Saturday, April 23, 2011

first week in ghana

I've been in ghana for almost a week now, I almost dont know where to start with my initital impressions. Internet is more difficult to come by and slower, so the posts with be less frequent for the next few weeks. This will be a long post, i'll try to keep from bouncing around to much, so bear with me.
after a very long day of traveling i arrived in accra, ghana at 5am. my host family, jessica, was there to greet me at the airport. she took me back to her house and i thankfully got a few more hours of sleep before heading out into africa for the first time.
my host family jessica and her sisters are incredibly sweet, like most ghanians. they are beyond friendly and helpful, always asking if they can do something for me or telling me no i'll take care of that clarissa. i've found that ghanians, in general, are incredibly friendly people. people in town are always saying hello, good morning, how are you. to people they don't even know. the people at the hospital are the same, asking me how i'm  settling in, answering my endless questions about ghanan healthcare. the people, i think, are going to be what make ghana special for me.
i would be lying if i said that i wasn't struggling with some culture shock here, which in a way, suprised me. accra, the capital, is incredibly busy, full of people, goats, chickens, cars, and buses. there is trash EVERYWHERE. it's dirty and smells of exhaust and/or sewage more times then not. in moroco, or egypt, where there was blanant poverty and trash and rubble there would be cool markets or musuems or a beautifully tiled doorway. in accra, i'm struggling to find the beauty and culture.
i'm working at the children's hospital in accra, which is the only children's hospital in ghana. it takes me 2h to get there, in fact it takes 2h to get just about any where in accra. there is no air con at the hospital and its hot. let me tell you, sweating in scrubs is not fun. between the no air con and the 4h of commuting its all i can do to not strip the momment i return in the afternoon and shower. there are chickens running around the er waiting room. the unit i'm on is 2 bays with 12 pts per bay, about the size of the old bay's at childrens. they are divided into less then 6m and greater then 6m. the common diagnosises are pneumonia, malaria related illnesses, gastroenteristis, and jaundice. i've found that i like working with the md's more, i feel like i get more information from them and can relate a little bit better then the nurses. they have one incubator that they use for hyperbili. most kids have IV's, but there is no scrubbing the hub or flushing the IV before using it. i could just see the emails about BSI and using chloroprep as the nurse pushed gent through an iv.
other interesting things about ghana. houses have electricty, but no running water. they have very large water containers that they city fills weekly and use buckets to bring it into the house. bathing is done by buckets and is not heated. though, its so hot and humid that a cool shower is welcome, even though i start sweating again the momment i towel off. the food has been good, a lot of fish and spicy foods. the only thing i've had that i haven't liked was banku, but everything else has been very good. alot of rice and eggs.
this weekend i'm in kpando, not to far from the togo border for the easter weekend. i'm staying with jessica and her family. i did a small hike to some very nice waterfalls yesterday and hung out with some other volunteers at the local orphange. it was good to talk to some other people that could relate more.
oh, first stupid injury. walking at night to the orphange, i wasn't paying enough attention and fell into the ditch. nothing to horrible, a scrapped knee and toes. mostly my pride was injured, but they insisted i go to the hospital to have it cleaned. even after i showed them my alcohol wipes, bandaids, and neosporin. it was beyond silly, and really, because i fell in a ditch...i'm watching where i'm walking more now...
ok, that's all for now, hopefully more soon!


  1. First off I am so glad you hear from you! Secondly, I just totally had this awesome mental image of your fall and I am glad you are ok but it did make me giggle a bit. It sounds like Ghana is an interesting place and it is comforting to know that you have a Jessica taking care of you! Miss you and can't wait to read your next post!

  2. Happy Easter!!!!! It sounds like you are having a great time :)!! I bet you won't complain when the NICU gets too hot in the summer here. And you know that since you posted about ur fall, u will not live that one down. Espically because you did it sober!!!

  3. So glad to hear from you! Ghana sounds like it will provide you with challenges and interesting stories for years to come. From the sounds of it you will be learning a lot about how great a nurse you are :)

    Watch out for those ditches and if you are going to fall I hope you do it gracefully!