Guinea Worm Field Trip
Trip Start Sep 22, 2005
41Trip End Dec 19, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I started on a very long entry yesterday but lost it all due to a power outage, which is quite frequent in these parts. So we'll have another go at it, and hopefully the the computer screen won't turn black in the middle of my typing...
Packing a tro-tro to the gills with 13 people, several hundred pounds of food, another hundred pounds of water and all our bags & luggage, we headed out last (last) Saturday on our field trip to Mpaha in the Northern Region. Our goal: To learn practical, hands-on techniques for Guinea Worm education, case surveillance, and other erradication methods for when we go to our own community in almost a month's time. Two hours to the Mpaha junction and another hour down some of the dustiest, tailbone cracking roads in Ghana led us to Lauren Hildebrand's site. Midday, hot and sweaty, our first assignment was to ramble about the town on a scavenger hunt. We successfully located the market, library, mosque, schools, boreholes and a tasty frozen, fruit yogurt called solani, which was only 1,000 cedis a piece (~$.11). We must of had about a dozen! We also visited the Mpaha chief, which required much bowing on animals skins in a dark and musty room with many curious sub-chiefs welcoming us and chanting - Awoe, Awoe, Awoe... A "royal" moment indeed.
The following day (Sunday) we toured the newly constructed library, which Lauren did as a secondary project with the coordination of books donated from the University of Washington. We had the opportunity to team up with a village Guinea Worm Volunteer and perform filter inspections door-to-door. We strained our eyes to look for holes in the filters and replaced the ones which would allow the water fleas to pass through. The water fleas contain the Guinea Worm Larvae - see the November edition of Nat'l Geographic for more information on the parasite's cycle. On Sunday night my (Chris') stomach became very upset and I had some bouts with diarrhea and by Monday morning was exhibiting the signs of Giardia. Luckily, I visited the clinic and started taking Flagyl, which kills the parasite in your intestines over a five-day period. And I'm happy to report that with this being Day 5, I feel much better. Goodbye Giardia!
On Tuesday we had our much anticipated football match against the town team. Just picture a team of Obrunis (white people/foreigners) in old red and blue, German soccer uniforms riding in the back of pick-up trucks to the worn-out field in the middle of town; And you'll start get the feel of just how momentus this occasion was. School was cancelled and the whole town came out to watch. We were definitely outmatched from the start but I felt like we held our own with the 2-1 loss. The children stormed the field when Team Obruni scored our solo goal. They take their sports pretty seriously here - okay, maybe just football. In the afternoon, the town hosted a going-away party for Lauren in what Sayward describes as a true African moment. A group of drummers and dancers came to escort us to the chief's palace. In a beautiful ceremony, Lauren was dubbed the "Queen Mother of Help for Mphaha" (put that on your resume) and was given a gorgeous up-and-down tunic, headwrap, stool, cane and horsetail (symbol of authority). All of the chiefs took turns dancing to the drums and as the horsetail was passed from person to person, they would get up and groove to the beat. Sayward and I cut a mean rug when it was our turn. Hopefully we can get some pictures up soon to prove it! (We also took a minute-long video of the ceremonial dancing, where Ghanian men danced with bells on their ankles to the music - quite similar to contemporary Native American dances. We'll see about getting that one up on the site too.) After all the dancing, drumming and photo-snapping we headed back to the PCV's house and ate rice and roasted lamb. Exhausted, we went to sleep under our mosquito net staring at the stars and dreaming about what our own send-off parties might be like... or at least I did.
The following morning we helped Lauren clean her house, said goodbye to the chief (more bowing and "Awoe"s) and jammed back in the Tro-tro for our journey back to Techimen. The field trip was a very enjoyable experience, and I think we all felt a little more prepared and excited to finish out our training so that we can start projects at our own sites.
Until We Meet Again,
Chris and Sayward
P.S. - A special thanks to Ash, Brian & Holly, Becky, and Milagros for sending letters and postcards. It really means a lot to us and we appreciate you taking the time to write. We'll be writing you back long-hand as soon as possible. So watch your mailbox. Peace.