Thursday, March 5, 2009

Volunteers Enjoy a Day of Rest After Busy Week in Ghana

Volunteer accomplishments in Ghana to date:

1045 patients have been cared for
954 educational interactions have taken place
16 births attended
1696 prescriptions filled
27 x-rays taken
...and a day of rest

The weekends are pretty light out here in Ghana. Most of the Project HOPE team did not work since their departments are on-call during the weekends. Only the midwives and the ER team went to work on Saturday. The rest went to hang out by a local hotel pool and catch up on emails. The rest of the crew joined us when they got off of work.

Because we have limited personal space on the ship getting off the ship is always great. The weather is mostly sunny here in Ghana and very hot so the pool comes in handy too. It was really nice to relax and spend time with the team away from all the noise and hustle of the ship. However, this means that I don’t have much in the way of medical/health education work to talk about for Saturday.

On Sunday we headed to Cape Coast to visit the historical castles there. Brian, a Project HOPE volunteer and ER physician in Colorado, set up the trip to the castles. Brian is a wonderful volunteer who works really hard in the small, cramped ER at the ENRH. On this trip, he has served as the resident funny man on Project HOPE’s team and also social chair.

We woke-up early Sunday to meet a van that Brian had set-up to take us to Cape Coast. The town of Cape Coast is about one and a half hours away from Sekondi. Along Ghana’s coast there are castles built by the Portuguese and Dutch in the 1400’s. The buildings have a vast and tragic history as they were where the jumping off point from Africa for America during the slave trade.

We got to see both Cape Coast and Elmina Castle. They are beautiful structures with such a horrid history of torture. The tour was very somber.The tour guides took us to all the dungeons and told us about the history of the structures. Hundreds of African men and women would be kept in small crowded cells and only let out to be shipped to the new world or sometimes a governor would have the women paraded out for him to pick from. At the time, Ghana had many tribal wars and the tribes would sell their prisoners of war to the Portuguese and the Dutch and they in turn would sell them as slaves. It is really hard to imagine what the people went through. They were torn away from their families and sent to a new place where they were treated like animals and worked to death.

Ghana is a very family oriented country with deep roots and traditions so they still grieve for the ones they lost to the slave trade. In the dungeons there are funeral wreathes and flowers in memory of ancestors lost. Between castles we stopped to eat and reflect on what we had seen. We were disgusted by the way humans can treat other human beings.

We spent the whole day out and made it back to the ship in the evening. Having missed dinner we found our way up to the dining room and looked around for some bread and PB and jelly. It was a really good trip for us to learn more about the history of the people we are working with.


No comments:

Post a Comment