Mission Rabies Ghana – Chapter 14: Mission Accomplished!
There was a feeling of excitement in the air this morning as we all convened for breakfast. Today is the day we wrap up our project. At breakfast, we were assigned our given areas that we were going to cover, and we were also given an important statistic, namely, how many dogs we needed to vaccinate in our area in order to meet the project goal.
We met up at the base camp as usual, where Jo gave us a final-day pep talk.
We restocked our supply bags and hit the road, servicing those last few communities in the area, and then revisiting areas that we might not have totally completed, and helping other teams in the area if they needed it.
The first community we visited was Kokodei. It wasn’t too far from the base camp, and as soon as we arrived we were bombarded with dogs.
We could barely keep up. Boxes and baskets of puppies.
Lots of lactating female dogs. A few pregnant ones. It’s a small community that I found pretty interesting. People frying up fish, kids playing, goats running around, chickens scampering here and there. The woman frying the fish was amused that I wanted to take her picture. These fish came right out of Lake Bosomtwe.
After she fried up the fish, she brought it to a woman who sold it to villagers and school kids.
Although these scenes have become commonplace for me now, it still fascinates me, as every village has its own character and charm. Just like yesterday’s village, Oyoko, today’s village reminded me of the U.S., somewhere in the south, in the 1950s. The kid carrying water in a pail on his head, to that yellow house on the left… this could be somewhere in Mississippi in the ‘50s.
I wish I had more time to stick around and take photos. I found everything just mesmerizing.
We arrived here around 8:30 a.m., and by 10:00 I think we vaccinated 50 dogs. We then drove on some of the smaller roads in the village and announced our presence with the megaphone, going door to door to vaccinate any dogs that needed it. We finished Kokodei pretty much by 11:00, so we hit Piase next. We covered most of Piase yesterday, but we went back to try to catch a few families that we may have missed. We snagged a few more dogs there. Our last area was Kuntanase. We went door to door there, but most of the people we encountered told us that their dogs had already been vaccinated. This is exactly the kind of response we were looking for. When people start declining your offer of a free vaccine because it’s been done already, it is a strong signal that the project is going well.
With no other areas left to survey, we headed back to base camp, where we were the first team to arrive. We were soon joined by the other teams, and it didn’t take long for the cell phones to come out. Everyone was taking photos: of themselves, of their teams, and of each other.
The core of our team: Charlotte, Adusei, and me.
Me, Andy, and Anke. Andy is a young Ghanaian veterinarian. He graduated five months ago.
Me with Leigh and Lottie, the two veterinary nurses from the U.K.
Me and Adusei, along with several of the CHOs (Community Health Officers).
Lottie, me, and Henry. I never worked with Henry, unfortunately, but I wish I had. Everyone enjoyed his kindness and enthusiasm.
Petra and me. I really enjoyed hanging out with Petra. Hopefully, I’ll see her again in a few months, because she will be in Lima, Peru in May at the same time Mark and I will be there!
We covered a big area of dusty, bumpy terrain in oppressive heat and humidity, and now it was time to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. I admire these local Ghanaian veterinarians and health officers, and will miss them greatly.
Before I came here, I knew nothing about this country or its people. Most international travelers to Ghana just visit the capital, Accra, or maybe Kumasi, the second biggest city. I’m glad I got to visit a smaller, non-touristy part of the country. I feel that I had the most authentic, genuinely Ghanaian experience possible. I went into people’s homes, ate real street food, and even learned a few words in the local dialect. I’m impressed at how self-sufficient, smart, and good natured the children are, and am humbled by how friendly and kind everyone has been toward me.
Tomorrow we leave Bosomtwe and go to Accra, stay for one night, and then it’s back to NYC on Sunday.