Blog posts should be brief, but there is no way one could be brief when describing the past two days in the life of our team.
The surgical team put in a gruelling two days in the theatres. Yesterday a large number of children were operated on, and we are thankful to God that their surgeries were successful. Today brought some very difficult and challenging cases — large hernias requiring general anaesthesia — but this team, together with our Ghanaian anaesthetist Eric, have done an incredible job of preventing needless deaths from hernia. Their roster is full and Dr. Magdi has already booked half of the surgical slots for 2017.
Meanwhile, the medical, dental and eye team spent the past two days in the village of Yaara where NEA’s Director, David Mensah grew up. We were greeted by his brother, Chief Joseph, and elders who presented us with yams, fruit and a ram along with a special gift for my daughter Claudia. We were thanked “elephantly” and our visit was declared a historical event.
We worked so hard over these two days in extreme temperatures caring for a very large number of patients who have no access to health care. We wholeheartedly served each person, giving them our very best care at every station of the medical clinic, at the dental clinic under the trees, and in the 39 degree eye clinic at the church. The entire clinic ran efficiently and effectively due to our amazing Canadian and Ghanaian logistics leaders who always have had us home before dark every day.
Despite the incredible suffering and health conditions due to poverty that we see, the mood in the clinic is very buoyant and light and laughter is heard throughout the clinic — especially between team members and our translators.
Each day always brings a few challenges our way, but each one is dealt with collaboratively and quickly with our leadership team and the NEA leadership team. It is a beautiful partnership.
Each day also brings one or two cases that really stand out from the hundreds of patients we see and treat. Yesterday it was a sick baby who caught the eye of our lab technician Tracey just as we were beginning to pack up. I believe that baby would have died that night had she not received treatment. Today it was Dr. Helen’s infant patient — 3 months old with severe malaria who would have been one of the 10 million kids who die every year of easily treatable diseases like this. Due to a great team effort, and God’s grace, both kids survived.
I love this team. Everyone seems intent on going out out of their way to look for opportunities to serve, encourage and cheer each other and the NEA staff on at every opportunity. What fun. What a privilege.
As we approach the mid point of our mission we are all beginning to really appreciate small things we may take for granted at home — like a shower, a toilet, a breeze, like not being constantly soaked in sweat. As Dave said to me at dinner tonight, “Being here changes you”. Witnessing poverty and the effects of poverty with one’s own eyes changes you. Working and serving in challenging conditions outside of comfort zones changes you too.
The team will now enjoy two very well deserved days off. Excursions are being planned by NEA staff. We are all really looking forward to tomorrow night, which is the first annual Ghana Health Team Talent Show coordinated by Dr. Sue!
We are so thankful for the prayers, best wishes and support from so many of our friends, family, colleagues and community. Your support got us here and sustains us here. You can all be very proud of this group of amazing individuals that are representing their professions and countries so very well as they serve NEA and their ultimate vision of long-term sustainable changes in people’s health.
Until next time!