We awoke this morning well rested but not necessarily awake. Instant coffee or tea for those craving their caffeine was an immediate necessity and those of us who don’t need a morning boost had water. Breakfast was deliciously familiar; eggs and toast with peanut butter (brought from home) and apricot jam. After, we had a meeting to discuss everyone’s responsibilities in the clinic and the rotation of those responsibilities during the week. We then were given free time until after lunch as church services were being held in the building we will be setting up the clinic in. Some of us slept, others read, visited, or took a short walk.
Setting up the clinic required much sorting of medical supplies from previous years and adding in the ones we brought ourselves. Dara, Matt, a nursing faculty who joined us from the University of Tennessee and myself sorted dressing and skin supplies while others set up the provider tables with various products such as alcohol swabs, germx, band aids, thermometers, tongue depressors and other frequently needed equipment. A neat tid-bit I picked up from Leda, the founder of Ghana Health Mission, is that here in Ghana, a previous British colony, temperatures are not taken routinely but only if a patient complains of being feverish or looks feverish. Stephanie, Ethan-Jennifer Morton’s son who joined us for the mission, and Laura cleaned the several hundred donated reading glasses and sunglasses. Everyone helped in some way making the process go smoothly.
Leda then announced she would be taking us across the street to a small naval facility which served the only beer around. As we started walking over we noticed tents and Paul went to investigate. Everyone was in festive black and white patterned traditional clothing and there was a live band and dancing. He came back reporting it was a funeral and if we wanted to join, someone would either have to die or play dead while they set up tables for us down near the ocean. Later, that proved not to be the case.
Beer and coca-cola products were available in the older traditional glass bottles. Under slightly overcast skies, waves crashed against the rocky shore spraying high in the air sending a light mist of spray over the people closest to the ocean. The water here is a light brownish color but the waves are two to three times the size of waves in Maine. Although we were nervous about intruding, the Ghanaians seemed as curious about us as we were about them.
As we sat by the ocean some children ran up outside the fence asking to have their picture taken, the camera fever spread to some of the young men who posed dancing on the rocks in front of the ocean. As we turned back to our conversations, trying to observe the festivities without being offensive or culturally insensitive, one of the young men invited us to dance. We all politely refused until he came over and took my hand, asking me to dance with him while pulling me to my feet. Not wanting to offend anyone but nervous also about offending others by accepting, I allowed myself to be led to the dancing area in front of the gazebo. The Ghanaians around me seemed very excited I was willing to participate, the welcomed me clapping and singing. Soon I was joined by Jen who had been convinced to come by another young man. As we sat down they approached several other participants who were all also welcomed into the dancing. Happy for our participation and full of excitement of the celebration, we left our new friends and returned for dinner.