Adopting Ghana

Ghana: Day Seven

In Journal Entries on October 24, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Today is Saturday, so no school.  It’s a different atmosphere because of that. A lot more laid back. I got up too late to eat breakfast with the kids. It doesn’t seem to be as big of a meal for people here anyways, at least not at the orphanage. Orphans eat mush in the morning and adults eat a bit of bread here and there.

I finished inventory of the infirmary. There is a lot more there than I had expected.  There are also more of some things than are needed. Many meds are about to expire as well. We need to try to better coordinate the “surplus” meds that people bring over as part of donation drives for the orphanage so that we can exchange the extra stuff we have with other orphanages, Heifer International, and other aid groups.  We need to work out a system of checkups or we’ll never know people are sick.  We also need a system of giving out supplements that are currently just sitting around.

Seth’s sand fly bite wound is progressing nicely.  Samwell’s puncture wound is doing fine as well. I went to Samwell’s house to treat him today because I also wanted to see the family’s situation and assess their needs for an adoptive parent in the States.  His mother was not at home, but I spoke with Ruth, one of the orphanage care givers, mistaking her for Dorothy until I was corrected later int he day, and did the assessment. Seth was with me for that.

I took Seth to the nearby restaurant to eat a big meal. He’s a very hungry boy!  He ate a huge plate of rice, fried chicken, and coleslaw. It was hard to get him to enter the restaurant at first. I could tell he felt as if he didn’t belong. But after a bit, he went in with me. He had a good time eventually.Early in the morning I had given Gloria my dirty clothes from the last week for washing. I was hesitant to do this because it has been hard to tell whether she is upset about yet another Obruni taking up space in her house, let alone how she would react if I suddenly handed over my laundry (I’d been warned by other Obrunis that it’s easier to just wear dirty clothes all over again than to ask to have your laundry washed). I’ve tried to be a good guest and be helpful where I’ve known how, but I think there is a cultural difference here with regards to gender and who is allowed to help with what.  Yesterday, while driving home from the embassy, I asked Kingsley how to approach the situation. Should I attempt to wash my clothes on my own? I was certainly no stranger to that from my 2 years in Guatemala. Was there someone nearby I could pay to do it? Could I pay Gloria? Kingsley explained that there wasn’t anyone nearby to wash them, especially with the water shortage going on, and that Gloria would refuse any payment because this is her own house and I’m a guest.  He chuckled at the idea of my doing my own laundry because that’s just not how it’s done here. Men’s and women’s roles are not as interchangeable as they are in the States. Women look with derision and disdain upon a man who won’t let or tries to help his wife do the cooking and washing. His job is to obtain household goods and finances while hers is to manage the household. Period. Even guests.

When Seth and I returned from lunch and I was in my room, the door flew open and my clean, dry laundry came sailing in and landed on the other bed in the room. I had to go round up the rest. I guess that answered my question.

Here, they dry the clean clothes by laying them out on the dirt soccer field. It makes no sense because there is a clothesline behind the orphanage (though it seems to be used more for hanging clothes and towels at bathtime). No harm done, though. Just had to shake the dirt and grass off of them.

at the Actors' Guild Question and Answer, 2005
I’m not a doctor, but Hugh Laurie plays one on TV.

I’m becoming a regular doctor around here. Joseph, a man from church, stopped by and complained of stomach pains and heartburn that, according to my “Dr. Mom” book I brought along, was very much identical to the symptoms of stomach ulcers.  I didn’t want to “prescribe” any of the prescription Rx in the cabinet because I’m not really qualified (at least not in the States) to do so.  So, I told him to lay off the spicy fufu and banku, as well as soda and other acidic foods, and try to eat a balanced, bland diet.  I could tell by the look on his face that asking a Ghanaian man not to eat the spicy stuff was like asking him to eat his own arm off at the elbow, so I asked him what, if anything, a doctor had prescribed for him in the past that helped. He said the magic word…Pepcid…for which I had several bottles of 100 tablets that were about to expire.  In accordance with the directions, and the commercials on TV back home, I gave him a bottle and told him to take it twice daily before meals.

Kingsley’s mom fractured her hip a while ago, so she calls out to me twice a day for something to relieve the pain.  She had taken ibuprofen before, but knowing how that had affected my own mother’s GI tract over the years, I switched her to acetaminophen.  I also gave her some OsCal to supplement her brittle bones as she was showing some signs of osteoporosis in her back and hip structure and posture as well.

Of course, I later checked in with Dr. Curzon in the States to see if I was “doing this doctor thing right” and, thankfully, I was.

Tonight I gave Kingsley a big portion of the adoption money and told him to use 40 cedis of it to take his family out to eat at the restaurant. They need to feel like their own family once in a while with all the orphans running about and depending on them.  Plus, maybe it will smooth things over with Gloria about the laundry. 🙂

I mentioned earlier that we’ve been out of washing water since day 2 of my being here. We also ran out of drinking water this morning (the uber-purified, strictly H2O kind in the plastic bubble bags).  Despite having been drinking lots of water from those bags since I got here to stay hydrated, I’ve been nothing but progressively dehydrated.  It just doesn’t seem to be doing me any good.  I gave Kingsley some extra cash to buy more water for the household and the kids (and me). I found lots of electrolyte powder in the infirmary and in a closet in the house that had been left by some German aid workers a while back, so I’ll start adding that to my water bottle every time I drink from it. The stuff makes the water look like urine. Yuck! But if it can keep my real urine from looking like that, I’m ok with it.  The key is to close your eyes while preparing it and pretend it’s Gatorade (which is what it essentially is).  That way, you can deceive yourself into liking it.  I suppose it’s meant more for the kids who have diarrhea, but there’s also no use in the doctor not being healthy.

Seth fell asleep on the other bed in the room after I refused to let him sleep on my newly clean sheets unless he changed to pajamas or cleaner clothes after playing in the dirt all day. He likewise refused to change clothes and clean up.  He can be a stubborn one and it seems his brand of stubbornness will fit right in at home.  Before he fell asleep, I talked to him about all the fun and good things he could anticipate in his new home in the States. He really liked the idea that when you’re thirsty you just turn on the tap and drink from a glass and that there is always clean, cool water.  I’m severely missing that option right now.

He fell out of the bed around 11pm and smacked his noggin on the hard concrete floor and cried a lot, but I held him and checked his head and he was ok after a few minutes.

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