Monday, February 13, 2012

Nurses Guide to Ghana: The Do's and Don'ts and facts for survival

Alanna G, Alanna B, Emma, Ingrid and I (Kim) are having a great time in Kaleo working at the Kaleo Health Clinic. We have helped deliver a baby boy in the middle of the night, diagnosed patients, and got to buy the clinic a nebulizer, examination table and sterilizer with the money we raised at the International Gala! We are loving our time here and it feels like home! This past weekend we went to the Hippo reserve where we biked 18 km into the reserve in the sand, saw hippos and slept under the stars in a tree fort! We've learned a lot over the past 5 weeks we have been gone! Here's some wisdom from us that we have sometimes learned the hard way!

- Do get your wisdom teeth removed before you get to Africa, unless you want to get them removed in the back of an RV
- Dont think you'll get anything stronger than Advil after your dental surgery
- Don't think you are tanned before you shower - its probably mostly dirt!
- Don't think that biking 18 km on Ghanaian roads is going to be as easy as 18 km in Canada
- Do try the street food - dough balls, egg sandwiches, guinea fowl, red red, plantains, and all the amazing fruit!
- Don't ask whats in your food
- Do expect that outside the washrooms might be nicer than inside
- You know you are in Africa when; you suddenly love canned food (beans and fruit cocktails), when all you can see in the dark are sometimes peoples smiles, rice and beans are a favorite meal, and there are as many goats as there are people
-  Don't expect vans (tro-tro's) to have a maximum capacity, there's always more room on the roof or someones lap!
- Do expect to share the tro-tro with one or more goats backed on the roof or in the trunk baa-ing in your ear the entire trip
- Don't expect your tro-tro to make it anywhere on time, or in one piece
- Do keep your scrubs and gloves next to your bed in case there are births during the night!
- Don't expect the dirt and dust to come out
- Don't forget to introduce yourself to EVERYONE on the ward when you come to work
- Don't projectile vomit on the street
- Do bring a headlamp for hands free, night births and suturing
- Do expect everyone to have a cell phone, even if they live in a hut in a small village and aren't wearing shoes
- Do say yes to all invitations - you never know when you will be invited to watch a football match, a Muslim wedding, your professor being kinged by a village, play ultimate frisbee with Engineers Without Borders, or a good-bye party for Canadian chiropractors
- Do try the local dishes: banku, fufu, and red red!
- Do bring headbands - it hides the fact that you haven't showered this week
- Don't be offended when people hiss at you - its how people get others attention
- Don't expect traffic to stop for you. ever.
- Do play soccer with the local kids
- Don't expect to win. Even if you challenge 7 year olds who aren't wearing shoes
- Do expect to find a use for everything - even garbage. Water bags make good hats, coats, and soccer balls
- Do expect baboons to chase you if you have food
- Don't expect to have power or water all the time, Do fill up your bucket the night before just in case
- Do go dancing with the locals and do bring your professor!
- Do make friends with the Cuban Dr's, you will learn Spanish, Dagbani, and get to diagnose your own patients
- Do expect everyone's stories to break your heart
- Do expect to nurse in sandles
- Do expect everyone to be in the hospital because of Malaria or motor vehicle accidents (scooters mostly)
- Don't expect to always have a Dr around
- Do expect to drink 3L of water a day
- Do expect to learn a lot about the culture, nursing and yourself
- Do expect everyone you meet to want to become a nurse
- Do expect to meet the most heart warming and amazing people. Sister Edith has devoted her life to the clinic we are working at and is so kind and loves to joke around with us. Dr Abdulai received the Martin Luther King award this year for his work and we were so fortunate to go to both his clinics to work for a day. He helps people in villages for free, the only condition is they work together to care for each other and must build a hut on his property for their village people to stay in with their families while they are being treated. We also were able to bring seeds from a previous student so Dr Abdulai could continue to grow his garden that helps feed people living on the street with Mental health issues. Google him if you have time, he is the most compassionate and upbeat man. We were so lucky to have gone and worked with him!

Heres a news report about Dr. Abdulai: http://www.modernghana.com/news/373431/1/dr-abdulai-given-martin-luther-king-jnr-award.html

We will finish off our week in Kaleo, it has been the best experience so far, and are heading to Bolgatanga for the Project Grow celebration!

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