Tuesday, June 28, 2011
One of the delivery beds at the maternity clinic.
Last week Friends of the Nation decided to have me start going out to a clinic in a nearby town called Shama. They are affiliated with this clinic and its surrounding fishing communities. I study nursing at school and once FON found out they decided to switch me from the original project I was supposed to be on and put me with Kwesi, who works on a project titled: Population, Health, Environment (PHE).
I spent today and last Thursday at the clinic. Both of those days I was stationed at the maternity building. So far at the clinic I have seen many deliveries! I have also helped with injections and have observed nurses doing HIV testing. Last Thursday I saw one delivery and today I saw 3! It was a busy day! I am enjoying observing the practices and routines of this clinic. I think spending time there is going to be an excellent learning opportunity!
On a sad note I did see one unsuccessful birth today. It was a baby boy and he was premature. His mother was only 30 weeks along. He weighed 3 lbs (1.5 kg) at birth. We knew something was wrong because he wasn’t crying and his skin was very pale. He had a slight cry initially but then it stopped because he was struggling tremendously to breath. The midwife used a small nasal bulb syringe to try and clear any mucus that may have been causing him difficulty breathing but it didn’t work. I feel terribly for the mother and father of this baby. The midwife told me if the clinic would have had an incubator they would have been able to do more to save the newborn but that without the resources it would never make it. They were right as he passed away within an hour after birth. I hope the mother and father will be ok, I am really feeling awful right now just thinking about what they went through today.
Tomorrow I will be returing to the clinic but I believe I am going to be doing a general health clinic working with patients of all ages. It should be a very interesting day!
When I am not at the clinic I will be travelling to various communities to collect data in order to create resources for PHE. Kwesi has asked that I also create resources for the clinic and the community. I have been brainstorming and I think I would like to create pamphlets for the clinic to give to expecting mothers about pregnancy and their health. Kwesi has also asked that I produce reports on nutrition however within some of these communities that will be challenging because their diet needs to be based on what resources they have available to them. I am looking forward to creating these resources and visiting with people from the different fishing communities! I am hoping that over the summer I will be able to create resources that Friends of the Nation will find useful and implement as part of their PHE project!
My partner Caroline has travelled with work this week. She left yesterday for the Jomoro district with Kwesi. She is going out there to visit different communities and participate in data collection. Caroline is also currently working on a proposal about one of FON’s previous projects in a community called Ngyeresia. They installed 11 toilets within this community and a water kiosk back in 2009. Now they need to followup and build off of this project. Caroline’s proposal will be aiming to demonstrate what people thought of the toilets that were built as well as how accessible they are finding the water kiosk.
This weekend Caroline & I will be travelling to Accra. We will be meeting up with Robin, Davina, and Heather. The Canadian Embassy in Accra will be holding a bbq for all Canadians in celebration of Canada day! We are anxious to attend this bbq and meet other Canadians who are travelling and working in Ghana this summer!
Bye for now!
Long line of motionless cars fading into the distance...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
|Alice, Nub, Hilda and Hilda Jr. making Fufu!|
|Sara with the finished product|
|The Gulf of Guinea|
|Loving the water!|
|Our dresses for church|
We have been at the Kumasi Institute for Technology, Energy, and Environment (KITE) for just over one week, and the few days of quiet reading with which we started off last week with feels like a distant memory – KITE is a bustling organization and we are definitely part of it now. The main project for Robin and I that was the basis of KITE’s proposal to QPID earlier this year is called the EBC (Easy Business Centre) project. Entrepreneurs can apply to start an ICT business in an under-serviced rural area – they receive a set of basic supplies (computer, router, etc.) as a loan from KITE, and must pay back its cost through monthly instalments once their business is running. Earlier this year it had seemed that the EBC project would be ready to start expanding this summer from the 20 EBCs that were implemented over the last few years to the eventual goal of 100 EBCs, but unfortunately the project has slowed down because a some of the first entrepreneurs are still struggling to get their businesses established. So, starting in a few weeks, Robin and I will be travelling to a number of the centres to help spread best practices from the successful businesses to the less successful businesses, do some simple troubleshooting, and set up a new bookkeeping system software to give KITE a better sense of where the businesses are making and losing money.
In addition, Robin is working on a policy brief that provides relative information concerning the need for non-fossil fuel based, low cost, safe and reliable lighting products amongst rural communities in Ghana that are currently off the electrical grid. By doing so, we hope that certain revisions to the Renewable Energy Bill in Ghana will help provide a better quality of life for the roughly 40% of Ghanaians that do not have access to electricity. While we are up north, I will also be working with a member of KITE staff to do a socio-economic benefit study as part of a proposal for biofuels plant in Jana that converts crop residue into electricity to the community. For the next two weeks, I have also temporarily taken over a project called Evidence and Lessons in Latin America (ELLA) from a member of the staff that is on sick leave – it is an online learning alliance funded by the UK Development Fund for International Development (DFID) that is trying to spread innovations and best practices from development in Latin America to African and Asian NGOs. Finally, I have unofficially joined the IT support time – so far I have fixed one webcam and two problems with Microsoft word. All in all, lots to do, and all of it incredibly interesting and varied.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Its only been a bit over a week but already I have become extremely comfortable in my new home in Accra. So far my focus has been on ensuring that everyone, host organizations, host families and the cooperants, are settling in and doing well. I spent most of last week sending out mass e-mails to various NGO's around Accra to meet with to perform "Project Identification" sessions to establish partnerships for future QPID projects. I am excited to have my first meeting with a very promising organization this afternoon and another one set up tomorrow! I am extremely impressed with the quick turnaround of these organizations in response to my request!
Life in Ghana has filled me with nothing but joy and happiness. I find myself walking around with a permanent smile on my face as I take in all the sites around me. As I am stuck in constant traffic jams on "tro-tros" (small little vans that act as busses around the city that cram as many people in as possible) I could chose to be annoyed at how long it takes to get anywhere or do anything, yet instead I find myself observing the daily life and hustle and bustle of the city, people watching and enjoying the beautiful fabrics and dresses on the women, the items for sale from the street vendors that line the street and walk between cars with buckets of water, snacks, phone credit etc balanced on their heads and the constant interaction of people walking around the street that I just would not see at home.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my daily walks, stopping to buy fresh mangos, banannas, coconut, pineapple etc. just on the street. I am constantly amazed at the hospitality of every Ghanain I have met who all seem to have hearts of gold and want to ensure that they welcome this "ubruni" (white girl) into their country with open arms. In addition to the incredible host mothers that are hosting the QPID cooperants, I have had countless interactions with people who are excited and willing to help me navigate the streets, teach me Twi (the local language around the Accra region), show me where to get good Ghanain food (and come by the restaurant during my meal to ensure that I found the restaurant and that I am enjoying it!), offer to give me tasters of freshly made food and a taxi driver who gave me his Ghanain music CD after a ride home during which I commented on how I was enjoying his music! I joined in with a group of young boys playing street soccer on the street; proving, despite their insistence it was impossible, that an ubruni girl can play soccer with sandals on! I had a great time with them and told them I would be back regularly to join their mini-league! Robin and Heather and I went for a walk around their neighbourhood (Pig Farm) and ended up taking part in a music jam on the street corner and learned some Ghanain dance moves and provided some great entertainment to the locals watching us!
I look forward to publishing more posts on the types of organizations I meet with, the work that the cooperants really start to do as their orientation week has come to a close and more stories from daily life in this warm (literally and figuratively) country in West Africa.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Caroline & I had a very interesting week at Friends of the Nation! As she was mentioning in her post the other day we did A LOT of reading however it was all very interesting & informative! We both have learned about the current issues challenging the fishermen and fishmongers in the western region of Ghana. Today we met with our partner organization - The Coastal Resources Centre. Their office is attached to ours and they are collaborating with Friends of the Nation right now on a project titled Hen Mpoano- “Our coast”. We went to the CRC director’s house for an all team meeting today. He has a big beautiful home up on a hill overlooking the sea. The home has been renovated to include electricity and running water. Caroline and I were excited to see running water in the taps in the kitchen and bathroom. It is funny the little luxuries we don’t tend to appreciate at home because we are so used to always having them.
All in all we are settling in well and we are both grateful for our terrific host family as they have been very welcoming and helpful to us. We are also thankful for all of the workers at Friends of the Nation as they are all very friendly and a pleasure to work with. We are looking forward to next week as we are expecting to be getting more projects and learning experiences at Friends of the Nation. I am hopefully going out to a town just east of where I am staying in now called Shama where I will be helping at a clinic with issues concerning family planning and maternal/ reproductive health. I am very excited that I will have the opportunity to use some of my nursing skills this summer! I am also enjoying my placement with this NGO as I have not learned a lot of development theories before and I find it all very interesting! I consider myself lucky to be partnered with Caroline though because she studies development at university and can always thoroughly answer any questions I have!
Tomorrow and Sunday are our days off. We are planning to go explore downtown Takoradi. Caroline and I think alike and we have decided that our goal while we are downtown is to find ice cream! Hopefully our mission will be a success! Then on Sunday we are going to go down to the ocean with our host brother and his friends!
Bye for now!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
|Reading about Hen Mpoano|
Saturday, June 11, 2011
We have all arrived safe and sound in Ghana, despite some Tornado warnings and electrical storms in Toronto, some misplaced luggage and some wonderful roads, we are all having an excellent time getting settled in.
We all stayed a couple nights in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where Robin, Heather and Davina will be staying. We did a tour of the city, learned the ropes about cell phones, money, internet and tro-tros (the method of transportation) and made some fantastic Ghanain friends. Today we took a bus to Takoradi to drop of Caroline and Sara with their host family. It was supposed to be a 4 hour journey...ended up being a bit over 8 as we waited for some bus delays and crazy traffic!
We will be heading back to Accra tomorrow for Robin and Heather to meet their host family and for Davina to settle into her house. Everyone will be starting their internships on Monday morning; Caroline and Sara at "Friends of the Nation" and Robin and Heather at "Kumasi Institute for Technology, Energy and the Environment." We are all very anxious to get started, and fully emerge ourself in Ghanain culture and see how we can both learn from and contribute to these incredible NGO's.
Keep following us as we dive into our adventures!!