After breakfast on Saturday, we were given a presentation by NEA’s Leyaata Ane Project team. The Leyaata Ane Project is funded by Global Affairs Canada to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and provide reproductive health education to the 16,000 adolescents registered in the program. Our student, Elsa Hicks, presented the project team with hockey bags full of personal hygiene packs for adolescent girls that her friends and classmates had made and donated. It was a very emotional presentation and there were not many dry eyes in the room.
We had some activities planned for the rest of Saturday, but the Chiefs of the Mo Land had something else in mind. Dr. Mensah very excitedly explained to us that a Durbar had been planned in our honour. He asked us to go and get into our best clothes and be ready to gather under the tents when the talking drums began to beat.
A Durbar is an infrequently held event to honour someone of prominence such as the President. When the drums started, we gathered as instructed and over the next 3.5 hours — yes 3.5 hours — our team was honoured for our “good work and good will” in supporting and augmenting the health care system over the pass 11 years. Chiefs, Queens and Traditional Councils from all the villages in this region arrived in a huge processional to the beat of many drums. There were speeches, cultural dances and the presentation of gifts. Our team and NEA received over 400 tubers of yams, 2 cows, 2 sheep, 5 goats and a citation. My son, Joshua, was honoured with 150 yams, a goat and a smock. We’ve never seen anything like it. Josh had a funny look on his face when goat curry was on the menu for dinner.
Dr. Hicks and I were asked to give a speech with a few minutes of warning after which we watched the Chiefs interpret and dance to the talking drums. This was most interesting and very mysterious. The event concluded with an address from Dr. Mensah who was in his full chieftaincy regalia.
He told a parable about a wolf who came across a rabbit and thought it was an easy kill. The rabbit noticed a set of deer antlers lying on the ground so he put them on. The wolf came upon this rabbit with horns and was confused so he asked him, “What kind of animal are you?”. The rabbit answered, I am “Jombalabinijombalkehgaw”. At this, the crowd went wild with laughter. There was no such thing as a jombalabinijombalkehgaw but it confused the wolf enough that he couldn’t make the kill. David explained that when he first came to the Mo land after finishing his PHD, he thought poverty would be an easy kill. But it turned out to be a jombalabinijombalkehgaw — a much more complex creature with complex problems, and he realized that he needed to find more sophisticated hunters to take its horns off. He thanked us for being those hunters who have helped remove the antlers of illness, disease and hernia off the rabbit of poverty over the past 11 years.
The Durbar was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us, and we were completely overwhelmed by the generosity of words and actions expressed. It was an incredible celebration of all that we have accomplished together over the last 11 years. I want to pass on this unforgettable story as the gratitude extends to all of the past team members, our friends and family, and of course, all of our donors.
Our day concluded with a fabulous and hilarious annual Ghana’s Got Talent show with emcee Graham, and let’s just say that it was such a fun filled, creative and fun evening together with lots of time to visit afterward. I’m hoping the pictures will tell the tale as this update is becoming a novel.
Sunday, we attended a wonderful and inspirational church service, a sold-out yoga with Bex, a baseball demonstration (Thanks to Dr. Cressey), a football match, a tour of the NEA compound, book clubs, naps and lots of good ‘ol fashion fellowship.
We are refreshed and ready for the final stretch of this mission and wait in anticipation for any jombalabinijombalkehgaw that comes our way!
Dr. Jennifer Wilson, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP, DIMPH