After Mama’s return from Haiti, she told Glenn Boyd from her sponsoring organization, African Christian Hospitals, that she was ready to retire and venture out to a new work. When she learned nurses were needed in Ghana, West Africa, she told my brothers and me. We needed some time to wrap our heads and hearts around the idea of her going to live in Africa.
In June 1989, a year after returning from Haiti, she took two weeks to survey the work in Kumasi, Ghana, traveling with workers returning from the States as well as potential medical staff.
Our trip began with all flights into Chicago being delayed due to a storm in Chicago. But all eight of us arrived from Tucson, Las Angeles, Searcy, AK, and Nashville in time for a quick meal before boarding our plane to Amsterdam. We flew on KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines. The flight was smooth, attendants courteous, helpful, and the food tastier then I’ve had on other flights. We were served dinner, breakfast, saw the sun set and rise within 6.-7 hours.
We were in Amsterdam about 4 hours; lots of shops in the terminal and seating long enough for passengers to stretch for a nap during layovers. Then we were back on KLM heading south across the Sahara Desert and then to West Africa. Another 6 hours with one stop in Nigeria. After traveling from Nashville over 24 hours to reach my destination, I told the group, “I’ll just stay in Ghana rather than make this grueling trip again!”
We landed in Accra, the capital city of Ghana on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Warm humid breezes welcomed us as we walked down the ramp to the tarmac. Inside the airport it was close and sticky with humidity. Checking through customs was orderly but not speedy. Our 24 pieces of luggage were all accounted for except one trunk of medical supplies.
Glenn Boyd, Executive Director of African Christian Hospitals (now known as IHCF), filled out papers for it, presented credentials for our party of eight, and explained our mission. After watching the search of other passengers’ luggage we dreaded waiting to have all of our bags searched. But after a bit of “palavering” the officer looked inside two bags and then marked each bag cleared. What a relief! By now it was about 2:00 AM by our body clocks and were all exhausted.
When we proceeded outside the terminal, the carnival began! A dozen men and boys vying to carry our bags clamored for our attention. People were everywhere outside, talking and shouting in unknown tongues (?) Adrienne S. said this was like watching a movie!
But Bob Williams took command and had us at the McVey house in no time. We camped at the McVeys for the night and after breakfast the next morning began our road trip to Kumasi, about 250 miles northwest.
These are her photos of the people mentioned in this journal entry. They each became important to her time in Ghana.
I traveled with Mama and youngest brother, Paul to Ghana in 1994, and her description brings those memories to my mind.
I count each person she traveled and worked with as a blessing and joy in her life. The few Americans she knew in Ghana became her family while away from us.