Saturday, July 7, 2007

Independence Day!

We attempted to celebrate the 4th of July twice this week. Once on Wednesday we ate fried chicken, friend okra, deviled eggs (sort of), and our attempt at Cookies and Cream Ice Cream. They makes these frozen treats called Fan Milk in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry so we bought the vanilla and added Milo, which is basically their hot chocolate mix. It was wonderful! Then we attempted to sing a few patriotic songs to some friends we invited over while Jenna played the songs on her violin. We figured we could try to teach them some American history but instead we decided the movie “The Patriot” paints the picture of the American fight for independence better. They really liked the movie so I’m sure they learned a lot. In talking to the government teacher that I have been working with a lot, he explained that Ghanaians do not realize that America was also under British colonial rule just like Ghana. On Friday we also had another little celebration with our other American friends in a nearby town. We met these two girls from the University of New Hampshire before our trip to Mole National Park and they came on that trip so now we are all great friends. We found some chicken franks to represent American hot dogs and ate them with ketchup on wheat bread. We also ate our famous cookies and cream ice cream and watermelon to round it off as a true American meal. I think being in another country on the 4th of July really makes you think harder about our country and the blessings we enjoy there. Being in Ghana and talking to them about government reminds me everyday that this nation struggled for independence only 50 years ago and is such a young democracy compared to the U.S. I know it sounds corny but as we left our friends last night we really felt/said “God Bless America” and “I’m proud to be an American.”

We are continuing to work hard on our research and use everyday we have left here to just learn as much as we can. This week John and I also had a special opportunity to help someone. The Salvation Army Clinic has a malnutrition unit for children where there mothers can live there for months to bring their child into proper nutritional health and also to teach the mothers how to cook proper nutritious food for them. While working there on Tuesday the nurse indicated that one little boy about 2 years old was not improving at all. This young boy was a twin being taken care of by his grandmother because his 17 year old mother had just given birth to another set of twins. The nurse indicated that the boy really should probably have a blood transfusion because he was so anemic but that because of the family's financial situation there was no way that would be possible. The Salvation Army Clinic does so much for people, subsidizing much of the treatment at the clinic, such as the malnutrition unit where these mothers and children live there for about $3 a week. However, the Clinic can not pay for extra hospital expenses such as this transfusion which would cost at least $30. She in no way was asking for money from John but merely explaining the medical situation. John then remembered the $40 donation I, Bethany, had received from a friend at home who asked that it be used for medical supplies/medicine. Our group brought plenty of supplies to the group which had been donated by businesses so we brought the money to Ghana hoping we would be able to help someone in need. And well this little boy was in great need. He was so thin and sick that he barely spoke anymore and weighed about as much as a 1 year old. So John was able to donate the money through the clinic to this little boy. John also accompanied the grandmother to the District hospital which turned out to be very crucial because she had two small children and lots of bags and she barely knew where she was supposed to go or what she needed to do at the hospital. As soon as the doctors at the hospital saw the little boy with a white man with instructions on what he needed they moved him to the front of the line in every situation. John and I have been back to visit the boy, Ata, who is doing better. He received IVs and medicine for malaria as well as pneumonia. The hospital situation is difficult because they do not feed the patients food so other people have to go buy food and bring it to them. Even in this case of malnutrition the doctors and medical staff seem to just treat the symptoms of anemia and dehydration rather than the source of the problem which is inadequate nutrients in his food. It is like telling the patients to bring their own medicine to the hospital. The doctors criticized the grandmother’s food choices to John yet they never tried to teach the patients what types of food they should feed the children. So John was also able to buy the grandmother high protein food and show her what to feed him to make him healthy. With the help of others students and some parents the boy has been able to receive more funds for his medicine and we hope he will recover soon. We feel so fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to help this little boy.

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