Laura Deely is a Registered Nurse, who works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, CA. She is spending three weeks volunteering with Project HOPE in Ghana and Benin as part of African Winds 2013, a humanitarian mission coordinated by the Royal Dutch Navy. Laura Deely volunteered previously for Project HOPE at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti during the Cholera epidemic in 2010.
Dr. Alan Jamison and I arrived in Sekondi, Ghana two weeks ago ready to make a difference. We joined members of the Royal Dutch Navy for African Winds 2013, a Dutch Navy-sponsored humanitarian mission to Sekondi, Ghana and Cotonou, Benin, focusing on maternal and child health. As child health specialists ourselves, we have already played an active role in both health education and outreach activities in Ghana.
During our first week, Alan and I taught a course at the naval base in Sekondi to members of the Ghana Navy, which included doctors and nurses as well as other members of the Ghana Navy. We taught the group about proper health examinations for newborns as well as neonatal resuscitation techniques. As part of the course, we also worked in a medical clinic for the military population. We encouraged members of the military to bring their children in for health screenings so that we could assess for things like malnutrition and malaria. It was like a free screening for the children.
Later on that week we took part in some health outreach activities at a local fishing village just a short distance from the navy base in Sekondi. We taught members of the local community about health care and how to observe your own children for optimal health. We taught about danger signs for an infant. We also encouraged pregnant women in the community to give birth in a hospital, which is very uncommon in this community. We learned that it is considered a sign of weakness to give birth with any form of assistance in this culture.
As part of our outreach in the local community, we conducted typhoid screenings, checked for diabetes and did general health assessments. We saw a lot of children, who were malnourished and many who had malaria.
While in Ghana, The Project Hope team experienced generosity, kindness and an insight into the local culture. The Ghanaians shared their beliefs, traditions and knowledge with us. During our outreach program in Sekondi, we met and formed relationships with many different people in the community. Our efforts were successful as we were able to reach out to more than 300 children and adults.
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