By Dr. Jennifer Wilson
I know there are many wonderful definitions of teamwork, but what we witnessed on the NEA compound today redefines the word for many of us.
We knew it was going to be a big day and we were ready.
After breakfast, we gathered for a team photo under the surgical tree, and with fist pumps and well-wishes we were seeing patients and operating by 7:30 am. Each person on our team and on the NEA team did everything imaginable to support one another in caring for as many patients as possible. The kitchen staff even kept a 60-cup coffee percolator going all day in case anyone needed a pick- me-up. (I noticed Dr. Carlye and Dr. Charlie had four mugs on their desks by the end of the day.)
Those of us who have been to Ghana before noticed a marked improvement in the health of the population that today’s clinic served. Health is improving in this area around Carpenter thanks to NEA’s sustainable development, and it was noticeable to us. What stood out to me more than anything was that almost all the women were carrying purses today. It sounds like a strange thing to notice but in the past, I have rarely seen women carrying purses, as usually they use their skirt or a little black plastic bag to carry their belongings. Today, I saw purses. We did still see many diseases of poverty, such as elephantiasis, dysentery from drinking dirty river water, HIV, skin ulcers, and one case of severe malnutrition but overall, the health of this area is improving significantly.
Every team saw a record number of patients today, and by the time we gathered in the dining hall for dinner at 7:00 pm Kim informed us that over 1000 patients received care today. Our surgical team smashed their target of 300 procedures. Despite all teams reaching unexpectedly high levels of productivity on this mission, our medications, anaesthetics, supplies and eyeglasses did not run out. I am reminded of the story in the Bible about the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes and in fact, some of us were specifically praying for this miracle to occur.
There are many wonderful stories to tell of the individuals that we had the honour of serving today but there are two stand-out moments for me.
Emmanuel is the 13-year old boy who is in charge of the Monopoly Board that I mentioned earlier in the week. Today he found his way through the crowds to my chair and informed me that he was having trouble seeing the blackboard at school. Off to the eye clinic with a VIP wrist band he went, returning an hour later with a trendy pair of donated eyeglasses. These glasses will impact his ability to receive his education. (And to excel at Monopoly.)
The second memorable moment for me was when a young woman we had looked after on our first mission in 2007 came with a special thank you. It is a long story of how she was helped, but now, eleven years later, she returned as a successful businesswoman and wanted to thank our teams past and present.
At dinner tonight, Abraham expressed his opinion that the success of this mission is due to the fact that we are all brothers and sisters now. It is so true that the unity and friendship between our Ghanaian team and expat team has elevated our teamwork to a very high level and this unity allowed us to accomplish what seemed impossible. With God’s help, along with the support of so many friends and family and colleagues in our home countries, we have accomplished the objectives that NEA has given us and in doing so, we have gained much more than we have given.
Tomorrow we will gather at 7:30 am with all of the NEA staff for a final devotional time in the great gazebo. After breakfast there will be few small surgical and laser procedures whilst the rest of us clean, inventory and pack away all the clinic supplies for 2019. Leftover medication will be divided up and distributed to the local health clinics. Gifts will be given and gifts will be received. And then we will party. An end of mission celebration is planned for tomorrow evening and I’m told that food preparation for this celebration has already begun.
It has been a great day and we are truly, truly thankful for every moment of it.