It is Saturday, June 16, 2012. I have been in Ghana for half my stay and I already wish I was going to be here longer. I have really begun to love the food, and my love for the people here has also grown with time.
I just returned yesterday from Accra, the capital city of Ghana, where I spent three days with Dr. Valadares, Abhi, and Cecile. It was great to have some American visitors for a few days. I will try to give a short recap of where our time was spent while Dr. V and Abhi were here.
Tuesday, 6/5/12 – Dr. Valadares and Abhi arrived in Accra and made the 6-hour bus ride to Kumasi with Victoria and her daughter Tracy. Vic and Tracy also accompanied me on my bus trip to Kumasi when I first arrived in Ghana. Cecile and I waited up for their arrival which, as expected, ended up being about three hours later than planned. They came in around 9:30 PM with their 6 suitcases FULL of things. Let me tell you, Dr. V is not a light traveler… when he gives me free reign to tell him whatever I want/need him to bring. After finishing dinner he brought Cecile and I into his room and started opening the suitcases. It was like Christmas in America! He brought all the pens and pencils we would need for the children and extra for the nurses at the hospital. He brought Cecile more than enough paper to use in her teaching sessions. He handed us multiple bags of candy, chocolate, and USI apparel. He also gave me a suitcase full of textbooks for Mount Sinai Hospital (Thanks so much to all who donated them at USI!) and a care package from my Mom (Wonderful – my Mom is great). He also brought me my much desired jar of PEANUT BUTTER. We spent time sorting through all of the gifts and talking about his trip and my experience so far. He also was able to meet Mr. Boateng, who had been preparing for his arrival all day. We didn’t go to bed until after midnight that night, which is over 3 hours past my bedtime here, but it was great to see Dr. V and Abhi in Ghana.
Wednesday, 6/6/12 – I went to work at the normal time while Dr. V and Abhi slept off the jet-lag. We did rounds early that morning for some reason, starting around 10 AM. It was perfect timing, because Abhi and Dr. V visited the hospital later that afternoon. I was able to give them a tour and they got to meet Richard, whom I had told them much about. We ended the tour by visiting Mrs. Essien, the hospital administrator and Doctor’s wife. She told us about how the hospital was started and their vision for building a teaching hospital in the near future. Thanks to Dr. V, I even learned a lot about the structure and function of health insurance that MSH has. Before leaving, we ate Banku in the cafeteria. To my surprise both Abhi and Dr. V ate it efficiently Ghanaian style and they both loved it. We went back to Esaase after our meal and hung out there with Cecile and Mr. Boateng for the rest of the evening.
Thursday, 6/7/12 – I didn’t go back to work this day. I think I ran in the morning and we left around 8:30 AM to speak at Education USA, a center that promotes and assists Ghanaian students to pursue in the United States. This talk consisted of Dr. V, Abhi, and I presenting information about studying in the US, specifically at USI, to about 25 Ghanaian students.IMG
We went to lunch after that with Guy (Mr. Boateng’s son and our personal driver for their stay) where I had my first Ghanaian restaurant experience. The food was very good. The only difference between this food and the food I’d eaten at home was that there were many dishes to choose from.
Later in the afternoon, we visited Kumasi South Government Hospital where Guy did his nursing clinicals. We saw some of the hospital, then met with some important people there to discuss Abhi’s research project. The meeting went well, and we left after meeting some of Guy’s nursing friends.Our last stop for the day was the market. My last post was all about how I wish to avoid the market whenever I can. This visit was very different and I enjoyed it very much. I wanted to get fabric to have an African dress made, so Guy took us to his mother’s stamp stand near the tro-tro station. She called her friend to take us to the fabric market. While waiting, we visited a football t-shirt shop where the pictures below were taken. The first picture shows the tro-tro station to the left and a small part of the street market where all of the umbrellas are.
We then visited the “fabric market” and it was amazing! We followed Guy and his mother’s friend through what I had previously thought the market was to the real market. It seemed that we were weaving through people in a small tunnel/maze passing a whole section of fish sellers, then jewelry sellers, then watch sellers and sunglass sellers before coming to the fabric section. Here, there were probably a hundred or so shops where women sold the Ashante fabric. We stopped at one or two shops and I, being the American that I am, took a while to pick out the perfect fabrics. Dr. V and Abhi also selected fabrics to have shirts made. Below is the only picture I have of the fabric shops. There is a yellow, green, and pink pattern in the lower left – this is the fabric I chose for my dress.
The pictures below are of us visiting “Betty’s Mom” the tailor. We were invited by the men there to eat some cassava and stew.
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Friday 6/7/12 – On Friday we visited the Royal Ann Health Academy (RAHA) in the morning. Dr. V had been invited to lecture on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday and was given a 3-hour block of time each day. We did not know what to expect or what was expected of us before showing up, but we just went with it.
I don’t really know how to describe how well we were treated at RAHA, but I will try my best. Basically, we were treated like kings. We were ushered into a nice office by Mr. Richard Obuagye, the director of the school. Introductions took place between Dr. V, Abhi, and Mr. O. I had met him once or twice before at MSH because some of his students are doing clinicals at our hospital. He had introduced himself to me then and asked me if I knew Professor Kevin. I could tell even then that he was excited for us to come speak. Anyway, after introductions we were told the history of the school. The school trains Medical Laboratory Technicians and Healthcare Assistants. They plan to have future programs which include: Registered General Nursing, Medical Laboratory Technology, Health Assistant, Dispensing Technician, and Optical Technician. In fact, information on the school can be found at www.royalannhealthacademy.edu.gh. Eventually we made our way to the classroom full of students, as seen below.IMG 7418
Here, Dr. V delivered a lecture during which he presented a few ethical cases involving tro-tros and men working on the road. The students were very intrigued by his method of teaching, and were also very interactive. Mr. Obuagye expressed later how well they responded to having a foreign professor come in and ask them questions which put them on the spot.
After the lecture, we ate a delicious lunch with Mr. Obuagye. Below are some pictures of lunch over the three days we were at the academy.DSC1165, 1168, 1185
After RAHA and lunch, we visited Jesus is Lord Family Hospital (JILF). It was a lot like Mount Sinai, but not right off the main road. Because of its location, there were not very many patients like there are at MSH. We talked to the doctor who shared a passage from Acts with us when we asked how/why the hospital was started. He acknowledged that healing power ultimately comes from God the Father and that his practice is founded on this principle. He went into telling us how the hospital was built and his vision for the place. He gave us a tour – the hospital is much bigger than MSH and very nice. He said that when finished, the hospital will have between 80 and 100 beds.Saturday 6/8/12 – Sunday 6/9/12 – The weekend was spent at Cape Coast, about a 5.5 hour drive south of Kumasi. We set out at 6:20 AM on Saturday morning with Guy as our “taxi” and made it to Kakum National Park around noon. This rainforest is very neat, and below are some pictures from the bridges that we walked across along the top of the rainforest.
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On the way back, I had real coconut and coconut milk for the first time – it was delicious. For lunch, Cecile and I ordered a pizza at the restaurant there. It was not much different from American pizza, except that the green pepper that we ordered was actually green onion… AND it took over an hour for them to make the pizza. No kidding – meals here last, at the very least, 2 hours. And that is probably talking “fast-food.”
We continued to the coast and eventually found a hotel that was not too pricey. We stayed in The Village, a part of a very nice resort that simulated village houses. We did have electricity and AC but no hot water. Good thing all three are luxuries not necessary for a good vacation. The Village was a short walk from the resort pool and the beach.
The next morning I enjoyed a short run on the beach as the sun rose, then spent time reading in a chair right off the beach. The ocean waves at night or early morning are probably my favorite noise. We just lounged around that morning until about noon. Below are a few pictures from the beach area.
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We set out to visit the castle at Elmina before heading back to Kumasi. The castle was a huge center for slave trade during European rule. History about the castle and slave trade can be found by visiting http://www.elminacastle.info/.
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6/10/12 and onward to be continued…