Ghana has come to an end!!
Every morning around 5:20am, I wake up to the bright sun and sound of Helena, my host family’s maid, sweeping the ground outside my window. I lie in bed and read until my watch alarm goes off at precisely 6:02am (it was difficult to set at exactly 6… and that’s boring anyways). Usually the jerk of Raquel climbing down the bunk bed ladder jolts me back to reality; got to get ready and eat breakfast before work. Our host mom, Mama Esther, always has a feast prepared or us; hot dog and cooked cabbage (yeah, it’s interesting), an omelet with onion and tomato in it, and about half a loaf of the most delicious sugary bread I have ever consumed (seriously a bread form of cotton candy). Oh, how could I forget? I also drink out of a mug every morning that says, “I ❤ my husband”, um yes please. By 7:15 each morning, Francis, the CCS (Cross-Cultural Solutions) driver arrives and drops me off at Tessa’s house when he picks up Georg. Tess and I usually spend about half an hour eating more bread and joking around with her host parents, Gifty and Bismarck, before Francis comes back to take us to work. By 8am sharp, we are at PolyClinic in the Reproductive Health office waiting for our head nurse, Elsie to arrive. Elsie takes time between her home visits and work at the clinic to sit down and teach us about the Vitamin A deficiency, malnutrition, family planning, and basic health concerns found in Ghana. We observe her appointments and home visits both her and her nurses go on multiple times a week. She has also allowed us to explore the other parts of the clinic like adolescent health, mental health, and infectious diseases. We sit in on adolescent counseling, watch mental health talks at local schools, and learn about infectious diseases, such a leprosy, in health classes. At around 11:30am, Francis picks up Tessa, Georg, Raquel, Nadir, Abby, Jon, and I from our worksites and take us all to CCS for lunch with the rest of the group.
At CCS, we either have a guest speaker, seminar on public health, or discussions about who we are (haha, they are just called “Who Am I” seminars so that’s how I will describe them). That is also our time to come together as a whole group: fight over the laptops (just kidding, we are civil), play ridiculous card games, work out (not my thing), and giggle about all the crazy things we experience on a day-to-day basis. But, we are promptly kicked out at 5:30pm and taken to back to our host families for dinner. You never really know what to expect for dinner, and sometimes that is fun, but for the most part I am wishing that there is no meat or hot soup they expect me to eat with my hands. By 8 every night, I am tucking in the bed net to the side of the bunk and mid rolling over I fall asleep.
As we wrap up our first core country of the year, I can’t help but feel all the nerves building up. Ghana has made me appreciate all (seriously, ALL) the little things back home; access to reliable healthcare, hot water, reliable electricity, an assortment of food to choose from (mostly French fries at 1am), laundry machines, animals without rabies (this one kills me). I have learned so much from my clinic that has made me rethink the public health system. We are so lucky to be able to drive to an emergency room or make an appointment with a doctor when we are feeling sick, but we also have a lot of work to do on making those options affordable to everybody in the states and making sure everybody is taking advantage of the services. Not only the western healthcare system, but how healthcare is dealt with on an international level. There are organizations coming into under developed countries from more developed countries just telling them how to fix a health problem without adapting their response to the different cultures. Or, companies from more developed countries making the medicine needed to cure a disease an “intellectual property” so that they can sell it for lots of money. Lots of money that these countries could be saving if they could just make the medicine themselves. We learned a lot about foreign aid corporations and my initial views of how foreign aid is affecting third world countries were challenged. I have learned not to just take one answer as concrete truth but rather to look at a situation from multiple perspectives.
Akpe kakaka Ghana!
Ghana has come to an end!!