Ghana Blog: It’s the Climb

July 14th, 2017

        Our group was given last weekend off for an independent travel opportunity. We chose to go to the Volta Region to hike Mountain Afadjato and Tagbo Falls. This was around a five-hour drive from Mampong, but it was well worth it in the end. We arrived in a small town where a tourist center for the hiking was located. We paid a fee for the hike and tour guide (with some negotiating help from our driver Samuel) and started our journey. We were eager and excited about the day’s adventure.

        Almost instantaneously, as we began to make our way towards the hiking path, rain came fast and hard. Of course, a rain jacket was one of the things I forgot to pack to bring to Ghana during their rainy season. Although it was not ideal, the weather did not ruin our spirits. After a brief walk we made it to where the real hike began. The path was steep, almost straight up at certain points. It was a bit more strenuous than a lot of us were expecting. About 30 minutes into the hike, Jenna and I started slowing down. The steep incline, mixed with the higher altitude, began to make us feel dizzy and weak. To avoid passing out, we decided it was best if we rest and let the group continue on. It took us a few minutes longer, but we finally made it to the top. The view was incredible. I think the effort it took to get there made the end result that much more satisfying.

        This experience was very comparable to things in the week to come. Everyday while we have been working in the hospitals here, I have witnessed situations that kept reminding me of our hike. I have seen different are cases, patients, and surgeries that don’t go as the doctors have expected. Sometimes the right tools are not available, machines are broken, or there is a lack in staff. Like climbing the mountain, the plan can change and become more complicated or harder than it was originally imagined. Instead of giving up or turning away patients, the health care professionals make do with what they have and save lives regardless of the circumstances.

        My strongest example of this observation trend is when I have scrubbed into different surgical theaters. As only an undergraduate student, this has been an amazing opportunity. I have watched a surgeon cut open a body and not see what they thought they would. I have also witnessed surgeons and nurses perform procedures that would be far easier and simpler to complete if they had better machines, updated technologies, and other supplies. I have seen women give birth in not the most comfortable surroundings without epidurals because drugs like that are not as accessible or affordable. I have been amazed by the great patience I have seen from the health care workers and patients both.

        Something I have come to learn and accept on this trip is that the majority of time things don’t go how you planned they would. These unknown obstacles that come up in life are scary to face, but they are unavoidable. It is best to expect for plans to change and embrace this fact. Most importantly, I have learned not to panic when these situations arise. People are always stronger, and most of the time smarter, than they think. The workers and patients can make it through the struggle of pain, stress, or pressure and reach the top of the mountain, whatever that end goal may be. 

--Emily

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