Thursday, April 4, 2013

Welcome to Tamale

March 18-20, Tamale

Well here we find ourselves in Tamale, our destination for the next 3 weeks. We spent the first day settling in to our new surroundings - again we feel really lucky with our guest house. We're feeling especially spoiled as we have bathrooms in our rooms, luxury!!

The next day we were the guests of honor in Chanshegu Village - where Sinbad and his family are originally from (they live in Tamale now). We were picked up from our guest house in a giant van complete with traveling rooftop entertainment. The whole ride out we had drummers on the roof treating us to traditional Ghanaian drumming. We were enthusiastically welcomed by around 150 beautiful children. They ran after our van and we were quickly claimed by at least three children each. We stood around for a while before deciding to teach the kids some Canadian songs - the chicken dance was a big hit!

We eventually sat in a circle with most of the villagers and awaited the big event - the cultural dancing and drumming. It was phenomenal and we couldn't believe the intricacy and length of the dances. They went for about an hour and a half in easily plus 40 weather. At the end we each got a turn to show off our moves, or lack thereof :). The chief then formally welcomed us into his village. Muriel introduced Lisa, Kristen, and Jessica who raised $3,000 to help build the health clinic that Wade and Sinbad are working on. The chief asked us to come back the next day so we could be introduced to the elders.

We all piled back into the van (with our travelling drummers of course) and headed back into Tamale for dinner at Sinbad's mother's house. We got to watch the women prepare the traditional meal of Fufu with ground nut soup and chicken. It is such an involved process as Fufu is made of yams that are boiled and then beat until they are smooth and stretchy like dough. Some of the dancers joined us for dinner and taught us some of the local language Dagboni. After we were done eating as much as we could ( the food was amazingly delicious), there was a second sitting for dinner. The neighborhood children took over our spots and dug into the leftovers. It was adorable.

On our 3rd day here we went to the hospital for orientation. Even Muriel wasn't sure what expect as they had built a new tower during the last year. There was quite the range of wards and equipment as the older parts of the hospital are still in use. After our tour we all picked the areas we wanted to work in which ranged from Surgical to NICU to Pediatrics to Labour and Delivery to name a few. We were all excited if not a bit apprehensive.

We headed back out to Chanshegu to meet with the villagers again. We were all so touched as we listened to person after person profusely thank us for building them this clinic. They spoke repeatedly about the peace and unity this will bring to the area as surrounding villages will also have access to clinic. One of the chief's wives told us that they have been crying for this clinic and we are wiping their tears. It was a humbling experience and yet another reminder of how privileged we are. We got to see the land that was gifted to Muriel by the chief and will house the clinic. We capped off the day with pizza and ice cream in celebration of Megan's birthday.

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