Religion and Spirituality

I want to begin by saying thank you to all those who have donated or contributed to this trip. Each and every penny will be well spent and I know myself, the group who came and all those receiving the donations are extremely grateful.

I am currently working and learning in the Intensive Care Unit at 37 Military Hospital. I am the fortunate one who has closed doors, windows, and an air conditioning system. I am not saying that I am cool at work, as today it kept the room temperature at 25 degrees Celcius, but in the last 10 days I have learned to appreciate even the smallest gifts we are given. On this unit, each morning before report off from the night shift, we begin with a song praising God, following by a spoken prayer. Although caught off guard the first day, when all the Ghanaian staff began clapping, dancing and singing, I have quickly learned to enjoy and appreciate the beauty in this routine. I even requested an English spoken song so I could join in Monday morning. The prayer following the song is spoken by whoever is first to jump in and speak. “The extent of the influence of religion in all areas of life is too large to be denied” I have completed some research about religion and specifically prayer, because it is how I begin every day at 37 Military and how it plays a role into the Ghanaian culture.

There is complete religious freedom in Ghana, meaning no matter your religious background, you are able to practice freely (Briggs, 2010). The distribution of different religions is as follows: Pentecostal/Charmismatic (24.1%); Protestant (18.6%); Islam (15.6%); Catholic (15.3%); Other Christian (11%); Traditional Religion (8.5%); not religious (6.2%); various other religions (0.7%) (Embassy of the Republic of Ghana, 2009). Thus, the majority of Ghanaians identify with some religion. Islam has been being practiced in Ghana for over 500 years, and is the dominating religion in northern regions (Briggs, 2010). The majority of those who live in southern and central areas of Ghana, practice Christianity, while Catholicism is primarily in southern and northern regions (Briggs, 2010).
I have noticed that Ghanaian people hold high regards to being spiritual, often asking you upon first meeting you what religion you are, which in Canada is against social normalcy. Religion is a large part of their culture, and major religious celebrations are set by the government as national holidays (Atiemo, 2010). Most public events revolve around a religious holiday or have in some way incorporated a religious event (Atiemo, 2010). When you are walking or driving in the busy city of Accra, as well as some smaller cities and villages, you are surrounded by religious slogans such as “In God We Trust” on “Trotros”, (public transportation), as well as religious music and prayer. It is also very common for spirituality to be the way to turn when seeking fortune or dealing with misfortune in life, making it important not only for custom, but also for everyday life (Atiemo, 2010).

Prayer is often used for enhancing spirituality along with achievement of success in life, marriage, materialistic goods, health and protection (Atiemo, 2010). Our first week, we witnessed a prayer circle in an open soccer field, which we later found out is quite common for students to be a part of at public Universities, specifically around dusk and dawn. The belief that success in life is easier with the help of spiritual power is widespread throughout Ghana, leading prayer to be a common answer for those seeking help (Atiemo, 2010). The prayer that is spoken at each morning shift change is roughly as follows. They pray for safety of the night staff travelling home, and that they make it back safely for their next shift. They also pray for the day staff coming into work, asking for God to allow the nursing staff to keep the patients safe and have a great shift. They then pray for all the patients who are receiving care on the unit, requesting God to restore their health, as well as praying for their families coping abilities while they are struggling with a sick family member. It is beautiful, and a very uplifting way to start each day. It is nice to know that the nursing staff does not singly rely on medical interventions for the patients we care for daily.54

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