Ok, so the cat’s out of the bag. I’m going back to Ghana!!
I am so looking forward to my trip back to Ghana in October. Although all of the details are not yet worked out, I have made some preliminary plans. Unfortunately, I will be traveling alone because of Alan’s responsibilities at work. My travels start on October 12th, and I’ll return home on the 22nd. I’ll spend nearly all of my time helping at Beacon House orphanage. This is the same orphanage where I helped while living in Accra. It is run by an Italian American woman who is also a missionary. There are 30+ children living there at any given time ranging in age from a few months old to about 14 years old. I’ll be staying in a room in the baby house, where it’ll probably be a little noisy. I’ve also been informed that I’ll have to take bucket baths (a very common thing for the average Ghanaian). Friday night I’ve booked a room at the SIM Guesthouse (the same guesthouse that I managed while living in Accra) so I can go to the Dzorwulu Keep Fit Club at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to visit with many of my Ghanaian friends.
When talking with a friend recently about this trip, she thought I would be scared. I’m not afraid to make this trip alone because Accra is the place I lived in and loved for 8 months. It would probably be a different story if I was going to a new country, but I already know the culture and how to get around. In addition, I spent 6 weeks of those 8 months alone (well, without Alan in the same country) when I lived there. I know what’s expected of me within the culture. Things can’t have changed that much in the 10 months I was away. 😉
I’ll be posting every few weeks as the time gets closer to depart. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
One day I took 3 children from the orphanage to the doctor for a checkup. This can sometimes be an ordeal. They see a pediatrician at the hospital, but you don’t make an appointment. You just wait your turn like the 20 other mothers. Two of the children had used the bathroom before arriving at the hospital, but the third had declined. Finally, we were up next; I knew this, because we were the only ones left in the waiting room. Suddenly, the third child jumped up, holding himself and crying. It was obvious he needed to go, immediately. I awoke an employee to ask directions to the nearest restroom; the employee just pointed. Not being able to find the right door, we went downstairs to the information desk to ask.
We must have been quite a sight, me with 3 children in tow, all holding hands so no one would be left behind. We were then directed to another building. We stopped and asked again in the cafeteria and were given vague directions to follow the guy who just went around the corner. Unfortunately, not a single door was marked with a sign identifying it as a bathroom, and I wasn’t about to just open a door into an examination room. I finally gave up and took the children to a small grassy area where they all relieved themselves. Although this is usual practice here in Ghana, I flushed in embarrassment. Unfortunately, when we returned to the waiting room, we had to wait again, this time for the doctor to return from his break.
I recently learned that it’s common practice for each child to be treated for worms upon moving into an orphanage and then all of the children are retreated every 3 months. Think about it. Who wants to collect a stool sample from every child in the place? Treatment is simple and involves taking one dose of medication by mouth. Saturday I participated in an outreach to an orphanage called Save Them Young near Tema where about 45 children of various ages live. All of the children older than 2 lined up to take the medicine and swallowed more than 1 tablespoon of the liquid despite some of the icky faces they made. I must say that I was impressed, because I don’t think most American children would have been quite so cooperative.
Apparently, it’s not uncommon for children, and even adults, to become infested with pinworms, threadworms, whipworms, large roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms here in Ghana. I want to note that these parasites are not completely uncommon in the US, either. As a result of poor sanitation, poor hygiene, contact with contaminated soil, and eating undercooked or contaminated food and water, these parasites enter the body through the mouth (or skin in the case of one type) and live in the intestines of their hosts. Knowing my increased likelihood of being or becoming a home for these unwelcome guests, I willingly swallowed the dose of medicine that was offered to me. I mean really, who wants worms anyway?