Today is the day that we make our presentations of goods to the health care facilities. We are welcomed with by both Margret Marquart Hospital and the Kpando Health Center. We have brought so many supplies and we are trying to divide the wealth a bit between all the health care settings. There is so much need and we question whether our small donations can make a difference in any significant way. Everything is a photo opportunity although I am not sure if these organizations would use the photo. We took all kinds of photos last year and I know I never was asked for copies. At least the UML website has used some of the photos.
After the donation Maura and I return back to the hospital to meet with the medical director, director of nursing and the hospital administrator. They are anxiously awaiting our report. In retrospect I am impressed with the report that we were able to generate for them. It contained very honest observations about the nursing care at the hospital. There were many areas that they had already identified as problem areas. They thanked us for our report that they will use in helping to make some changes. The new director is very anxious to make some positive changes. All 3 of them are professional and courteous to us. Part of me is feeling bad because we are delivering a not so great review but the director assures me that this is the type of information she is looking for.
We complete are little more time at the hospital or clinic and the get ready for one last trip to Torkor. My goal is to bring some items (glasses) that I had promised to one of the nurses and a lovely patient. We also have some soap and other supplies and clothes to distribute. When we greet the nurse I get a bit angry for the first time this week. She is quite upset that we have arrived “late.” It is 3 pm and there day ends at 5 pm but obviously we have cut into their “down time.” There are no patients in the clinic and she looks at me with disapproval (mind you, this is the nurse who needs the glasses that I have made a special trip to bring). I was very hot and tired and quite resentful of her attitude. I then said that I would be more than happy to bring my nurses and my supplies to another village if she did not want her residents to have any of the supplies. I think she saw my anger and then relented to let one of her medical assistants bring us around the village. We were able to visit about 60 people in a short period of time but to be quite honest I was happy to be leaving that village.
This is not the first time we have met some resistance to our overtures of donations and care. We also are getting occasional remarks from certain villages when they find out that we have been to other villages and we did not bring supplies to them or we did not do a presentation for them. There is so much need here any it appears at times that we are being pulled in many directions trying to satisfy everyone but at the same time leaving them wanting. It is tough thing to experience, especially when most of us are very hot and tired and running on empty (physically, emotionally and financially). Our nightly debriefing allows some verbalization of these feelings and I am trying to be available to the students for any issues or concerns. I think some of us can feel our time at Kpando coming to a close and there is some pressure in terms of time and resources.
I still do not have access to my UML blog site to post my entries. I have been able to have my daughter post some but it appears that some of my entries were not uploaded. I am working with UML to fix the problem. It is amazing how our lives can be disrupted by glitches in our technology and the people of Ghana live with such little technology, with the exception of the cell phone.
I would like to make a comment about cell phone use here in Ghana. In Kpando it appears that many people own a cell phone. It is like a 3rd arm or leg for these people. They come to our clinics with no shoes and in obvious need to some “free “ health care but many of them have their cell phones. What I find most appalling is the etiquette. Calls are received at any time and there is no attempt for the owner of the cell phone to excuse themselves from the “live person to person” conversation that they had been engaged in prior to the ring ring. We observed nurses answering cell phones in the middle of patient interactions. They also tend to not offer a final goodbye when they end the conversation. Sometimes all you hear is a click. There are kiosks about every 50 feet on the main roads that sell minutes(or units) to the phones. There is a currently a few big service providers but VODAPHONE is the big guy in town and the company has saturated the village with signage to make their name a household name. Last year this company was not here and this year it is a huge business. It is interesting to see how much they have saturated the village with their branding.
In the early evening Maura and I journey down the street to the hospital and we hear lots of singing, drumming and horn blowing. People are dressed in vibrant red clothing and black. It reminds me a bit of Mardi Gras. I am told that on Friday nights the bodies are removed from the morgue and families arrive to take home their loved ones for a funeral in their home village. Funerals are big business here. People may not have the money to buy food or health insurance but they have money to support elaborate funerals. One by one the family groups go into the morgue with either a personal car or truck or a hired taxi. The body is wrapped head to toe in fabric and it is put in the back seat between 2 living family members. It is macabre to see these corpses sitting up in a car. We are told that they smell very bad and are sometimes discharging bodily fluids which then soil the inside of the car. This gives me the creeps knowing that some of the hired taxis that we have rented may have carried a body at one time. We are fascinated by these customs and watch for a while. Some of our own plans for clinics have been changed due to funerals being held in some of the villages.
Tomorrow is we are in Nkonya and our program that was scheduled for Monday has been moved to Sunday because of a local funeral.