After we finished up with the patients in OPD we joined the volunteers in the outreach lunch program. Dr. Abdulai's clinic provides lunch in the community to people who are homeless and/or suffer with mental health issues. One of the mandates of the clinic is to reduce the stigma faced by people with mental health issues. We were all struck with the quiet, non judgmental way they go about this work. This was an amazing experience to be a part of, which we enjoyed while riding in the bed of a truck. The truck drives along it's route and the volunteers leave packages of food and water for the people. The food is all donated, and is prepared by volunteers.
We were all touched deeply when we stopped to deliver a meal to a man who was naked and confused, sitting by the side of a building. The volunteers found a shirt and without making a scene carefully dressed the man and left him with food and water for the day. One volunteer mentioned to us the importance of maintaining the dignity of these people, caring for them, and keeping them safe and we witnessed this in action.
We continued on with the deliveries, and made a stop at the Tamale General Prison to leave food for the prisoners who do not have family bringing them in food. The volunteers at this clinic ensure that no one goes without and the work is beautiful!
We were so privileged to see a living example of de-stigmatizing mental health issues. Our healthcare system at home could learn so much from this simple practice of loving compassion and service. James, one of the volunteers who supported us these past 2 days shared that everyone can heal when they are treated with care, dignity and LOVE.
Christina & Jeanette