Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hi everyone back at home! We are not even sure where to begin with our blog post, so many eye-opening experiences have occurred on this trip already. Every day has been a new learning experience, we are constantly fascinated/amazed/sometimes disturbed by the things around us. Tamale is an interesting city, we have been exposed to the busyness of the city with the roadside vendors, market places and high traffic flow. Just a 15 min drive away is the village (Chanshegu) that we have had the pleasure of visiting a couple times now, so we have had a taste of the rural side of the city as well. Visiting the village is always enjoyable with the friendly greetings of the village people and little ones. Our group (Jas, Laura, Jackie & Anna) made a visit to the village on Friday, a day devoted especially to the orphans. Laura had brought along soccer jerseys to give to the children, which they were absolutely thrilled about. Looking fresh in their new jerseys we played football (soccer) in the hot hot heat! We were laughing at ourselves because these kids ran laps around us no problem and didn't seem fazed by the hot air and dust, meanwhile we were sluggishly running around and dying for a drink of water and couldn't wait to get our butts to the shade! For the weekend get-away, we travelled 3 hrs away from Tamale to Kintempo Falls. The falls themselves were absolutely beautiful, standing at the base of the falls looking up at the water falling down in front of us is an image we will never forget. The surrounding lush vegetation made the area an almost magical place. Although, we found it pretty funny and a bit uncomfortable when we went from being the tourists to being the tourist attraction for a Ghanain senior highschool class, they were quite excited to get their photo taken with us. On our way home, we stopped to get the famous dough balls that most of us are obsessed with. These dough balls are a sweet dough with a crisp deep fried outside and sitting in the hot sun they always taste freshly baked. Dipped with nutella, you feel like your on cloud nine haha. Our weekend finished off in Tamale where we played Ultimate Frisbee with about 25 people who meet every Sunday. They come from all walks of life, most working for NGOs/ researchers/ engineers without borders/ and the list goes on. Being able to play a sport out here felt good and by the end of it we were covered in black dust- head to toe. Meeting such a diverse group of individuals, we thought that it was really neat that all these people are here to make a postive difference. This further opened our eyes to the abundant opportunity that lies in this world. Looking at Ghana, we often take time to reflect on what's around us. It's hard to describe in words what makes the country beautiful, but around us are people who are strong physically and mentally and never give up. They do the best with what they have in the constant face of hardship. It's amazing to see such a vast, diverse culture that is so different from home. Being here has expanded our minds in so many ways and has helped us to further appreciate the life we already live.
That's it for now...sending everyone back home in Canada warm (+ 40 degrees) wishes from Tamale!
Jasbir & Anna xo

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clean Water for Ghana

In our first semester of this year each student was required to do a political action project. Natasha, Stephany (who are not on this trip with us unfortunately), Jackie and myself did "Clean Water for Ghana." Our project came about when last year's students were visiting and asked the Chief of Chanshegu Village how they could help. This village has many orphans who they have all gathered together to care for and he asked for something to help the orphans. They then went to the orphans and women who have been caring for them and they asked if they could get clean water. On the 25th of January this village got filters to provide them with clean water. The water that they were drinking and using before came from a dugout dam, that was shared with the animals and for bathing, and was dirtier than the water after we have washed our clothes. It is filled with a variety of different parasites and bacteria and many of them die from Cholera throughout the year.
We had made two trips out to Chanshegu, which is located just outside central Tamale. The first was with the founder of Pure Home Water, the company where we bought the filters from, to drop off the 40 Kosim filters. Kosim in the local dialect means "good water." Pure Home Wwater is a local company based right in Tamale and hires women from the surrounding villages to make the clay they then use to fire into filters. The women are tuaght the perfect amount of sand and rice husk to mix in with the clay to ensure they will clean the water. Our second visit was on the 25th with our professor Muriel, Jackie, myself and our translator Sinbad. We went out to distribute and teach the women how to assemble, clean and use the filters, which was proven to be a challenge since neither spoke the other's language. The Chief was very persistant that the women who have cared for the 33 orphangs got filters first and then the widows. By giving the filters to the women (and not the men) it ensures that the women and children, as well as the men, get access to this safe water.
It was a good feeling to know that all the effort we put in to our project is actually going to make significant improvement in the lives of many. As simple and small as our project seems, it put huge smiles on the faces of the women and children. As an acknowledgement for all the work the nursing students and our professor have done in the past the Chief is making Muriel a King of the village. Which is a pretty big deal over here, huge ceremonies, sacrificing of animals, chewing of a local tradition called colanut (not sure how to spell it?). It is all very exciting and time consuming, but will be worth it in the end!

-Alanna Grose

Sunday, January 22, 2012


We made it to Tamale! Ellen, Rachel, Lyndsay and Michelle all headed off to Enchi and Amy D, Amy W, Brittney, Darlene, and Jen headed up to Kaleo after a few days of touring Tamale. We've done so much in the past 2 weeks, it's flying by! After waking up at 3 am for a long bus ride to Tamale, we finally got to our guest house. We spent our first day visiting two villages nearby, where the women make shea butter and spin wool. We got to see how they live in the villages and the children led us around their village. Each of us had two, if not three or more, kids hanging off our arms! They were so excited when we brought out bubbles and stickers. There were so many cute kids with Canadian stickers stuck all the way up their arms and on their foreheads. The women were very welcoming, and in one of the villages they performed a traditional dance for us.
The next day we headed to Sinbad's village where we played with even more kids! Alanna and Jackie, with several other girls in Kelowna, did a project this year where they organized buying water filters to help the village. When the village dam has water, it is dirty and is making the children sick. Alanna & Jackie are also gathering information to try and get water piped in to the village. Tomorrow we are going back there to drop off the filters, which we are all so excited to do! Sinbad is part of a cultural group which performs amazing dances - with so much energy! They got all of the girls (including Muriel) up to dance! Don't worry - I got video of everyone!
Next we started in the Tamale Hospital. They work 6 hour shifts, so we get up at 7, and go get breakfast from the egg lady outside our guest house. She makes these incredible scrambled egg sandwiches which I'm going to miss when we leave!
This weekend our group of 10 girls headed off to Mole National Park to go on a safari! We had amazing luck, and one elephant walked right in front of our jeep!  We were so close! It was beautiful and just what all of us were hoping to see! Other than that we saw enough antelope and warthogs to fill an album with,  and at the pool where we were lounging, baboons came up and ran over a bunch of tables to steal a girl's drink at breakfast! Two baboons came charging at me when I was cutting a pineapple outside! The fruit here is amazing!
All of us are having a great time! Off to do another week of clinical at the hospital and drop off filters at the village! Sending lots of love back to everyone at home! Everyone here says Hi!
- Kim Barlow

Laura holding a baby at the shea butter village

Saturday, January 14, 2012

From Accra to Cape Coast

Hi Everyone! We flew into Accra a few days ago and it feels like 2 weeks ago at this point. We're a bit jet lagged, and people who usually like to sleep until noon are getting up at 4 am so you can tell we are a bit out of sorts. Accra was a bustling city, and I think it was a good way to get our feet wet in Ghana. A few of our western amenities were still here and we got a good understanding of the things we'll have to stock up on before we go rural. The people have been really nice and welcoming and it was nice to spend a few days all together as a group before we head our separate ways. Some people we might not see until the end of the trip because of how we are set up in the villages. After Accra we took a bus trip to Cape Coast. We were stuck in traffic for 2 hours before we even left the city but this was a good wake up call for what we need in future bus trips in case we get stuck again. After we got in, we decided we'd like to spend an extra day here at Cape Coast. It's lush, and a lot cooler than Accra (and there is a pool at our hotel!) There are also crocodiles and fun birds and a live band. We had an amazing day today. We started off getting our favorite taxi driver, he played fantastic music and it just started the day with good vibes. We started off at the rain forest and it was nice because it was cool under all those tall trees. The rain forest has a canopy walk where you walk at the crown of the trees on these suspension bridges. I’m not scared of heights generally but I was terrified (especially after that bungee jumping incident in Zambia… google it!). It was wobbly but had a view like I’ve never seen so totally worth it!!! Pictures to come… After that we had lunch on the ocean and then visited the slave castle. It was scary, sad, suffocating and beautiful,  Tonight is Muriel's Birthday, so I better take off and celebrate it! -Lyndsay

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Preparing for 2012!

This year's nursing student group is almost ready to head out to Ghana. We look forward to great adventures and learning!