Interns experiencing Ghana

June 15, 2018 at 7:53 AM

2018interns1.jpgDr. John Oduro-Boateng, director of the St. Luke Clinic in Kasei, takes a selfie with the summer interns from Northwestern College.     (Photo submitted)

(Editor's note: Three students from Northwestern College are spending the summer interning at the St. Luke Hospital in Kasei, Ghana, and blogging about their experience. The interns include: Kate Staab, a sophomore nursing major from Lincoln, NE; Maddie Godfredson, a junior nursing major, from Rock Valley, Iowa; and Rachel Mercer, a sophomore biology-health professions major, from Kingsley, Iowa.)

Interns experiencing Ghana


By Kate Staab

Wow. A common Ghanaian response these past few weeks to many things.

On Monday, May 28, we started in the clinic. Eager to begin, we were excited but unsure of what the clinic would entail.

Thankfully, we started out pretty simply in the outpatient department. We rotated between three different stations: registering patients in the computer, another on paper and assisting with vitals for all patients.

Dr. John Boateng wanted us to learn names and places of people before diving in. We are now familiar with more villages around the area (Amanten, Ejura, Mampong, Kasei etc.), but I don't think any of us feel much more confident about pronouncing names. Yet, we still give valiant effort and it often grants a smile to the patients in the waiting room.

Our typical day begins at 5:15 a.m. We wake up and often run or walk in the morning and get to see the sunrise. After showering, we head to devotions as the clinic at 7 a.m. (more like 7:10, gotta love Ghanian time), then head to breakfast and back to the clinic.

At about 11:30 a.m. we leave for lunch and often have the afternoon off. It has been filled with many naps, reading, journaling and relaxing. Dinner, spending some time with our wonderful hosts watching Ghanian and Indian TV shows before bed at 10.

Each Monday afternoon we head to Ejura and go to the market. Imagine an American farmer's market on steroids, 10 times the craziness. There are people everywhere, motorcycles and cars driving through. It's a lot to take in.

On Saturday we headed to a monkey village and the Kintampo waterfalls. We had lots of monkeys crawling on top of us eager to eat our bananas and peanuts. The waterfalls were pretty — very hot, but beautiful.

This week had a few fun, new adventures that pushed some of us outside of our comfort zones. At church on Sunday we were called out and asked to sing a song. Say what? Maddie suggested "Prince of Peace," so we sang the part that repeats back and forth with the congregation. They seemed to be so thankful as they applauded when we returned to our seats.

Next, we were asked to speak at devotions on Tuesday. The scripture passage was Genesis 1:26-31. Our message was brief, but we discussed how we are created in God's image and that fact allows us to do the things God has commanded us. He has made us in his image and empowers us to grow in number, expand the body of Christ, have dominion over the earth, and love our neighbors.

We taught and sang "Jesus Loves Me" and "Father Abraham" with the children at the grade school in Kasei.

We were also granted a bit more freedom to choose a different department. Maddie and I ventured to the maternity ward. Rachel spent a few days helping with vitals and shadowing a consulting room.

Maddie and I did much of the same registration steps like in OPD but with pregnant women — or as they say "belly women." We did get to measure fundal (uterus) height, listen for fetal heart beat and assess baby's positioning. It was fun to get to do some hands-on activities.

We were also in post-natal care, and we sat in awe of the beautiful teeny tiny babies. Ah, so precious! Rachel sat in with a lovely physician’s assistant and watched patients interact with the physicians. She learned about typhoid and malaria symptoms — two common diseases in Ghana.

Overall, I think these past two weeks have stretched us in ways we did not anticipate. We have had an immense amount of downtime and are eager to dive in even further to work at the clinic. I think we are all struggling a bit with figuring out how we can best serve the people here, and discovering how God is specifically calling us.

We have been amazed by the Ghanaian hospitality — not only from our hosts, but also during brief interactions with clinic employees. There have been some cultural adjustments with the concept of time, lots of physical touch and the inability to blend in. Obroni is the Ghanaian word for "white man," and we have become accustomed to it as a second name and often respond to it — especially at the market. We feel a bit like celebrities as everyone stares when we walk by and often shout "obroni" and smile and wave at us.

Tuesday morning we went for a walk and reflected on the beauty of human smiles and laughter. That is definitely a way God has shown himself to us, often small and subtle, but there is great power in them. Laughter and smiles transcend language, thus even when we have no idea how to communicate with a patient, exchanging a smile is a simple statement of comfort.

Thank you for the prayers and please continue to pray that we will be open to how God is calling us and be open and eager to respond to that call.

This weekend we are headed back to Accra for a Ghanaian engagement/wedding ceremony and are eager to experience that. We also got traditional Ghanaian dresses made that we will be proudly wearing.

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