Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Justin's back in Tamale!!

Hello Alan, Mom, Dad, Kat and any other family members following our journey in Ghana.
It's actually been quite nice not having access the internet for the past two weeks in Enchi. Although the spotty cell service made it hard to call home at times, we were able to get through enough to ward off severe home-sickness. Thank-you Alan for the text messages, they kept me sane. We spent the past two weeks working at a small health clinic which was more like a small (and over capacity) hospital. We were supported by Madame Phillomena, and she treated us like her own children. She even went out of her way to get approval from Ghanian customs to allow us to go 4X4-ing through the jungle and cross the border into Cote D'Ivore for the afternoon. Who knew that my high school french would come in handy on this trip?!?! I am absolutely amazed at the level of health-care delivery here in Africa given the limited supplies. We've seen more Malaria cases than you can shake a stick at. The nursing style is definitely different from Canada, and I've seen alot of patients being talked over and hit by nurses for crying out in pain. The people here are TOUGH to make a complete understatement. We taught one day at a local highscool about safe sex, and were amazed at the forthcoming students questions. We bought them 200 condoms to give out for free (because they cost money here, and people rarely have money to spare). As well we spent two days at the district hospital, where there is ONE doctor for the surrounding 160,000 residents. That's right... he's a very busy man! I was surprised at the lack of patient resuscitation efforts when their status declines. There really wasn't any in fact. The girls had a very difficult day at the hospital, and I was grateful to be able to be there to support them through it. Alot of our time has been spent trying to understand and be sensitive to the cultural differences which are glaringly apparent. Alot of our role here in Ghana is centered around teaching, but I've found it frustrating when people are very set in their way of doing things.
Anyways, We had a long trip back to Tamale. 14 hours on a tightly packed (like a sardine can) public transit bus that made me wish for seats as comfortable as a school bus. But we're here, and back in contact with the world! We've started yesterday at the Tamale teaching hospital and I'm spending most of my time in the emergency department. I'll keep y'all posted on how things go... but it will be censored for the younger audience ;-)
Love you all, and I miss Canada immensely (I'm counting down the days Al)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our 2 weeks in Kaleo

We (Brianne, Flora, Diana, Lindsay) have just returned from Kaleo which is just outside of Wa. We stayed at the clinic in the nursing residences. We had the support of Sister Edith, an amazing nurse who looked after us, Linda, our amazing chef, and Osman, our amazing driver! We had a great varied experience. We worked in the Kaleo clinic, the hospital in Jirapa, and did health talks for 4 different schools. We spoke about oral and personal hygiene to the primary students, HIV/AIDS to the junior and senior high schools, and nursing assessments to midwifery students at the college in Jirapa. The students love to participate and asked lots of questions. The only thing we wished was that we'd have had more resources (internet, textbooks) to get to know the subjects better. After the HIV/AIDS talks one of the nurses from the clinic offered free HIV testing, which was surprisingly quite popular with the students. Overall the talks all turned out great. We also took part in two healthy births at the clinic, both on the birthdays of our group members! A baby girl on Flora's birthday and a boy on Brianne's. On the other days we joined in on the annual mother to mother support group party and visited an orphanage.

On the weekend we went to Wechiau, to visit the hippo sanctuary. We left Friday afternoon and planned to spend the night on the roof of a very cute little lodge. All was going well, until at about 2am, we had a HUGE rainfall. It was amazing! We all went into a frenzy, throwing our mattresses off the roof and trying to find cover. Quite an experience! Early the next morning we left for the river, met our tour guides and got in our canoes. We were lucky and only a few minutes later we found the group of hippos hanging out in the water. Our tour guides got out of the boat and threw sticks at them. That was a little scary. We got lots of great pictures and enjoyed the change of scenery!

We are now back in Tamale and looking forward to the new experiences we will have working the hospital.

Back to Tamale, and the end of Enchi! By Katrina Davis

We finished up our last few days in Enchi, they were beautiful, after a few very difficult days working in the enchi government hospital we returned to the clinic on wednesday :) I worked in maternity again although no babies that day :(, we took wednesday afternoon off and went to the local market, we were very tired and enjoyed it immensly. the local physicians assistant Patrick made fun of us the next day he said we left for lunch and stayed for dinner :) Phillomena had given us some avacados and we bought wholewheat bread, cheese, tomato and onion and made the best damn sandwiches i have ever eaten in life, or at least it felt like it!! Thursday I worked in the lab and dispensary and friday phillomena arranged for us to go to Cote D'Ivoire (aka Ivory Coast) :) Ghanas neighbour country, which in a way is a little illegal because we only had a one entry visa for Ghana but she got a letter from the Ghanian embassy and hired an embassy worker to escort us into Cote D'Ivoire. She said it was just 20 minutes drive, turns out it is actually 2-3 hours. It was an incredible drive through the thick jungle on a one way dirt road with lots of mud. On our way we arrived at an accident scene where someone was really hurt, we carried her to the truck and brought her to the nearest clinic in Dubi, Cote D'Ivoire (the only town we had permission to enter), from there she needed to be transferred to a hospital so we got her to another vehicle to take her there. then we wandered around the town and through the lovely market and then went home. Our language was useless there no one spoke Twi or English, mostly french and other african languages. which made it extra cute when the little kiddies waved and yelled "au revior". On our way back we all rode in the box of the truck and by the time we got home i was truly the dirtiest i have ever been, which is saying alot because this africa trip has made me incredibly dirt covered and stinky on a regular basis. when we got home we had a snack and Phillomenas house (bananas pineapple and minerals(aka pop)) and then went home to prepare for our going away football (soccer) game. The manager from our hotel joined us, presby clinic staff and some local children. After the game we went back to Baccus lodge for our going away dinner, joined by phillomena, patrick, aguuri, soloman and frances. it was sooo greAT! We left the next morning very early about 3 am and safely arrived in Tamale, after a 13 hour travelling day. We arrived to 46 degrees relaxed and went to sleep. Justin and I walked downown on sunday and then joined cherie and tara at the pool. let me tell you on a 40 something degree day the pool feels incredible!! in fact we all enjoyed it so much that we didnt realize we were burning, all healed up my the morning though (sory mom and dad) lol. Today monday we did an orientation of Tamale teaching hospital where we will be working for the next 2 weeks. I will be working in the childrens emergency, neonatal intensive care unit and the pediatric ward, days filled with babies and kids Very very exciting and will no doubt be extremely difficult, none the less I am very much looking forward to it! Today we visited the cultural center, had lunch at sparkles :) and did some great shopping!! we then visited the grocery store and that takes me to now. It should be a great week! and then this weekend we head to Mole National Park for the weekend to safari and see all of the elephants, lions, antelopes etc etc etc, Very exciting. Well thats all for now.
We are halfway through our journey and will be home in three weeks, wow how time flies,
love and miss you all soo much excited to see you soon,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Enchi!! by Katrina Davis

Hello all, Justin , Cherie, Tara and I are loving Enchi :)Enchi is in the rainforest it is so beautiful, there is jungle and dirt roads everywhere. We have seen many spiders and cockroaches and apparently will probably see a few snakes (which honestly I am not looking forward to)
Phillomena (aka Mama) has been a very gracious host!! She is a nurse and a midwife that is running the clinic, her generosity and expertise has been soo very appreciated!
We are working with her in the Presbyterian Health Clinic with many other very nice staff members. We have beautiful accomodations at Bacchus lodge where we have been so spoiled. The manager Ritchie has been incredible to us, he gave us a very very good price and is currently letting me use his computer and internet key to write you this little message!! We are definately the only white people in town (population 8000) and therefore recieve sooo much attention. Everone is very very friendly and the local men have been asking phillomena if they can marry us (her daughters) :)haha of course she politely tells them no, although the other day she offered to give justin to a group of girls lol.
I have had amazing learning expereinces here. I assisted phillomena with two deliveries one boy and one girl both very happy and beautiful children :) Yesterday I went out to a tiny willage for a child health day, we gave vaccinations and weighed babies from a sling hanging from a groundnut tree. The other day I spent at the clinic with patrick the local doctor in the consulting room we seen about 70 patients. We have had the opportunity to meet the mayor and the director of health services for the area they have both been very welcoming and already invited us back. Today we are enjoying a beautiful day off and waiting for muriels arrival. At 4pm we have a football (soccer) game planed with the staff from the clinic and i would imagine some of the locals. Tomorrow we are accompanying Phillomena to church, I am very excited to go and see what it will be like. Many people in Ghana are very religious and I think it is a very important experience to understand more of the culture. Everyday in the clinic at about 830 they say their morning prayers and sing, it is a very beautiful thing to hear and amazing to see how much it means to them. Monday and tuesday we will be working at the local hospital. I am very excited for that too!! Hopefully some more baby expereiences. I think Ive caught baby fever, hopefully i will be better before i get home haha. Im not sure what else to say all in all it continues to be an amazing experience. Multiple times throughout the day I am amazed by the beauty of things here, I am so blessed to be on this journey! Love and miss you all, see you soon xoxoxo
love katrina

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brianne, Diana, Flora & Lindsay

We are heading off to Wa in the wee hours of the morning (hopefully!). Hopefully because we have tried to buy the tickets four times and everytime we head to the bus depot the conductor isn't there to write out our tickets or we were too early to buy the tickets... Atleast we were able to get our names on a list after waking up at 5am and trecking to the bus depot to get on the list. Interestingly enough, the bus depot is just as lively at 5am as it is at 3pm. Taxis blaring their horns, people are calling out to get your attention to buy their products and busses are being loaded with people and bags. Bags are somewhat of a loose term because we have seen fridges and freezers being loaded onto the tops and bottoms of busses.

Every morning in Tamale we have woken up to the Muslims chanting their prayers at 430am. It is intriguing to listen to because it kind of sounds like they are singing but they arent. Its very loud and can be heard from a few blocks away even if you are wearing ear plugs.

Ghana has been pretty good to us so far. Despite the power outages and bucket showers, we are very happy to be here and love the hospitality that we have received. We look forward to updating more when we head to Wa because right now we are all having similar experiences as we are all in one place.

Take care and Hope things are going well with everyone :)

Erin, Shawna, Jaimee, and Jill standing infront of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Coast

Tamale so far - Lauren Heinen

(To start, my Mom told me this morning that a few people have asked her for my personal blog because they haven't found me on here yet - it's

So, we're in Tamale now after an 8 hour bus ride. I really enjoy these bus rides...some of us love them and some of us love them a little less. I find it nice to just 'be' since up until today we had been pretty busy with different things.

Since we've been here in Tamale we went to a few different villages. There's a program here called the Rural and Social Development Program which utilizes the funds from village tours to help with the development of the different villages. We paid about 18 cedis (equivalent to about $12 Canadian) for a tour of 3 villages - we saw how the compounds are arranged, had a little bit of their daily life shown and explained to us, and got to help in the process of Shea Butter production and a few of us had an opportunity to make clay pots.

We also had a chance to go to Melcom's which is like the Wal-Mart in Ghana. It sells a variety of different things, but the purchasing process is MUCH different than what we have in North America. At first we were all confused but we figured it out.

There is so much to love about this country and this lifestyle. The Ghanaian people are incredibly friendly and enjoy making conversation. Yesterday we were waiting outside Melcom's for a few others who were still shopping, and some kids came up to us and shook our hands and said very enthusiastically "Welcome to Ghana!". They love having us here. There are so many other examples of how welcoming these Ghanaian people make us feel!

For me, visiting the villages was both amazing and also heartbreaking. Seeing these kids and their sicknesses and malnutrition breaks my heart over and over again. But then seeing how happy they are and how they care so well for eachother, makes me fall in love with Africa, over and over again. They are such a supportive and loving people.

The other night Erin met up with a 9 year old boy on the side of the road. After walking together for some time (and then I joined them on my way home from the internet cafe), she tried to give him something and shook his head and said "no, I just want to be your friend". These kids wear their hearts on their sleeve. They are beautiful. He's playing a football (soccer) game today so we're hoping to go watch!

As others have mentioned, the water and power situation here is very unpredictable!! The water gets randomly shut off (or just stops working? not sure), and so does the power. It makes me more aware of how blessed we are in North America to not have these issues. We're doing our best to look on the bright side of every situation and just go with it!! I love it.

I hear there's a pool close by...hoping to make a stop there at some point too!!

That's all for now!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Justin's experience so far...

I never knew how good a cold drink could taste! It's been an incredibly eye opening experience so far in Ghana. We've braved the streets of Accra in a taxi cab... there doesn't seem to be any street laws here and people use a "honking" system and weave in and out of traffic. (mom don't read this next part) I can see now why traffic accidents are one of the biggest killers of tourists in this country. We've REALLY learned to barter. The first taxi ride when we got here cost us 40 US dollars (granted they drove us around for over an hour looking for our hotel because NOBODY knows where anything is in any town) and we've come down to 1-3 Ghana Cedis (about 0.5-2 dollars Canadian) for a decent taxi ride. Anyways, I digress. We've traveled from the capital Accra to Cape Coast and visited the slave castles and walked over the rain forest canope on a rope bridge. Slept in a nice hotel that had resident crocodiles that swam under and around the restaurant ( I have some killer photos). Next we traveled to Kumasi and walked through one of the largest open markets in the world. Slightly overwhelming to say the least. But everyone just wanted to introduce themselves and learn our names and where we were from. We definitely stood out in a crowd LOL. From there we've landed here in Tamale and visited numerous traditional mud-hut villages where we made Shea butter, learnt how to weave cotton, and make clay pottery... Oh and we've seen some amazing Ghanian dancing. I tried it out myself, but apparently white men can't dance. Who knew?
Tomorrow we leave for Kumasi again and from there Enchi for two weeks to begin out actual practicum. I guess that means down to business. I've loved doing the tourist thing, but am excited to actually start working with the community to hopefully make some sort of difference here. It's hard to understand the depth of need in every community we've visited. What amazes me is that everyone is so happy, loves life, and loves to dance and sing.
Anyways, Katrina is hungry and we have to eat something before she keels over. I Love you and miss you all back in Canada.
Hopefully write something soon, but apparently the power situation is sketchy over in Enchi.
For now,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jill and Kim become Pharmacists

Hey everyone!

Last time I left you I was heading to the canopy walk on the cape coast so I will start from there. It was amazing, We went on a tour/hike that took us through the african rainforest. At this park they had build suspended rope bridges that went over top of the rainforest canopys. So so so amazing, I took a zillion photos so you guys can all see it when I get back. After the canopy tour we went back to our hotel and packed up our stuff and headed to the bus.

After a 3 hour delay of stading in the blazing hot african sun from 1230pm till 330pm we finally got on the bus and headed to Kumasi. When we got to Kumasi it was around 9pm and dark. Absolute choas to find everyones bags and head out of the bus station. Once we got out there we started talking to cab drivers they told us that the hotel that we were planning on staying at and had reservations for was 35km from where we were. That would have been about an hour taxi drive due to all the pot holes in the dirt road so we had to find a new place. Our instructor went driving around with one of the cab drivers to try and find any place for us to stay the night. Once she came back she had nothing but bad news. There was a hotel that was cheap and close BUT it had no license and had "warning stay at your own risk" signs all over it. This brings a whole new classification to the term 'dive'. After hearing this Kim, Jaimee, Erin, Lauren, Shawna, and I told our cab driver to stay at the nicest hotel he could find. We were not staying at that other place. Our new hotel was awesome. We had a/c, a fan, a king sized bed, and flushing toilets!

After we had all settled in to our hotels we all met up for dinner. For my next story I need to give you a bit of background as to how the country is set up. All the roads have trenches dug out on both sides for the sewage to run through. Yes thats right, raw sewage runs open to the air everywhere. The smell is devine, especially for when youre eating on a bar patio. Anyways, on our walk to dinner it was quite dark and everyone was tired and apparently not watching where they were walking. We lost two of our UBC-O nurse to the African sewage system trenches. It was a nice welcome to Kumasi.

We ended up staying an extra night in Kumasi due to a bus schedual/ticket mix up so we spent the day wandering around the village. We went to the largest market I had ever seen. It was jam packed, you couldnt move anywhere. We lasted about 15 miuntes down there before we headed back to the air conditioned hotel. Later that same day we went on a tour to see the kings house. It was pretty interesting, very traditional. That night we were all so tired and went to bed right away.
The next day we got up bright and early(6am) to catch our bus to Tamale.

The bus ride was 7 long, HOT hours. We got to the guest house and were very relieved. It is not so bad (for Africa), each room has two single beds and its own shower and toilet. Kim and I are staying in a room and we have pushed our beds together so its like we have a king size. So nice to be in one place for a while.

This morning I woke up with a raging eye infection, I can blame that one on being an idiot and wearing my contact lenses in an unchlorinated african pool. To combat this problem, my roommate Kim and I decided that we would make our own antibiotic eye drops. Very carefully we crushed up one of my oral ciprofloxacin pills(antibiotic)in the most sterile zip-loc bag I could find. I opened up a brand new bottle of contact solution and a new contact case and dumped the crushed pill into the case. Then we added the contact solution and mixed it up. It really looked like it would work but we were very wrong. Kim was stading above me ready to pour the potion into my eye, I was laying on my bed, holding my eye lids open to expose my infected eye ball, and of course, Jaimee was standing above all of us with the video camera. As soon as Kim started dumping liquid into my eye I knew we had made a large nursing error. It hurt like you would not believe. I had chunks of cipro everywhere in my eyeball. The next hour was spent flushing my eye out with water and trying to figure out what the hell we were thinking.

After the home made African eye infection antibiotic incident we got picked up by a tourguide who took us to three VERY rural African villages. The houses they lived in were made of mud and sticks, not even kidding, it is like what you see on TV. The first village showed us how to make shae butter and they did a tribal dance for us. I have never felt so celebrated in my life. The kids were all over us too, and these ones were not like the ones on cape coast. They were the sweetest things ever. All they wanted to do was hold your hand and sit on your lap and touch our white skin. It was incredible, I have a tonne of photos because it is way too hard to describe what it was like. In the next village we learned how to make thread out of cotton and I saw my first massive african spider, not going to sleep well tonight. In the final village we met their chief and learned how to make pottery. On our way back we went to our tour guides hut for a traditional african dinner of yams and fish all mashed up, it was awesome, especially after 8 hours without food and water. I also got to ride on the back of a dirt bike, that was pretty sweet too.

I wish everyone could have seen what we did today. This place is amazing, so different than I thought it would be. I'm really missing everyone at home, one week down, five more to go. The internet cafe is really close to our guest house so hopefully I'll update you guys with more stories as often as I can. Miss you, love you.

Day 7 i think?? whos counting, Im on Ghana time!! by katrina davis

We enjoyed the rest of our time in cape coast and then travelled to kumasi (which for the record is sooo beautiful and may be my favorite!!) but we will see. In kumasi we went to the central market, it was so incredible!! They sell literally everything, I loved it!! Then we went to the kings palace and museum and learned about the Ashanti tribe. The next day we travelled to tamale where we are currently. it is very smoky here and very hot (about 40 degrees) , but i still love it very much!! Today we visited three small villages :) it was amazing. I seen what true poverty looks like and it was heartbreaking, the crazy thing is they all work so hard and appreciate so much even though they have very little. I learned so much. We met the cheif of a village. I made a clay pot and helped make shea butter, watched a lady make cotton string and went for a moped ride. We did some tribal dancing it was so much fun!! and yes unfortunately for me there is video of this event haha cant wait for you to see it. The language we learned on the beginning of our trip is useless in the north they speak a different language all together. it is so interesting here and I am learning so much. We ate pete pete for dinner tonight (mashed yams!!-delicious!!!) and sprite. I was definately the dirtiest that i have been so far in life today and i loved every minute of it. Thankfully we had running water when we got back to the catholic guest house and i had a wonderful shower. we dont always have power and or running water, its ge\reat! I will appreciate it all so much when i get back home.i am truly enjoying doing my laundry by hand. I am so excited to go to Enchi on sunday. we will be there for the next two weeks!!
I have so much in my journal but didnt bring it with me to the internet cafe.....hmmm Muriels son Sinbad, has been amazing he helps us so much. Tomorrow we are going to his village outside of tamale and then he is taking us dancing!!!.

I bought a clay pot today for 70 cents canadian, pop is about 70 cents, i bought 13 oranges for 70 cents, i bought a pineapple and a loaf of bread for 1.40. everything is about 70 cents haha not really but many things. our accomodations cost about 8.50 cedis (about 6$) per night. food has been really good!!

fan milk is so good its like ice cream that comes in a bag, incredible!! Also pineapple Fanta mmmm mmm mmm!!

the fake wedding ring thing works very well here, men will ask for my phone number or where i am staying or to come back to canada with me lol and i just politely say i have a husband and show them the ring, it works perfectly!

Stay tuned for more adventures....
See you all soon
Hugs and love xoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Chaos in Kumasi

We are in Kumasi. It's our final stop before Tamale where we will be settled for a while. Kumasi is considered to be the biggest shopping marketplaces around this area. It literally seems chaotic while you walk the streets. The streets are full, everyone walking in different directions and trying to sell you something. It only took Jill, Kim, Erin, Shawna, Lauren and I five minutes before we felt overwhelmed by the chaos. The streets are hard to cross as here there are no rules to the road. The only thing used to merge, turn right or left is the good old car horn. We needed to cross the street once we arrived at the market and let's just say it's sketchy to do so. Pedastriens are not the priority and they will not stop for you. Kim tried crossing only to have us yelling at her to run faster across the road because one big van was going to hit her. She did just that. We have it all on tape so you all can experience this chaos. We all tried to take pictures in the market today but people were not to happy with us. When a camera comes out it usually comes along with people yelling at you to put it away even in extreme cases they hit you which is every understandable because we wouldn't want our picture taken. After this extravaganza we went to the king's palace.

The Kings palace is a place where the leader of the Ashanti tribe lives. The leader is the King. We learned the history of how the King and the Ashanti tribe came about. It was a very interesting learning experience although the king was indeed at the palace we did not meet him, sadly. Apparently, he is a nice and handsome man says the locals.

So, Mr.Malorone(malaria propholaxis) hasn't been my friend on this trip. He causes me to feel like I am on a boat. I sway side to side with him, we move up and down together. He pretty much doesn't like to come off sea and dock the boat. So for me we just keep moving. One day on this trip he will dock the boat and I will be able to get off, till that day comes he has become my best friend.

We are off to Tamale tomorrow which is another 6 hour bus ride(if we are lucky) from Kumasi. Here(some of us)will be able to settle for a couple of weeks before we have to head to more rural places. Some of us will leave to rural places after a couple days in Tamale. I can't wait to be able to be settled. Anyways, this is all for now.

-Jaimee Musial <3