“Heigh ho… it’s off to work we go”

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Blog Day 10

 This is our last working day and we have a lot planned. We load into 3 junky taxis and head to Torkor which is a nearby fishing village that is very poor.  The people there survive on fishing in the lake water that is heavily polluted. This is the one of the only sources of income other than selling items in a market.  We have been there before and although it is only about 10 minutes from Kpando the people are more poor and destitute. As we drive down toward the waterfront I compare my view from last year when I turned the corner and I could see a community along the waterfront and from a distance it could be a perfect location for a resort community.  This year as we wind our way down to the village we cannot even see the village due to the thick, dusty air.  The air resembles a thick fog that we have in New England. The visibility is about 300 yards at best but it is not cool and moist like at home. It is hot and gritty and occasionally smells of car emissions.  I have been battling some type of cough/laryngitis for days now due to the air quality and it may have turned into an infection. Some of the students (especially the asthmatics) are likewise affected. The taxi in front of me is spewing out black smoke and that adds to the air quality problems. We are all missing the clean air of home .

                We set up our clinic ( 2 stations) and the students work like a well oiled machine.  The need little supervision from me now.  They know the drill.  We are assisted by a few interpreters because English is not well understood in this poor village. We have identified communication and our inability to speak the local dialect as our biggest stumbling block to good care.  Maura and I have to do crowd control.  The people have heard that there is free medical care and they jockey and push ahead to get seen first. I finally get my first marriage proposal of the week but unfortunately it is from a drunk man. When he gets to the BP table one of my students, who in her normal fashion of friendliness, greets this man.  He leans over and licks her ear.  She is appalled but is able to continue acting professionally . We have Jason( our one male student) step up and tell this man that  Kelly is his wife.  My wedding band has served as a deterrent sometimes but the young and good looking students from UML are getting frequent marriage proposals.  I started to count at the beginning of the trip but lost count but I believe that each of them have 2-3 each.  Jason is a favorite with the older Ghanaian women. 

                Our BP clinic is successful and we pack up and return to Kpando to repeat the same activity in another village. This afternoon we are at Kpando Tpsake.  This is a poor neighborhood of Kpando and where we have our water well project.  Like the morning the students are able to set up quickly and everyone assumes a task. They feel very comfortable with this activity. As we near the end of our time there the crowd suddenly increases in size.  I move into a different mode and become a moving clinician in the crowd.  I grab 2 students, one is my recorder and one is my dispenser and teacher.  I work my way quickly down the line of people, taking BP, calling out readings and giving orders for med administration.  This has proven to be a fast way to work through the crowd but more people keep coming.  At one point we just have to shut down and turn people away.  This is hard for me to do but it can become overwhelming. 

We walk about 1/2mile into the woods to see the water project.  This is the site of multiple uncapped open wells that we visited last year. Due to financial donations from myself, Maura, my church, and some NSWB students we have paid for safety modifications such as a cement pad around the well and a metal cover that can be locked at night.  The area is heavily used but we are there during a slow time.  I do the ceremonial dipping of the water bag into the well to pour it into the community leaders water bucket.  The well has a new coat of paint and there is a written dedication to all the donors. It is nice to see that our funds have been used to help the people but there are still more wells to fix in this area. We are told that the trees surrounding the well cannot be cut down and this protects the aquifer.  I am appalled at the amount of plastic trash I see on the ground leading into the area and my comment to our coordinators is that the people of the village should be concerned about the long term health ramifications of the degradation of the plastics on the ground and how that can leach into their water system.  The issue of trash is a huge problem here and the practice of dropping anything on the ground is widely done by most Ghanaians.  To me this could be solved with education about the effects of pollution but they also need the infrastructure to remove all this trash.  They recycle old cars and bikes and TVs but they also pollute their environment with a resource( plastic) that may have some recycled uses.  I know this would take a huge solution but it all begins with a change in human behavior.

We debrief tonight and the students are very tired and look forward to washing up and some internet time and some food.   I am very weary myself and spend some time organizing our donations for tomorrow and then  fall asleep early.  Tomorrow we leave Kpando but we have donations to make to the hospital and clinic.

               

 

                This is our last working day and we have a lot planned. We load into 3 junky taxis and head to Torkor which is a nearby fishing village that is very poor.  The people there survive on fishing in the lake water that is heavily polluted. This is the one of the only sources of income other than selling items in a market.  We have been there before and although it is only about 10 minutes from Kpando the people are more poor and destitute. As we drive down toward the waterfront I compare my view from last year when I turned the corner and I could see a community along the waterfront and from a distance it could be a perfect location for a resort community.  This year as we wind our way down to the village we cannot even see the village due to the thick, dusty air.  The air resembles a thick fog that we have in New England. The visibility is about 300 yards at best but it is not cool and moist like at home. It is hot and gritty and occasionally smells of car emissions.  I have been battling some type of cough/laryngitis for days now due to the air quality and it may have turned into an infection. Some of the students (especially the asthmatics) are likewise affected. The taxi in front of me is spewing out black smoke and that adds to the air quality problems. We are all missing the clean air of home .

                We set up our clinic ( 2 stations) and the students work like a well oiled machine.  The need little supervision from me now.  They know the drill.  We are assisted by a few interpreters because English is not well understood in this poor village. We have identified communication and our inability to speak the local dialect as our biggest stumbling block to good care.  Maura and I have to do crowd control.  The people have heard that there is free medical care and they jockey and push ahead to get seen first. I finally get my first marriage proposal of the week but unfortunately it is from a drunk man. When he gets to the BP table one of my students, who in her normal fashion of friendliness, greets this man.  He leans over and licks her ear.  She is appalled but is able to continue acting professionally . We have Jason( our one male student) step up and tell this man that  Kelly is his wife.  My wedding band has served as a deterrent sometimes but the young and good looking students from UML are getting frequent marriage proposals.  I started to count at the beginning of the trip but lost count but I believe that each of them have 2-3 each.  Jason is a favorite with the older Ghanaian women. 

                Our BP clinic is successful and we pack up and return to Kpando to repeat the same activity in another village. This afternoon we are at Kpando Tpsake.  This is a poor neighborhood of Kpando and where we have our water well project.  Like the morning the students are able to set up quickly and everyone assumes a task. They feel very comfortable with this activity. As we near the end of our time there the crowd suddenly increases in size.  I move into a different mode and become a moving clinician in the crowd.  I grab 2 students, one is my recorder and one is my dispenser and teacher.  I work my way quickly down the line of people, taking BP, calling out readings and giving orders for med administration.  This has proven to be a fast way to work through the crowd but more people keep coming.  At one point we just have to shut down and turn people away.  This is hard for me to do but it can become overwhelming. 

We walk about 1/2mile into the woods to see the water project.  This is the site of multiple uncapped open wells that we visited last year. Due to financial donations from myself, Maura, my church, and some NSWB students we have paid for safety modifications such as a cement pad around the well and a metal cover that can be locked at night.  The area is heavily used but we are there during a slow time.  I do the ceremonial dipping of the water bag into the well to pour it into the community leaders water bucket.  The well has a new coat of paint and there is a written dedication to all the donors. It is nice to see that our funds have been used to help the people but there are still more wells to fix in this area. We are told that the trees surrounding the well cannot be cut down and this protects the aquifer.  I am appalled at the amount of plastic trash I see on the ground leading into the area and my comment to our coordinators is that the people of the village should be concerned about the long term health ramifications of the degradation of the plastics on the ground and how that can leach into their water system.  The issue of trash is a huge problem here and the practice of dropping anything on the ground is widely done by most Ghanaians.  To me this could be solved with education about the effects of pollution but they also need the infrastructure to remove all this trash.  They recycle old cars and bikes and TVs but they also pollute their environment with a resource( plastic) that may have some recycled uses.  I know this would take a huge solution but it all begins with a change in human behavior.

We debrief tonight and the students are very tired and look forward to washing up and some internet time and some food.   I am very weary myself and spend some time organizing our donations for tomorrow and then  fall asleep early.  Tomorrow we leave Kpando but we have donations to make to the hospital and clinic.

               


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by King, Valerie L published on January 25, 2011 12:59 PM.

Day Nine: “Day Life and Night Life in Kpando” was the previous entry in this blog.

Day 11 - "Strong Women and how they survive" is the next entry in this blog.

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