We had the opportunity to meet the Chief of Damango. He shared his concerns and visions for his people: the unpaved road that leaves Damango isolated from the developing Tamale, improve both academic and personal health education, and instill self responsibility. The Chief is actually Abraham's (our host) cousin. He is considered a prince to the people and is in line, should his brother decline the chief role.
Next, we went to the Damango High School track meet. Compared to American track meets, this was no ordinary track and field event. The track was all dirt with race lines carved into the ground. It was shocking to see the kids round the corner the last 50 meters, to see them racing without shoes. Some were wearing socks, sandals and others barefoot.
We ended our day visiting the Damango Hospital. We were able to see the reception area located outside on benches, the laboratory the size of a small bedroom, and the children's ward. While Damango is very lucky to have their own facility, it was hard to observe the differences compared to American facilities. Most impactful was the children's ward. It was two large open rooms with multiple occupied beds of sick children and attending mothers. It was stunning to see the equipment. The IV's were attached to wooden boards, beds were rusty with torn mattresses, a child had a leg cast made of two boards and binding, and overall avoid of sterileness. We learned that while doctors and nurses adminster the medicine to the children, parents (mostly mothers) are responsible to feed and take care of their children. We learned that Ghana has a universal health care system that individuals can purchase at an affordable cost (12-15 cedi). However, large operations or intensive medical care is not covered and has to be paid upfront out of pocket by individuals. While there is health coverage, this system leaves many people unable to afford care for their families as emergencies arise. Our group met a mother with her sick son who needed surgery on his stomach (he was unable to absorb nutrients into his body). The reality is she was watching her son die because she couldn't pay for the operation. This was definitely an eye opening and tough day.
Reality hitting home... Beth & Leena