Friday, 1 July 2011

Hello everyone! And Akwaaba (welcome) to my blog... I've never done a blog before so I'm learning as I go.

(I will preface this first post by mentioning that I have 6 days to catch up on, so this is most likely my longest one.

June 25:
I have finally arrived in Accra, Ghana. After a bit of heartbreak leaving Jed (and the cats) behind, I boarded my flight to Amsterdam, and then boarded another flight to Accra. I have to say, Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport is by far one of the coolest airports, nay, buildings, I have been in! It's like an airport meets shopping mall meets library/museum meets Ikea. If you've ever been there, this makes sense. They even have mini pancakes. I can't wait to go back.

Anyway, onto Ghana. The woman I was sitting next to on the plane was Ghanaian but now resides in Amsterdam (and is a nurse!) and we chatted for a bit. Until I noticed her pull out a few "Watchtower" magazines, at which point I promptly put my headphones on to watch a movie. Poor man on the other side of her, she read to him from the bible and those magazines for the entire 6 hours and 40 minutes. Good on him if he is into that stuff, but even if he is I don't think anyone wants their ear talked off for more than 15 minutes by a stranger. Not me at least.

I arrived at the airport and waited, and waited, and waited... in line for customs. Welcome to Ghana, things move at a much slower pace here than I am used to. Stephanie picked me up at the airport, and I couldn't have been happier to see a familiar face after almost 24 hours of traveling. We got to the apartment where I met Pat and Heather, the two other SickKids nurses currently living and working here. They have been doing lectures for the Ghanaian nursing students for the past 6 weeks and now I am here as the first clinical instructor for the students' in-hospital rotation.

The apartment/hotel is fantastic. Living room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, air conditioning, hot water, and flush toilets. What more could a girl want! It's very clean and the compound seems safe and has 24 hour security (just for you, Dad!).

June 26:
Today, the 4 of us took a day trip to Kakum National Park, where we walked along several suspension bridges roped between trees, about 40 metres up in the air. We were told there were forest elephants, badgers, monkeys, etc. in the area but poaching in the past has caused the animals to take off as soon as they hear anyone coming near. We were then certain we weren't going to see any sort of animal with the loud and obnoxious chinese tour group ahead of us. Jet-lagged me forgot my camera today, so please enjoy these photos courtesy of Google.

We then visited Cape Coast Castle. It seemed almost like any other castle you might see, and I thought "I guess this might be an ok thing to walk around for a bit". Turns out its history is very disturbing and interesting. It was originally built as a trading post, but later became a holding area for the selling and purchasing of slaves. Dungeon after dungeon we walked through, dark like I've never seen, filthy, hot, and there would be hundreds of people crammed in those spaces for months at a time, never to be let out unless to be raped, killed and thrown into the ocean, or led down a tunnel and into the basement of a slave ship destined for the Western world. Devastating and eye-opening, but the castle itself was quite beautiful in a panoramic beach setting.

June 27-30:
I have been to two hospitals, and spent one day in a malnutrition day clinic where the children are fed and monitored. It was a sad and happy place at the same time. I felt happy for the children that they were getting the food they needed, but sad that they were in this situation in the first place. Their parents seemed well-dressed and a lot of the mothers worked as well as the fathers, but the main barrier was education. Something we take for granted, knowing that vegetables/fruit/protein/dairy/grains are necessary for life, they may not have ever been taught. Some of these children were only breastfed for 2 months and then given only bread, water, and sugary foods. I can't stop thinking about those poor kids with their scrawny arms and legs.

I spent one day in the paediatric surgical ward at 37 Military Hospital, where I will be for the next 4 weeks with my students. We were working on taking health histories today and they all did a good job. The ward is mostly orthopedic patients, and of those a lot are from motor vehicle accidents. Cars drive at breakneck speed down these dusty red dirt roads with many pedestrians along the sides, and generally there are no sidewalks. Not to mention many of the cars are not so well maintained, nor are the roads, so accidents are bound to happen. And you're lucky if you get a cab with working seatbelts and doors. Don't worry, Dad, I'm being extra safe :)

Oh and before I forget, and almost most importantly, we went to a Canada Day reception on Tuesday at the Canadian High Comissioner's residence in Accra. It was quite fancy, and there were many ambassadors from other countries, ex-pats, and volunteers from various organizations at the party. We met Trudy Kernighan, the Canadian High Comissioner, as well as the Ghanaian Minister of Health.

As well, we went on Thursday to the Canadian Embassy for yet another Canada Day celebration, but this one was more casual and bbq style. We had poutine and beer and hamburgers, and I won the "guess how many candies in a jar" game. Good times all around!


  1. Yeah Kitty!! Akwaaba =) Love your blog and photos...takes me right back to Ghana! I see you found the thousands of bats that fly over the hospital at dusk - so cool, eh! You have done so much already...soak it all in. And don't forget Bywel Bar on Thursday night next week!! Miss you lots xoxo

  2. Poutine in Ghana = awesome!