Thursday, March 13, 2008

Project HOPE Volunteers Leave Ghana

Today was our last day of work in Ghana. We are a little bit saddened because over the last two weeks we have formed many friendships with the people who we’ve worked with. It really was a great pleasure for us to work with the folks here. They all were very eager to learn and translate when we needed them too. They were very dedicated to everything we were doing.As soon as we arrived to the clinic today it got hectic, for me anyway. Today was the big media day. Although they were not set to arrive until around 10:00 am at the clinic they arrived at 9:30 because of some last minute schedule changes. Twenty media people showed up to interview some of the volunteers and military personnel and take pictures of everything that was happening at the clinic. We began the media event by talking a little about what we were doing in Tema. Dr. Polifka was our spokesperson and he did great. He handled all the press questions very well. We then escorted the press around the clinic so they could see all the work going on. The clinic was full of patients and the spaces the dentistry and primary care group were in were really cramped so we had to show them around the clinic in groups of five. It seemed to all go very well. Everyone’s message got out. I just hope the reporters who showed up actually write something about the work we’ve done while we were here. Like Dr.Polifka told the reporters “We are privileged to be here. If you like what you see, all we ask is that you invite us back.”After the media event things went back to normal at the clinic. Mercy wanted to show the Project HOPE volunteers the local hospital so we were packing things up by noon which actually means we start telling patients we are closed at noon but they keep coming in until about 1 pm. Once we loaded up the van we headed 15 minutes down the road to the hospital in Tema. Again like the other hospitals I had seen since we arrived in Ghana this one was actually not in bad shape and was made up of buildings connected by outdoor corridors. We went by the emergency room first. It wasn’t what I had pictured. I thought I would see tons of people in the waiting room and on stretchers but surprisingly it was a slow day in the ER. By late afternoon they had only seen 5 patients. While at the hospital we stopped by the maternity ward, the male ward and also the main lobby of the hospital. The main lobby functioned as a non-emergency 24 hospital unit. It accepted patients around the clock for various illnesses. This part of the hospital was packed and noisy. The patients were separated according to the type of doctor they needed to see. We left the hospital and headed back to Manhean Clinic to drop Mercy off and make our way back to Accra. However, when we arrived Mercy had a surprise for us. She had the entire staff sit around us and they presented us all with gifts. These gifts were absolutely beautiful; you could tell they had put a lot of thought into them because everyone got something different but so perfect for their personalities. The women got traditional dresses in various bright colors with different symbols. The men all got brightly colored shirts. It was really nice of them. Another surprise was that Mercy had arranged for the head nurse of the Tema region and the head nurse in the Ghanaian Health Ministry to also be there. They offered us many thanks and praises for the work done and told us we are welcome to come back anytime. The volunteers were all really flattered by everything. They even put on their gifts to take a picture with the entire clinic staff. So we left very sad and hoping to be back again soon. We made many friends at Manhean and we exchanged many e-mails. We hope to keep in touch with all of them.
--Marisol Euceda

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