Tag Archives: West Africa

FROM GHANA TO SCOTLAND

A Journey HomeA 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”  My comments are in red.

CHAPTER 7A

June, 1990

Mama traveled to Scotland in May to coincide with my brother, Steve’s trip. He has traveled to Scotland nearly every summer with college students from Freed-Hardeman University who teach Vacation Bible School in the small churches of Glasgow and Dunoon. This year the university chorus gave 40 performances in schools, parks, homes for retirees and invited people to come to preaching services at night.

Since the climates of Ghana and  Scotland could not be more different, Mama asked me to buy a coat for her and send it over with Steve. She was able to stay in Scotland for two weeks. She had a letter to send back with Steve but in all the shuffling of bags and locations is was misplaced. Here is the letter she sent to me.

Dear Martell,

Have David (middle brother) write you a check for the coat, extra mailing expense of the box, telephone calls, etc. If you don’t, I won’t feel as free to call. (She usually called collect; it was just easier.)

The Scotland trip was so good. Such a drastic change of scenery, pace, and faces. It was so good to see Steve, although our time together was very limited. We stayed in different homes and ate in different places. The chorus was just great, but all of them were exhausted by the end of the two weeks.

Bob and Beth Williams returned to their home in Pennsylvania after their time of service in Ghana. Beth was scheduled for eye surgery, and they did not plan to return to Ghana. Their paths crossed with Mama’s in London on the Williams’  return trip and her return trip to Ghana.

The Williams accomplished much good during their two and a half year stay. The Ghanaian people shed tears of sorrow as goodbyes were said. I will miss drinking coffee with Beth and arguing with Bob, just like family.

The two days in London with Beth and Bob were a marathon: taxi rides to hunt for a reasonable hotel, subway travel to see a few sites, finding the church, meeting a lady who teaches at Lipscomb, and Ghanaians who knew people we know.

By Monday morning when Beth and Bob put me on the plane for Ghana, I had malaria. Luckily the plane was far from full and I could lay down in empty seats to sleep. Avril, Gabriel and his wife met me in Accra. I rested all week and am now fully recovered.

Yesterday the clinic was closed for a national holiday, so Avril and I went with a group to Lake Obono, a volcanic lake, one hour from Kumasi. It is a large lake surrounded by beautiful hills. We took a picnic lunch and ate on the two hour boat ride.

Lake Obono

Lake Obono

We were home by 4:30, cleaned up and rested an hour before our team meeting after supper. We already miss having Bob at the helm as administrator. Samuel (Obong) is so good at bringing things back to reason, but he will be at Harding mid-July to September.

The box of books and tank tops from you arrived while I was gone. It had been opened, part of the candy gone. I had four tank tops. I didn’t count the books, also a video. The tops are perfect. The clothes you sent for Scotland were fine. I loved the coat. Good buy!

Love you all so much,

Momma

When I think of all the traveling she did in those few years she worked in Ghana, I just thank God for keeping her safe. International flights, airports in London, Amsterdam, and Ghana became as familiar to her as traveling to Nashville from West Tennessee.

JoyMartell

 

 

 

 

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.

JoyMartell  

TEACHING BASIC HEALTHCARE IN GHANA

A Journey HomeA 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”  

CHAPTER 6C

April, 1990

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.

Adrienne, a nurse from California, teaching in the Bible college. Francis assists in translation when needed.

Adrienne, a nurse from California, teaching in the Bible college. Francis assists in translation when needed.

Bible college students. Avril, nurse from Canada, can be seen at the back table.

Bible college students. Avril, nurse from Canada, can be seen at the back table.

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.27.TeachingEasel

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 Chart

Nutrition Chart

 

 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.

JoyMartell  

Western Region Mobile Clinic

A Journey HomeA 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”  My comments are in red.

CHAPTER 6B

April, 1990

Greetings from Ghana, West Africa

Our second trip in April was to the Western Region with the evangelistic team from Bomso congregation where the team worships. Eleven of us again packed provisions for three nights and four days. We drove five hours over rough, dusty roads through dense jungle, passing through an occasional village. The rest house this time was a beautiful villa on a mountain top, spacious rooms and beds, so cool fans were not needed but the running water was again poured from buckets! Oh yes, a horde of BIG roaches this time. a noise in the kitchen was explained as the roaches carrying our food box out the door!

Typical brush arbor used for classes and worship

Typical brush arbor used for classes and worship

Our clinic next day was for Christians who had gathered for a three day seminar. When we arrived I counted seven different Bible classes in progress, under the brush arbor, the mango and papaya trees. Two nurses saw 65 patients in the morning and then to another small village in the afternoon to see 40 more.

Francis, clinic evangelist and teacher

Francis, clinic evangelist and teacher

The next day 100 patients were seen while our evangelist, Francis, used the mobile P.A. system to teach primary health lessons and the gospel. He talked three and a half to four hours. He is an excellent teacher. Two of our staff workers accompanied us, Georgina and Agnes, who interpreted for us. They also cooked us a tasty supper of fish stew and rice. We arrived home at 3 P.M. Saturday to greet a young couple visiting and considering coming to Ghana. On Tuesday we took them on an all day mobile clinic.

 

I know the mobile clinics were hard work, just the logistics of packing all the equipment and supplies needed, along with their own food and water. Each new clinic had its own challenges, and they were never sure what type of accommodations they would have. Proper food, water, and rest were needed to withstand the long hours of work in the outdoor heat.

I continue to be amazed and thankful for God blessing Mama with the energy and health this work required.

JoyMartell  

Mobile Clinic to the North

A Journey HomeA 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”  My comments are in red.

CHAPTER 6

April, 1990

Greetings from Ghana, West Africa

God blessed our plans for the trip to the remote Northern Region in Ghana. Nine of us left Kumasi with enough food, water, and bedding for us all. We drove 8 hours on good roads and found a rest house with 2 beds, electricity, and fans but no running water. We ate sandwiches, then set up our cots after spraying for hordes of ants.

Mobile clinic accommodations. Notice bucket for water

The  Mobile clinic accommodations. Notice the blue bucket for water

The first requirement for ventures like this is a sense of adventure and good humor. Thinking of the comforts of home is out of the question because we are busy with logistics of enough water and privacy for a brief bucket bath.

By the second night, exhausted from 4 hours travelling rough, dusty roads, seeing 200 patients (with 3 nurses) the good humor and sense of adventure is wearing thin, especially with the power off, meaning no fans, eating and bathing by flashlight. So it is then God’s grace takes over.

A mother and child receive medical care under a tree.

A mother and child receive medical care beneath a shady tree.

The village was so poor our charge of 20¢ to be seen could not be paid by some, especially a family with three or four children. All medicines were free. Preaching was done by the evangelists while the patients waited. A small congregation was started last October as a result of a water well project. We hope they were encouraged and edified by our efforts.

The health of a village depends on clean water. This source of water contains hidden organisms harmful to humans.

The health of a village depends on clean water. This source of water contains hidden organisms harmful to humans.

The clinic in Kumasi is unable to support this kind of mobile work. My sponsoring congregation (Liberty Church of Christ) in Dresden, TN has donated $500 for a later trip to this area.

 

 

Water drilling provides a source of clean water for a whole village, thus, everyone comes out to watch.

Water drilling provides a source of clean water for a whole village, thus, everyone comes out to watch.

We take clean water for granted most of the time until a drought or disaster. Clean water is still not available in many parts of the world. I can’t help but think of Mama’s perspective on water. She grew up on a farm in Kentucky where water came from a well and the toilet was “out back”. Is it God’s irony that in her retirement years she found herself in similar circumstances?

I am thankful Mama relied on God’s grace when living conditions became uncomfortable.

JoyMartell  

Snapshots from Ghana

A Journey HomeA 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”  My comments are in red.

CHAPTER 5D

From the fourth section of her March, 1990, newsletter to supporters. See the first installment of the newsletter here.

Snapshots of my life in Ghana:

  • Saturday night and the power is on! We are thankful. We had a thunderstorm Wednesday night and it must have done extensive damage to power lines.
  • Clinic stories: One of our patients, Ben, has been treated for osteomyelitis (an inflammation of the bones) for two years. This developed after getting a gross staph infection at the hospital. Surgery with bone grafting has been scheduled for weeks; everyday when Ben came to us for dressing his sores, he would give a new date for surgery. Finally, a doctor sent us a note, with the surgery date, the amount of money needed, and a list of medicines Ben would need. This included pre-op medications, antibiotics, IV fluids. Yes, the patients must acquire their own supplies!We dispatched one of our workers to gather the needed items. The day we thought Ben would be admitted he showed up at our door. He had to supply his own bed (a foam mat), sheets, towels, and dressings for post-op! And this is a teaching hospital. We pray Ben’s surgery will be successful.
  • Bomso church meets in a large open-air building next to the clinic and housing compound — a strong and evangelistic body.
    Bomso building in the forefront of this picture

    Bomso building in the forefront of this picture

    They conduct several campaigns a year in far-reaching rural areas. Last week was their 3rd Annual Youth Week with speakers each night on the theme of “Putting on the Whole Armor of Christ”. There were large crowds (200-300) and great singing. At the Sunday night service the young people presented a play portraying the theme. These young people have no inhibitions when performing and truly throw themselves into their role. Each player presented a piece of armor with appropriate scriptural remarks and examples. But the helmet of salvation was the prize! This young guy swaggered out with a motorcycle helmet on! Everyone loved it!

How I wish each of you could spend just one week here! You never be the same!

  • My health has been good except for a bout with malaria; I was on the bed three days and then a week of recovery. Although I had no chills or fever, I felt terrible, so weak. I felt like there was lead in my bones. The weekly dose of medication for malaria only makes it a lighter case; it does not prevent it. Hopefully, I’ll build some immunity.
  • With your generous support I have found opportunities to

assist a widow lady to buy rice to resell

pay funds for young people to go to Bible Camp

$500 to the clinic to buy medicines.

Requests for individual help is either referred to the church Benevolent Committee, or we seek the advice from the two ministers, Gabriel Opong and Samuel Obeng. Samuel is on our medical team and is invaluable as a cultural advisor and language teacher. The team is blessed with a staff of workers who are Christians and have the same goals and attitude as the team: to glorify God and spread the Gospel as we help the sick.

Samuel, his wife Comfort, and Gabriel

Samuel, his wife Comfort, and Gabriel

Continue to pray for me and this work. Letters are very much welcomed! My love and prayers to you all.

Serving in Ghana,

Martin Johnson

I am thankful for those who provided financial support for Mama’s service in Ghana. I know God was glorified.

JoyMartell  

Mobile Clinics

A Journey HomeA 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”  My comments are in red.

CHAPTER 5C

From the third section of her March, 1990, newsletter to supporters. See the first installment of the newsletter here.

Greetings from Ghana,

This week we returned to Mile 14 Post,  the same village I visited on my first visit to Ghana last June (1989). In June three nurses saw 240 patients. This time three nurses saw 180 patients.

19.Truck.2We left home at 7 A.M. (twelve of us) with the big van and pick-up truck packed with medicines, dressings, lunches, and water. Two and half hours later we arrived to find a crowd of villagers to greet us.  Since healthcare is so limited in most villages, news of a clinic spreads to surrounding villages.  We worked almost seven hours with a brief lunch break; after a long hot day we were home by 6:30 P.M. The power was still off but at least we had water for a cold shower and a hot meal waiting for us.

Notice the van for travel, their nursing stations (under a tree). Mama is in the back, wearing a blue hat.

Notice the van for travel, their nursing stations (under a tree). Mama is in the back, wearing a blue hat.

Another view of this mobile clinic. Besides the nurses you can see Gabriel to the right, one of the evangelists.

Another view of this mobile clinic. Besides the nurses you can see Gabriel to the right, one of the evangelists.

The people seem so appreciative of our efforts. They brought plantains and cassava as gifts; so many willing hands were there to help us pack up to leave. Our plans are to make this a regular clinic, once or twice monthly, reaching out to surrounding small villages with an immunization program.

Next week we plan to make an overnight visit to Tamale, a village midway to the Northern region. A Christian brother reports that funds have been raised from the villagers for a clinic; Ghanaian nurses and facilities are available for a clinic. We have been invited to assist in establishing a clinic. Our visit will be to evaluate, consult with the chief (the leader of the village) as well as church leaders and then decide how we are able to assist. Our concern is to always be sure our work is done in the name and for the cause of Christ.

In April we have two mobile clinic scheduled. One will be in the Northern Region in Garinkuka, a dreadfully poor area. I have seen a video of a clinic held there in January by the Reynolds during their six weeks visit. It looked liked the scenes we see on TV (“Save the Children”). We will spend the night at a rest house, drive three hours, hold a clinic, drive back to the rest house for the night and home the next day. Remember us in special prayers, plsease, it will be an arduous trip.

This Scripture seems to be the foundation of their work:

Matthew 25: 35, 36     ‘I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger. And you invited me in. I needed clothes. And you gave them to me. I was sick. And you took care of me. I was in prison. And you came to visit me.’

She learned that each mobile clinic had it’s own challenges and rewards. But it was always clear — they were needed and appreciated. 

I am thankful Mama had the stamina and physical health to do this work.

JoyMartell  

I was in prison and you came . . .

A Journey HomeA 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. The work of the clinic was supported by ICHF African Christian Hospitals in Searcy, Arkansas. Click here to begin with the first entry of “The Journey Home”  My comments are in red.

CHAPTER 5B

From her newsletter to her supporters dated March 24, 1990, second installment. See the first installment here.

Greetings from Ghana,

Our medical work at the clinic is picking up satisfactorily. after a drop in the number of patients when no American nurses were here.  We also changed the days we are open from Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday to Monday/Wednesday/Friday. It always takes awhile for people to get used to a change. We will continue to leave Tuesday and Thursday free to devote to mobile clinic work. We recently visited one of the local prisons. All of the medicines for the prisoners are free, supplied from a fund raised by Royce and Cindy Reynolds in Alabama.

In our December visit to the prison we saw many who were sick with clothes so ragged they were hardly decent. Avril and I gave some money to two of our staff to go buy shorts for the most needy. Their shopping was successful, purchasing 34 pairs of shorts for about $40. In our recent visit the prisoners were not as sick. We saw almost 100, including many of the guards.

As the prisoners waited to be seen by the nurses, Francis, one of out clinic evangelists, preached to them for over an hour. They were quiet and attentive, asking questions at the end. Our plans are to return once a quarter with a clinic. Since one of the guards is a Christian, his support has been very helpful in getting us in.

Francis, a dedicated servant of the Lord

Francis, a dedicated servant of the Lord

A Ghanaian preacher is in charge of this ministry, conducting individual Bible studies, as well as Sunday and Wednesday services. Many have been baptized, and few have returned to their villages and established congregations.

Reading this account again of the nurses’ physical and spiritual assistance to prisoners, a verse kept echoing in my head. 

Matthew 25: 35, 36     ‘I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger. And you invited me in. I needed clothes. And you gave them to me. I was sick. And you took care of me. I was in prison. And you came to visit me.’

But the people asked the King, “When did we see you as a stranger or sick or in prison?” (My paraphrase of verses 37-39)

40 “The King will reply, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. Anything you did for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Opportunities to provide medical care never seemed to end for the clinic staff in the city of Kumasi.

I am thankful for opportunities and support that enabled Mama to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

JoyMartell