Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh work

It's been a long and frustrating week already. I've only been here a little over a week and am starting to get frustrated at trying to get things done on "Ghana" time. There is just so much lag time in between actually getting work done. It's a cultural thing, so I'm trying to be patient. Yesterday my NGO called me at 5:15 a.m. to make sure I would still make our 7 a.m. meeting (even though I have yet to be late for anything), and then when we got to the beach to do clean-up the environmental organization wasn't there. We stood around trying to get a hold of someone for two hours, and then my NGO dropped us off at one of the schools to "assist" the teachers, which really doesn't fit with doing public health work. The school just really depressed me. There were around 70 three and four year olds in one classroom with one teacher. There was no bathroom, so they all use a bucket outside the classroom door. And they didn't actually learn anything all day, because one teacher cannot teach that many kids at the same time. The teacher also hits the kids as punishment (with belts or a cane or whatever is around), which was just really hard for me to watch. Yen and I let my NGO know that we will not be spending anymore days like that while we're here and that working on a grant or presentation for his health organization would be a much better use of our time. Despite the lack of organization, our hand-washing and HIV talks went really well at the schools this morning. Even the teachers participate and ask questions. It is really great that something as simple as washing hands (and common sense to people in developed nations) can make a difference. Tonight we are doing a community outreach about diabetes. Yen and I will give a lecture/answer questions, and then we'll do blood pressure and weight checks. It will be a long day (we won't finish until 11 or so tonight), but I'm hoping it will go well!
Other than all of the time management issues with my project, I am still really enjoying Ghana! I am even getting used to the smells lol. In town it smells like fish (people carry huge bowls of them on their heads to sell) and urine (since people just pee in the open gutters). I can also always smell car exhaust. I actually saw a car that had a gas leak the other day. Seems really safe... And hygiene is not really a priority here. I'm sure when I open my suitcase when I get home it will not be pleasant :). It's really hard to keep things clean here since it's so humid. I washed my clothes yesterday and don't expect them to be dry for another couple of days. And I had to throw away my toothbrush after a week cause it looked moldy... gross!
One of the other volunteers and I are planning a night away for Saturday, so I'm pretty excited for that! Ghana plays again on Saturday, so we're hoping to go out somewhere to watch the game. Cape Coast went so crazy last week when they won! It was great!

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