April 7,8, 9th 2013 - Enchi
After a memorable last day in Tamale, our smaller group (Robyn, Rose, Kirsten and Marisa) headed south on the next part of our African adventure to a smaller town called Enchi, which is in the south west.
Our trip involved a nice luxury bus ride back to Kumasi, where we were warmly welcomed back to our previous guest house and went for a delicious dinner at our 'favourite' local restaurant. We also did some shopping and improved our bartering skills while adding to our growing collection of souvenirs. A big challenge was once again switching languages- just when we were getting used to Dagbani, now it is back to Twi! Luckily Kirsten was very faithful about keeping a notebook with common phrases for us to use.
The next morning we woke up at 4 am and hopped on a tro- tro for the five hour ride to Enchi! When we arrived, we were in awe of the scenery that surrounded us- gone were the busy streets, buildings and noise of the city, and instead there was dense rainforest and rolling hills all around us. We immediately felt at home! Philomena, the director of the Presbyterian Health Centre we will be working at, came to pick us up and quickly adopted us as her 'four new daughters.' And we sure felt like it as we were taken to our cozy guest house (complete with air conditioning and a fridge!!!!!!!) which she had already stocked with snacks and water! She took us for a lunch, where we were introduced to some of the friendly medical staff we will be working with over the next two weeks. Feeling sleepy but very much at home, we settled in for our first night. We unfortunately got a bit too excited about our air conditioning (which we hadn't had since our first night in Ghana) and spent the night shivering under as many blankets as we could find.
Our first day at the clinic was a thorough orientation where we were introduced to all the staff (and patients!). We were given a very warm welcome! For our first taste of the clinic, we decided to sit in on some consultations to familiarize ourselves with the process and common conditions seen in this area. Many of the common complaints included symptoms of malaria, irritation from pollutens, gastrointestinal illness, and antenatal issues. Even though it was our first day, we were involved in the assessments and even got to lead some of the consults!
Now, after our second day we have each began to rotate through the lab, antenatal clinic, medication dispensary, and minor treatment departments. The health centre is refreshingly different from the hospital we were in, as each day they begin by bringing the staff and patients together fora time of worship and prayer where they pray for all the patients, pregnant women, and clinic staff. We can already feel the atmosphere of community and caring in this place and are so excited to be a part of it for a short time!
While we see what positive things this clinic offers to the community, we were saddened to hear of some of the challenges they are facing when we sat in on a staff meeting this morning. These included a struggle with water shortage, lack of available insured medications, and financial challenges. Again, we were made aware of how lucky we are to be able to take these things for granted as nurses in Canada. However, despite these challenges, the staff are positive and dedicated to keeping the clinic running at its best! The meeting ended with laughter as a recent wedding was discussed and the 'wedding torch' was passed to the next most eligible staff members.
Every patient who comes in for care will see a professional, even if it means some skipped lunch breaks and longer days! In the words of one of the staff, 'you will feel your conscience before your empty stomach.' No skipped meals for us though, as in Canada our stomachs have become far too accustomed to our generous and predictable breaks:).
We are all very excited to be in a smaller clinic setting with the strong sense of genuine concern for one another. We're also looking forward to our outreach days where we will accompany nurses to provide health care and immunizations to people in smaller villages in the area.
And because we can't have all work with no play, we will also be going to visit a cocoa farm (one of the main crops in southwest Ghana) as well as a local market to satisfy our shopping cravings.
We are looking forward to getting to know the clinic community better and seeing what the next two weeks will bring! We miss the rest of our Ghana girls but are also enjoying the quiet and serenity of this chapter of our journey.