While there are countless heroic stories I could tell about the tremendous work of this team, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about a few heroes.
Ernestina is a medical assistant running a busy health centre with no doctor. She is in charge of a team of nurses and four midwives. She is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Her only leave is when our team comes to Ghana and she joins us. When I ask her how she does it, how she manages to care for so much sickness, how she witnesses so much death, how she works with so few resources, her answer is always the same: “To care for the sick is the highest calling.” Sometimes, when I have a rough night in our ER at home or a busy week at work, I think of Ernestina, and my attitude changes instantly. Any physician on any of our Ghana Health teams over the past 8 years will tell you that everything they have learned about global health they have learned from Ernestina. She is our hero.
Eric is a nurse anaesthetist (the person who puts you to sleep when you have surgery). He and always on call for anaesthesia at his hospital, day and night. There is no physician anaesthetist. He is a conscientious young man who always wants to do better. Eric arrived yesterday to work along side Dr. Tony (our physician anaesthetist) and Susan (our anaesthetic assistant). This morning at breakfast he told me that he learned more in one day with Dr. Tony than he could have learned in one year. Eric is our hero.
Alexandria is a nurse from Wenchi. I got to know her last November when Susan and I helped to train her, along with 29 other midwives, in newborn resuscitation. Yesterday, she proudly told me that she is setting up her resuscitation equipment at every single delivery she attends, even if it is in a hut. She told me about all the babies she has saved due to her training. She now wants to become a master trainer so that she can teach other these skills. Building capacity is a key objective of NEA’s work. Alexandria is our hero.
Letichia. Letichia is the lead nurse in Nyamboi village. There is never a doctor there. She handles everything. Her biggest challenge right now is that there is no light in the delivery room. At night, she is finding it difficult to hold the flashlight and deliver the baby at the same time. I have a feeling she may soon be the owner of a number of fancy MEC headlamps that most of our team uses to work each day. Providing resources and support to our Ghanaian colleagues is so important to us. Letichia is our hero.
And then there is Dr. David. David was sponsored to go to medical school by NEA and is their first graduate. This brand new physician is just soaking in every moment of this opportunity to work alongside our very experienced physicians and surgeons. He is teaching us so much about the health care system here. He is the future of health care delivery in this area. This mutual exchange of learning and transfer of skills is rich. Dr. David is our hero.
Ghanaian health professionals like Ernestina, Eric, Letichia, Alexandria and Dr. David are the true heroes. They are the dedicated health professionals who do their jobs with compassion and excellence in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. And they do this work every day of every month of every year. Working alongside them, learning from one another, deepening our relationships with them, and supporting them with resources are the key reasons why we are here.
And this will be the model of the Carpenter hospital. It will be a hospital run by the best Ghanaian health professionals in Ghana, supported by people like us. There are so many layers to NEA’s plan to bring health care to Northern Ghana. I speak on behalf of every single team member when I say that it a great privilege for us to be called upon by NEA to be here and to be part of the process of moving towards sustainable health care for all.
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2015 Health Team Updates
Iddrisu’s Story in Photos
Yaara, Nov 12
Asantekwaa, Nov 11
Nyamboi, Nov 10
Carpenter, Nov 9
Carpenter, Nov 8
Accra, Nov 7
Toronto, Nov 6
Chris Mitchell says
Such a great story! Who wouldn’t be inspired by reading the stories and seeing the pictures. I can’t believe your work for this year is almost over. It has gone by so quickly.
Lois, see you soon. xoxoxo Gotta get home to clean up the house!
Chris, Besa & Vasil says
Thanks Dr. Jennifer for sharing with us the inspirational stories of these hard-working heroes that have the perpetual strength to persevere and endure in front of big hurdles … while helping others with a big smile!,
We are very much looking forward to Eni coming back home and sharing with us many more ‘moments of truth’ from this amazing Canadian-Ghanaian team.
“It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes”
Reading the blogs, amazing stories, and seeing the photos has really touched me. As a graduating high school student who wishes to explore the medical field, I am truly inspired by all of you. It truly shows heart and character. Keep up the amazing work all of you!
Inessa, I am incredibly proud of you. You’re courage, hard work, and dedication is extremely inspiring. Can’t wait to hear the amazing stories, and to see you.
Love you so much!
Jenn, how do you manage to write so beautifully after another long, hot and exhausting clinic day? Thank you for your sacrifice of time and energy to tell the stories and keep us updated. I wake up every morning looking for a new post from the team and am so inspired and often tearful after reading them.
It is so wonderful to see more and more local health care workers working with our teams each year and the mutual learning experienced is so beneficial for the people of Ghana.
My favorite quote from Jenn is “You can’t whistle a symphony”. It is amazing that people from different countries, backgrounds, and skill sets come together for 2 weeks and make something so special happen.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord show you his kindness and have mercy on you. May the Lord watch over you and give you peace.”’
Sam Cunningham says
I am really enjoying reading your blog everyday- although it has often moved me to tears. Some truly inspirational stories.
A big shout to my lovely mate Jo- enjoy your last few days! Really looking forward to hearing all about your adventure when you return to a wet & very very windy Northamptonshire (you’ll definitely need your hat!) Much love Sam x
Thank you all again for doing such an amazing job and helping those who need it. We are all praying for you and hope that you stay as motivated and dedicated as you are. We are also very proud of all of you especially our lovely daughter Inessa! Once again, we love and miss you and we hope you stay safe and we are waiting patiently for you to come back with all the amazing stories.
God Bless your team and all the work you have done for this world. You make it a better place.
Cindy & Frank says
It is incredible the work and dedication these individuals have. Giving all they can to support the people who need it the most. As Dr. Jennifer says, they are Heroes.
We at home can’t wait to receive the latest stories of the experiences the Team is having. We find them so inspiring and humbling at the same time.
We would like to give a little shout out to Dr. Anthony (on the Vision Heath Team)
We love and miss you! and can’t think of a better more rewarding way to spend your special day than with the incredible people you are with right now.
Good health and save travels.
Love Mom, Dad, Austin and all your friends and family back home.
P.S. Sharing all the blogs with the girls at the office too! can’t wait for the latest and greatest, we laugh and cry together. 🙂
Caro - Claire Wiles says
Hello everyone and a great big thank you to all your team and
to Dr. Jenn for the wonderful updates you share with us back here at home .
Just reading today’s stories of the Ghanaian heroes who work so hard to save lives all year long, once again makes my eyes well up with tears .
The years that you have spent there have already taught them skills to be able to use when you leave and our prayers will be, that the dream of the hospital will soon come to be a reality.
May God continue to be with you in the next few days and give you rest and strength as you soon prepare to return to your families in Canada and for the transitions there that you will once again experience!
Much love to you all.
Cathy + Randy Wright says
We look forward to reading the blog everyday. We know how it takes every team member to pull together during these cases. Although you are coming to the end of the mission it will still be one day at a time. Although our hearts are dear to Pharmacy we wish you all well and treat every patient to the bitter end. There maybe more lives saved…. We hope to join you again soon. Hospital here we come…
Jenn – what an incredibly inspirational post. I love how you are spotlighting the amazing Ghanaian heroes, who are serving so wholeheartedly in such challenging conditions, day after day. What a blessing that your team can work alongside these amazing people, to provide them with some relief, to offer additional training, and to mutually serve the local people and God together.
I am blessed to know that our community in Canada is sharing in knowledge, time, and love to make a truly lasting impact. Thanks Jenn for your leadership, and to every team member for your unique contribution.
While we miss you over here, we are so proud of all that you are doing in Ghana. Our prayers continue to be over you all.
I feel a book coming on!! Documenting the story of the Ghanaian heroes committed to collaborating and learning to bring a hospital to the region! It could be used to not only raise funds but serve as a model for other Regions and future hospitals! Let the writing begin!!!
So wonderful to read your stories from this years mission, so happy to see the amazing work continues.
Can you please pass on special love and wishes to our amazing Hero, Sarah Hasted and the rest of Team GB!
Sarah is our hero, a tree farmer by trade but gives up her time year after year to care for the people of Ghana. What an inspiration! We love you buddy! Stay safe xxx
Dee, Ali and Katy
Thanks for the idea, Adrienne! We would love to have these stories told to a broader audience, and appreciate any ideas and help we can get!
Rob hicks says
This is one of my favourite updates.
Whilst I love hearing the drama and reading about the great work of all your marvellous team, this story gives us some hope for the future, with local healthcare professionals learning from all of you to deliver healthcare in a sustainable way, not for just 2 weeks a year,but for everyday.
Let’s hope we can all use your blogs to raise more funds to help support the NEA to deliver its goal.
I hope you all have the energy for you last few clinics and lists
You are all heroes
I hope you have managed to get Dr Jo singing – but I warn you – once she starts – she won’t stop
Love to all
Hi team. Praying you are all safe and well. I imagine you are starting to get tired as you wind down your mission trip. May you find strength and stamina to continue serving and teaching and loving in your final days in Ghana.
I had a thought about publicity….
Hoping your photographer took team shots by region so you could submit the same story to your local papers with a few tweeks and personalise the photo. ie:Port Perry, Uxbridge, Stouffville, Durham Region etc. I am sure you probably thought of that already but…that is my two cents:).
Blessings and safe travels. Looking forward to having you back home Martin?? Hoping all of your families will be sensitive to your transition home and that you will lean on eachother if you find yourself struggling with the comparitively mundane and petty complaints in our privileged western world.
So proud of each of you!
Adrienne (Martin’s wife)
Dr Jennifer Wilson
I don’t know what the requirements are to be considered a saint. But I know in the eyes of God and everyone reading your posts you are.
I can not imaging for one minute the time, effort , experience and mostly love you have put in and continue to do so .
There are always so many people on these teams that go without recognition and I know you all do this out of love not for the recognition but to you all
You are amazing people. Your love for life is beyond most people’s comprehension. I wish to thank you all for everything you are doing, have done, and will continue to do. You restore my faith in humanity. With a world so hectic and full of hate. You all are the uppitamy of LOVE . Gods Angels