CJ's Ghana Service Blog
Sad Goodbyes

Last night we had the amazing opportunity to host all of our Ghanaian friends for one last party before we depart for the capital.  It was an amazing party with a lot of people, a lot of food, and also a lot of goodbyes.  I have made a lot of friends here in Winneba, it is sad that the inevitable goodbye has already come.  Being away for 6 weeks so far has made me miss a lot of my American life.  Family, food, sports are all things I miss.  I know that as soon as I return to the US though I will begin to miss everything I have been introduced to here in Ghana.  By purchasing clothes, learning new food recipes and taking pictures I can try to bring my experiences home.  But I know that will never happen because I cannot fit all of Ghana in my suitcase and because I would still miss my friends.  But the time must come.

Tomorrow we will leave in the morning to return to Accra and the University of Ghana.  There we will finish the class on Non-Profit Organizations on Monday-Wednesday.  Then for the rest of the week we will finish exploring Ghana.  It has been an amazing trip, that I will remember for my entire life.

(When I return to Accra we do not have internet access in the Student Hostel.  Therefore writing on this blog will be harder to do.)

Today was a good day.  The inspiration for it began on a trip back from Cape Coast this past weekend when I noticed a Ghana National Fire Service Station located very near to Winneba where we are staying.  After some very fast acting from both Joe and Ibrahim I was able to pay them a visit.  This morning I traveled to the station to meet up with the EMTs there and compare the American and Ghanian ambulance services.  When I arrived I met the three EMTs on duty, Daniel, Emmanuel and Veronica.  All three were extremely welcoming and we talked for about an hour.  Then Daniel decided to show me their truck and so we went through every piece of equipment.  After that I stayed for two more hours talking with them before they gave me a ride to the hospital by ambulance.  The ambulance service here is relatively a new concept.  They have approximately 2-3 calls per day which are mostly road traffic accidents on the local highway.  They are all trained in a manner which is pretty much equivalent to the American system.  My experiences so far have shown me that the Ghana medical system is working very hard to raise their standards to the developed world, and they are doing very well.  I had a great time with the EMTs here, I wish I had more time to hang out with them.

After returning from the ambulance station I went out to the Challenging Heights school to meet Amanda and Kathrine who were spending their last day with their classes.  Those kids are crazy.  But amazing at the same time.  I have included a few pictures of a boy that shares my name (and wanted to show all his friends that fact).  Along with a little girl that is probably the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life.  She grabbed my hand and stayed with me for the great part of the two hours I was at CH.  Its sad to almost be heading home because it

Wow, its been a long time since my last post.  Typically what has been happening is that after dinner I sit down to get some work done.  I start with anything I need for med school applications, then move on to the coursework we are doing here on Non-governmental Organizations.  Then it seems every night I either forget to blog, or I am getting pretty tired at that point that it never happens :-P

This past week I have spent my time between the Surgical Ward and the Hovde House.  In surgery I have experienced and learned a lot.  I have seen Cesarian sections, fibroid removals, hernia repairs, and hysterectomies.  Also this last Friday I was able to spend the first part of the night shift in the Maternity Ward.  As soon as we got there a woman went into the last stages of labor and we saw the baby being born.  It was an amazing experience :-) 

This week I have also had the amazing experience of working at the Hovde House.  The Hovde House is one of six across the world that are developed by the Hovde foundation.  This foundation searches for a worthy NGO that they feel would make the best use of the foundations money.  Then the Hovde Foundation provides the funds to establish a house for underprivileged or trafficked children.  Over time the Hovde Foundation will withdraw their funding steadily so that the house becomes fully self-sustainable.  My duties at the Hovde House have been all outdoor tasks.  On Monday I worked to plant crops that will help the house become self-sustaining.  Then on Wednesday the myself, Joe, Matt, Alex and our TroTro driver Bosco all set out with the crop scientist Christian to combat snakes.  Apparently the house has had a recent problem of snakes entering the complex.  Since snakes do not like the smell of a shallot’s leaf, our task was to plant shallots around the entire complex.  Due to the poor soil quality this project was a lot more than just planting seeds.  This week has given me a lot of blisters, but the reasoning makes it entirely worth it.

Yesterday we made our last visit to Cape Coast.  As always the trip was fun, the traders were begging us to buy things, and the food was good.  The sad part was that this was our last time there.  With one week left here in Winneba and only two weeks in Africa the days are counting down fast.  It has been an amazing experience here, something I will never forget.

This week has so far been extremely interesting.  Now that we have finished the extensive look into the Ghanian Healthcare system we have now begun our clinical rotations.  On Monday I was disappointed to hear that the brand new Trauma and Specialist Hospital here in Winneba would be unable to accommodate students until next summer.  The day was however improved by a visit to Klimovic Hospital where I was able to shadow a doctor as he performed consultations.  I saw ringworm cases, obstetric cases, dog bites, and an extreme amount of malaria.  Due to the low number of doctors in the area these physicians are required to treat every field of medicine since there are very few specialists. 

Today I had the amazing experience of working on one of the outreach programs.  The nurses at the local health clinic visit the surrounding communities monthly to check the weights of the babies and provide vaccinations.  Today I was able to participate in all of this.  The vaccination procedure included polio and retrovirus by mouth and pneumoccal, yellow fever, and measles by injection.  Today was a really neat day because we were finally included in treating people.  Below I have included pictures from the clinical site.  Since the village we were visiting was a fishing village the view from our make-shift clinic was amazing. 

Tomorrow I will be heading to the medical ward at the Winneba Municipal Hospital and then Thursday and Friday will be at the surgical ward.  So far the clinical rotations have been amazing and I am looking forward to the rest.

Fishing boats on the beach

The head community nurse that we worked with

Todays main events included visiting the Municipal Executive Center (basically the townhall) and also visiting the Water Treatment plant.  Both visits were pretty informative as we learned from the City Manager the major problems they are facing and how they were fixing them. The Water Treatment Plant visit was like a flashback to General Chemistry from Freshman year as he went through the various compounds used to clean the water and adjust the pH.  The treatment plant was also situated on the top of a hill which added some beautiful views I have included in this post.

Its amazing how much one can miss some of the small things from the US.  A simple salad from panera would really be amazing right now since we have to cook all of the vegetables here.  The food is really good here and I am learning some recipes to bring home.  But as always we desire that which we cannot have.

View from Water Treatment Plant

Our tour of the water treatment system

Dont see a view like this in the States, the mountain is like from Jurassic Park or something

As-Salāmu Alaykum

Our introduction into the Winneba Health System has been an amazing experience thus far.  Our guide, Ibrahim Haruna, has given us the grand tour with even more yet to come.  Everyday he has us meet him at 9am and we adventure with him for the entire morning and sometimes as late as 3pm.  I do not know how he is able to leave his health clinic for such great amounts of time, but I am very thankful for his guidance.  We have so far seen the Winneba Municipal Hospital, the Tuberculosis Clinic, and the HIV/AIDS clinic.  We have also met with various disease control officers, the PA at the local clinic and most importantly Dr. Luiz Amousou.  Dr. Luiz Amousou is an amazing man that I look up to with the greatest esteem. His list of degrees is impressive and even more his ability to speak English, French, Spanish and about 8 local dialects fluently.  Dr. Amousou has a great ambition to help his people and improve the healthcare system.  By just taking the fact that there are 19 doctors in the Winneba health system of 400,000 people shows that he has succeeded a great deal.  His background makes me believe that this man is the Ghanaian version of my great-grandfather. 

Today we again were with Ibrahim as we presented the medical supplies to Dr. Amousou and the other staff at the district center.  After the presentation we were surprised by Ibrahim who coordinated a meeting with a tailor to make us all shirts with the Ghana Health care system logo.  It is a hard fabric to explain, but I am sure i will be wearing the shirt in the US when I return.  It seems as though on Fridays in Winneba most of the professional workers from all fields wear shirts like these.  The background pattern is of a local color and there are randomly place logos of the profession you are in.  I believe Dr. Amousou is wearing his in the picture of the group.  I am excited :-)

Also today we were invited to visit Ibrahim’s mosque.  He is a Muslim along with most of his friends.  This experience was very enlightening.  I enjoyed how traditional this religion is.  The washing of the hands, face, and feet before entering the mosque along with moving one’s shoes.  The prayer itself was very interesting and the Iman of the mosque was extremely welcoming.  After the service was complete the Iman, chief and elders all performed a prayer for us to keep us safe during our travels.  Through all of this I feel for the girls in our group because of several factors of the religion that are demeaning towards women.  Even I was taken back a bit when I realized the Iman could not shake their hands, and when all of us guys were in the front receiving the prayer from elders and the women were asked to sit in the back.  This is probably the strongest culture shock for me and I give credit to the girls to sticking it out.

Now we are off to the weekend here and down with week 2 of the trip.  This weekend we may take a day trip to Cape Coast.  Also Sunday is a holiday and so Monday will be a shorter day for us with no official visit to the health clinic.  Ibrahim wants to stop by after he is done with work to talk medicine with us which should be fun.

Well here we are finally getting things underway.  We are doing the stuff we came here to do.  Today for us medical people was the orientation day.  Which included some introductory lectures from the Registered General Nurse (RGN) named Ibriham Haruna.  This man is entirely focused on medicine and helping his patients in any way he can.  Only work I can think of is robot.  He really has no time for himself in everything he does.  We also we able to meet the Doctor who is in charge of all the hospitals in Winneba.  That includes the Winneba Trauma and Specialist Hospital (newly built) and the Winneba Municipal Hospital along with the many different Health Clinics scattered throughout the city.  We were then provided with our schedule of shadowing opportunities.  The schedule includes visits to the Trauma Hospital, the Surgical Ward, the Winneba Health Clinic and Maternity Ward.  We will really be experiencing a lot, it is AMAZING.

Other than that we have simply been getting used to our place here at Winneba.  We are of course staying at Emmanuel’s Hostel.  The accommodations are pretty sweet, I am rooming again with Matt.  We lost our key for like the first day and a half but eventually found it in Alex and Adam’s room, even though we were never in there and they have no idea how it got there…..weird stuff.  Took a shower outside yesterday which was pretty cool since it just has a different twang to it.  Did some laundry too, which takes a bit more time than just throwing it in the washer.

Also visited the beach which is right down the street.  It is beautiful and reminds me of some exotic carribean island.  There are fisherman’s boats and palm trees set up in a perfect pituresque manner.

Well I think thats about it, heading back to work on the med school application.  Going on a run with Matt and Alex tomorrow morning then back to the health clinic tomorrow for our first rotation in the reproductive clinic i do believe.

Yeah thats right…a Ghanaian Ambulance.  Actually I think it is an older ambulance now used by the University.  I have seen much better looking ones running through the city.

The class we are taking here is pretty interesting.  I think what does it is our Professor, Justice Bawole.  He is a very interesting man to listen too and is full of enthusiasm.  It is amazing that this man grew up in a village in northern Ghana constantly watching out for pythons. His father had five wives and plenty of children.  He was able to rise and eventually gain his Phd through University of Manchester in Britain. 

Everything this week has been fairly repetitive.  Class all day and then dinner somewhere at night.  We will be leaving for Winneba (the smaller village) this saturday around 1pm.  The drive is about two hours long and apparently decent roads???  I am looking forward to Winneba since I will be able to visit the medical clinic and I think it will feel more personal.  Also since this is where we will spend the majority of the trip, it is also where most of the stories come from when the previous travellers have talked to us. 

Tonight we had pizza.  Which was amazingly good.  Not american style pizza, different.  Cant really explain it, the sauce was different and the toppings were different.  Anyway i ate way to much of it, but dont regret it.

Anyway, going to be crashing soon.




Joe said to smile conspicuously… 




Joe said to smile conspicuously…