This is my last journal entry. This is based off a reading assignment and how it shaped my point of view during my stay in Ghana. The article I read was Turning Enemies into Friends by Sharon Eubank. There is a specific section titles “You Are the Gift.” I want to give my personal feelings about her words in this section.
Sharon’s main point was that of yourself being the gift you give to others, hence, you are the gift. Our mission trips aren’t necessarily about the goods or healthcare we provide to others, but it’s about how we can impact and change the lives of others. I personally feel that the healthcare part of our work was extremely important but the connections I made with the people were more. Time and time again I would make friends that I learned to love very quickly. I was able to show them who I was and what our program was all about. Being an example for them to see is so important.
I think my most proud moments were those of when people would personally come up to me and thank me for being there. They recognize that it was a sacrifice for us and when we were able to make friendships because of that sacrifice it makes it all so much sweeter.
Upon finishing my trip I think I will remember the people the most rather than the good we did. I hope that they will remember us as well. So often the people would tell me that they would remember me and hoped that I would do the same. That at the end of the day is what makes it all worth it. That is why I came to Ghana, to be the gift.
Well my time has come here in Ghana. This last week was one for the books and I’m heading back to great old America. I spent this last week in the middle of nowhere with some of my closest friends and with Crystal Eye Clinic. It was fun living a relaxed life without any internet or communication to home.
We finished work on Thursday and drove home from our long overnight outreaches. Friday and Saturday were spent going to the market and getting ready to go home. All my friends left Saturday but I left Sunday. Sunday at 730pm I took off and had a layover in Paris then back to California.
I’m grateful for this opportunity and how it has humbled me so much. I grew to love the people of Ghana and with them the best.. especially with their eye care.
As for the rest of week 5 we went on two outreaches with Crystal. On Thursday we went to Mepe which was about 3 hours away and on Friday we went to Nkroso which was just under 2 hours away. I did visual acuity for both days.
On Thursday we worked at a church that was located above a few restaurants so it was more urban. On Friday the setting was really beautiful. I don’t really have any words to describe it so I’ll let the pictures talk.
On Friday the long legend of the braided hair came to an end.. When I took it out I ended up looking like a surfer boy in the year 2000. Again, a picture will describe better than words.
Sorry for the lame title I just couldn’t think of anything special. This week has been a pretty good one. It’s been separated by a day off in the middle of the week so I’ll split up this blog post into 2 parts.
This week I was with Crystal Eye Clinic. On Monday we went to a town called Teshie and on Tuesday we went to a town called Budbumburam, I know pretty cool name. I ended up doing visual acuity both days. Monday was a really long work day for us as we put in around 9 hours. I had a little girl hanging on my arm the entire day. I had to take a picture with her and her mom when she had to leave. Tuesday was much shorter as we put in around 4 hours.
If we are being honest the highlight of my week was Wednesday. It’s the day I fully embraced the Ghanian culture and got my hair braided. It only took around 3 and half hours but I’d say it was well worth it. Many of the locals thought it was really cool and gave me praise for how well it turned out. I have to give credit to my awesome hair lady.
This week I found myself with the Saint Thomas Eye Clinic again. We got out schedules for the rest of our stay here and turns out I won’t be with them again. It’s a little sad but I think they got things under control. It’s a smaller group, so while being with Crystal we see 200-400 people a day and with Saint Thomas we see around 30-80 people a day, all good things though.
This week we went on an outreach Monday and an overnight Tuesday-Wednesday. I did the usual of visual acuity and medication distribution. On Wednesday our outreach got cancelled so we ended up going to a couple very rural villages and talking to the tribal leaders to discuss future plans of administering eye care to their people. It was really neat seeing the tribal cultural and talking a little to their leaders. They were all very nice and very open.. from what I understood.
Did I mention I took a quick trip to Disneyland and went on the Indiana Jones ride? Not really but some of the roads we went on I couldn’t see a 4×4 truck making it down let alone a van full of luggage and people. By miracle we made it but by no chance on the way home on a pretty decent dirt road we broke down, guess it we had it coming. We were stuck in the middle of no where for about 3 hours and had different mechanics and electricians work on the van but they couldn’t help. We ended up pushing it about half a mile and then switched to a new van and made it home to Accra around 9pm. What a day can I say. I must be spending a lot of time in these vans because I’m getting pretty good at sleeping in them, even on the bumpy roads.
We finished the week in the clinic. It was a great day shadowing the surgeons and learning more about the surgeries. We saw around 20 people and finished around 9:30pm, so it was a pretty long but fulfilling day.
Well we had another week with Crystal Eye Clinic and it ended up being a great week. We did’t have any overnight outreaches so we always went back to Accra every night. We had a lot of different experiences so it made for an interesting time.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday we were on outreaches in various parts of Ghana, mostly in the Eastern region. I handed out medication and did visual acuity. We found ourselves in the bush more so I got to witness the rural parts of Ghana. These villages were very humble and a little more on the poor side but the people still seemed happy. I thought that was very admirable and hope I can apply that a little more in my life, since life is all about the simple things. I did see some children that were just a little too malnourished and my heart went out for them. Sometimes I wish that I could help more than just aiding with eye care but I have to trust that all will be okay for them in the end.
On Tuesday we had a clinical day at the Crystal Eye Center. We met Doctor Clark who is a fairly well known doctor out here. He was very nice and really helped me understand the processes of the various surgeries. I also witnessed a couple kids getting put under anesthesia which was very interesting to me. Every time that I find myself in the surgical room I get excited to learn more so one day I can help others. I think that’s a good thing?
The rest of the week we hung out, went to the movies, and went to the Accra market. It was a really fun weekend and I’ve grown close to a lot of people here.
Well if we are being honest here this is my second go around in writing this blog about a day in the life of a global intern here in Ghana. The first time I went to write this I was just about to publish it when my mac decided to crash so I lost my beautiful masterpiece. It must have not been good enough the first time so let’s hope I can get it right this go around.
There is a lot that goes on in a soul day of a global intern here in Ghana. There are many different aspects and I hope that I can accurately portray them. For starters there are two eye clinics here in Ghana, Crystal and Saint Thomas. Depending on the week you will be paired up with one of the two. Usually you wake up and leave anywhere around between 7:30-8:30. Then you have anywhere from an hour to three hour van ride to your destination. Once you reach your destination you set up and introduce yourself to the village/ group of people you are helping. After that you can do one of three jobs.
The three jobs on an outreach are visual acuity, medication and glasses distribution, and imputing data. Visual acuity consists of testing everyone’s vision with those dope charts that have the E’s going in all sorts of directions. Communication is key during that process so we’ve learned to pick up a few Twi (basically the main language of Ghana) phrases to make the process easier for everyone. As far as medication and glasses distribution goes you see everyone who’s already seen the doctors and hook them up with some sweet glasses and eyedrops to help them see. It’s really neat because some people are very grateful for their new given sight. Last and quite possibly least is imputing data. This only happens at Saint Thomas but they put info about all the patients they’ve seen that day. #Technerds
This isn’t a job but I pretty much consider hanging out and playing with the kids as one. Personally it’s my favorite.
We finish up daily outreaches and get home anytime from 5:00-9:00pm. Usually once a week we go on a few night overnight outreach where we stay in a different hotel and work from there because it’s so far away.
About once a week we will have a clinical day. Those days are really neat because we get to see surgeries and learn from the optometrists and ophthalmologist. I didn’t think I would be okay with seeing eyes get cut open but it’s actually pretty interesting.
While we aren’t working we do our best to keep ourselves busy. During the week we go and get food and play games and just hangout. On the weekends we are a little more free so we end up going to the beach or to the markets. We also got chores I guess and have to handwash our clothes and get some groceries.
Things are all great here and at the end of the day I’ve been really humbled and I’m so grateful for this experience I’ve been given. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, or America for that sake.
This has been the longest over-night outreach yet. We left Sunday night and got back Thursday night. It was a really fulfilling trip as we saw numerous amounts of people everyday and got to see a little more of the Ghana culture.
To give the background of the trip, it was a 7 hour knee’s to the chest van ride to the very western part of Ghana. We stayed in a town called Esiama right near the beach, very beautiful might I add. We worked long days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and didn’t get home until 11pm on Thursday night.
Our first stop was to Bonyere Junction, around an hour away from the hotel. It was a great outreach and really fun because it was close to a school so we got to hang out and play with the school kids. I did visual acuity tests and of course hung out with the kids.
Our second stop was to Elubo, literally right off the boarder of Ivory Coast and Ghana. It was a neat day because a lot of the people we saw were from the Ivory Coast. They mainly speak French so I learned a few phrases to give directions while testing visual acuity. We also saw around 450 people that day! It was a long day to say the least, but of course a good day. On the way home we got pulled over by the military/police at a checkpoint, probably because we were white foreigners, and a few of us didn’t have our passports on us.. They were going to hold us for money but last second by miracle an officer changed his mind and let us go with no problems. Tender mercies.
Wednesday we went to Aiynase which was a smaller church packed with people. I again did visual acuity. What made it tricky was that it was pouring rain outside almost the whole day so everyone was stuck inside that tiny church. Nonetheless we finished what we needed and were able to help many people.
Thurday, our last day on the trip! We found ourselves in Axim which was somewhat on the way back to Accra. I dispensed medication and glasses. By far its the fastest paced job as you have to constantly be calculating money and grabbing medication for the several hundred people who come through throughout the day. Finally it was finished and we packed up and took that lovely 7 hour car ride back home, aka the telecentre.
Might I say a lot has happened. I find that everyday brings a new adventure and as my head hits the pillow I have many new memories to think about. I’d say the word of the week would definitely have to be HUMBLED.
This week we finished working with the Saint Thomas Eye Clinic. We found ourselves in Elmina, Makessim, and Nyaakrom in a 3 day over-night outreach. It was a really great time because we were often able to finish early so that meant we had time to relax and enjoy the beauty of Ghana. We went to the Elmina castle (which is the largest in the world btw), swam in the ocean on a pretty dang beautiful beach, and visited markets. I think pictures best describe the fun we had.
On Thursday we were blessed with an air-conditioned clinical day. It was a really neat day because we not only got KFC as a meal, but we were able to witness many pterygium and cataract surgeries by doctors Ela and Gyasse. Doctor Ela was from Cuba so we spoke quite a bit of Spanish to each other. At one point the power went out but apparently in the surgical theatre they just kept going in the dark! The doctor whipped out a flashlight and kept going with surgery. Wild wild wild.
Friday we had an outreach in Swedru where I met another best friend. That day was a long day, we ended up seeing over 115 different patients. Saturday we did laundry and hit up another beach. We played rugby on the beach and soaked up the Ghana clouds, as it was a pretty overcast day.
I’d be lying if I didn’t want to ask his mom if I could take him home.. Cutest thing to crawl the earth right now.
This week has been a great one. Thank you everyone for your support! Love y’all!
Being that it’s my third day in Ghana, everything is still very eye opening, literally… However I do feel that the acclamation is going well and I am very much enjoying myself. Today we woke up bright and early and took a crazy hour car ride to Akoto, Ghana, just outside of Accra. For this week I will be working with the Saint Thomas Eye Center which includes doctor Juju, nurse Margret, and many more. Those in my group include my buddy Dallin, Christian, and a med student Joseph. Today I personally worked closely with Margret. I handed out eye glasses, medications, and even took blood pressure for those who will later need to get Cataract or Pterygium surgery. I also learned how to read eye charts and help out with reading vision. After helping a little over 120 people we called it a day around 4 and then got dropped back at the Telecentre, our little hotel in the center of Accra. After winding down a little we went on the street where I bartered our coconuts down to 1 Ghana Cede a piece (20 cents). Our then street dinner consisted of chicken and rice with some nice spicy sauce on top. We got home a little after dark and called it a night.
I do have to give a shoutout to my new bestie I made on my trip today. At first this little girl wanted nothing to do with me, but by the end she was hanging on my arm and wouldn’t let me work. She ended up crying when I gave her back to her momma 😦 It’s the little things like this that are making this trip all worth it and so enjoyable.