Mission Rabies Ghana – Chapter 10: The Second Week Begins
Alas, the lovely weekend has ended, and it’s back to work again. We had breakfast, and then drove to our base camp as usual to restock our bags with supplies. I started the day with my second post-exposure rabies vaccine, due to that dog bite I received last Thursday. Ironically, the dog bite I received saved me a little money in the long run. Mission Rabies requires their volunteers to get a rabies booster vaccine every two years. I got my vaccine in August of 2018, so that I’d be ready for the trip to Goa in October. I would have needed a booster in August of this year (2020) if I were to apply for future projects. Now, having been boostered early due to that dog bite, I’m good for future Mission Rabies projects until February 2022. The booster would have cost me about $300 in the U.S. because my insurance doesn’t cover it. My vaccines here were free. Of course, I’m not recommending getting bitten in order to get the free booster vaccinations. I would never recommend such a thing (wink, wink).
Today, the plan was to go door to door, in a really remote area of Ghana. We drove for a while until we reached Akwaduo, the community we were going to service. How remote is this? Well, it wasn’t the middle of nowhere, but you could see the middle of nowhere from there. For example, this is the main street in the village.
Interestingly, as soon as we parked our truck, a woman came out of one of the homes on that main street to get her dog vaccinated.
I decided to take a lot of videos today, so readers of the blog can get a real feel for what we’re doing here every day, see what the streets are really like, the homes, the people.
We parked the truck, grabbed the portable cooler with the vaccines, the marking pen, the vaccine certificates, and some extra needles and syringes, and started traipsing through the community. We chatted with this woman, who offered info as to which neighbors in the area had dogs.
We started going door to door, asking residents if they had any dogs on the premises and if so, did they want them vaccinated. You can see just how remote this area is. Just a few ramshackle homes and lots of dirt and dust.
As a city kid from New York, I was still trying to wrap my head around this kind of lifestyle.
Some days we do some combination of door-to-door (going to individual houses on foot), static point (we set up shop in one spot, and people come to us), and roaming static point (we set up shop in one spot for a little while, then pack up and move to a new spot for a while).
Today, though, we did door-to-door entirely. It’s a bit more physically taxing, as you can see in the videos, but also more interesting, as you get to walk through the actual villages, through yards, and into houses.
We went into this home, which was surprisingly more spacious than I expected, and were led to a room where there was a litter of puppies.
We vaccinated the bunch.
Then, the mother dog showed up and let her babies nurse.
We went to another area of this village, to a small community.
We vaccinated a couple of dogs there.
We chatted with the people some more, and vaccinated a litter of puppies there.
Most of the dogs I’ve seen on this trip were pretty young. Today I saw a scraggly, thin dog that I thought looked unwell. I asked about the dog, and was told that the dog is fine, just old. It turns out that she was 13 years old.
I was very surprised (and very pleased) to see a dog live this long, given that dogs get very little health care here. The owner was clearly very fond of her. Heartwarming to see.
We were pretty efficient today, completing our entire area a bit early, and we were one of the first groups back at base camp, and the first group back at the resort. We arrived around 5:30, theoretically in time for me to catch another lovely sunset, however, it was overcast for much of the day, and there was no dramatic sunset today.
I did go down to the lake with my Chromebook soon after we arrived, so I could start this blog post. While I was typing, I looked up, and there was that dog again, the one that had the wire around its muzzle.
I called her over, and she came right away and let me pat her head and face.
Her nose wasn’t swollen at all, and I got to touch the spot on her skin where that wire was, and it’s healing very nicely.
I’ll never know who put it on her, nor will I know who took it off. I’m just glad that she’s okay, and hopefully I’ll encounter her once or twice more before we leave here.
I stuck around until well after the sun went down, and watched as the lake grew moody and quiet, and then went to dinner.