Friday, June 22, 2012

Beer can with a British accent

Day 12

I really need to work on blogging about my day on that day because then I wouldn’t be trying to wrestle it out of my memory the day after like I am now. Aha! Yes. Okay. Nothing too interesting about my morning, mostly journaled and read until I joined the rest of my Social Service Delivery Systems class to head out on our first field trip to the General Hospital in Accra. If I didn’t already explain what this class is about, essentially it aims to examine formal and informal social service delivery systems in Ghana so that we may better understand how community-based agencies here approach major economic, cultural, and social welfare issues. Even in the short time I have been here, it is quickly dawning on me how much we rely on social services for everything, like health care, having access to fresh food and drink, and the disposal of waste/garbage.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were given a presentation from Dr. Frimpong, an OB/GYN who explained some of the positives as well as the shortcomings of the medical facilities. While the hospital is still continuing to grow and see a slow increase in resources, it faces the constant challenges of being understaffed and small. Often there are not enough beds for patients and there is no intensive care unit, so if one needs immediate or round the clock help, he or she may have to wait or somehow be transferred to a different facility, which can create terrible complications. Fortunately, health care is relatively easy to access under inexpensive insurance coverage (and ambulance rides are basically free!). The intricacies of this system he didn’t describe, but I imagine it’s the best the hospitals can manage with the resources they have. One of the hospital’s biggest tools is the ability to educate others. Because the vast majority of Ghana is not urbanized, people are likely to lead more active lifestyles, which puts them at a lower risk for certain diseases! So, public health initiatives focus on prevention, encouraging people to eat well and exercise (no pills; can’t argue with that!). Sadly, we were supposed to have a tour of the clinic, but it was canceled so as not to put us at the risk of exposure to the rampant illness running around.

Now here’s where I get to the juicy part of my Wednesday. So here in Accra, every Wednesday night Labadi Beach holds a Reggae event featuring a Bob Marley cover band, dancing, drinking, and (for some) smokin’ da ‘erb. Fun fact of the day: I don’t condone recreational smoking in my own life, but apparently if there’s anywhere to have one’s foray into it, Ghana is the place. Cheap, cheap stuff. That being said, weed is also considered illegal here so to be caught with it as a foreigner can have serious ramifications. We were warned pretty heavily about it when we arrived here. Anyway, I know practically squat about Jamaica and Rastafari culture, but I found it a savvy coincidence that the colors of the Ghanaian flag are Red, Yellow, and Green. Whether the two are connected in any way, I have yet to find out!

Before hitting up the beach, a few of us stopped by a jazz club called Plus 233 where there was a live all-female band playing an upbeat blend of traditional Ghanaian pop and reggae. (Frankly, I’m dreadful at telling apart music genres so this could be a very inaccurate description.) I just loved it. Loved it! The way people dance here is so adorable, like swing dancing with hips errrywhere. After their last set, a few of us decided to head to the beach so I hitched a ride with a couple of our Ghanaian friends. The beach was a blast. Hanging out, meeting people, dancing, strolling across the sand, I dunno. There aren’t words. Just go. Every study abroader here should go. I think I got home around 3 am if that tells you anything about my night ;) but really, I just have an extremely poor sense of time, haha. I think to myself at least once a day that I need a watch, but I have somehow convinced myself that it's too much work to find one? Ah well, when in Ghana!

Till next time, nante yie!

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