A Journey Home is the story of my mother’s experiences working as a nurse in a health clinic for the under-served in Ghana, West Africa. Click here to begin with the first entry of “The Journey Home”
The previous posts have come directly from the letters and newsletters that Mama sent back home on a regular basis. Today’s post is my observations from Mama’s pictures and the stories she told me.
An important component of the clinic’s work was teaching primary health care. The nursing staff walked just a few yards from the health clinic on Fridays to teach a three hour class.
The health clinic at Bomso sits on acreage that includes a Bible college to train Ghanaian young men to be preachers of the gospel, a primary and secondary Christian school, the Bomso Church of Christ, and a residential compound for foreign health workers (primarily from U.S. and Canada), visiting groups from the States, as well as the home of Dr. Samuel Obeng and and his wife, Comfort. Samuel served as the president of the Ghana Bible College, the Christian preschool through high school.
Training the preachers in healthcare is an essential part of ministry in Ghana. When these young men graduate, they live and preach in the most rural regions of Ghana. They often travel from one small village to another. Their skills in basic healthcare meet critical needs in villages where there is no access to medicine or healthcare unless they travel many miles.
The teaching materials and methods by the North American staff required some creativity — classrooms came equipped with only a chalkboard, and students took notes. The nurses learned to make their own visual aids and improvise equipment. Charts were made on large cardboard or even a white sheet. (Imagine how portable a sheet chart would be tucked in a bag on the back of a motor scooter as it traveled down narrow paths in the bush.) Basic hygiene lessons were illustrated in graphic detail — the child who uses the bathroom wherever he happens to be and then walks in the same dirt in his bare feet would likely be infected with worms. If you look closely, you can see drawings of children.
I’ll never forget Mama telling about one of the nutrition lessons they taught. “In a family in which the father has a job and the mother cares for several children, and one of them is a nursing baby, if you have only one egg for the day, who should get the egg?”
Since all the students were males, they logically answered the father should because he has to go to work. The nurses were quick to explain that the mother needed the egg for the protein for the nursing baby.
Nutrition lessons were extremely important to improve the health and well-being of those who lived in the thousands of small villages scattered throughout the bush in Ghana.
Perhaps this post provides a context for today’s headlines regarding the Ebola outbreak in western Africa. The crisis that continues to grow is exasperated by the lack of basic healthcare and hygiene. How can workers follow basic procedures when there is no running water in the village or even a clinic to isolate those infected. The work must be frustrating for all involved.
Will you pray with me for the healthcare workers so stressed by circumstances beyond their control, for the workers who must carefully dispose of an infected corpse, for the families of the sick and dying?
I thank God for those who are putting themselves in harm’s way in Africa as they struggle to care for victims of Ebola.
I thank God for a healthcare system that I take for granted, for Medicare and insurance so I rarely am concerned about how to pay for medical care.