Hello family and friends!! I have so many stories to tell all of you and I don’t even know where to start. Maybe I should spill the negative first. Hospitals. Probably the worst thing about Ghana. Since it is rainy season, sicknesses are more common, so hospital trips are more frequent. I have been to the hospital about four times in the last week and a half with four different children. We are expected to take the children to the hospital and pay for everything... yes it is the politics. Most of the younger kids have health insurance due to projects of previous volunteers, but the older kids don’t have insurance. The hospital here in Dodowa is far behind our technology over there in the US. To best put it in perspective, picture the movie Pearl Harbor. The nurses wear those silly dresses with the bibs and the little white cap. They don’t really do anything except paperwork, moving of patients and setting up IV’s. There are paper signs on the door showing which room was which. One room for Neonatal Care, one for Lab, one for Emergency Care and so on. When you enter the hospital, you walk in to a hot stuffy lobby with church pews everywhere. You then have to go sign in so that the secretary can look through the many files in boxes all over the floor. After waiting for them to find your file, you must wait to be seen by a doctor to take temperature, weight and blood pressure. After that you wait in another area to go see a doctor to get a diagnosis of your sickness. The doctor is usually a –pardon my language- bitchy woman who yells at the child and laughs when they explain their symptoms. The doctor writes out a prescription on a piece of paper and then you either go to the lab or go get your prescription. You have to wait in another line for the lab and then watch the child get stabbed inconsiderately by the laughing lab guy. I have had to hold children down so their blood could be drawn. It usually takes up to a minimum of three hours to take a child to the hospital. The longest I have been there is five and a half hours. Crazy huh?! It blows your mind to look at the dynamics of healthcare here. It is definitely a problem.
Cassondra and I in Canishe posing in front of all the crazy graffiti.
On a particular day, I had to take Irene (who is 4 years) to the hospital. She had a fever of 103.7 degrees and was very out of it. We took her to the hospital and had to put here through the torture. She did well though. I was proud. Later when we got home in the evening, we had to give her lots of medications. I volunteered to put pills in the anus area. We were given three, three! To give her. The power was out as it frequently is, so we had to get a flashlight and luckily we found some gloves. Irene knew what was coming and became very quiet and stubborn. We kept coaxing her with stickers and bracelets, but she would not have it. Finally I picked her up, put her on my lab belly down and pulled her pants down. She immediately started crying but we just had to get it over with. Mom! Are you proud? I am doing so many motherly things here! It has really opened up my eyes to being a mother because in so many instances, I literally have felt for the children as I know my mom has felt for me and my siblings. It is amazing. I cried when I watched a handful of the sponsored children leave on the bus for school my first week. I am the proudest mother ever and they are not even my children! I cry with the kids when they are hurt and I want so badly to take away their pain when they are sick. I really appreciate mothers more. I have cleaned up vomit, been peed on, drooled on, been contaminated by dirty hands and fingers, patched cuts, cleaned pus out of cysts, taken care of burns and infections, and loved more than I ever knew that I could. Mom, I love you and want to thank you for everything. I know Mother’s day is long gone but it was not until now that I am fully coming to realize your hard work and unconditional love for me. To all mothers out there, you mean the world to me. I get it now! And I can’t wait to be a mother.
Stickers!!! You can see Irene in the top left corner, lucky on my right, Prince on my left, Gifty and Sophia on the right.
Drumming...one of the most exhilarating things to do in Ghana. In the picture on the right, George and Stephen are trying to teach me how to do a certain rhythm. The picture on the left is of little Lucky wanting to join in. We believe that he has some sort of autism.
Here are my amazing boys playing the drums. from left to right: Junior, Prince, Ezekial, and Stephen
Kwame Adu... what a kid. He is probably one of the rudest boys I have ever met. BUT! when he gives love, he gives it! He recently threw a fit and turned half of the little boys against me. Oh the fun! but i really do love this kid. I have been trying to be super nice to him.
Baby Goats! They are so cute and are everywhere! Goats and chickens wonder the street constantly and are always making the most hilarious sounds. We saw these cute little ones and decided we have to have a picture.
This ladies and gentlemen is a TRO-TRO! Do you see the American flag in the window? Ha all advertisements here usually have God in them. There are pictures of Obama everywhere as well as Jesus Christ.
Some of the children have been vomiting and complaining of major stomach pain. One day I was sitting with some kids when Bismark and Famous called over to me and pointed to a girl lying on the ground. I ran over and it was Malwine. Malwine is 15 years old and completely gorgeous. She had passed out because of stomach pain. We tried to move here to her room which made her scream in pain and cry. We could only get her to the floor just inside where she laid twitching and shaking. We checked her fever but it was not too bad. I went with Famous to buy some food because she had not eaten all day. She laid there, cried and refused to do anything. It was a very frustrating situation not only because I didn’t know how to help her, but that so many kids had swarmed into the room to watch. Johnson, who is 17 years and the “future pastor” of the group, came in to help. He placed is hand upon her head and said a passionate prayer asking God to heal her. As soon as he was done, all the children started saying their prayers for her out loud. In this culture, their religion is very loud and energetic. I sat there in the middle of the room overcome with emotions. I cried because of the love these kids had for each other. I cried because I wished that they could experience a real priesthood blessing, and I cried because of the emotional stress that was put upon me as her caretaker. She was able to calm down and relax for a while, but we ended up taking her to the hospital two days later.
Watching the children worship and pray is one of the most eye-opening experiences for me. They sing and dance, pray loudly and passionately, and raise their hands in the air with their eyes closed worshiping Jesus Christ. Every single child gets deeply into their times of worship. They smile and clap praising the Lord. “Hallelujah!” It is amazing to watch. Even the littlest ones participate. Watching this made me long for my ward at home. It is amazing how religion does bring people together. With a different church on every corner and their bibles in their hands, many people of Ghana go to worship. I am grateful that I am able to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It comforts me to know that God is kind, and loving, and that my family can be together forever. One evening one of the older boys was playing some music on his phone while a bunch of us were dancing. Cute little Coco pulled on my arm and told me that I needed to stop dancing because it wasn’t gospel music. If I kept dancing, I was going to go to hell. Some of their beliefs here are skewed to me, but it is how they live and I completely respect it. Gratitude fills my heart when I remember what I believe.
One special person that I want to talk about is my good friend and brother, Shadrack Ohene. He is a member of the orphanage and has been for just under a year. He is 17 years old, is in seventh grade, and wants to be a footballer when he grows up. Football (soccer) is very big here. Most of these boys are amazing at it! It is so fun to watch them play. Anyway, Shadrack is one of the people that I have come closest to. He is very nice, polite, and respects women more than I have ever seen. He is older than his years in giving advice and in his attitude. I feel like he is my older brother when really he is younger than me. He is very religious and always asks me if I am praying. We have had many intellectual and meaningful conversations that have made me appreciate him even more. He is such a good boy. His story about how he came to be at the orphanage is amazing. He and his little brother lived with their father who made them work instead of going to school. They would do extremely hard work while the money they earned was being spent on the father’s girlfriends. They were not allowed to go to school because the father couldn’t afford it, or so he said. Shadrack really wanted to go to school. He finally made a decision to leave his father and go out on his own so that he could earn money for himself for school fees and things. This happened when he was 13. So he lived on the streets for about 3 years doing lots and lots of work in order to pay for school. Unfortunately because of all the work, he could only attend school a couple days a week which put him even further behind. He heard about the orphanage and went there to finally have a place to stay, food to eat, and education. He always says that his father doesn’t love him, and the same feelings are shared toward his father. It is so sad to me. Shadrack and his little brother Ema have not seen their father until about five days ago. We ran into him on the street. I met him. It was weird and awkward. The father showed no affection towards his son and it made me uncomfortable. Each human being has a different story. The stories of those children here in Ghana amaze me. They are so incredibly different than anything I have ever been near to, yet these kids are so happy. They love each other and love volunteers.
Shadrack and I have become really close. I talk to him about my family all the time and he thinks it is so interesting to hear about them. It makes me miss them. I especially miss my brother in America, Jacob. They are the same age and I think they could really get along. Shadrack advises me on how I can be a better sister. He is so wise, it is almost unbelievable! I gave him a Book of Mormon with my testimony in it. He was very grateful and said that it made him happy to know I loved God and believed in him like he did. The other day he told me that he has been reading the Book of Mormon every day! That made me so happy. I want him to come to church with me, we will see how that goes.
I know I have blabbed forever, but I seriously have so much to talk about!!! Until next time.