My first week in Accra was the most amazing experience! First off I absolutely love it here! Im having the greatest time and learning and experiencing so much. On Sunday we got to go to the local ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints and it was great. I love going to church in different parts of the world because it is the same no matter where you go! The members all believe and practice just as we do at home in the states. On Monday we had out first outreach program in Teshie. Unite for Sight is an awesome organization and because of it so many more people are able to receive affordable eye care. We showed up at our first outreach about an hour away by the coast and there were around 300 people there! The volunteers and I got introduced to the crowd and it was awesome to see how happy they were we came to help. After that I worked at the visual acuity station for the day. Our job is to test peoples vision using an E chart so its universally understandable and then record their measurement out of six meters. It was amazing to be able to work with the people and see how our help is going to make huge difference in their lives. It was shocking to see how many people could not see or were completely blind though. Most of the elderly had cataracts and even some children were blind or could only see you a couple meters away, it was sad. After they test at our station we send them to the doctor where he gives them more exams and prescribes them medication. Most of the children and people have okay vision but have allergic or inflammation in the eye due to the dirt and pollution. So all they need is eye drops and because of money I have raised and other volunteers we are able to sell them to them at very low costs. We can even sell them glasses at 3 cedis which is less than a dollar! After a long first day we headed back to the hotel and got some chicken and rice because that's about all we eat.
The next day we drove a couple of hours and went to a refugee camp of mostly Liberians and helped around 200 people. I worked at the dispensing station and there I got to read the prescription the doctor wrote and explain it to them and then if they needed surgery have them schedule an appointment. It was another great day and I began getting more comfortable working with the people and communicating with them, which I really enjoyed!
On Wednesday we drove really far to a village called Mafi Akyemfo. This village was in the middle of no where, which was super cool to visit. When I was attempting to find a bathroom (there was none haha) I went to a small classroom of about kindergarten aged children and the looks on their faces was priceless when they saw me. They were in aww of me and all swarmed and crowded around me. One little girl would only ask me "can I have your money", so I thought that was funny. They all wanted to take pictures and follow me around. So they spent most of the day watching me do visual acuity. Ohh the funniest part about doing the eye test is that the people want to cheat! They uncover one eye or lie about how far they can see because they think its a test or something. So I spend about half the time making sure their eye is covered or they are not waving their hand in random directions pretending they see the chart. Its pretty funny how many people want to cheat but we always catch them.
On Thursday I had the opportunity to go to the Crystal Eye clinic and shadow Dr. Clarke. I thought I was mentally prepared for the cataract surgery, but I don't know if I can say I was. It was pretty gross but I was alright surprisingly. After watching a few times, I was really able to get a close look and ask the doctor questions. It was very impressive how fast he could do a cataract surgery it took him about fifteen minutes! He would just pop the entire lens out and put a new one in so fast. We then got to sign for the Unite for Sight surgeries for people who could not afford them, it was a pretty awesome day! We then ate more chicken and rice haha.
On Friday we drove really far and went to a really jungly party of Ghana and got to help the people in another tiny village. They had the best mangoes there so I've been eating a lot of mangoes because it nice break from the usual food. There was so many mango trees there in the jungle it was beautiful!
On Saturday we got to go to the LDS temple located in Accra. It was nice to see some Americans and be able to attend the temple! After that we went to the beach and that was a different experience! They were first all attacking us because we are tourists and wanted to sell us everything. The second thing was the water and beach was covered in trash. Like you go near the water and it was just garbage, so it was no Hawaii beach resort haha. I don't think we went to one of the nice beaches but it worked haha. But the coolest thing I got to do was ride a horse on the beach, which I've always wanted to do. So I got to check that off my bucket list! I was expecting more of a beautiful ride in Mexico, but a beach covered in trash in Africa works for me! After that guess what, we got fried rice with chicken in it, so another great meal!
On Sunday we attended the Achimota ward again and then a driver picked us up and four of us; Ben, Connor, and Megan and I got sent about 5 hours away to Kumasi for two weeks. That was an interesting drive, our driver Frances, did whatever he wanted and wow it was a crazy drive of lots of swerving and flying over speed bumps and ohh lots of honking. I have more stories about him I'll put in next week. I lost wifi and power for a while so its been a mess. Oh losing power and water is a normal thing every day, it just shuts off in the whole city so thats pretty fun.
Some things I learned about Ghana this week is that:
1. You can buy anything in the car in traffic. Anything you need from food to toilet paper to cell phones to dead cats. So theres no need to ever go shopping because you just buy it on the road haha.
2. People sleeping on the side of the road is a usual thing. On our way to an outreach we picked up one of our eye clinic team members and he was just sleeping on the side of the road in the middle of no where.
3. Oh the medical procedures in a third world country are very different, but I thought it was very intresting how everything still works so well.
4. There is no trash cans ANYWHERE!! But I can't get myself to litter I feel too bad.
5. Getting proposed too is a normal thing so don't get freaked out.
6. Oh and let me express again there is 0 traffic laws and you can really do anything you want while driving.
Thanks for reading and sorry my posts are so sporadic, my wifi and phone are kinda broken! But check out the pictures below!!