Monday, March 23, 2009

Project HOPE volunteers continue reflecting on their work in Africa

Just shortly after I received the previous blog post from Dr. Crawford, I also received another email from California ER nurse Donna Featherstone. She and Brian worked together in the ER at ENRH in Ghana. Donna is a wonderful volunteer who originally served on the USNS Mercy during the Tsunami efforts. I'm not sure if I mentioned earlier that the ER at ENRH was one of the most difficult places to work. It was crowded, small, often out of supplies and linens, and people were at times abandoned in really bad condition with no money or family to help. Donna did what she could with the little facility resources and training. She taught nursing students how to reassess their interventions, encouraged weight based medication and fluid administration in children, did some teaching on the use of IV therapy. Also, hoping to lead by example, she became proactive with cleaning beds and finding linen.

After her work in Ghana Donna met her husband in London for a vacation. Below she reflects on her work and how different life can be with just a plane ride.

Happy reading!

What a difference a night makes. One day I am walking through crowds of people selling large snails and okra for dinner, watching goats and chickens competing for scraps of fish bones; wearing damp clothes from perspiration, dodging trees with coconuts falling off, wondering how young mothers tie their babies to their backs. The next morning I am wandering through shops selling fruit tarts and sausage pies, watching swans and geese leisurely slurp up the abundance of seed thrown to them, wearing damp clothes from a light, cool drizzle; strolling by trees, roses and crocuses sprouting bloom, and wondering how the young mothers talk constantly on their cell phone and ignore their crying babies in strollers.

As you can tell I am now in departure from Takoradi and Accra, Ghana was bittersweet. I left with an element of frustration but a renewed vigor to appreciate all that I have--frustration from not being able to assist enough and also from witnessing first hand some of the problems that occur when there are people to take advantage of. All of the nurses, doctors and students I worked with are a little more excited that we really do care. And I will remember my experiences good and bad forever.


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