcast since we have been here, no blue sky, but from what I heard that is normal for this time of year. We passed by many interesting sights, I always amazed by the children here. Today I saw a boy, who looked like he was 8, with a machete hacking off skin from a fruit, it looked like a papaya. I was imagining giving my 8 year old a machete, no way. The children just seem so respectful and mature for their age here. Hard to describe, but even when we have our outreach clinics in the local churches, kids will congregate at the church door, but they will not step a foot in. They just stare at you from the outside. I have found they, the children, yell out “obruni" which means white foreigner. It is not a bad term from what I have learned from some staff at Northwestern clinic. So sorry for the diversion, we are still driving out to Mankrong. When we finally arrive there, the clinic is set up in the church; we unpack all the medicine, glasses, etc. The Dr. set up his station on the front of the church. I was assigned to the dispensing (medicine, eyeglasses) station today. The church was filled with about 50 patients today, which was a low number. As with every outreach, the Dr. or nurse give an orientation to the villagers and explain the program. After that we introduce ourselves and then we start the exam process. I enjoyed the dispensing table because I worked closely with the patients. I had more one on one contact with them than at the visual acuity station. It was a difficult sight to see when the patients were struggling if they could afford the 5 cedis (about $3.25) for the medicine. They would sit in the chair and look left and right and be silent and either they would walk off saying they couldn’t afford the medicine or they would finally pull out their money. I thought how easily we spend that money on a latte each morning. Ugh. Anyways, it was nice to also see the patients who could finally see when they received their glasses. They one thing I noticed which is different from the states. When the patients were prescribed a pair of glasses, the NW staff would simply pull out a pair of glasses from the Ziploc bag. There was no mirror around for the patient; they simply put them on to be able to see. I told Seth, NW staff, in the states patients would spend an hour on selecting a pair of glasses to see if they looked good on them, here it was a simple selection process if they helped them to see. I also found it interesting how the women stored their money in their dresses. They usually wrap about beautifully printed pieces of fabric, they wrap their money in a piece of cloth and knot it up in their fabric (dress). So when they look for their money, they have to untie their dress, then the knots and then the piece of cloth that their money is in. The villagers were so nice there, you could walk out of the church and everyone wanted to say hi. One interesting thing that I failed to mention in my posts is the washrooms (bathrooms) in the villages and Ghana generally. Our hotel has a standard bathroom, but I have come across many washrooms that are simply a wall surrounding a hole in the floor. Today, a villager took me to his house to use the bathroom; I stepped over a couple of goats and chickens and then headed around the corner to find a nice open air ½ walled bathroom. It was simple dirt with a drainage system thru the wall, which led right next to the church. As I was in there, the goats decided to visit me. Nice and memorable. So we headed back around 5 and got to the hotel at 8. Had dinner at Victoria’s house again. It is 1 am now, time for sleep. More tomorrow.