Sunday morning came quickly and our team was on the road just after 6:00 am for the long journey to Carpenter. We are so grateful that our travels were smooth and we had no unexpected surprises. We are also very grateful that Graham’s role-call system worked perfectly and no one was left behind at a rest stop. Phew! Ten hours later, we pulled onto the absolutely stunning grounds of the NEA compound.
The NEA staff created a massive receiving line to greet each of us as we came off the bus. The kids were not supposed to be there but somehow they made a case to Dr. Mensah that they should be part of the ceremony! It must have taken a good thirty minutes for us to make our way through the line greeting one another. There were hugs, tears, songs of thanks to God and welcome speeches by Abraham and Dr. Mensah who was bubbling over with excitement.
While fourteen of our team members’ feet touched Carpenter soil for the first time today (of course we singled them out in front of this big crowd), the rest of us on this team have collectively been to Carpenter 189 times since 2007. So you can see why this place feels like our African home. We are just so comfortable here. The NEA staff are like family. We have watched the kids grow up, and we know all the nooks and crannies of this compound like it was our home. We sleep in our same beds year after year, and some of us even leave things in our closets! The familiarity of it all is very sweet and meaningful.
After our traditional spaghetti supper, it was time to dry our tears and get to work. To me, it was a miracle to watch an exhausted group of teammates work together so cheerfully, enthusiastically and efficiently to unpack 200 hockey bags and boxes. Within a few hours, a medical clinic, nursing station, pharmacy, dental office, eye clinic, laser clinic and a surgical centre were taking shape. It was a sight to behold.
We are giddy with excitement about what is planned for tomorrow morning, but you will have to wait for the next update to hear what happens.
To our families and friends, please be assured we are safe and sound, well cared for and ready as ever to begin the work that has brought us back to our African home.
Dr. Jennifer Wilson, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP, DIMPH