I’ve mentioned Medical Outreach before, but I think it’s time I talked about more in depth.
Every Thursday, a group of medical volunteers from my NGO (Projects Abroad) go to a few schools in the area (typically 2-3). The children run to get us tables and chairs to work with. I’ve offered to help every time, but every time I’m firmly placed in a chair and told not to worry about it! The volunteers get into groups of 2 or 3, and the kids queue up to wait their turn. Each group sees one kid at a time, cleaning and bandaging minor cuts and sores. If we see something more major, we tell firmly tell them that they must get treatment at a clinic.
I’ve seen a wide range of injuries. Some kids have only a small scratch, which we ordinarily don’t bandage. However, after we’ve finished cleaning it, we often get a sad look and a soft request: “plaster?” (meaning bandaide). Yes, many of them are in for the excitement of just having a bandaide, but there are others who are more seriously hurt. I have seen quite a few wounds that were clearly infected (discharging, swollen, very tender, and sometimes recognizable even by smell), and I’ve suspected systemic infections on more than one occasion. In these situations, we clean and bandage the wound as usual but also call our Ghanaian associate over to speak to the child in his/her language to ensure that the child recognizes the importance of getting treatment.
We often take pictures (as you can see under my blog post entitled “Photos”). Thanks to digital cameras, we can show the children the pictures we’ve taken. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces, just wondering how it was possible that they were seeing themselves in my camera.
The whole of Ghana is very friendly and warm, but above all, the children are the friendliest of them all.