Ada in Ghana appears to be an idyllic destination for tourists who stay in luxury hotels on the banks of the Volta enjoying their water sports and for the millionaires who have constructed their mansions on the same water front.
The locals live their lives in contrast to this, subsisting on fishing from simple boats which they take out to sea in the dangerous confluence of the Volta with the Atlantic Ocean, or working on the salt flats of Songor Lagoon, the largest producer of natural salt in Ghana. The owners of the luxury hotels and mansions have cut off access to the river shores of the Volta (which is as wide as a lake) and are thereby impeding the locals in their fishing. Many of the workers at the salt flats are becoming blind due to the extreme exposure to the sun which reflects off the white salt and can no longer work, bringing ruin to their families. There are also many children working the salt flats who have been abandoned from the caravans coming from central Africa in search of salt.
Luxury and the crudest poverty live together in this area. They live together in such a way that the salt flats are even a tourist attraction.
Against this background the Dangme East Hospital was founded, supported by only one doctor, Dr Philip Narth and 30 nurses who between them support a population of 186000 people. Dr Philip is a person for our gallery of anonymous heroes: he’s on call 24 hours a day and handles everything from attending a lorry full of people with multiple traumas (traffic accidents are frequent) to whatever other case arrives needing whatever medical specialty. He’s a doctor that lives for his people.
Mediterranea started to collaborate with Dangme East Hospital in 2006. So far we have renovated their laboratory with all sorts of material and equipment, taking over many types of medical apparatus and medicines. We have constructed a residence for mothers to stay in when they have to travel from long distances to have their children treated. Previously they had to sleep outside by the river at risk of being attacked by crocodiles or violated.
Now we are returning to start up a new service of Physiotherapy at the hospital, the equipment for which was generously donated by some British members who purchased some 25000 euros worth of equipment and materials. This Physiotherapy service is very much needed due to the very large number of traffic accidents as previously mentioned and due to the high level of cardiovascular problems that the hospital treat.
After much toing and froing, including the disappearance of the person who had promised to get the department started and the search for a group of Physio volunteers who would be able to train the nurses and locals, we have at last at the point where we can start. We have a team formed and ready, from the Department of Physiotherapy of the University of the Baleares and individuals from other areas of Spain and the UK. The list is still open for any Physios interested because we are not only focussed on supporting the hospital but we also want to try and support the various health centres dispersed throughout the region that are run by paramedics and above all to help those who live far from the hospital and cannot travel.
We also have the intention to take on some social project in the area if possible and are counting on the help of Dr Philip and Kofi Larweh: http://gumucio.blogspot.com/2008/09/radio-ada.html . The untiring presenter of Radio Ada who knows his local society very well and is a great motivator of the people.
We are taking thousands of pairs of sunglasses for the workers of the salt flats to help them avoid becoming blind. Here you can see a report on this situation, focussing principally on the women workers of the salt flats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxb2-Wh0FYg
Until we return!