Yesterday was the final day of our Ghana Health Team clinics. We were operating, lasering, pulling teeth, making house calls and seeing patients by 7:30 am. I could write a book on the stories of this very day alone. Our goal was to finish strong and we did. In fact, we finished the way we started — with excitement, teamwork, resilience, compassion, excellence and a lot of laughter. Then the emotions began to flow as the reality of the end of our GHT (and our fatigue) set in.
This morning, many were up at 6:30 am for running or yoga after which we met under the gazebo for final devotions. The pastors sang two beautiful songs to thank God and our team for all that has happened, and I’m sure there were at least five or six harmonies. Dr. Mensah spoke on Exodus 36: 2-7 and Shmuel read the scripture in Hebrew. It was powerful! This passage talks about how Moses asked his people to give of their belongings to build the temple but they gave so much that he eventually had to restrain them from giving more. Dr. Mensah used this story to thank us and the entire Ghanaian team for giving and giving and giving so much that now, he needs to restrain us. “You have given more than enough”, he said over and over. We were grateful for his words to provide some closure for us today.
After devotions, we walked to the construction site of the Leyaata Hospital and took our picture on the doorsteps of the future emergency room. My heart was actually racing with excitement at this special moment which felt a bit like the passing of a baton from our short-term medical care to what will be the sustainable health care of the future in Ghana.
After breakfast, all the team leaders shared a brief report and we said our final words to this wonderful, wonderful team. I was holding it together well, until Kyle shared what a little boy said to him after his dental procedure yesterday. The boy looked at Kyle and said, “We are friends now.” Indeed — these four words sum it all up. This work is about all the precious relationships amongst our international team members, our Ghanaian health care colleagues, NEA and most importantly our patients. It is the relationships that have been the foundation for the success of this team and these relationships will continue to be the foundation of the future.
In 2007, a Ministry of Health official came to visit our first Ghana Health Team. He thanked us and asked for our ongoing support “until we can stand on our own”. I have never forgotten those words and it is truly what NEA and our GHT leaders have been working towards. Well, that time is fast approaching. The hospital construction is ahead of schedule and it is now the right time to close our short term work and pour all resources into helping NEA open the doors to the Leyaata Hospital.
There is much to be done. Our leaders are meeting after lunch to map out the next phase of our involvement which will involve mentoring and consulting as we launch this model hospital together. Oh, how exciting it is!
On behalf of our team, I want to send such a heartfelt thank you to each and every friend, family member, colleague, supporter, former team member, and donor who has made this mission and the other 10 missions possible. Without your support, none of this would have been possible and 7,080 patients would not have received the care they so deserve. I hope you will continue to follow us along as we work toward the launch of the Leyaata Hospital in two years time. You can do that by subscribing to the GRID newsletter.
One of my favourite songs I’ve learned in Ghana was sung this morning and is perfect — just perfect — to express what is in my heart as I sign off…
“Unto the Lord be the glory, great things He has done. Unto the Lord be the glory, great things He has done. Great things he has done, greater things he will do. Unto the Lord be the glory, great things He has done. Amen.”
Dr. Jennifer Wilson, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP, DIMPH