Thursday, March 12, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday was the volunteer’s last day working because we were set to leave early Tuesday for Accra. We were told to have our stuff on the pier by 5:30 am so we could eat breakfast one last time on the USS Nashville and then head out.

Saying goodbye to all the people who you have worked, formed relationships with and who have helped you through this big process is very hard. We definitely had some tears yesterday as many of our volunteers were thanked by the folks they had been working with for their efforts and asked to come back. Many received traditional Ghanaian shirts, dresses, outfits as gifts. As the midwifery training came to a close a midwife from Essikadu, Angela, gave a closing thank you that was so moving Lara and Ruth began to cry. All the folks at Essikadu received sashes that read “with appreciation from Essikadu.” Marina received three beautiful Ghanaian dresses from the x-ray tech and his dark room guys. Brian and Michael received really nice shirts from Nicholas, a Ghanaian Navy Nurse. His wife had made the shirts. We also left some Project HOPE stuff behind for them.

Everyone formed such good relationships with the people they worked with here in Ghana and many exchanged emails to keep in touch. It is truly important when we conduct these missions that we form these relationships and build trust and it was achieved. Without building the trust we will only hinder the operations of the hospitals and they will feel more like they are babysitting the American doctors rather than working with them.

After many goodbyes we made it back to the ship to have chat and thank you with the Commodore of the APS mission. She is a very personable woman and it was nice of her to make time for us in her schedule. She thanked Project HOPE for their hard work and gave each of us a thank you note from APS and also an APS coin. If I am correct each ship/mission has its own commemorative coin. The APS coin has the APS logo on it and is blue with a gold edge. It was a really cool gift to get. We also wanted to thank our Navy friends for their help on this mission. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much work goes into one of these missions. You have all these people working to get you on board the ship, make sure you get a ride out to and back from the location you work in, feeding you, making sure you have internet connections etc. They do a lot if not most of the logistical part that pertains to our volunteer work. They also deliver our donations for us. We thank them for all their help and for their hospitality on board the ship. The cooks, Senior Chief, everyone took such good care of us.

Later today we will have to say goodbye to each other. For almost three weeks we have seen each other daily, worked together and played together. It is impossible not to bond in these types of situations. And they are such a good group of folks. We lived in small space where it is impossible to have alone time and people leave the base without a buddy and yet people didn’t seem to tire of each other too much. Now we will jump on a plane tonight to Frankfurt and once we arrive in Frankfurt separate. It’s been great working with these volunteers and I hope they return to do more work with Project HOPE. Everyone would definitely love to come back to work in Sekondi-Takoradi again.

This was my second trip with Project HOPE to Ghana. I am blessed to even have been able to visit this wonderful country once. Every time I am here I am amazed at the loveliness of the people, everyone so willing to learn and always so friendly. People in Ghana are social butterflies, something I am not, introducing themselves to everyone in a room. It’s really great. I hope to be able to return sometime soon again.


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