Fun in the Sun

By Dr. Jennifer Wilson

Two days of rest, relaxation and fun in the Ghanaian sun are great for the soul. We are so sorry to hear we are missing Canadian winter!

Saturday morning the team enjoyed a lovely sleep-in with the exception of the running club who were on the trails at 6:30 am. En route to breakfast we discovered the big NEA gazebo was full of African crafts, carvings, baskets, fabrics and clothing for our purchasing pleasure. This team clearly has a case of shopping withdrawal.

After breakfast David Mensah played the role of tour guide as team members walked around the vast NEA compound to witness the different sectors of development taking place. They received lessons in aquaculture, mushroom farming, shea butter production and animal husbandry to mention a few. How wonderful for our team to understand the context into which our health care delivery fits. The rest of the day was filled with napping, puzzling, yoga classes with Bex, book clubs, a tour of the village, a trip to a local market and some rehearsals for…


We were all amazed by the creativity and variety of acts that took the stage for our 3rd annual talent show. As tradition dictates, the night was opened up by the simultaneous singing of the national anthems of our home countries Egypt, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Britain, Jamaica, Ghana, Canada, France, Germany and Senegal. The line up was fantastic. We enjoyed a game of Family Feud hosted by the eye team, poetry by Martha, stand-up comedy with Greg, a monologue about Francois’ new charity “Hoarders Without Boarders” (pronounced Hordairs Widout Boardairs), a nursing team skit entitled “Staying Alive” and a beautiful song called “Thank You My Friends” by Abraham. The physicians pulled off a coordinated hand-clapping skit which impressed! Dr. Dan brought his portable keyboard and expertly accompanied a number of parodies for Carlye and I, pharmacy and surgery. One of my favourite choruses belonged to the surgical team, sung to the tune of “Day Dream Believer:”

Cheer up knackered team
How hard can it be
To fix, 300 hernias
and we’re living the dream

One of my favourite moments of the night was when Dr. Carolyn, who was brilliantly playing the bachelorette in the “Dating Game,” asked Dr. Neil, Kyle and Francois (who were playing the bachelors) the final question of this hilarious skit. “If you could be a tooth … what tooth would you be?” After considering their answers, she wisely declined all three of them and decided to buy a cat. It is true that laughter is very good medicine.

Today was a wonderful day of rest. There are too many of us to fit into the local church so the surgical courtyard became our sanctuary. There was singing, drumming, dancing and joyous celebration for all God has done over this past week. Noah shared a moving testimony about a man with epilepsy who has received treatment from our team for a number of years. Prior to this, due to his regular convulsions, he was an outcast and banned from eating meat in his village. Now he is seizure-free, reintegrated into society, and invited to eat meat in the village.

David Mensah’s mother shared a testimony as well. Having lost her husband and her father due to hernia, she stood in the centre of the surgical centre that is preventing hundreds of deaths from hernia and thanked God for our team. It was quite a moment.

Dr. Martin McDowell led us in a medley of This Little Light of Mine and Give Me Oil in My Lamp and I must say we sounded beautiful. Pastor Rans preached a message about Queen Esther. He challenged us that we all have a purpose for which we were created but often we let fear stand in our way. Esther faced her fear, rose up and took action due to the imminent death of her tribe. Rans thanked God for our willingness rise up like Esther and act even though his people are not even our people. “Good works shall never be in vain,” he concluded.

Once the temperature dropped in the late afternoon, an NEA vs expat volleyball match was enjoyed by all. We lost by only one point in game one and then got creamed in games two and three. I think we are all such good friends now than NEA no longer feels they need to take it easy on us!

European football was next on the agenda. The local men’s football team arrived to take us on. We could tell by their warm up that we were in big, big trouble but thankfully NEA staff joined our team. Prior to the match, Dr. Rob presented them with brand new football jerseys which they promptly put on. It was an amazing match that ended in a tie even though we had 17 players and 17 subs to their 11 with no subs.

Next up was American football. Quarterbacks Dr. Martin, Greg, Dan and Dave gave a quick crash course to our friends and the game was on. It ended in a tie as well with big touchdowns being scored by our Dr. David Cressey and Dr. Kate.

It certainly has been a great weekend with some good ol’ fashioned fun. Speaking of old fashioned fun, I cannot conclude without sharing two Monopoly stories. Dr. Josh received some blog comments from home about a “Monopoly episode.” At the talent show, he was forced to stand up and give a monologue about the Monopoly incident of his youth. Turns out he was a rather mean banker, forcing his younger siblings to play for hours until he had all their money. Interestingly, Saturday morning I had a chance to present a Monopoly Board to the kids on the compound. Last year, some of the pre-teen boys on the compound asked my daughter Amelia if she could help them get a Monopoly board. We have no idea how they even heard about this game. With Brenda Mensah’s blessing, a deluxe Monopoly board was presented to Emmanuel, a 13 year old boy who is now the President of the NEA Monopoly Club. After reading the instructions, the boys played for 7 hours on Saturday and five hours today. I’m hoping they don’t invite Dr. Josh to play.

After we celebrated Debbie’s birthday at supper, our fun and games came to an end as all our supplies and medicines needed to be prepped and loaded onto the truck which will leave very early. Everyone went to bed early as we anticipate a full day in the village and in the theatres. We are rested, healthy and excited to finish strong as, over the next four days, we continue to serve each patient we meet with our whole hearts.