Ghana Trip

Location: Ogden, Utah, United States

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Another posting - we finally found wireless today (June 27th)

Sunday, June 11th

Wake up to see elephants bathing in the waterhole
Breakfast with monkeys
The bill for our room – 2,000,000. – Actually it was only about 15.00 per Sunday, June 11th

Wake up to see elephants bathing in the waterhole
Breakfast with monkeys
The bill for our room – 2,000,000. – Actually it was only about 15.00 per person for 2 nights.
We bought all of our meals
Grilled cheese
Kabobs – chicken
Pack up the van
Head back home
Stop at the waterfall
Stop at the convenience store again
Drop Eric and Albert off
The truck breaks down at least 4 more times from Albert’s house to AMC.
Finally we are home – we didn’t have time to go to the internet café and didn’t think the car would make it. We also didn’t have time to go to the supermarket for any type of food – We improvised
Dinner – ramen noodles

Monday, June 12th
Went to downtown via taxi and van
Did a little shopping, near Solid FM radio from the interview earlier this week
Met back at St. Peter’s Cathedral to go home
Two taxis went home, ours went to find a supermarket
We found a market and bought rice, pasta, tomato sauce for spaghetti, bread, tuna fish and mayo, eggs, potatoes, onions along with
Back just in time to set up for our first teaching at Aninwah Medical Center
About 15 people come to the class
person for 2 nights.
We bought all of our meals
Grilled cheese
Kabobs – chicken
Pack up the van
Head back home
Stop at the waterfall
Stop at the convenience store again
Drop Eric and Albert off
The truck breaks down at least 4 more times from Albert’s house to AMC.
Finally we are home – we didn’t have time to go to the internet café and didn’t think the car would make it. We also didn’t have time to go to the supermarket for any type of food – We improvised
Dinner – ramen noodles

Monday, June 12th
Went to downtown via taxi and van
Did a little shopping, near Solid FM radio from the interview earlier this week
Met back at St. Peter’s Cathedral to go home
Two taxis went home, ours went to find a supermarket
We found a market and bought rice, pasta, tomato sauce for spaghetti, bread, tuna fish and mayo, eggs, potatoes, onions along with
Back just in time to set up for our first teaching at Aninwah Medical Center
About 15 people come to the class

Saturday, June 17, 2006

And then there were two...

Hello everyone,

I don't have my journaling with me at the moment to upload to this site, but I wanted to share a few things that have been going on lately. Kallie and I are still in Kumasi and yesterday, the rest of the members of our group traveled back to Accra (about 5 hrs away). The big news lately is that we are still waiting for the container to arrive in Kumasi. After more than two weeks delay, it finally arrived at the dock in Tema (near Accra) early yesterday morning. I have been in contac with Dr. Tuffour (who sponsored the shipment of the container) as well as the Attorny for the President of Ghana who is working to get the container cleared as quickly as possible. Since it was delayed so much, I have decided to extend my stay for an additional week or so. I feel this is necessary because of the large amount of education that needs to accompany the donation of these supplies. I would hate to think that thousands of dollars of equipment and supplies end up in a closet and are not used due to the lack of knowledge of how and when to use the items. Kallie has graciously decided to stay with me.

Our next problem has been trying to get our airline tickets changed to a later date. We originally were told it would be $150.00 US dollars, then it was $450.00, now it is $750.00 per ticket. We are told this is because we have separated from the original travel group. This is very frustrating since we are trying to finish a job that will make a wide impact on many people in various communities in Ghana. We have been in contact with the Ghanaian government to ask for assisance, but it is the airline that is charging us so much. I hate to leave but don't know what to do at this point. Since this project was self support, most of the expenses have been paid by each individual in the group. Our costs to this point have been great, making it difficult to pay so much more. My heart is still here. I think I will stay, despite the cost, but hope that I am able to find assistance somewhere. We will make a few more phone calls this afternoon to see if anything has changed.

So, as of right now, Kallie and I are far from home and our group, without a secured ticket home at a later date. I suppose this is part of the adventure. We haven't given up yet!! Hopefully we are able to find financial assistance soon so we can complete this worthy task. Words can't explain how despirately the people here need the supplies we have shipped and it is absolutely necessary for education to take place once the goods arrive in order for them to be used appropriately to benefit the people of Ghana.

Thank you for your support and prayers!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Let's try this again.....

This is Kathy, Lisa's mom, and I am doing an update for Lisa on her Blog.

Lisa has a few more days of journaling to add for the days not covered and will do so later.

Thursday, June 1st

Today, we would travel west to Cape Coast Castle and Kakum tropical rain forest. But before doing so, we have an appointment to meet with Dr. O.A. Duah at Martin Luther King Medical Center (MLKMC). This is the doctor who will work with us in Kumase to do our free patient clinic and screenings. When we got to MLKMC I think we were all a bit surprised to see the condition of this clinic, although it was consistent with most of the buildings in the area. It was a two-story building made of concrete walls painted white. Atop the building was the sign “Martin Luther King Medical Center”. To the left of the building was an addition that looked to be still under construction, lacking windows and doors. All of the buildings here are strictly made of cinder blocks and concrete. None are framed with wood as we see in the states.

As we entered this gated compound, we could see medical staff walking in and out of the clinic. They are always in pressed, bright white uniforms, the women always in a dress. I am amazed at how they keep their clothes so clean considering most of the roads throughout these areas are dark red dirt, and, because of so much rain, muddy. We waited in the lobby of the clinic for Dr. O.A. Duah. He is a very well educated man and has not only worked as a general physician, but has specialized in Oncology. He greeted us with open arms and excitement in his voice for our visit. He was anxious to show us his clinic and to introduce us to his very helpful and dedicated staff. We asked for permission to video tape and take pictures in his clinic and he was more than happy to allow it. We met with him briefly so he could introduce himself and what he is working on. Two of the main projects are the nursing school that will be in the unfinished area of the building and a project he is working on to develop telemedicine. This will allow him to have computers at more remote locations and via the internet, he will be able to see the patient, talk to the nurse assessing the patient and assist with diagnosis. This will be a great project because the need for medical aid in remote locations is vast. He spoke with enthusiasm and conviction about what he is doing. He obviously loves his work and the people in his community. He expressed difficulty in obtaining equipment such as computers to help this telemedicine to progress.

We look forward to meeting with him in Kumasi to do offer service to those in need.

After leaving the clinic, we started our long drive to Kakum National Park and Cape Coast Castle. The road to these places was unlike anything I had ever seen before. A great majority of our trip was on a dirt road, and not just any dirt road. The potholes in this road and the ruts were unbelievable!! We zigzagged back and forth across both sides of the road, avoiding holes that were a foot or more deep and some as wide as 3 feet. This slowed our travel greatly. I think it an additional 1 ½ hours to get to our location because of the road conditions. I can see why people loose the wheels off their cars when driving around this area. We saw cars with the hub of the axle on the ground and the wheel sitting off to the side. You would have to have a pretty tough car. Another thing we noticed, if your car breaks down – no matter what the problem is, you just set up shop and fix it in the middle of the road where it broke down. You can see several people working on one car, lying under it, working on it right where it stopped. I don’t think toe trucks exist.

On our drive to Kakum, we passed many villages with the poorest of the poor. They live in mud huts with elephant grass roofs. No plumbing, no running water, no electricity. Never the less, there always is a smile on the faces of those we meet. Money doesn’t buy happiness!!! This trip has certainly proven this to me. We are so blessed in the states. Even our poorest areas would be considered high society compared to the conditions we have experienced.

We arrived at Kakum and purchased our ticket. The tour guide led us through the rain forest up a steep path. The forest was thick with vegetation around us, the red mud was wet under our feet and the humidity was thicker than we have experienced thus far. After hiking up the path for 15 minutes or so, we reached the canopy where we will traverse through the treetops. We can only go one at a time. There is a rope bridge that spans from treetop to treetop. There are about 12” wide planks to walk on surrounded by rope netting. We are between 80 and 120 feet above the forest floor. The view is amazing and I am sure that pictures and even video will not do it justice. We are able to hear birds of all kinds around us. It is like the sounds of relaxation music we pay good money for. We each took a turn walking across each span. There were 6 in all. As we walked across the planks, the ropes swayed with each step. I loved it!!! What an experience.

After we had all made it across the bridges, we headed back down to the bus. On our way, we saw a millipede (red and you can touch it) and a centipede (tan and you can’t touch it). They were both about 5 inches long. Probably the biggest bugs I have seen in the wild. When we got back to the entrance, Eric asked if it had rained when we were in the forest because we were all soaked with sweat from the humidity and the water that condenses on the leaves and drops to the forest floor. Just as we were leaving, we saw the cutest monkey in the trees above our heads. We were all excited to get a picture of him and felt our wildlife experience in this location was complete.

We boarded the bus and headed toward Cape Coast. It is about 3:30 in the afternoon and the sun goes down by 6:00 so we needed to hurry. When we arrived, it was after 4:00 and they were closing. We were fortunate that one of the guides agreed to stay and take us for the tour. I was so grateful he agreed to do this for us. The history of this place is amazing. They estimate that about 20 million Africans were brought here and sold as slaves. Most were shipped to countries around the world and many died before even boarding a boat to be shipped. We were able to visit the dungeons where all of these people were kept while waiting to board a ship. They were held underground in dungeons. They kept nearly 1000 men and 500 women at any given time in these dungeons. They would have approx 250 men in a room about the size of the main floor of my house. In this room, there were only 3 small slits in the walls to let in light. They had gutters in the floor to drain the sewage out of the dungeon, but at the time these were completely full, the excrement would measure up to about 18” deep. People died every day in these dungeons. We also visited living quarters for the Governor and workers at the castle. There was a tunnel that led from the dungeons, under the castle and out to the harbor where the slaves that had survived living in the dungeons would be loaded on boats and shipped away. There was a church directly above the dungeons. This very much reminded me of my trip to Germany and the Concentration Camps that Jews were kept in. It was a place rich with history and I have certainly gained a greater appreciation for what the people of this country went through as they became slaves and were sold as property. I have learned a great deal today.

Our ride home was very long and in the dark. We left the castle quite late and had to travel the same road we had come. Once we made it home, we were all very exhausted and worn out. We had not had lunch because of trying to fit everything in today. Only the snacks we had on the bus. After eating, we presented George (our driver) with a gift and a tip. We prepared a bag with a few postcards from Utah along with some Candy for his children, some earrings and perfume samples for his wife and a picture of our group. We also included a tip for him as well. I hope it was generous enough. Later, we headed to bed to prepare for Friday. We will be traveling to Jamestown (a shantytown), one of the poorest areas of Accra. I had met a woman in the African market on Wednesday from England who is working in the village with a pastor. He has a school and is developing an orphanage and a clinic. I am excited to see the work they are doing.

Friday, June 2nd

Today we had planned to sleep in a little longer than usual. But just like clockwork, I was up at 6:00am, just as I have been every morning this trip. I spent some time journaling and getting cleaned up before everyone else was going. I headed downstairs to buy some more water. We can only drink bottled water and with the amount we sweat out each day, we are drinking several liters/day. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I noticed that George (from the radio station) was sitting at the table on the patio. He was excited to see me and thought I was still asleep because of our late night. He had driven all the way out to our guesthouse (approx 45 minutes drive from the radio station) to bring me a cell phone that I can use in Ghana. It has prepaid minutes on it and he wanted me to be available for radio interviews. We spoke for some time about our experience thus far. He asked if I would please be available at 12:00 noon and 3:00pm for a telephone interview live on the radio. I agreed.

After our visit, we prepared for our drive to Jamestown. It is near the ocean and will take us about an hour to get there. To our surprise, George (our driver) is back to take us to town. We thought last night was our last night with him. It is great to know he will be taking us around. He knows this place like the back of his hand. It is amazing the roads he can zigzag through to get us where we need to go. The driving here is nothing like the states. I don’t know that I would like driving here and I am a pretty confident driver. George took a moment before we left for Jamestown to tell us that he appreciated our gifts, as did his wife. He was very grateful.

We made the drive to Jamestown and it took a couple of times asking for directions to locate the school that we wanted to visit. It is called New Life Academy. We finally found the location and parked outside. Eric (our guard) jumped from the car to locate the person we had spoken to on Wednesday. Her name is Jo and she is one of a group of people who travel to this area once or twice a year to assist the Pastor of the church with his work and his school. Jo came to greet us and mentioned that the students were still working on their lessons, which would give us time to tour the living areas in this community. She called for 2 other workers from the school, male residents of Jamestown, to follow along with us. It was apparent that she would be uncomfortable walking through without additional protection along for the walk. We also took Eric with us. As we began our walk through, many of the areas looked like those we had seen before. We walked deeper into the living areas and the smell slowly changed to that of open sewer and rotting garbage. While we walked, we were greeted, every few moments by children. They would run up to us, stopping a few steps away, then some would stare, some would say “How are you today?”, some would simply say hello, some would just smile and run away from us.

It was humbling to see such impoverished conditions! But, this area was not without laughter, smiles and welcoming greetings. We walked down narrow alleyways, ducking under clotheslines, dodging piles of trash and buckets of waste. Throughout this area, there were little gutter type things that ran throughout the community, they are most often down the center of the walkways. They make up what appears to be a drainage system. This is where they can dump their waste. I asked where it goes and the response is that it goes out to the sea.
This area is heavily populated, a person in every doorway and every alleyway. Most of the homes are made of cinder block or mud. Some of the homes are merely 2 walls with a roof and one support beam on the 4th corner. As we walked through, I felt as though we were on parade. I wonder if the people of Jamestown felt the same way.

I think everyone should, once in their life time, have the opportunity to visit a location such as this. Although at home in the US, we often see areas such as these on the television, please believe me when I say that the television in no way gives it justice! As I watched my boys walk through this area and be approached by children, I could see that their hearts went out to them. I look forward to seeing what they write in their journals about this experience.

We stopped and talked to many of the people and occasionally asked if we could take their picture. Before this tour, we were informed that we should have our cameras and video equipment put away. Only if permission was granted, should we take pictures or video. We were lucky to be granted this chance a few times during our trip through. Many of the children were in tattered clothing, some obviously too small. Some of them had no clothing at all. As I mentioned before, despite the extreme poverty, the people always returned our smiles and welcomed our greetings.

After we finished the tour of the community, we returned to the school. The children had finished their lessons and were preparing for an afternoon party. Before we entered the building, we were briefed on the goals of the Pastor and what to expect from the children. In this schoolhouse, which consists of one large gymnasium type room and 2 smaller ones, they had over 300 students. This included 90 nursery children of the age of 2-4 years old with only 2-3 teachers to work with them. Also, we learned that many of these children are orphans and the Pastor would often take 10 children home with him and allow them to sleep in his parlor, the rest of the homeless children sleep at the school. It is their home until an orphanage is built. In order for these children to receive medical care, they need to be registered under a parent’s name. The Pastor of this church took it upon himself to register every one of the over 300 students as his own children for the purpose of getting them health care. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet him.

As we walked into the schoolhouse, we were greeted with looks of wonder, surprise, and excitement. We walked through the first classroom into a much larger one where most of the children were. Slowly, we divided ourselves and wandered around this room, swarming with children. We towered over them not only because of their age, but their size for the age they were. Malnutrition has taken it’s toll on their growth. Many of the children that were the same as my boys (12 and 14) appeared to be much younger, maybe 8 years old. They were all in blue and white uniforms, the girls in dresses and the boys in pants. As we started taking pictures of the shear number of children in this room, they became very excited. Every child wanted their picture taken, repeatedly. They would crowd around at your legs and look straight up to you and say “picture… picture… picture”. Many of us had digital cameras and would take the picture, then turn the camera around and show them the picture of themselves. This must have seemed like magic to them. They were so anxious to have their pictures taken, it was difficult to have them stand back far enough so you could fit them all in. I noticed a bulletin board covered with brightly colored fish that they must have made during a craft activity. I asked if they could show me which fish was theirs. They ran to the wall and feverishly searched for their fish to point out. I took pictures of them proudly pointing out their work. But, as soon as I had snapped the picture, they would run up to me, wanting to see the picture on the screen of the camera. It was thrilling to interact with these children. After seeing the conditions they live in, some with parents, some without, this school was a safe haven for them. I can see why the people from England are so dedicated to working with this population of children. Although they have done great work and have been able to mark their progress, the work is slow and resources are difficult to find. I plan to bring some of our school supplies back to this school once the container arrives.

As I looked around the room, it was a sea of these beautiful black children with the tall, very white members of our group. Even with the destitute conditions of these children, at that moment, I couldn’t have imagined a happier place or one that was filled with as much love. It was truly moving.

When it neared 3:00 I slipped out the front door with Eric our guard. I needed to be on the bus when I received a phone call from the radio station for an interview. I had a few minutes and thought I should use the restroom before the interview started. I asked Eric to see if there was one close. He stepped next door and asked a young lady if there was a restroom I could use. She hesitated and looked at me, I am sure wondering if I knew what I was asking for. She then took both of us down an alley lined with clothes hanging out to dry. We came to an area that opened up slightly where there was an older woman sitting on her chair. The young lady spoke to her in Twi and asked if I could use their bathroom. She gave me the same look as the young lady had. Eric explained that what ever they had was fine. The young lady walked past me, a few steps further down the alley. She moved a wooden door that looked as if it were a 100 year old piece of fencing. She disappeared behind a short wall with no roof. After a moment, she reappeared and motioned for me. This was where I would use the bathroom. I stepped into what was similar to the size of a small changing room. It was an addition outside of a building that had 3 walls, allowing for a narrow entrance. I stepped inside and Eric helped move the door into place. It was just propped up, no hinges. I turned around and noticed a bench of concrete with a blue bowl sitting atop it. This was to be my toilet. I then understood what it means not to have indoor plumbing. I was humbled to think that these kind women had offered all they had, just to help me. After I finished, I kindly thanked them for their generosity and gave the older woman 10,000 cedi (approx $1.00 US money). What an experience. We are so blessed!!! I will never forget my visit to Jamestown, Accra.

I returned to the bus and located the radio station so I could be ready when they called. My head was not clear and I didn’t know how I could do this interview following how I spent the last 2 hours. I settled down and waited for the call. Promptly at 3:00pm, the radio station called and placed me on hold. Shortly, a woman came on. She was the news broadcaster. She prefaced my interview and had introduced our group. She then asked about our experiences thus far this trip. I spoke of the beauty of the land and the kindness of the people. I told her of our tour of Korle Bu Newborn Intensive Care Unit and my admiration for the medical staff there. I also mentioned our visit to Martin Luther King Medical Center and the great work Dr. Duah is doing there. She then asked me about my thoughts regarding the physicians that are presently on strike in Ghana. I answered, stating that I didn’t feel I had enough information to speak to that topic. But I knew that this country is in great need of trained medical professionals and that we were here for the purpose of not only learning from the medical workers here, but to provide training in hospitals and clinics that may allow them to educate future staff and provide improved patient care.

Overall, I felt it went very well. I was surprised my tongue wasn’t tied in knots. After the interview, everyone else had boarded the bus and we traveled to the internet café to catch up on our e-mails, etc. It seems as though 1 hour just isn’t enough, but we have so much to do that time is precious. At home, I have wireless internet. It is amazing how much I have learned that I, and we as a society, take for granted.

We finished up at the internet café and made our way to exchange money. Tonight we have to pay for the bus rental and the guesthouse bill, so we all exchanged a bit more than we would have normally done. We made a stop by the grocery store to pick up some snacks for the long ride to Kumasi tomorrow. It will take about 3-4 hours, which will mostly likely mean 5-6 hours. I have come to expect that things are not done on a tight schedule here and for many of us, that is difficult to swallow. We are used to such a rush, rush society. Even though I was told that things are simpler here and more relaxed, I couldn’t have imagined it would be like this.

Before dinner, I received a telephone call from George (from the radio station). He was so excited about the interview from 3:00pm today. He said it was like a tornado after the interview finished. People were calling and asking questions, wondering where Weber State University was, and most of all wanting to say thank you for speaking so highly of their nursing staff. He said that there were 5 calls alone from nurses from Korle Bu that were listening and happy to hear my comments. He then said he had a nurse with him that wanted to talk to me. He put her on and we briefly spoke. She said thank you for recognizing all that they do in the NICU at their hospital and for the comments of support and admiration. It was such a pleasure to speak to her. Although I was the one interviewed, I know in my heart I spoke for the group of us regarding our impressions. We are supposed to do more interviews such as this once we reach Kumasi.

For dinner tonight, we were brought Fufu, a traditional meal that people here may eat nearly every day. We had tried it before and were excited to have it for dinner. After dinner it was time to collect the money for the bus and the room and food. The totals were as follows:

Bus rental: 5,300,000 cedi
Room rental: 5,800,000 cedi
Food/drinks: 1,085,000 cedi

After calculating, I collected 1,120,000 cedi from each person. With most of the bills being 10,000, you can imagine what the stacks of money looked like. We had over 12,000,000 once it was all collected. We laid it all out on the bed and took pictures of it, then a couple of us took turns holding all of it. Although 1,085,000 sounds like a lot per person, it translated to about $113.00 in US dollars.

Please keep in mind this was from Sunday night until Saturday morning (6 nights, a bus that drove us from dawn till dusk and breakfast each morning). It is easy to spend this amount on just one night’s stay at a hotel back home. I think it was a great deal.

Saturday, June 3rd

Today we will travel to Kumasi
Visit from George from Top Radio
Travel on Government bus – public transportation
Problem with the bus, - but George ends up taking us to Kumasi himself.
Flat tire on the way, stop for some food
Arrive in Kumasi and Aninwah Medical Center
Room assignments,
Getting settled – obviously, they have purchased new items for our use. We finally have an air-conditioned room.
Church in the a.m.

Sunday, June 4th

Church at the LDS ward
Everyone is in church of some sort or another
Shopping for groceries
Cooking spaghetti, beans and bread
Laura made crepes – amazing
Most everyone took a nap except Laura and myself
Meeting with Hospital Administrator
Dinner – crepes
Plans for the week – education schedule

Monday, June 5th

Meet Koffe for a tour
Call from Dr. Tuffour – Ohio
Begin tour of hospital
Lunch at the cafeteria – spaghetti with spicy meat sauce
Drive to St. Patrick’s Hospital
It seems like we are always told the drive will take about 45 min, I think this translates into 2 ½ hours in Twi.

Presented our profession – CPR

The drive back to kumasi, stopping for a roadblock, buying ice water from the gas station
Call from Koffe for dinner –
Yams and something else to dipping

Tuesday, June 6th
This morning I am sending some of the students along with AMC’s (Aninwah Medical Center’s) outreach program and a couple of them to a outlying clinic called Magazine (different accent in pernouncing this word than at home). Kira and Lou will go to the outreach and Kallie and Rosey will go to the Magazine clinic. I feel pretty comfortable sending them because they will be with nursing staff from AMC. I do, however, always have some sort of concern, knowing they are not close by. I am sure they will be fine. They have packed their packs with water and snacks and are ready to go. The remaining 3 students will stay at AMC and shadow staff for the morning (Laura, Susan and Melanie). After getting the ones sent to remote locations, I took the other three in to find the Matron (head or charge nurse). She will get them situated. As we walked in, the Matron said there was a c-section being performed in the theater (operating room) and asked if we wanted to attend. What a great opportunity! Laura, Melanie and I decided to attend and Susan reported to the Out Patient Clinic within the hospital.
The three of us entered the theater scrub room and were instructed to change our clothes into other scrubs. We then placed on other shoes, hairnets and masks, then we scrubbed-in. As we entered the operating room, there was the surgeon, a nurse to assist the surgeon, an anesthesiologist, a tech and the patient. We timidly approached them and asked where we should stand. Since I have experience with resuscitating infants, I asked that when the baby comes, could I please watch the resuscitation. They said that would be fine. The woman on the OR table was still awake and only slightly covered with a sheet. Right away, they removed her sheet and began to prep her abdomen. The anesthesiologist said they would wait until right before they would cut to give her medication to put her to sleep. They would use a general anesthetic instead of the epidural we are accustomed to. This would prevent too much of the medication from passing the placental barrier and affecting the infant.
She was prepped and the anesthesiologist gave the patient sedation and a paralytic. He then placed a mask over her face to give her oxygen. Once she was asleep, she intubated the patient. The steps he followed were similar to those I teach my students, but it was not a sterile procedure. There was an anesthesia ventilator next to the head of the patient that would be used once he had secured an airway for her. As I glanced down, I could see in the bottom drawer many endotracheal tubes, none of which were in packaging. I am sure these are reused here, but even so, I would expect that they would be cleaned and packaged some how to keep them sterile for the next patient. The anesthesiologist used a 6.5 ETT to intubate this patient (small for the size of the woman), I would have recommended an 8.0. His skills were good and the tube went in smoothly. I kind of found myself on autopilot. I guess after assisting with and intubating patients at home, I did the same thing here. I looked for the 10cc syringe and inflated the cuff as soon as the tube was placed, then removed the stylette and placed the bag on the end of the ETT to check tube placement. As I bagged her, the anesthesiologist listened for breath sounds. The tube was in place. I was also amazed that he just dropped the tube once it was placed and attached to the vent circuit, before the tube was secured in place. At home, I don’t let go of the tube until I am sure it is taped and tied into place. He didn’t seem worried.
The surgeon began the c-section and it progressed rather as I have seen before. I continued bagging the patient. I am not sure what they do with the anesthesia ventilator. We only used it for flow and oxygen, bagging the patient manually with the reservoir bag. After a few minutes, the surgeon looked over me and told me to get gloves on. He said the baby was coming. The tech quickly ran me a set of gloves and said I would be the one to catch the baby once it was delivered. This not only shocked but amazed me. At home, there are such regulations on who (outsiders or visitors) is allowed in the hospital to shadow staff, let alone the operating room and to think I would be allowed to participate in the resuscitation was mind-boggling. Suddenly I felt very nervous. I was out of my element and knew that I didn’t know if I would have the same tools available to me as I would at home to perform this resuscitation.
I quickly gloved and looked for some sort of a blanket to catch the baby with. I had to hurry. I grabbed a 3’ x 3’ piece of green cloth from where the surgical instruments were laid and made my way around the bed next to the surgeon. Just as I stepped up to the bed, the baby was out. They cut the cord and passed the baby into my arms. She wasn’t crying and was obviously depressed (possibly from the medications given to mom). I turned quickly and asked where I should lay the infant to work on her. The tech directed me to what looked like a bedside table from a hospital room. You know the kind you can adjust the height and place over the bed for a patient to use? It was long and narrow, too narrow to lay the baby across. I had to place the baby lengthwise to fit her on the table. There was already one blanket there. (these blankets are like the material scrubs are made of, not very absorbent or soft) After positioning the neonate, I began the resuscitation. Warm, dry and stimulate came to mind. At home, I would have placed a baby under an open warmer to work on it. Here, we were directly under an air conditioner. I began vigorously cleaning the infant off. After removing the first blanket, I used the one that was on the table and called for others. The baby had an APGAR of 3. She had a good heart rate and a slight respiratory effort. Other than that, her color was poor, she had no muscle tone and no grimace. I could feel her chest in my hands as I dried her off that she needed to be suctioned out and we needed to get her to take some deep breaths. Because she was a c-section, she didn’t benefit from passing through the birth canal and having the fetal lung fluid squeezed from her lungs. I asked for suction and the tech brought over a delee that was powered by oral suction. The tech put one end of the delee in his mouth and the catheter end in the baby’s nose and mouth, suctioning her with his own breath. There is a trap between the mouthpiece and the catheter where all of the suctioned secretions remain. After suctioning her, I continued to stimulate her. She was very floppy and still had poor respiratory effort. Because of her poor effort, she was not filling her lungs, expanding them as she could. I asked for oxygen and a bag and mask. I was handed oxygen that was coming from a cylinder next to the table. I held the end of the oxygen tubing, cupping my hand to form a reservoir for the baby. She still didn’t improve her color so I gave her a few positive pressure breaths. While bagging her, she had good chest movement but still sounded wet. We suctioned her again, stimulated her further and applied oxygen. Finally she began to wake up a little more. She was pinking up and her tone was from a 0 to a 1. Once she was stabilized with an APGAR of 7, we wrapped her and carried her to another room where we cleaned her up and dressed her.
It was interesting to participate in this because it gave insight into how things are done here. We entered a room where there was an overnight bag. The nurse got into the bag and removed a plastic bag that contained baby oil, baby soap and many other items to care for an infant, even diapers. It was obvious that it was entirely up to the mother to bring all of the supplies to care for her baby once she was born. This is much different from what we are all used to in the states. Everyday, we experience many things that are so unaccustomed to. It is all a great learning experience.
Following my time at the hospital, I left for an interview at a local radio station (Solid FM 103.7). Casey and the boys went with me and Akohene (AMC Administrator) drove us. We met Albert at the radio station which was located in downtown Kumasi. It was a very busy place, more people that I have seen in one location in this city. The streets were bustling with people selling everything. We really stuck out (we are very, very white compared to the dark skin of the people here). The interview went very well. We talked about why we are here, the hospitals we have visited and our impressions of the country and the people.
The interview started much later than what was planned. We arrived at 11:20 and they didn’t want to start the interview until 12:30pm. This posed a problem since we were supposed to leave from AMC to travel to St. Patrick’s hospital by 12:00 noon. It became obvious that this was not possible. I have learned that there is absolutely nothing I can do to alter how time is kept here. We have lovingly titled it “Ghana Time”. It takes hours to get anywhere and nobody seems to mind, much different mentality than back home. I think it has done us all a bit of good to let things slide and not worry so much. I think all of our blood pressures have dropped considerably.
We finished the interview, traveled back to AMC and loaded up in the van for the trip to St. Patrick’s. Once again, we were not going to be on time. It was 2:30 and we were supposed to be there by 2:00, and we still had an hour and a half to drive. The drive to St. Patrick’s is 90% on a dirt road that is full giant pot holes and covered with washboard areas and ruts from the rain runoff. We can’t drive very fast and are usually somewhat carsick once we arrive. But, none-the-less, we make the drive to and from each day. We arrived promptly at about 4:00pm. We all felt horrible for being so late. As we walked in, we apologized for our delay and quickly began teaching.
Today, we reviewed CPR

Go to radio station
Interview with Albert (Mr. Oklahoma)
Late for trip to St. Patrick’s
We arrive at St. Patrick’s
They don’t mind waiting – no complaining
CPR had been practiced
Brief review of CPR
Introduction of Infection Control and Prevention
Demonstration of hand washing
Use of antiseptic alcohol rub
Difficulty scheduling time with both hospitals
I think we should send a vent to St. Patrick’s
Need money – Casey, Albert and Little Casey go for money while we go to St. Patrick’s
Stop at the supermarket – much less than a market
We come home to make dinner with whatever we have in the kitchen – Rice, sautéed onions in cream of chicken and creamy onion soup – Mango and banana fruit salad – bread
Work on Mech Vent presentation
Need to confirm that St. Patrick’s gets a vent
Looking forward to internet tomorrow after our visit to St. Patrick’s

Wednesday, June 7th

Thursday, June 8th

Friday, June 9th

Saturday, June 10th

This morning we got up around 6:00am to prepare for our safari. We loaded our backpacks with water and got the cameras ready. We all gathered at the building where the tours leave from. There were about 25 other people already waiting when we showed up. I thought we were going to go with this large group and wondered how we would be quite in such a large group. After a few moments our tour guide from yesterday came out. He took our group aside with two others who had been with us yesterday. We began our tour in the area around the motel and saw many different animals. We see wild boars frequently and they don’t seem the slightest bit afraid of us. As we walked further we came to an area that looked like a dump. There were several baboons and more boars. It was near a place that looked like single level apartments, most likely one-room apartments. There were many women outside doing laundry in buckets, as we see everyday. I have learned that about 90% of all people in Ghana do their laundry by hand in a bucket. This is amazing to me, but their clothes remain white and the colors bright.

We walked past the apartments and came around a corner to see an elephant standing near an SUV. We were all so amazed. We were within about 20 feet of this giant wild creature. It was beautiful. The elephant didn’t seem in the least bit irritated by our presence. He stood calmly and ate grass and shrubs that were around it. We took many pictures and all stood there with our mouths wide open. It was amazing to see an elephant in the wild – not in a cage, not in a circus, and not one that has been raised in captivity. It was breathtaking!

We continued our safari to find more elephants. We walked down a path toward the lowlands of this area. This is a place where the water holes are. We hoped to find elephants there. Along the way, we were able to see more of the animals we saw yesterday, antelope, water bucks, boars, and occasionally monkeys. We came to the first water hole where there was a large structure built as a lookout. We climbed up and sat for a while watching the waterhole. After about 10 minutes of not seeing anything, our guide took us to another waterhole. As we approached the waterhole through the trees, we could see what appeared from a distance, to be large black rocks in the middle of the water. As we got closer, it was apparent that they were not rocks, but a herd of elephants. We moved closer, struggling to walk through the muddy area that was their path to the waterhole. It was lined with huge holes, footprints from the elephants. Each of the footprints was filled with murky water. As we approached, the elephants circled themselves with their back ends together, looking out in a circle. They raised their trunks, blowing water over their backs. Again, we were very close to them. It was like being in a National Geographic Documentary. I don’t think I can even explain the feelings we all had, being so close to such grand animals.

After a short time, they began to move and made their way past us and out of the water. The moved slowly, keeping their eyes on us as they passed. The guide told us to keep our distance, because when elephants leave the water, it is difficult to determine where they will head. He said we didn’t want to cross their paths because they may want to scare us. With as close as we were, it wouldn’t be hard. They walked out of the water and into the trees. After cooling off in the water, they brushed themselves up against trees and shrubs and threw dirt on their backs. A couple of them laid down on their bellies and rolled around on the ground to scratch. WOW! All I can say is WOW!!! This is worth the trip. I would drive twice as far in a smaller van and pay 10 times as much to see this again.

While we watched them in the trees, we tried to position ourselves where we could see them for video and pictures. Everyone wanted to get themselves in a picture with the elephants in the background. For a moment, our excitement took over and we found ourselves closer and closer to the elephants. The guide got a little nervous and stood out in front with his gun, directing us to back up. We did and noticed that the elephants had stopped their scratching and they were staring at us, not even moving. It was a little disturbing. We were within about 20 feet of them and the look they were giving us and their paralyzed stance clearly stated that we needed to back up and leave them alone. We retreated and gave them what they wanted. We were, however, in their back yard. They deserved our respect!

We made our way back through the trees toward the path that would lead us out of the lowland. As we approached, we could see in the distance, coming down the hill, a large elephant. He was on the path we needed to use to reach our motel. We walked closer, paused, he came down further, we walked closer and paused once again, he also made his way further down the hill. Finally, he took a different route, leaving the trail open for us. Yet another experience I will never forget.

Everyone is going swimming now and I am sitting at the outdoor restaurant. From this area, you can see the waterhole with elephants playing in it. The scenery is beautiful. I can’t believe we are deep in the jungle of Africa, searching out wild animals and soaking in all of the beauty around us. Never in my dreams did I think I would do something like this and here I am!!! I hope my kids remember this to tell their children. I am so happy I could bring them with me, along with my husband. I can’t imagine trying to share all of this with them, had they not been able to travel here with me.
This afternoon, we made a trip into the village just outside of Mole National Park. A young man had been hitting Casey up to allow him to give us a tour of a mosque from his village. He sounded quite knowledgeable and we decided to take the tour. We traveled in the bus with 3 other people we met here. We stopped at a place called the Mystic Stone. It was a historical place for this village, dating back to the early 1400’s. After we saw the stone, we went to the mosque. The chief of the village sat out by the road, reading what to appeared to be an ancient Muslim book. We stopped and shook his hand before walking back to the mosque. It was a very strange shape. (It reminded me of something out of the Land of Point by Nilsson.) The doors were nearly 4 feet tall, requiring you to bow as you enter, showing respect to Allah. We were surrounded by village children, most of which were only in what appeared to be underwear. We made a donation to the community (a dollar or so each) and paid for our tour (also a dollar). On our way out, I stopped and gave the chief 20,000 cedi (about 2 dollars) so I could take his picture. I asked how old he was and the guide said he was 110 years old. He looked that old, very frail and thin.
When we got back to the motel, it was time to swim. Everyone hopped in the pool, since none of us had a swimming suit, we wore whatever we had, some in their clothes, some in less. It felt so good. The water was kind of warm because of the heat from the day. We spent about 2 hours in the pool. We even got Richard, our driver, in the pool. We didn’t know that he had never learned to swim. It was fun to see all of the girls trying to teach him to swim. Eventually, we found a life jacket and then he could swim all over and not be worried. I think he had a great time. One of the other groups of people we met here said their driver slept in their van. We got Richard a room, bought his meals and tried to include him in our activities. He is a very nice guy and we have had a great time getting to know him.

Doesn't look like it is uploading...

I haven't been able to upload my journaling. This is very disappointing. I have sent it to my mother, in hopes that I can have her do it from there. I think it is the lack of highspeed internet here. I am sure we are all running off one phone line here at the internet cafe. I hope to have it posted soon. Thanks for your patience!! Keep checking the blog. It will be up soon. At least one day posted (May 31st). I have many other days I will add as soon as possible.



Doesn't look like it is uploading...

I haven't been able to upload my journaling. This is very disappointing. I have sent it to my mother, in hopes that I can have her do it from there. I think it is the lack of highspeed internet here. I am sure we are all running off one phone line here at the internet cafe. I hope to have it posted soon. Thanks for your patience!! Keep checking the blog. It will be up soon.


Although it has a few holes...

Hereis my journalingup to now. asyou will see, there are a few holes in my journaling. I will be fillingthese in as I get time. I have notes in a notebook thatwill help mefill them in. Thank you for your dedicated reading. Sincerely, Lisa

Wednesday, May 31st

This morning we made our third visit to the American Embassy. They were finally open and we were able to enter. After going through a security check and having to leave all of our bags and electronic equipment outside with Eric, we finally made it up to the office where we could register. We found the waiting room was full and not able to accommodate all of us. A worker came from a different office and asked if she could help us. We told her we were there to register our travels in Ghana and she informed us that we could do it online. In fact, we could have done it before we left the states. So, I guess our third trip to the Embassy paid off. We will go to the internet café and register online instead of waiting for a long while at the embassy.

At the internet café, we were surprised at the number of computers available. There were two large rooms with computers with flat screen monitors. I would guess that there were nearly 50 computers in each of the two rooms. There were also areas to print from the computers and to make copies. It was a very modern looking establishment. The cost for the use of the internet was 6,000 (approx $0.60) cedi for 30 min or 12,000 cedi (approx $1.20). We all purchased an hour to check e-mails and upload our blogs. We also found that it is difficult to upload pictures through the internet. I believe it is because the web connection may be a dial up and the computers may not be able to handle the size of pictures very well. It was great to get e-mails from home. When you are a world away, a note from home is very welcome. It somehow connects me to my other life that seems so far away.

After leaving the internet café, we went to Papae again for fried chicken and rice. This is a great place to get good food for a small amount of money.

A few of the members of our group wanted to do a session at the LDS temple in Accra so we drove to the temple and dropped them off. The rest of us went to the African market for a few hours. This is a place we had gone last Monday. I was nervous to go back, knowing that the people would remember us and I think there had been some tension between our guard and some of the sales people. Since our group was smaller, it would be easier for us to stay together. We arrived and entered the market. The people there did remember us but welcomed us back. We walked a short distance down one isle and began looking at all of the wonderful clothing. The traditional clothing of these people is beautiful and very colorful. Casey (my husband) little Casey and Devon all purchased a traditional shirt, a few African woven ties and a couple of hats. Eric was able to help us barter with the people.

I walked into a shop that was no bigger than about 12 x 12 foot. There was the most amazing jewelry. I was greeted by an older woman who introduced herself as Unice. She said over and over “You are my sister!”. I felt she really meant it. Even before I purchased something, she noticed Devon and asked if he was my son. I replied that he was and that I had another one just outside the shop. She immediately took two leather men’s bracelets and said, “This is a gift from me to your sons.” Again she said, “You are my sister” and hugged me. I selected 5 necklaces made of seedpods and wooden beads. They are exquisite. Eric helped me bargain for them and they ended costing me the equivalent of approx $20.00 dollars. We went to another shop and I found another necklace. The man in the shop made me earrings and a bracelet to match. This cost about $6.00 dollars. The craftsmanship is quality.

Following our visit to the market, we went back to the temple to pick up the ones who had been there and we went on to the grocery store. They call it the Supermarket. We were able to buy some snacks. Many of the things there were American brands that we recognized. Some of the items were not. We purchased some Milo, which is similar to hot cocoa. We drink it every morning, which is also strange to me. We sit at breakfast with beads of sweat rolling down our bodies and drink hot Milo.

For dinner we had cooked cabbage and veggies, strips of beef and French fries. The meals we have had so far have all been ones I like. I enjoy spicy food and once in a while we get something that is pretty spicy. It reminds me of the Mexican food I miss so much from home.

After being in the market this afternoon, we all need a shower. I finally decided to shower in my boy’s room since they have a water heater. I think it is the first hot shower I have had since we arrived. My shower does not have a water heater attached so I have been taking cold ones each morning. Actually, they feel pretty good since it is difficult to get cooled off around here.

I have also noticed that nothing ever really dries. Even the money I carry with me is always damp. I have decided that when I wake up in the morning, I just need to embrace the heat and the humidity. It is impossible to stay dry. I think the only time is when we are on the bus with the air conditioning on. But as soon as you step off the bus, it is like hitting a wall of heat and humidity. We are always soaked with our skin shining with sweat. No wonder the people here have such beautiful skin. No need for moisturizer.

It has been a long time since we have had internet access. I have been journaling with the hopes of being able to upload my journal at some point. The internet access here in Kumasi is not as reliable as in Accra. It has been over a week and so much as transpired. I am trying to get more information uploaded so you can all read about what we have been doing. Our trip is wonderful, everyone has been relatively well. We have seen and done more than any of us could have imagined. Once I post this brief blog, I will try to upload my journal.

Until then...


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Our first days in Ghana

Ghana Trip Journal
May 27, 2006 to June 19, 2006

Saturday, May 27th

We are finally on our way! After planning for over a year for this trip, the day has finally come. This morning went pretty well. I had wanted to be packed by Thursday, but I was up until about 1:30am Saturday morning, packing and getting last minute things taken care of. Janelle Gardiner and Felice Ruiz are staying at the house to take care of James (great dane) while we are gone. We left the house at about 9:30am to head to the airport. When we got there, Kallie Sekulich had forgotten her Yellow Fever vaccination form and was waiting for someone to bring it to her. Lou Pritt had forgotten her malaria medications and had to go back home to get them. We forgot our video camera charger and kindly asked our neighbor, Ann Gessel, to go to our home, get the charger and run it to us at the airport.

Other than these few hiccups, things have run smoothly.

Sunday, May 28th

Our flights were not too bad and the layovers not too long. We flew from Salt lake City to Los Angeles, CA, then from Los Angeles to London, England. It was good travel during the night so we were more rested upon our arrival. We, then flew from London to Accra. It was unfortunate that we landed at night because we were not able to see what the area look liked. We had to wait until morning. When we landed in Accra, there were friends of Albert Ncancer to meet us and take us to the guesthouse where we would be staying for the next 5-6 days. They loaded the bus for us and off we went. The guesthouse is very nice by the standards that surround us. Three of the rooms have air conditioning. Casey and I and the boys have the two rooms without it. Although it is uncomfortable because of the heat and humidity, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We got settled in and tried to get some rest.

Monday, May 29th

Today started very early for me. I woke up to what sounded like women screaming. Being somewhat still asleep, my imagination ran a little wild. I could tell it was coming from the far corner of our building where some of the girls were sleeping. As I laid there and concentrated on the noise, it finally was clear that it was not women screaming, but roosters. I got up to check the time because it was still dark. It was only 4:00am. I had only been asleep for about 2 hours at this time and knew that I would need more rest for our big day ahead. I walked around the room a few times, looked out the windows and tried to settle down from my adrenalin rush. It is still hot and muggy, making it even more difficult to sleep. I turned on my iPod and found music that finally put me back to sleep. At about 6:00 I woke again, but this time for good. I got Casey and the boys up and we were finally able to look around the place we were staying. Green lush rolling hills in the distance with houses mingled among the palm trees, a red dirt road out front, a wall that surrounded the building equipped with barbed razor wire and spikes on the top of the wall. The scenery is very lush and green.

From the balcony, we watched several schoolchildren pass by in their school uniforms. You could see women out in their yards doing laundry and sweeping. There was a slight breeze and you could hear birds singing. What a great morning. I can’t imagine that I could have painted a better picture of what to expect. We were really in Africa!

After showering in a cold shower (my choice because of the heat outside), we got ready and had breakfast. The people here made us omelets and toast with jelly (that tasted like Koolaid). Following breakfast we headed for the American Embassy to register with them. Everything here is sooooo far away. It takes 30 min to an hour to get anywhere, mostly because of the poor road conditions and the heavy traffic. There are very few street signs and streetlights, especially away from the city center.

Once we arrived at the Embassy, we parked and walked toward it. Just before approaching the building, our guide spoke with someone that said that the Embassy was closed for a holiday. Can you believe we forgot it was Memorial Day!? And of course, the American Embassy, even as far away as Ghana, observes it. We will have to come back tomorrow. After this, we stopped at a market place to exchange money for Cedi. The rate at this time is 9200 to $1.00, nearly 10,000 to one. We changed $50.00 today and received nearly $500,000.00 Cedi. The largest bill was 10,000.00. After exchanging our money, we walked around the market briefly. It was an open-air market with amazing tapestries and woodcarvings. Albert instructed us not to buy anything yet. We should only spend today looking. This way we could decide what we wanted and purchase it later. It was hard not to want to buy things, but it was a good idea to wait.

During our walk around the market it was obvious that Eric, our ‘body guard’, was very cautious about where he let us go. We didn’t stay in one place too long and on more than one occasion, he whisked us away. One time he got into quite an arguing match with the people at the market. I am not sure what the problem was, but tempers were definitely elevated. Another time, we were invited to watch some men perform on their drums. Albert and Eric told us we were going with a group of men who would perform. As we got closer to a building, Albert turned us around and instructed us to go back to the bus. The men had wanted us to go into a building to watch them play the drums and Albert felt that they would have other men board our bus and take our things while we were being entertained.

Although I feel very safe with Albert and Eric (and our bus driver, George), I am sure that I would not feel comfortable without them. Albert explained that there are good and bad people all over the world, and Ghana is no exception. We needed to exercise caution, just as we would an unfamiliar place in the States. I am glad they are with us!

Following leaving the market, we traveled for quite some time to a restaurant called Papae. We had Grilled Chicken, Grilled Fish, Fried Chicken and Fish and Chips. The food was great and very filling. I know we have been cautious about what we eat. None of us wants to get sick.

By this time, we are all pretty tired and jet lag is catching up with many of us. It was very hot and extremely humid and has been all day. I would imagine it was in the high 90’s and very humid. We were sticky and sweaty the moment we left the air conditioned bus.

We decided to visit the LDS Temple on our way back to our to our place. It was beautiful! We met the Temple President and had our pictures taken with him. He was very kind and interested in our trip to Ghana. Our time on the temple grounds was a breath of fresh air, away from the craziness of the rest of the city. While we were there, we met up with a few nurses from BYU that were JoAnn (Abglenn’s) group. She is a teacher at BYU that I wrote to via e-mail before our trip. She is here with several of her students teaching NRP to the medical staff of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. The students talked about how much they had learned from the nurses here. They have little equipment to assess babies so they must rely on their assessment skills to know how the babies are doing. In the states, we are spoiled with monitors and equipment to do the same job.

After we got back to our housing, we decided to take a walk up the street to see if we could meet some of the local children. We didn’t get further than next door and we saw some children near the road. We waved and they timidly waved back. After some giggling and smiling, I asked if we could take their picture. Their mother’s weren’t far away and came out to see what was going on. They were so nice and welcomed us to Ghana. It was obvious that they lived within very meager means. We took pictures with the children and their mothers. One woman came out and sent her twin boys over to us for a picture as well. She was very late term in her pregnancy. We asked about when she was due and she stated she had about 3 weeks left. She already has 1 boy 7 and the twins 3. She said she was praying for a girl. We are used to being able to find out the sex of the fetus, but I am sure this isn’t available as much in Ghana. I think tomorrow we will take her a blanket for her ‘soon to be’ newborn. We also had a bunch of candy to give out. We asked permission of the mothers and they consented. They also wanted some for themselves. You could tell it was quite a treat for everyone.

I worked with Albert this evening, trying to find out more about the container of goods that we shipped. We are anxious to know it’s whereabouts and when it can be delivered to Kumasi. It would be great to know that it would be waiting for us there when we arrive this weekend. I am not sure if that will happen.

Tonight we had spaghetti for dinner. It was so good. They don’t cook dinner for us here at the guesthouse. It is brought in from elsewhere. I am amazed at how good the food is.

Tonight little Casey and Devon slept in one room and Casey and I had the room next door. Last night each of us slept with one of the boys. I was a little nervous to leave them in a room alone for the night, but we were able to lock their door from the outside. It is so hot and sticky! Even with all of the windows open, the breeze in the evening and the ceiling fan on high, it is most likely in the mid 80’s and very humid. We sleep with very little clothing and only a sheet. Even that much feels like too much to be comfortable.

Tuesday, May 30th

We were up again early this morning. Our plan is to head to “Top Radio 103.1” for an interview. I slept pretty well, considering the heat. Mornings are pretty comfortable before the sun comes up. But once the sun is up, the heat quickly rises. I rinsed off in the cold shower, which felt great, but my we have blown our power converter so I am not able to use my blow dryer. Also, the curling iron doesn’t heat up hotter that what I can hold in my hand. I am glad I brought a couple of things to pull my hair up. I think I need to embrace having bad hair days… every day. It is times like these that I would love to have natural curl in my hair.

We didn’t have time for breakfast because it hadn’t been delivered before it was time to go to the radio station. Casey and Devon were up early and ready to go. I think they are having quite an experience. They have been journaling each night. It took nearly 1 ½ hrs to get to the radio station in town because of heavy traffic. The roads here are quite rustic and only one lane for each direction. Only once you get to downtown, is there some sort of highway that has multiple lanes. There is little as far as traffic rules as far as I can see. It reminds me of driving in China, except with fewer street signs. It is amazing to me that there aren’t more auto-pedestrian accidents. They use their horns to communicate on the road, unlike in the states where we use our horns most often out of frustration with other drivers. Our bus driver (George) is always tapping his horn to alert pedestrians and other cars of his whereabouts. It is pretty amazing.

We arrived at the radio station and prepared for our interview, live. Talk about nervous. I wasn’t sure what type of questions we would have from the interviewer. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I wanted to share our mission of coming, but to do it in a way that didn’t make us sound as if we felt we were riding in on white horses to save the people of Ghana. Even during our first day, we realized that even though we came to teach, we were being taught more than we ever imagined. We could take in 5 people for the interview (Laura Gatten, Rosey Ashton, Kallie Sekulich and Melanie Barber) and Casey came in to video tape our experience. The fellow that interviewed us was great. Once we got talking, he made us feel more at ease. I was so proud of my students’ responses to questions. They were very diplomatic and professional. We were able to share our love of the country we were guests in, the beauty of the people and their warm hearts, the kindness we have received thus far, and our message of wanting to provide medical education and services. We spoke of the container of donated items that were generously given for this cause. We also discussed that many trips of this nature are funded by organizations, but that our trip was self-support. Each of my students paid their own way or obtained assistance through friends and family. We also got to talk about Weber State University. Listeners called in with questions regarding the size of the university, the cost of admission, who is welcome to attend and the requirements to apply for admission.

Overall, I felt the interview went very well. I believe we will have a chance to visit the radio station again and be interviewed further. What a great opportunity. Following many pictures with the staff of the radio station, we went to a place called Paloma for a late breakfast. Eric (our guide and ‘body guard’, as he calls himself) ordered FuFu for us to try. It is made with plantains and yams, mashed into a sort of paste. It is very thick and doughy. This is served in some sort of a soup broth that is similar to Mexican red chili, but thinner. This broth also contained goat meat. They bring you a large bowl of water to wash your hand in. After washing, you stick your fingers in the soup and grab some of the FuFu. You scoop it up in your fingers, slop it around in the soup and slurp it off your fingers. Then you rinse your hand and begin again with the next bite. It was so good. Most of the people in our group gave it a try. The soup was pretty spicy and I loved it. I will most definitely have this again at a restaurant.

After our meal, we went again to the American Embassy. We got there after 12:00 and found out that they are only open from 8:00 to 12:00pm. Once again, we were not able to register with them. We will try again tomorrow morning.

We traveled to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to meet Dr. Christabel (Laera), a pediatric doctor that I had previously e-mailed regarding our visit. When we arrived at the hospital, Eric and I entered to locate Dr. Christabel. Upon walking into the hospital, I was immediately taken back to my visits to Chinese hospitals. Although it was a 1500 bed hospital (huge by our standards), the conditions were less than optimal. They obviously had rudimentary means to treat and care for patients and the cleanliness of the hospital was nothing near what we are used to in the states.

Eric and I were directed to Dr. Christabel’s office where I entered and introduced myself. This was somewhat of an unannounced visit and I wondered how I would be received. Dr. Christabel was excited to see me since we had e-mailed over several months, but I could tell she was somewhat hesitant in allowing a tour of their NICU. As we spoke I mentioned to her that we had brought ventilator circuits in our suitcases for her and that once we received the container that we would have many more items to donate to her hospital. I believe this changed her mind about allowing us to tour the unit. She excused herself, saying that she was going to contact administration for permission to give us a brief tour. Upon her return, we went to the bus to get the rest of the group and the ventilator circuits.

Dr. Christabel took us to their NICU, which was currently closed because of a Cleb Siella outbreak. They had previously been give about 20 isolettes and infant ventilators. But because of the outbreak, they had to close the unit for decontamination. It was hard to see all of the beautiful equipment sitting empty, knowing that the babies that desperately needed it were being held in another are of the building. We were able to ask questions about their care of infants, etc. She mentioned that they have about 30 deliveries/day. Nearly 58% of the infants born are pre-term, requiring additional support of some sort. Dr. Christabel attributed this to the lack of prenatal care the mothers seek. Although they have so many preterm infants, they are more ‘hearty’ as she put it. They may have infants that are born before 30 weeks gestation that don’t require mechanical ventilation. Surfactant is not used here because of the high cost of purchasing it. They do, however, give steroids to the mothers before delivering the infants to help with their lung development.

After we toured the empty NICU, I asked if it was possible for us to see the temporary location of these neonates. She agreed to take us there. We walked into a large room with curtained off areas on both sides. We were able to look past the curtains to view the babies in their beds, but were not able to get too close to the babies. This was because we had not gone through the proper washing, etc. I was glad to see that there were boundaries for keeping infection and cross contamination limited.

As I watched my students and my children look around themselves, I could see that this experience was making an impact on them. Their questions were respectful and professional. Realizing that these nurses had a load of 8 babies to one nurse and knowing that they had little as far as assessment tools other than their own abilities, I could tell they were moved by what they saw. The nursing staff was very kind to us and shared with us their enthusiasm and dedication to their work. Compared to the workload of health professionals in the states, these women work far harder with far less to perform their duties as nurses. They have my respect and admiration.

When we gave the Dr. Christabel the ventilator circuits, she told us that they had run out of them, preventing them from ventilating infants that would have otherwise require it. She said that it was very difficult to have the necessary equipment to offer the support these babies needed, but knowing that she was not able to use it because of the contamination. When asked how they handle this dilemma, she said that it was a question she didn’t want to answer. I could tell by her tone that this meant that they do everything they can for these babies but some may not survive because of their inability to mechanically ventilate them. I can’t imagine having the skills and tools to perform lifesaving treatments, but not being able to use that equipment due to the situation.

Dr. Christabel invited us back toward the end of our trip to spend some time with the nurses. This would allow us to observe their assessment skills and learn from them as care givers. I believe when we return to Accra before going home, we will spend more time here with these wonderful people. Hopefully, we will have received the container and will be able to bring more supplies.

After returning to the bus, Melanie Barber video taped each student about their experience. As I sat and listened to them, I could hear in their voices that they had had a life changing experience, just in the short time we spent within the walls of that hospital. Their appreciation of what we take for granted in the states and their admiration of the health care professionals here was overwhelming. We have only been here for 2 days and already I feel as though I have accomplished one of my goals of the trip. As a teacher, I wanted to offer experiences that would make my students better health care providers and respiratory therapists. I have no doubt that they will forever be changed because of that experience. Knowing that we still have 3 weeks to go and many more hospitals and clinics to visit (most of which will be even more meager than what we have seen today), I am sure the impact will only grow.

When we left the hospital, we traveled quite a ways out into more a more rural area to find a beach to visit. It was an appropriate way to end our day. After visiting the hospital, it gave us time to reflect on what we had experienced. We drove many miles, then, took a dirt road for man more to reach the beach. It was beautiful. We walked on the beach (kind of a private cove where there were no other people), climbed on the rocks, played in the water, which was very warm and took lots of pictures. What a great day. I thing it was very successful.

We returned to the guesthouse and had another wonderful dinner. I kept hearing comments of “how am I going to journal all of this?”, “It seems like we have seen so much in two days”, “this trip is the best trip ever!”. I think we are all experiencing so much more than we ever expected. Many of the students are keeping very detailed journals of their experiences. I am sure we could publish a book with all that we will document during our visit to this beautiful country. I can only imagine what tomorrow has to offer.

Many of us sat up and prepared the books I bought as gifts for people who are instrumental in our trip. They are books about Utah, mostly beautiful pictures of the landscape that we love so much. I took a group picture of us a few days before we left the states and made copies to place in each book. Then I had each member of our group sign the book with a message of thanks. I hope the people we give these to will enjoy them.

We had quite a rainstorm this evening. After dinner, the thunder and lightening hit, the wind kicked up and the rain came. It was a downpour. The dirt road out in front of the guesthouse had rivers of water running down it. The rain lasted for about 2 hours or so, then cleared up. It was nice to cool things off a bit, but once it stops, the mosquitoes come out. I was sure to spray the boys, Casey and myself with mosquito spray before going to bed. If we can all avoid malaria on this trip, it will be a blessing. We heard that one of the BYU nursing students had contracted it and was sick for a while.

It is time for bed and our day has been full. Kallie said to me this evening when we were talking about our day… “Doesn’t our visit to the radio station seem like it was two weeks ago?”, even though it was just this morning. I think we are all in sensory overload. By the end of the day, we are exhausted mentally and emotionally from all that we see and physically from the heat, humidity and our activities. I think I will sleep better tonight.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Humanitarian Volunteers
& Medical Educators
~Listed from Left to Right~
Back Row: Casey J.Trujillo, Lisa Trujillo, Rosemary Ashton,
Kallie Sekulich, Melanie Barber, Devon Trujillo
Front Row: Casey A. Trujillo, Laura Gatten,
Elizabeth (Lou) Pritt, Kira Knight, Susan Johnson

Following our last meeting before leaving for Ghana, we decided to take a group picture. The only person missing is Albert Ncancer (native of Ghana and recently accepted into the Respiratory Therapy Program at WSU) who is presently in England and will be meeting up with us upon our arrival in Accra.

We have made our final plans and anxiously await Saturday morning when we will board the plane and begin this adventure. Anticipation runs high among all members of our group. Although we have all tried to prepare for this experience through reading, research, etc., it seems difficult to really grasp what we are about to embark on.

Please look for our next update, complete with pictures from Ghana...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The date is quickly approaching...

Only 2 1/2 weeks until we leave for Ghana. This evening I am holding a meeting with all members of the group to discuss the details of our trip. We are preparing to lecture on several subjects including:
  • Adult and Infant CPR
  • Infection Control and Prevention
  • Neonatal Resuscitation
  • Adult and Infant Mechanical Ventilation
I have been so pleased with the willingness of my students to dedicate their time and energy, not to mention their finances, to this great opportunity. Not only have they spent countless hours planning for this trip, but they did it while completing their Spring Semester classwork and successfully passing their final exams. They have more than earned my respect and admiration.

Part of our time will be spent providing free health care and assessments to the people of Ghana. As I researched health care in Ghana, I read quite often that people have a very difficult time paying for visits to the doctor. The majority of their hospitals are set up as a 'cash and carry' type of system. This means that the patients must pay in full for their health care before they are allowed to leave the hospital. Quite often an armed guard is positioned at the door. I read of one incidence where a woman had gone to the hospital to have her baby. Two months later she was still being kept there because of her inability to pay. This astonished me considering her new born baby had died at 4 weeks earlier.

We hope to offer free care to patients that would otherwise not be able to afford a visit to the hospital for care.

One hospital we will visit is St. Patrick's Hospital in Maase, Ghana. In my correspondence with their director, he has shared his gratitude that we will be providing much needed education within his hospital. Since his hospital is a non-profit hospital, they rarely turn patients away for inability to pay. Our free services will help many people in his village. When we arrive, I would also like to make a cash contribution to St. Patrick's hospital that may allow them to continue their charitable care of patients.

If you are interested in supporting this effort or the members of our group, please feel free to contact me via my e-mail address ( Although we are but a few, I believe we can make a difference.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity!!


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Many Thanks to Our Donors

I want to thank the following individuals and businesses for their generous donations, contributions and support toward making this humanitarian effort a success. Through their donations, we were able to fill a 20 foot shipping container with medical equipment and supplies, school supplies, sporting goods and blankets.

~Primary Childrens Medical Center - Jim Keenan, Respiratory Thpy Dept

Salt Lake City, UT -
Donated infant and pediatric equipment and supplies
~P.O.F. Equipment Services - Dan
Salt Lake City, UT - E-mail:
Serviced mechanical ventilators to be shipped to Ghana
~Smiths Medical - Jeff Allen, Account Manager
Carlsbad, CA -
Donated medical supplies
~Bayer Medical -
Donated medical equipment and supplies
~Weber State University
Respiratory Therapy Department - Mich Oki, Dept Chair
~~Donated mechanical ventilators and various respiratory supplies
Nursing Department - Dr. Catherine Ears, Dept Chair
~~Donated nursing text books and anatomy models
Learning Center - Geraldine Christensen
~~Facilitated donation of anatomy models
Facilities Management - Earnie Aycock
~~Facilitated equipment donations
Shipping and Receiving - Kathy Rhodes
~~Donated time and equipment to load crates into the shipping container
~Swanson Foundation - Ogden, UT
Donated medical equipment and supplies as well as school supplies for 100 children
~Val Richards
Donated various medical supplies and equipment
~Shannon Clegg
Donated various infant medical supplies and several infant care kits
~Store & Lock - Ogden, UT
Donated boxes for shipping
~Jones & Company Moving - Ogden, UT
Donated wooden shipping crates
~Mallerup Moving Company - Ogden, UT
Donated wooden shipping crates
~Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts - Riverdale, UT
Discounted fabric for blankets
~Hancock Fabrics - Riverdale, UT
Discounted fabric for blankets
~JoAnn Corey
Donated numerous hand made quilts
~Pleasant View LDS 5th Ward - Pleasant View, UT
Donated various supplies
~Pleasant View LDS 3rd Ward Quilting Committee - Pleasant View, UT
Donated numerous hand made quilts
~Riverdale LDS 7th Ward - Riverdale, UT
Donated numerous hand made fleece blankets and school supplies
~Bev's Imports - Riverdale, UT
Cash Donation
~Kevin Taylor
Donate time and services to assist with preparing shipment
~America First Credit Union Employees - Various Utah Branches
Cash Donations toward supply purchases
~Save On Sports - Riverdale, UT
Discounted sports equipment
~Riverdale Elementary School - Riverdale, UT
Donated books collected during a book drive
~Autoliv - Ogden, UT
Cash Donation toward student support
~Doug Dewey
Cash Donation toward student support
~The Wall - Riverdale, UT
Cash Donation toward student support
~CrossAction Computers
Cash Donation toward student support
~Hancock Insurance
Cash Donation toward student support
~Pita Pit - Ogden, UT
Gift Certificate
~Pep Boys - Riverdale, UT
Gift Certificate
~Kitchen Kneads - Riverdale, UT
Gift Certificate
~Ruby River - Riverdale, UT
Gift Certificate