What We Are Up To

Week Ten! (The Grand Finale) 🙂

By: Alysha Schmidt

To end off our nursing experience in Ghana, we finished our work at the Madina and Mamprobi Polyclinics on Monday and Tuesday. We were able to spend our final shifts as nursing students working in various settings including a local school for child health, a labour and delivery unit, a prenatal clinic, and in the communities surrounding the clinics for home nursing.

Being able to work in the 2 different clinics was an incredibly fulfilling experience. We were able to interact with the communities at a deeper level and expand upon our learning and understanding of the people, their culture, and their health. We were received by both clinics with open arms and uttermost welcome which is something we greatly appreciate and will never forget. As we worked and interacted with the various staff members in the clinics, we noticed that many of the units were under-resourced. With this recognition, we decided that we would like to help out and show our true appreciation of all the clinics had done for us. On Tuesday morning, a couple of us were able to access a local medical company to purchase 2 fetal heart rate monitors, 2 blood pressure cuffs, and 2 stethoscopes to provide the clinics with upon our departure. The items were purchased with a percentage of remaining money from our donators who we again, cannot thank enough for the support. We were able to provide life-saving technology to both clinics due to people’s generosity and support from back home. Presenting the items to the clinics on Tuesday afternoon was a heart warming experience as they were both beyond appreciative of the gesture which made for a tearful goodbye and high hopes for the future of nursing in both locations.

After leaving the clinics for the final time, we were able to meet up with Dr. Patience for a small tour of a community within Accra that is home to Market Women. These women are referred to as ‘Migrants’ as they have migrated down from their homes in Northern Ghana to look for work in the major city of Accra. However, life in the busy city of Accra is quite different from the rural living of Northern Ghana so many of these women find themselves working as Market Women in Accra’s major markets, a trade which finds them helping people carry their bags throughout the market which can be very physically demanding and dangerous. They also earn a very small amount of money for their work, making finding a place to live and being able to take care of any family they have a very difficult task. In the community where we visited, on the outskirts of Accra’s grand Madina Market, the Chief specifically built living quarters for these women and their children out of the kindness of his and his communities heart so that these women were not condemned to the streets. We were able to meet this chief and discuss his initiative with him as well as walk through the community to see the women first hand. This was especially significant to Dr. Patience as her hopes for the future are to complete a research study of the women and hopefully develop a sort of support center for them when they arrive from the North.

To officially conclude our practicum work in Ghana, we ended Tuesday by returning to the University of Ghana’s Legon Campus, where our hostel is located, to pay a final visit to the Dean of Nursing. Since our first day here was spent in the same office visiting the Dean for the first time, it was only suiting that one of our last days was spent with her as well. We were able to reflect with her about our experience working as nurses in the various clinics as well as provide her with a Canadian gift of Maple Syrup, a University of Alberta notebook, as well as a thank you card signed by all of us for all the work she did to organize our stay in Ghana.

Wednesday, April 9th 2014 marked the official last day of our experience as nursing students in Ghana, as well as our last day as student nurses. It was an especially significant day since we were able to tour the largest teaching hospital in Ghana located in the heart of Accra – Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. Prior to our departure for Ghana, we had studied the hospital in Canada as a section of our pre-departure learnings to prepare us for the experience. Before even entering the hospital it was easy to recognize how advanced the hospital is in comparison to some of the centers we have worked in here in the country. Our tour guide explained to us that the hospital was established in October of 1923 and has since grown to be the leading referral health centre in Ghana. There are currently around 2,000 patient beds available across 17 separate clinical units. Although we were unable to tour the hospital in its entirety, we were able to visit a few different units including Medical Emergency, Child Health, and Obstetrics and Gynecology which was significant to us as they are the primary nursing areas we have been working in since our arrival.

Following the tour of Korle Bu, we ended off our last day by traveling back to the Osu Children’s Home, which held a soft spot in all of our hearts, to drop off the items we had purchased for the children from the last of the money we received from our donators. We were able to provide the orphaned children with countless amounts of supplies including diapers, clothing, soap, baby formula, toothbrushes, food, teddy bears, toys, and more which the home and most importantly the children were in need of. It is an incredible thing to be able to say that we were able to end our trip as well as overall experience as nursing students by providing support to such a vulnerable, extensive population in Ghana, Africa. The fact that we were able to do this again leads us back to the source of our ability to provide support, being our donors and support personnel back home in Canada.

Thank You and Goodbye (For Now)

As this trip comes to its inevitable end there are many things for us to reflect upon as we go forth as new Graduate Nurses. Up to our last day here, we were reminded daily of just how fortunate we are to be able to come here to complete our practicum. This truly has been the experience of a lifetime and we realize that we’ve grown not only as nurses but as individuals throughout our time here.

Although this journey in Ghana may be over, for some of us our time away from home is not finished yet. While 2 of our group members return home to Canada, the rest of us are continuing our ventures away from home to destinations including Europe, Thailand, and safaris across greater Africa.

A large part of this trip involved us being able to purchase supplies or donate money to various health settings and homes that were in great need. All of this would not have been possible without the amazing support and generosity of our many different donators. We were able to provide happiness and hope to countless individuals across this great country which we know we never would have been able to do without them. For this, words cannot truly express how thankful we are for the individuals and organizations who selflessly donated to our cause. Because of you, countless individuals will be able to lead happier, healthier lives in Ghana.

And so, with the completion of our degree we end our nursing journey here in Ghana and split off to various corners of the world to continue the journey of our lives. Because of this, this blog post will be the last of the updates we provide for a time. Alas, we cannot thank you enough for following along with us in our adventures here in Ghana. It truly means the world to us to have had the amount of support that we did throughout our trip. When we all return home in June, we write our final Canadian Registered Nurse Exam and connvocate as Nurses so that we can begin the next chapter in our lives as independent, Registered Nurses.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

😀 ❤

Week Nine

By: Jessica Tonganis

Nine weeks have passed and it’s hard to believe that next week we will be finished our nursing degree and heading our separate ways into the world. It has been a blessing to have this opportunity to do our final nursing preceptorship in Ghana. Each one of us have had life changing experiences that have shaped us to become better nurses and individuals. Our hope is that as we graduate to become registered nurses the valuable skills and knowledge we have learned in Ghana will never leave us.

As we prepare to leave many of us have bought fabric and have gone to a seamstress to have dresses, blankets, skirts etc made. The fabric in Ghana is BEAUTIFUL!!! There are numerous colors, designs, and patterns to choose from and the dresses that many of us have received are GORGEOUS! We are always pleasantly surprised when we receive our dresses!

This week we visited the Osu Children’s Home. The Osu Children’s Home was established in 1962. They accept children under 8 years old and care for them until they are 18 years of age. If the child is older than 8 years the home refers them to a children’s shelter they are associated with. The home currently houses 175 children. Some of the children have been abandoned, abused, given up for adoption, are children of mothers who are in long term treatment, children who have been missing or who have been rescued from child trafficking.

The home has a Head Start school program on the grounds that children can attend. The students with special needs attend the schools in the city specialized for those with special needs. Many of the children go to school in the city which the home has purposely planned as a way for the children to re-integrate into society. Their education is funded through scholarships and sponsors. We had the opportunity to visit a pre-school class on the grounds. To say that the children are cute is an understatement. They are ADORABLE!!!! The children were polite, excited to see us and sang a song for us. Their big smiles, contagious laughter and seeing the joy on their faces was enough to melt our hearts! They are so precious and we found out that adoption for the kids can is allowed!

With some of the donation money we received from our sponsors we were able to purchase many needed supplies such as pampers, toiletries, clothing, and toys. The staff at the Osu Children’s Home and the children were extremely grateful and joyful!

Once again thank you to all our sponsors for your generous donations! All of this would not be possible without you!

 

Week 8—
By: Kendra Lamb

Myself and four other students began our clinic visits in a subdivision of Accra called Madina (at the Madina Polyclinic), a home to approximately 90,000 people, while the other five students were sent off to Mamprobi. We will be switching clinical sites halfway through our last two weeks. The staff at the clinics were very welcoming, and enjoyed when we attempted to introduce ourselves in our Ghanaian names as per the weekday we were born—They now call us by these names only. Our days have been filled with a lot of mothers, soon to be mothers, and newborns. We have been a part of the antenatal clinic, the postnatal clinic, and have spent some time in the Labour and Delivery ward. The antenatal clinic serves those patients who are currently pregnant. They have scheduled dates to come in and are screened for hypertension, gestational diabetes, and overall well-being while with child. The postnatal clinics are scheduled for mothers and babies at 1 week, 2 weeks, and 6 weeks of age. They are once again screened for hypertension, and the babies for growth, as well as a general assessment for both patients. The scene at these clinics can seem a bit chaotic from an outsider, but the mothers and nurses know the drill very well and everyone is seen by a health care professional within the day which is great. We were in charge of blood pressures, weights, and urine dip sticks, as well as calling out names to have the patients come forward to the nursing station. I used think that I butchered Canadian names when calling them out in clinics, but this really took the cake. With a little laughter and a lot of help from the patients waiting and the staff, we managed to get all the patients up to the station. The labour and delivery ward is very busy at Madina Polyclinic, delivering approximately 200 babies per month. They are the only part of the clinic that is open 24 hours and is completely run by nurses—no midwives and no physicians. We were all able to observe childbirth on this ward, which feels less medicalized here in Ghana, in comparison to Canada. The last day at Madina Polyclinic two of us were able to attend an education session with other nurses about Behavioural Communication Change Theory, which was all about finding ways to make positive changes in people’s lives that wold ultimately impact their health. It was an excellent half day course where we took a lot of notes, asked a lot of questions and learned about a model used here in Ghana that was very similar to a change theory we use in Canada. The week at Madina Polyclinic flew by and Friday we were taken to Mamponge on an educational/very fun field trip.

Mamponge is approximately 35km (and a very scenic/beautiful drive) from the large city of Accra and is home to the Center for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine called Oko Ampofo Memorial Clinic which was established in 1975. Because about 70% of the population in Ghana rely partially or exclusively on traditional medicines rather than going to a hospital and using the westernized system, this facility is for research, development and practice of plant based medicines. The goal of the clinic is to gradually standardize traditional medicine to ensure the safety of the drugs and they go through the entire process of developing drugs, testing them and providing reports to the FDA in Ghana before being able to sell them to the public. The clinic is there to provide essential health care as western medicine doesn’t reach about 50% of the population due to several reasons including cultural values, transport issues and a lack of health care professionals. The center has 1000 acres of land where they grow the medicinal plants used in their research. They have several labs for developing new products as well as testing products brought to them by herbalists within Ghana for efficacy and safety. They also have a clinic in which they use their own products in the treatment of their own patients of which they see approximately 20,000/year. We were then taken to their dispensary where they sell medications over the counter at approximately one Canadian dollar. They had everything from an oral suspension for treatment of piles (hemmorhoids) to teas for stress and hypertension. We all purchased at least one natural medication whether it be for ourselves or our families (ask us if they work!). Although it may seem exotic to us, it is all about them going back to their roots and making treatment natural.

Week Seven
By: Katelyn Gorman

Wow! It is hard to believe that we have been in Ghana for 7 weeks! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were stepping off of the plane into the hot air of Accra. Our time in Ghana has been full of adventures as you may have gathered from our prior posts. Week 7 was very special to all of us as we had a few days off to relax and tour around Ghana. Our days off started in Cape3Points where we spent 2 nights at an eco lodge. Eco meaning no running water, bucket showers, compost toilets, etc. The lodge sat on the most beautiful property in front of the ocean. Both mornings we awoke to the sound of waves crashing and the smell of salt air. We spent the majority of our days in the water or lounging on the beach. On our second day, we walked to a lighthouse that had been built in 1925. The point in which the lighthouse sat was the closest area on land to 0 degree latitude and 0 degree longitude, in other words, “the center of the world.” During our time at Cape3Points we met some nice friends from Germany who had many great stories to share from their experience in northern Ghana. After our time at Cape3Points we travelled to Busua where we stayed at Dadson’s lodge. The lodge was a 1 minute walk from the beach which was breathtaking. While in Busua, some of the girls decided to take surfing lessons while the rest of us enjoyed the views and relaxed. Those that tried surfing all proved to be great in the waves. In the evenings we ate a place called Busua Inn, a french cuisine. The food was a hit especially the lobster dishes. Busua Inn sat on the beach so every night we ate in front of the ocean enjoying every minute of it. Our short break came quickly to an end and it was time to travel back to Accra. Once in the city we started our work in two community clinics, Mamprobi and Madina. We are looking forward to completing our preceptorship and spending the rest of our time in these clinics. Thanks for reading!

Week Six

We started this week by packing up our stuff and heading to Apemanim, a small village where we spent a few days at. The village is just outside of a city called Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana. The village was a whole new experience for us. We arrived late in the afternoon and were warmly welcomed by Nana, the chief of the village, as well as some of the community members. We found that the weather was slightly hotter as we moved away from the coast and towards the village, so we also experienced a whole new meaning of what it means to sweat.

On our second day in the village we walked to the CHPS Compound, their small health clinic that was made possible by a previous group of students. Here, we met Adjoa, the only nurse they have in the village. She was absolutely amazing. She is available to the community 24/7 and she never gets a day off, she resides at the clinic.

We brought with us a bag of donations that we had to unpack and do inventory, we then stocked it on the shelves. This process took awhile but we enjoyed it and Adjoa was full of appreciation. We then travelled with her to Kumasi to purchase medicines for the clinic, with money that we received from our amazing donors. The ride to the city is only 7 km, however with all the bumps and turns, it takes longer than expected. Adjoa took us to a pharmacy, where we waited while she shopped for medicine. We ended up spending approximately 1900 cedi, which is equivalent to around 750 Canadian dollars. To all our generous donors, give yourselves a pat on the back. You helped supply the clinic with over 10 months use of medications that will help make a difference in four different villages! Stocking the empty shelves at the clinic was truly a rewarding experience. We all stepped back to take a look at what we had accomplished together and we were in awe, it was incredibly humbling. Adjoa was at a loss for words, and she expressed immense gratitude with what we had all helped make possible. We went to bed that night feeling rewarded for what we had helped do and how much appreciation came from it, and also very grateful for what we have at home. Because the village was in such great need, as a group we decided to donate an extra 1200 cedis from our donations that will go towards more medicine for the clinic.

The next day we travelled to a neighbouring village where we set up a small vaccination clinic and weighed all the children. This was such a cool experience! We hung a scale from a cocoa tree and the babies dangled from the tree in a harness. A few of us also did a presentation to the moms in the village about their child’s development from birth to one year of life. The moms were very receptive and knowledgable.

We then travelled into Kumasi to see the King of the Asanti Region! Nana, the chief of the village, had been trying eight years for us students to meet him so we felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity. We had to wait a few hours in the hot heat and we all didn’t quite know what to expect. There was hundreds of people packed into a small area at the palace in Kumasi. After hours of waiting we were called over the speaker to come greet the king. We all stood in a line while the announcer explained where we came from and what we were doing in Ghana. We then each took a turn walking up to his throne, bowing down and then leaving. It was over so fast but it was such a neat experience. We travelled back to the village, where we were greeted with a swarm of children, all eager to play with us obrunis. We walked around the village with them and enjoyed our last night there.

On Thursday we said goodbye to the village and the amazing people there and travelled back towards the coast to enjoy a few days off before we start doing community visits in Accra.

Thank you to all our amazing donors for helping us reach out to those less fortunate. We are truly grateful for your thoughtfulness.
-Courtney

Afadjato Mountain

Week Five
Independence Day Celebration
By: Leah Kennedy

March 6th, 2014 marked Ghana’s 57th year of independence. Ghana was the first black African country to become independent in 1957. March 6th serves as a reminder to the people of Ghana to celebrate the end of colonial rule and the start of their independence.

We were fortunate to have a day off from work in order to experience the National Holiday. At 8:30am we gathered with thousands of Ghanaians at Accra’s Black Star Square where the festivity took place. We thought we had come early enough to grab open seats because we were told that the celebration would not start until 10 am. To our surprise, the open stadium was packed full and it was hard to find open seats. My group ended up sitting in the stairwell and waited there until the show began. Pride filled the air, I was sitting beside an elderly woman who decided to take me under her wing and explain the different significances behind everything we saw during the parade. As different groups began to march into the square she pointed out that amongst the crowd there were children who were chosen to participate in the marching. This is one way that the military continues its nations pride among the young generations.

The military is highly valued in the Ghanaian society; this was evident throughout the parade as big tankers and trucks towing military speed boats made their way around the stadium. Despite the down poor of rain, the president still made an appearance and toured his way around the square as the crowd cheered his name and said their thanks.

One of my favorite parts of the celebration was watching President John Dramani Mahama light the eternal flame in remembrance of the unknown fallen soldiers. I also enjoyed watching the different traditional dances. Members from each region in Ghana dressed in traditional cloths and danced their traditional dance in front of the crowd. Even with (I’m not kidding) the torrential down poor of rain, everyone’s spirits were still high.

We came back to our campus to change into some dry clothes before heading to Dr. Patience’s house located at Korle-bu Teaching Hospital. Dr. Patience invited our group to her house for a traditional meal. We stayed at her place for the remaining afternoon and shared stories as we enjoyed her warm hospitality.

This year’s independence celebration was themed, “Building a Better and Prosperous Ghana through patriotism and National Unity.”

So happy and content with little to nothing

So happy and content with little to nothing

Week Four
As four weeks have quickly come to an end, we are thrilled to tell you about our wild adventures over the past week. We sent 4 days this week at Military 37 Hospital and 1 day at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital. We all seem to be fully adjusted to our units and are greeted kindly when we arrive to the hospital every morning. We feel very much a part of the team and all look forward to helping the patients, attending the educational sessions, and bonding with the staff. Many of us took an opportunity to do a “buddy shift” on some other units this week as well as a few more of us had our share of the fun with getting sick and needing an extra day of rest.

This week was different than the rest because we started every morning off with fresh hot donuts off the street. Our amazing bus driver Richard got us addicted and now our donut lady waits at the corner for us every morning on our way to clinical! We even started bringing sugar and cocoa spread to make them extra tasty! We are professionals now at getting around on Tro Tro’s- and do not even think twice about cramming ourselves into the vans to get around the city. It has become our new norm.

We handed out half of our donations on Thursday to the Military 37 Hospital! They were so grateful and appreciative of all the supplies they received. We cannot thank everyone who donated money or supplies enough-especially the Royal Alexandra Hospital who donated $2500.00 Canadian Dollars! We also have to thank our Instructor Solina Richter and Sally Mensah who spent one whole day shopping for medical supplies on an extremely hot day! We spent approximately 5, 080.00 cedi’s ($2500.00 Canadian Dollars). Among some of the items bought included 2 Trolleys, IV supplies, Dressing Trays/supplies, Oxygen Masks/Tubing and much, much, more! We also had a case study at Solina’s House where we talked about Steven Johnson’s Syndrome and Hypothermia Treatment for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in Neonates!

This week many of us joined a Soccer and Volley Ball Team right on the University of Ghana Campus. We even played some official games and practiced every day except Friday. Our soccer jerseys are a florescent yellow that can be seen from miles away. We were thinking we could direct traffic in them if ever necessary! Our volleyball jerseys are purple we lost one game and won one too, so we were very excited!

On Friday, we went on a field trip to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital as mentioned early! Thomas Table is a Psychiatric Nurse who has worked at this hospital for over 25 years and has a passion for mental health like no other. He is an amazing and strong advocate for mental health and we were extremely lucky to have him as our tour guide. On our ride home…something must have been in our water because we were hyper, hyper, hyper! We created our own lyrics to the song “If I had a million dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies which was renamed to “If I was a street vendor” themed on what you would carry on your head. After our little tune, I think our instructor wanted to drive us back to the Psychiatric Hospital and admit us all!

Once we got back to the University of Ghana-International Student House we quickly picked up our bags and transitioned into weekend mode. Richard was kind enough to drive us to the Volta Region on his air conditioned bus and we were in heaven! It took us about 5 hours to get there but we also had to make a few stops due to our tiny bladders.

On Saturday we all climbed Afadjato Mountain-the largest mountain in Ghana! It was 884 Meters above Sea Level and quite the hike for some of us “out of shape girls.” The view at the top was worth all the sweat it took to get up there. It was a 360 degree panoramic view of the Volta Region which was so beautiful!
After we proceeded to Wli (Agumatsa) Falls-which was the highlight of our trip for everyone so far. After about a 45 minute walk into the falls we were all speechless at the view. By far the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Ever. It did not take us long to get our swim suits on and get in there! We even brought a blow up tube to play with! It was an amazing day!

Monkey Sanctuary
On Sunday, we woke up early and bought bananas on the way to the Monkey Sanctuary! We got to see tons of monkeys in the forest and fed them a banana each! I’m sure as a group we took well over a few hundred pictures! We made good time on our drive home and are now all gearing up for another busy week at the hospital!

Thanks for following our adventures!
-Danielle

Week Three
Week three has come to a close and it has seemed like we only just got here. We are all adjusting to the many facets of life in Africa, our gastrointestinal tracts included. After the majority of us have had to take a sick day this week, we all have a new appreciation for Peptobismol. Due to my symptoms and as a precautionary measure I was required to get my blood tested at the hospital for Malaria, which came back negative. Navigating through the health care system without the Lieutenant Colonel would have been a challenge as people are typically served based on rank. There are separate lines for military personnel as there are for civilians.

As the time progresses, we are able to further develop our relationships with the nurses, physicians and patients. We’ve even been invited to go for lunch with the nurses. We’ve also learned to appreciate the health care provider’s resourcefulness as they do what they can with what’s available. For example, we’ve seen nurses use the cuff of their disposable glove as a tourniquet to find veins for intravenous initiation on patients.

Since resources are so scarce, and often patients have to pay for dressings, medications and other supplies out of pocket, it becomes costly. We are so grateful to all our our donors who have contributed to our donation supplies which we sorted through on Friday. We have packed a bag of supplies for the village in Apemanim, have all advocated for what each of our units need and have distributed supplies accordingly. For example, the majority of the face masks and personal protective equipment are going to Leah on the infectious disease unit. Our instructor Solina is taking the Lieutenant Colonel Sally shopping for additional supplies with the donation money we have received. We are so grateful to be able to give back to the health care facilities that have taught us so much about their culture and practice within Ghana.

During our debriefing session on Thursday, we had two intelligent, educated and empowering women join our group. Sylvia the Associate Dean of Global Health, and guest speaker Lydia who gave us insight on pain management in Ghana based on her research findings .

This has been the first weekend in which we’ve decided to stay in Legon. We treated ourselves to a much needed poolside day at the Golden Tulip hotel accompanied by an amazing meal. We all needed to be a little more diligent with the sunscreen application as we are looking more like lobsters than Obrunis (what Ghanains call white people). A few of us made a trip to Medina market where we were overwhelmed by the mass quantities of people and unfamiliar smells. At one point, I recall having to decide between knocking over a lady’s basket of fish balancing on her head in order to avoid an on coming car. I just barely made it past. I’m not sure which would have been worse.

Determined to watch the men’s final Olympic hockey game, Solina’s husband was kind enough to wake up early and stream it for us through Skype. We were all huddled around a laptop. We have never been so proud to be Canadian, and this experience really makes us appreciate the little things we often take for granted at home especially clean drinkable water.

Thanks for following!
-Megan
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Week 2
Hi All!
Here is another update on what we are doing! We were at 37 Military Hospital this past week and it was really busy, full of new experiences and learning. We are all getting more comfortable on our units and are building strong relationships with the staff and patients. Our experiences have definitely been very eye opening and each day there is something new for us to learn. On our bus rides to clinical we are getting more practiced at buying what we need from the street vendors that balance items on their heads and are better at distinguishing an obruni price. We are starting to get a bit more adjusted to the heat which is nice, but have also heard from all the locals this is cold weather (about +31) for Ghana so that is a little worrisome. On Friday night we were invited for a Valentine’s Day dinner at the house of a Faculty member of the University of Ghana who is friends with Sylvia Barton, the Associate Dean of the U of A Global Nursing Office. We ate way too much of the great food, played with some adorable children and taught the faculty members some of our Canadian dance moves (country line dances) from home. It was a great night and we all appreciated meeting some of the people that help keep this great opportunity going.
On the weekend we took a roadtrip on the Ghana School of Nursing bus to the Cape Coast area with Solina, Sylvia, Kimberley (a PhD student doing work in northern Ghana), Regina (Assistant to the Dean of Nursing here) and our amazing bus driver Richard and his wife Sylvia. We got going early Saturday morning and drove to the Elmina slave trade castle. The walk through the town of Elmina up to the castle had many sights and it was a very busy day with lots of action in the streets. We all were taking tons of pictures of our surroundings, but were quickly reminded to be careful of what we were photographing as people in the smaller towns do not like to be photographed unless you ask permission first. When we got up to the castle we were greeted with spectacular views, as it is built right on the coast with a background of palm trees and beautiful ocean. We went on a guided tour of the castle and it was a very interesting and moving experience. The castle was built in 1482 and it is estimated that by the mid 18th century 30,000 slaves were traded out of it each year. The slaves would exit out of the “door of no return” to waiting ships that would take them on the treacherous journey to North and South America. Elmina castle could house up to 600 male and 400 female slaves at once. Slaves that had tried to escape were locked in a certain room and starved to death to promote fear. It was difficult to reflect on Elmina’s dark history but it was a good opportunity to learn about an event that has impacted Ghana today. After our tour of Elmina we were all very tired out and settled down for the night. The next day we were off to Kakum National Park to go on the amazing canopy rope bridge walk. You have to hike straight uphill to the course of bridges but once you are there the view is spectacular. There were eight very narrow and wobbly bridges to cross and it felt like you were walking across tree tops. Anyone that is scared of heights might have had some trouble with how high up we were, but our group did very well and everyone made it across the bridges safely. After taking in the spectacular bridge course we were led on a nature walk by a Kakum tour guide. She told us all about the importance and the different uses of the local trees. We even learned some home remedies for asthma and how to remove Guinea worms! Overall it was a great weekend and we all made it back to our residence quite ready for bed. Off to start another week of clinical.
Thanks for following our adventures!
-Sarah
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Week 1
Akwaaba! (It means welcome in Twi)

We have made it through week one here in Accra, Ghana. After a long flight, and an interesting first introduction to Ghana (where we all experienced culture shock, specifically Dani) we found ourselves without Megan because her flight had been delayed. At 2300 hours we arrived at our new residence at the International Student Hostel (ISH) at the University of Ghana. Now we are officially 7 hours ahead of Alberta!

On Monday Megan arrived in Ghana at 5:30 in the morning safe and sound! We spent the day getting settled into our rooms, hanging our mosquito nets, catching up on sleep, and buying cell phones.

On Tuesday we had an orientation to 37 Military hospital which was extremely interesting and eye opening for all of us. We had the first day of our final preceptorship Wednesday, where we each began on different units as follows: Corrie, Katelyn and Courtney are all rotating between labor and delivery/ post partum/ NICU, Megan is on a pediatric inpatient unit, Sarah with surgical/trauma emergency, Alysha and Jessica work in medical emergency, Leah is on an infectious disease unit, Danielle is working with pediatric emergency, and Kendra is on an intensive care unit.

The first few days of clinical have been a very different experience for each of us. We could never have imagined what we would see, learn, and do.

After our first three days at 37 military hospital we are all beginning to feel more comfortable. The nurses’ critical thinking skills are amazing and we are learning so much from them. The patients are wonderful and so willing to help us “obrunis”–what they call white people–learn their customs and cultural beliefs.

We’ve all tried some traditional foods and felt very welcomed by the locals. On Wednesday after our shift we attended a lunch at Sally’s home for red red (beans and fried plantains in red sauce) and rice that she made for us! Sally is a Lieutenant Colonel and a teacher at the 37 Military Nursing School. She is a very experienced nurse and on our tour we learned her nickname is “Abayuwa,” which means young woman because she if fun loving and is young at heart.

After a long week we all took a trotro (small bus/taxi that you pay to take you places for very cheap) to Kokobrite. We are very lucky to have Katelyn’s friend Patch, who is here completing her Masters Degree, to show us how to get around Ghana and take us to the many beautiful places Ghana encompasses. We love it here! We spent the day at the beach mingling with locals, shopping, and enjoying the sun and music. That night we were able to experience live Ghanaian music and acrobatics!

Sorry for the late post! We are on Africa time now and we have been keeping very busy! That’s all for now, thank-you so much to all of our sponsors, donors, and supporters for what you have done. We promise all the support will go to a great cause and we will be sure to post pictures updating you on where it is going and what we are doing. Thanks for following along!

Here we are in front of the nursing bus on our first day of clinical!

Here we are in front of the nursing bus on our first day of clinical!

Best, Obruni Nursing Students in Ghana
-Corrie

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4 thoughts on “What We Are Up To

  1. To all the smart and beautiful ladies,
    So glad you guys are enjoying your time so far. 🙂 I imagine you’ll be continuing to learn a lot during clinical.
    To Jessica: darling, I am so happy and proud of you! Your sweet and loving nature already makes you a great person and is going to shape you into an amazing nurse!

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