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Time for a basic description of life here in Ghana:
1). Heat - it seems as if the one thing you can count on here is the heat. A constant reminder of what continent I'm on, it's relentlessness causes me to sweat simply walking down the stairs and never fails to make me wish for a slight breeze or patch of shade every time I go outside.
2). Rain - without fail it rains at least once a day. Because it's the rainy season here, the rain comes down in fat drops that pound against the tin roof of my room causing the walls to leak and the small lizard that lives in my room (I've named him Horace), to emerge on the ceiling.
3). Town - or rather, a long street where you can find anything from a power adapter to fish, and goats weave in and out of traffic more efficiently than humans. Now that I've been here almost a month, I enjoy going into town just to simply walk up and down the street and have learned to ignore the shouts of "Obruni!", which means "white stranger", and the constant marriage proposals from men who want to get into America. I know exactly where to go to buy fried plantain chips for the equivalent of 25 cents and get discounts on souvenir items because I've become friends with the shopkeeper.
4). Cabs - the lack of traffic regulations here means that if you don't want to pay a certain price for a cab, you can usually bargain it down by just giving the driver what you want and getting out. Sharing cabs with complete strangers can be terrifying at times but sometimes the people who pop in and out of the run down cars are kind. Today, when I got a cab and told the driver to drop me off at Kotokuraba market, the man from the back laughed and asked me how long I'd been here that I knew how to pronounce it so well. I told ...
Starting my week in a new department, I was anxious to see how other parts of the hospital functioned. Walking into the cramped emergency department, I immediately noticed that there were a minimum of four other volunteers posted there. With such a large group of us how would we ever receive any tasks?
Attaching myself to a woman who had dislocated her wrist in a car accident, I watched her sit and wait for care for about three hours until finally her wrist was relocated and a cast put on. After that, there seemed to be too many volunteers in the emergency department for any of us to actually do anything so I excused myself to go and walk around.
Heading into the pediatric ward, I talked with Emily, another volunteer, as we walked around and looked at all the different cases. In Ghanian healthcare, mothers are required to remain with their children at all times so while the pediatric ward is full of children, it's also full of mothers taking care of them. Even during the night, the mothers lay out sheets on the hard concrete floor to sleep next to their children's beds, never leaving their side.
Exhausted from a long day, my roommate Emma and I settled into bed at 7, excited to get an extra hour of sleep in the morning before we headed off to leprosy camp. Emma unfortunately has been suffering from a dust allergy in our room that causes her to sneeze and cough uncontrollably after spending about ten minutes in the room. Unable to sleep because of the sneezing, I gave her some Benadryl before bed and then decided to take one as well because I never sleep well here. Waking up this morning, we both felt so rested after twelve hours of sleep and were ready to go.
Driving off to leprosy camp, Enoch, the medical coordinator, explained to us ...
Today was my first official day volunteering at the health centre. The health centre is a government funded centre which has an antenatal, labour and birth room and postnatal beds. It also had a general wound clinic, a laboratory for running bloods and urine samples, a HIV clinic, a dentist clinic, an injection clinic, a pharmacy and many doctors offices. It has a lot of opportunity to be involved and see so many different things it's just a little unpredictable as to how busy it will be at any one time. Today I met a few nurses and doctors. The Swahili / English language barrier makes it really hard to communicate with both staff and patients.
Unlike Australia nurses, doctors and volunteers do absoloutly everything for patients. We are spoiled in Australia with theatre techs, staff working in sterilisation of equipment, laundry staff, cleaning staff, laboratory staff, pathologists to take blood, receptionists and ward clerks, pharmacists to give medication and medical supplies come pre prepared from the supplier.
In any one day the role of the nurse looks something like this: * Arrive and mop the floors* Empty the bins and restock equipment * Do a round of patient vital signs (although doctors often responsible for this on their medical round)* Cut up gauze into squares to use with birth packs* Do a labour assessment and listen to a fetal heart rate* Deliver a baby and move the patient to the postnatal ward within 10-15 minutes* Take a blood or urine specimen an and take It to the lab and run the results * Sterilise birth equipment* Wash and hang bed sheets on the line* Give a newborn injection* Ride in an ambulance to dump a weeks worth of placentas in the placenta pit (which is a concrete hole in the ground).
I guess the shock of some things I saw today I ...
So today I had orientation day. Georgina the medical coordinator picked me up from dr Kways and we took a ride in a dulla dulla to the health centre. Basically it's a little overcrowded mini van that is a cheaper form of transport than a taxi. I again toured the health centre. The volunteers were invited to see a c-section but were waiting on the patients husband to return from the pharmacy with the appropriate medication for her analgesia.
I was shown the projects abroad office and given my lab coat and volunteers t-shirt. My co-ordinator shouted lunch (again a traditional African meal with carbs carbs carbs) in a gorgeous little cafe with a pretty garden. Levolosi health centre is a quieter centre and there Is an opportunity for me to do some work at ngarenaro where they do more births. I will see how Levolosi goes and see how much opportunity I have before deciding on a transfer. Right now is nap time. Jet lag is back.
Greetings from Arusha Tanzania! Wow! What can I say after this short time?! It was certainly a journey making my way over here from Australia that's for sure. So I had a goodbye drink with mum and dad and left Melbourne Friday afternoon. I flew to Perth which was where I went through my first lot of customs. I had a long flight to Johannesburg followed by a 6 hour stop over. I then flew to Nairobi with another stop over before a flight across to Kilimanjaro. I was picked up by a member of the projects abroad team and we drove the hour long bumpy joinery to Arusha!
So after 40 hours of travel with four lots of connecting flights I made it! To be honest apart from the long stop overs and travel time it actually ran very smoothly (which I hear is rare here). My luggage made it in and out of 4 airports, I wasn't questioned about the numerous amounts of pills I was carrying, all flights ran on time and my lift was waiting for me! Although on a side note I got mega kankles!!
So I met my host family. Dr Kway is head of the house and he is a surgeon who works at local hospital and Angel owns a beer garden / bar just out of town. Him and his partner Angel are probably mid 60s and have 5 children together who are spread out across Tanzania. Also living in the house is baby 'Angel' and Glory who are their grandchildren aged 7 and 4 respectively. There are also two other females maybe early 20s and I'm not really sure where they fit into it. I'm told they are the 'house maids' so they do all the cooking and cleaning. The culture here though is very family and friend orientated and the door is literally always open. There are different people walking in and out of the house all day everyday so I just kind of roll with it and expect to see new people a few times a day.
There is ...