“It is the responsibility, yet the individual choice, of each of us to use the light we have to dispel the work of darkness because if we do not, then the power of falsehood rises.” ~John Lewis, Across That Bridge.
All teams set their hearts, hands, and minds to making the most of our final two days at Leyaata Hospital.
On Wednesday morning, Leyaata’s lab manager, Moses, gave a challenging devotion from Mark 5:25-31 about never giving up. It was his birthday, and we found him the perfect gift. The team’s blood donations topped up his blood bank.
We were invited to “chill” with David Mensah on Wednesday evening at his home, and he welcomed us with fresh lemonade from his lemon tree. Colourful party snacks included fried mushrooms, beef shish kabobs with green pepper, plantain chips, “Kele Wele,” and fruit salad with a ginger sauce. We enjoyed listening to captivating stories of David’s first journey to Canada (during Ghana’s coup d’état) to pursue his education. He then shared how he met and fell in love with Brenda while working weekends on the Paisley farm in Stouffville. Those who want to read more should purchase his book, Kwabena: An African Boy’s Journey of Faith.
All our mentorship programs wrapped up so well. The ER team concluded by co-caring for many serious patients, including three poisonous snake bites in 24 hours. Every case, including jaw dislocations, strokes, pneumothoraces, and fractures, provided opportunities to apply new knowledge and implement new processes.
We were thankful that the Leyaata Eye Clinic was so accessible and well-equipped when one of our team members, quickly followed by a Leyaata team member, had an unexpected rise in eye pressure. Treating colleagues can be stressful, but both underwent successful emergency laser surgery in the clinic.
Our surgical and anesthesia program wrapped up with 90 surgeries in 9 days. In addition to hernia surgeries, the team was able to slip in some emergency cases as well. As Mr. Hicks said, “Each surgery is a vehicle for process,” and by Thursday evening, that process was solidly in place. When a surgical emergency came through the ER late that night, the Ghanaian team suggested their UK partners could return to bed because they felt equipped and confident to handle the case independently. What a way for Rob, Karen, Nicky, and Ebenezer (celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary in Ghana) to end their mission.
Our education programs concluded with a graduation ceremony under the Leyaata Gazebo, where each successful participant received a certificate from Dr. David Mensah and the course instructors. Dr. Anne and I were particularly proud to pass the baton to seven Leyaata midwives who are now certified trainers in the Helping Babies Survive program. As the staff proudly rose to accept their diplomas to the enthusiastic cheers of their peers, I was reminded of a quotation by Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The hospital staff and our Ghana Health Partners then gathered for a large group photo on the front steps of Leyaata to mark this foundational partnership event. I can’t wait for you to see this special photo when it is released.
The Last Supper was symbolic and emotional as we reflected aloud on our gratitude for one another and how we will remember one another. Although we received thanks for so much, we reminded our Ghanaian colleagues that we receive more than we give. Team veterans noted how their lives and the lives of their families have been profoundly and permanently impacted by the influence of our partners in Ghana — their way of life, their faith, and the lessons we have learned. David Mensah explained that while they have little to give us, they have something better. They have God — and so he prayed God would bless us and our families richly and with long life for the contribution made over the past two weeks. All noted the mutual respect, reciprocity, and depth of relationships in that room.
As I return to the South and hear news of world events, I’m once again reminded of the degree of global suffering and darkness in our world. Yet, as one of my global health mentors often reminds me, “Light always finds a way to shine.” With this, I want to thank my team members for taking on the responsibility and using the light they carry to find a way to shine. Leyaata and NEA are like a beacon — dispelling the darkness of poverty, food insecurity, gender inequity, conflict, injustice, and preventable deaths in Northern Ghana. Despite many challenges and being pushed way outside our comfort zones, adding our light to theirs has been an honour and privilege. We will return home different than when we arrived.
To all our friends, family, colleagues, and supporters who made it possible for us to be here and do our part in changing a turmoil-wracked world, we thank you for your sacrifices and look forward to sweet reunions on home soil very soon.
Gift of Life
When a Caramilk bar from the freezer suddenly appears after two weeks without chocolate!
Midwives teaching midwives
Shout out to colleague “Dr. Annie” who makes co-teaching an absolute joy!
Dr. Carlye proudly holding the new Leyaata ER stroke protocol.
Jane and Nicky’s new skirts
Biomed and Leadership Partners
Diagnostic Imaging Partners
Hernia International Carpenter Partners
Eye Team Partners
Canadian Nursing Team
It always comes to an end too fast.
Thank you Dr. Mensah for our Friendship bracelets!
Signing off for November 2023!
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