Wednesday, April 16, 2008


(Thank you very much)

I would like to say thank you for all your prayers and support, I safely arrived back in Branchville yesterday afternoon.

Likely after the cruise, I'll be uploading a bunch more pictures and such.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Public Health

This is a bit backwards, but since I didn't post this week, I'll write about it now.

There were a bunch of new volunteers this week, so to keep everyone from stepping on each other's toes, we got to branch out a bit. Christy and I took up an offer to spend the day with public health. Public health takes care of the immunizations and prenatal visits, they have a place on the BMC compound, and they also travel to villages.

We started out helping Issac, our friend, give some immunizations. We were pretty confused as to how to give them at first, because he told us they were to go intradermal. We were pretty sure he didn't mean sub-epidural, like when you make the little wheal for a PPD shot. Christy thought he meant then subcutaneous, so I give a subcutaneous shot to the next guy, and Issac is like no, let me show you. He proceeds to give the next shot intramuscularly. A tad confusing. I'm just going to have faith the Lord will overcome our inexperience, and bless the vaccinations anyways.

Mrs. Baaba runs public health, she told us they were heading out to 2 villages that afternoon. First for antenatal clinic, then to give meningitis vaccinations (they are experiencing an outbreak). Mrs. Baaba would come pick us up at our place after lunch. Mrs. Baaba is a character, I'm pretty sure she'd fit well in a Charles Dickens novel. She's not slight, she likes her way, and she can drive FAST. It made for an interesting journey. She took special delight in laughing at me, but curiously I really don't know why I made her laugh so much. After awhile, I just started being more silly the more she laughed at me. She and I worked together doing prenatal visits in the bush. Our clinic room, was a wooden table inside a closet filled with USAID bags filled with something, slightly different than your average American obstetrical visit, eh? I have fantastic pictures, but still haven't found my cord, so we will all have to wait patiently. If it wasn't entertaining enough to watch me try to remember my OB, have Mrs. Baaba, and three stunned local midwives watch me laughing (even more laughter when I let them use my camera, which they have never touched a camera before.....I will confess I lied and told them they took great photos, but in fact they cut off heads...forgive was too entertaining watch them try to take the picture), simultaneously they were burning a field right next to us, and holding school under a tree. Who knew it could be so busy in the bush.

From there we traveled to a village, close to where Tommy Harrison would take us to church. The village was called Tuuni. It was market day and we were giving out meningitis vaccines. Now in the US, you have to drag your child for a vaccination, in Ghana you practically throw your child at the man holding a syringe. We were crowded in from every side. It made sense though because the people wanted to be vaccinated (knowing there was an outbreak going on) and assuming we would run out of vaccine before everyone got it, which also happened.

As I said, it was market day, and we got some of the nurses to take us down to find some little treats. BUT the highlight of the day, and a very selfless act by my fantastic roommate, was that Christy gave up a ride on a moto back to Nalerigu, to give me the experience. Now we were WAY out in the bush. Mrs. Baaba thinks we have LOST our minds, why would anyone opt for moto. It happened, by the Lord's grace, I had brought scrubs with me. I ran into a building, ripped off my skirt, threw on scrubs, tied a scarf around my head (it happens Issac came with us when the dentist was here, and you might recall they were very specific that if I was to ride outside the lorry, I had to cover my head....well he was driving the moto, so the same rule applied).

I'm pretty positive that besides Christy, no one thought I would last the whole way back on moto. It's far for one thing. It's dirty. And the road is terrible. BUT I actually felt like it was less bumpy on moto because you could more easily avoid the bumps. Mrs. Baaba insisted she follow the whole way in her van, in case I gave up (which at least kept her speeding in check). She did, probably at Christy's suggestion, creep up on us and beep really loudly to try and scare me. I only laughed.

I came home dirty and happy.

Pictures to follow. In fact, I'll let you judge yourselves, how the midwives pictures turned out....that is if I didn't already delete them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jesse Brooks Foundation

The group we picked up today were part of the Jesse Brooks Foundation and Art Alive Ministries. Jesse was a 10 year old girl, who died in a van crash returning from a mission trip in Montana. She always wanted to be a missionary to Africa.

Her parents created the foundation in her memory. Many small events transpired, and they were introduced to Art Alive Ministries, who had funded an orphanage in Ghana. Although the foundation had been established, they struggled in what to fund that kept Jesse's memory alive. When they heard about this ministry, they thought it was the ideal combination of who Jesse was. They decided to fund a new wing of the orphanage. They have come for the dedication of that wing.

I'm not doing the story justice, and I'm certain my details are not completely factual. However, what I do know is that it's pretty amazing when a tragedy of losing a child can turn into this amazing selfless gift to help 40 children. The foundation will continue to fund more projects at the site, and hopes to eventually house over 100 children. The orphanage provides a safe place to live, schooling, and teaching about Jesus. It's been fun hanging out with the group today.

Here is there website:

Bye Bye Nalerigu

I have been busy most of the week, and just didn't make it to posting. Sadly, I'm not writing this post from Nalerigu, but I'm back in Accra (the capital).

It was a sad goodbye, I really fell in love with Nalerigu, the hospital, the people. We had station meeting last night, Christy and I sort of have made our song of the trip, "On Jordan's Stormy Banks." Let me give you the lyrics, it's an old hymn, but we prefer the new version (from Jars of Clay Redemption Songs)

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promised land (2x).

No chilling winds or poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.

When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
And in His bosom rest.


My favorite verse is the one where it talks about how sickness, sorrow, pain, and death are felt and feared no more. It's a comfort to dwell on that verse when I think of my patients in Nalerigu and all my future patients.

At 4am this morning, I was picked up at the house and on my way to the airport. There was a slight scare last night, when we realized a mistake had been made, and no one had my ticket. However that was quickly resolved, and I had no problems getting on the plane today. A little different, no one ever asked for my name or passport, or anything actually.

When I got to the guest house in Accra, I realized how little I slept this past week. I really wanted to be ambitious and do and see things, but it's hard to do when you're tired and you have no one to go with. I had been picked up from the airport with a mission team from Alabama just arriving from the states. They overheard me talking to Fushsani about not having anything to do today, and they decided to join me to go to the beach. It was actually a hotel, next to the ocean. I sat next to a very very nice pool, swam, and chilled the afternoon away. To top it off, I had REAL ice cream! And I was thankful they came with me, because I did fantastically getting a good taxi price, but then the guy got lost, and it was definitely nice to not be alone and lost.

I'll have to post about what they are doing here because I think it's a pretty interesting story about how God can turn tragedy into something miraculous.

PS I temporarily have misplaced my cable for my digital camera, so I can only post old pictures.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Potty Humor

You know you were all wondering about it, so I'll just answer the question BEFORE you ask.

I've previously said that our house is equipped with toilet, however I'm pretty assured the BMC campus (plus Tommy's house) may be the only place in Nalerigu to use a real toilet. I have successfully managed to avoid using Ghanaian restrooms for the most part, but not entirely.

The top picture posted is a "bathroom" I got to use when I was out with Dr. Robinson pulling teeth in the bush. It was surprisingly VERY clean, and didn't smell.

The bottom two pictures are from the BMC latrines. Besides taking the photos, I have avoided them completely.

I did have a more interesting time on my way to Mole. At a bus stop, you could get in one of two lines, depending on what you needed to deposit. I was in line for #1, after paying a few pesewas, I was allowed in this cement room with no door. A drainage pipe ran down the middle that was open. Basically you just position yourself correctly and aim for the drainage pipe. It was interesting. It's especially lovely, when you consider I had to PAY for the experience.

Most assuredly if you do happen across an actual toilet, it's certain it will NOT have toilet paper, but for a few more pesewas, you can also have an alloted amount. I suggest you just bring your own.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I fear that I will speak less intelligently by the time I get home. If you speak how I would normally in the US, people don't understand you here. When I first got here, it was grating to listen to Americans talk to Ghanaians. However, slowly but surely, I have been broken in.

I have a mix of a few Mampruli words with a kind of pigeon English. I say things like, "Where does it pain you? Is your pain much much or small small?"

"Dasuba" is "Good Morning" in Mampruli. The response is "Naa." Actually, the response to most any greeting question is either "Naa" or "Alafia."

I'm at Koko Duu, our nutrition center, and I got to borrow someone's baby to practice carrying it like a Ghanaian. It's a very comfortable way to carry a child around. I've actually done it a few times now, and I'm getting the hang of it. That also happens to be the other African dress I had made here.


Meet my friend, Baaba.

Baaba was playing with matches, in the same room as gun powder, when an ill-fated accident happened. We are really thankful, because, originally, we thought he might lose his eye sight. However, the Lord answered alot of prayer, and just a few days after he was burned, we could see Baaba tracking us around the room and knew he had sight. He has burns covering his anterior chest, bilateral arms, scrotum, and upper thighs. Thankfully, his burns are rather superficial, he will not require any skin grafts.

There is no physical or occupational therapy here, but we've worked with Baaba's mother to encourage Baaba to move so he doesn't stiffen up. I gave him crayons and a coloring book to encourage some fine motor skills.

I've been cleaning Baaba every few days for 3-4 weeks now. He's almost ready to go home. We are all very thankful for how Baaba has recovered, we've come to love him and his mother! I don't think Baaba thought of us as friends at first, since we only inflicted pain on him, but slowly he's come around and breaks out a smile or two.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

To keep the blog police at bay

The answer to what was in the picture is a grinding stone (actually a set of three grinding stones), mainly used to grind maize, which they make teazet, a staple food here.

The internet, of course, isn't cooperating to get more pictures uploaded, so be patient. Plus I've been super busy with work, and just haven't had alot of time to get to the internet. I'll likely have to catch up when I get home with many unanswered questions and more pictures. I haven't even posted pictures of the kob and water buck, plus a few pretty birds.

Uncle Paul, the one disappointment during my trip to Mole, was that apparently a 6 foot snake was killed by my house in Nalerigu over the weekend. Unfortunately, a guard killed it, and he didn't know that we wanted to eat it. I never got to see the snake, and we will not be enjoying that delicacy. However, Yisah has a week left to pull through with another one. I didn't see it, but carpet vipers don't usually get that big, so it had to be something else, maybe a cobra?--I'm not sure.

Can you believe I only have a little over a week left in Nalerigu? Time has FLOWN by, I feel like I just got here! It will be hard to leave! However, I am thinking about the fun of the cruise (if you didn't know I'm heading on a cruise with my family and medical school roommate a week after I get back), that will hopefully ease the blow of leaving Nalerigu.

When I was a young warthog...

Who remembers the Lion King? I know, you all know Pumba, he was a warthog.

If Sheryl is reading this, I just want you to know I thought of you MANY MANY MANY times in Mole! I wish you were enjoying it with me!

I have some pictures, we had warthogs not more than 5 feet from our dinner table, but, of course, the Ghanaian internet is not allowing those to post.

Elephants for Aunt Cathy

I tried to post more, but the internet connection said no.