Journal Entry from Day 5: Sunday May 24
Yesterday we did our screenings out at the Sovereign Global Mission school in Adoteimon (the school we'd been painting outside Madina that I mentioned in my previous post). At least 20 kids from the community came out the play (some helped Cameron organize the library while we did the screenings) so we got to play when we weren't doing screenings. Only two children with disabilities came for screenings-- we had been expecting, and even hoping for more, but I think two worked out because we were able to spend a least an hour with each child and his/her family. I assisted Stacey with the first screening and I have to say I wish I had been more useful during the session-- it was like all the things I learned and knew (or thought I knew) just went right out the window when I stood up to do anything (like how to read my goniometer-- how hard is that Susan?!). Our client reportedly began having trouble after he received a shot as a child (a common report among individuals with loss of lower extremity usage here in Ghana). It seems some people get bum polio shots that leave them with varying levels of lower extremity disabilities. One of the employees at our hotel for example reportedly received one such shot, he was able to get around but did so with a limp. Our client used crutches and had some symptoms that resembled those of an individual with CP. He had significant tightness in his legs, as well as weakness. One arm seemed to be affected as well. This was my first experience working with a physical disability case in pediatrics, so I felt like I was mostly winging it and trying to remember what I learned in class, but mostly grateful Stacey was there. Throughout the session I was struck by how pleasant and calm our client was, how easy-going he was. He had just walked, I don't even know how far, but it was apparently fairly far, in the African sun, on crutches that sunk down in to the dirt roads to let us question him, do range of motion and manual muscle tests, do stretches and have him do a variety of exercises and was absolutely gracious in accommodating our requests. He even let us take some pictures. He was so easy. I think of the challenges he must face and the complacency he seems to face them with and I'm absolutely humbled. After his long walk to see us and all his work with us, we thought surely he'll want a ride home, but no, he wanted to walk home, it was his exercise. So he and his mother walked back home. It is inspiring to be around people with that kind of spirit.
Today we went to Eric's church in the Nima neighborhood of Accra. Eric has been our contact here in Ghana-- he has arranged our driver and our contacts at the schools we'll be going to and everything. He is the founder of Sovereign Global Mission (http://www.sovereignglobalmission.org/index.html) as well as the reverend at the church we attended. We went to both their version of Sunday school and the church service-- Sunday school was about marriage and I just have to share the message because it was awesome. Eric was talking about how when people decide today to separate in Ghana, that the wife, she moves back in with her family and they say, go back to your husband, but she won't do it. And the husband, he stays at home alone, the wife leaves him to figure out how badly he needs her. And everybody says, go home to your husband, wife! Take your wife back, husband! But they don't do it. So they give the wife a hot pepper (literally) and put it in her mouth for her to chew. And with that she remembers that marriage, like that hot pepper, has hot intolerable times, but those times, like the spice of the pepper, will cool off eventually. And the husband, he learns, while at home alone, just how much he needs his wife at home. So the wife returns home and the husband welcomes her. And thus ends the separation. So we all must realize the worth of our marriage, for it is of vital importance. Eric really is a great speaker-- I need to find a church with a pastor who speaks like Eric, he can drive a point home!
After church we went to the feeding program for the street children. I wasn't really sure what to expect with this-- I imagined kids in lines (clearly I forgot where I was, lines are a no go in Ghana) holding cups and us distributing rice. It was so nice and organized in my head. I'm not sure if that's how it went because I was at the first aid station with Kate. It's funny, we'd been there for several days, we were familiar with the street light optional, takes 45 minutes to get tea and toast for breakfast, "it is finished" with the Fanta less structured approach to life than say that of the typical westerner's, and yet what did Kate and I do first thing at the first aid station? We said okay, everyone get in a line (statement 1 that was ignored), then we said okay, child 1 you're in charge of this (statement 2 that was ignored), child 2 you're in charge of this (statement 3 that was ignored) and child 3 you're supposed to be in line (statement 4 that was ignored). We just went automatically with our little western system of get in a line, delegate tasks and go, and that did not work (for us, the kids tuned us out and did what they wanted and we had to make adjustments accordingly). So we had to reassess-- lines don't work, but circles do-- before I knew I was in the middle of a circle with band aids and antibacterial cream and the circle was working-- far more chaotically than the line, but oh so Ghanaian.
We were greeted when we arrived for the afternoon by the entire group of children-- with hugs and cries of hello Obruni and little hands just reaching out to grab ours. I've never been so warmly welcomed anywhere in my life-- the just encirlced us and immediately let us in, I couldn't resist opening my heart to these kids after such a welcome! The entire experience was really great. It was just such a tangible reminder that kids are just kids, everywhere, no matter what the circumstances. My favorite memory is of a little girl I saw-- she was a free spirit really--she was never with the group, always running around with one or two other kids just laughing nonstop. She was maybe 3, arrived fully clothed is a tunic, pants, shoes and when I first saw her she was running up and down the veranda of the building we used with another child while the rest of the group sang songs. The next time I saw her she had stripped down-- no shirt, no shoes, no pants. I thought she had blue undies on, but then she came running closer and I realized she had blue beads on around her waist, and that was it. She was running around laughing, happy and she could be with nothing but blue belly beads on! Best outfit ever. I lament that adolescence was not kind enough to me to leave my self esteem in tact enough for me to be able to enjoy such an outfit anymore! Belly beads, we later found out, are simply body decoration, they're only meant to be seen by a select special few. I recently learned that in Mali belly beads are sometimes blessed with magic and meant to bring you good luck.