Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Rectifying Message

With reference to the September 30th post, I no longer support World Vision. My views do not coincide with theirs, and I learned their practices are not sustainable.

Amnesty International effectively works to improve international human rights. If you're interested in this kind of stuff, check out their website: http://www.amnesty.org/ .

Happy holidays!


Friday, 30 September 2011

Only Africa

A final hello from Ghana,

If this is your first time visiting the blog, I welcome you.

It has always been a dream of mine to volunteer in Africa. The months of arduous preparation were most definitely worth the effort. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone for your support. Notably, I would like to thank Carol Pippy and the congregation at St. Andrew's United Church, Vernon Bridge for your kind donations. And I can't forget about Mom and Dad; I wouldn't be here without you.

I was partially inspired to volunteer in Africa by hearing the stories of other people. Local Islanders who have ventured South and shared their experiences, such as Kent Myers and Amy Somers, made me want to do the same. I would be happy to give a presentation to anyone who would want to listen when I return home in December.

We each contain the propensity to change the world for the better. You don't have to take drastic financial measures and travel to a far off land.  The simple action of donating money to a Non-Governmental Organization is a great way to make a difference. For instance, $50 can provide a vital sight restoring surgery to a person living in poverty. I can attest to the fact that these surgeries improve the lives of people! If you liked what you read this month, consider donating to Unite For Sight: http://www.uniteforsight.org/how-to-help.

If you want to make a positive difference to the lives of people living in poverty, educate yourself and do what you can. Somalia is one of the worst places in the world right now. Ten million people are devastated by the famine in the Horn of Africa. Be a hero and donate to The Humanitarian Coalition of Canada: http://humanitariancoalition.ca/.

This holiday season, why not buy a gift for a person in the Third World? Improving health and education are the best means of reducing poverty in developing countries. World Vision has a brilliant catalog of meaningful gifts you may want to consider: http://www.worldvision.ca/Pages/welcome.aspx.

This has been an unforgettable month. Africa will always be in the corner of my mind. I hope to return again someday, but in the meantime I have a flight to catch to London. I am excited to begin my second year of optometry training next week. Working alongside the eye care professionals in Africa reassured me that I made the right career choice.

Thank you again for following along, and I look forward to talking with you in the future.

Adam Drake

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Three Villages, 1000 Eyes

Monday: The outreach team drove three hours to a village in the central region. The rain poured down as we screened 100 people inside a church. I knew I would be staying in the village for a few nights, so I was initially apprehensive about my accommodation. However, we lodged at a comfortable inn, and my fears of living in a mud hut were quashed.

Tuesday: I had an omelette with beans and toast for breakfast. It was an optimistic start to the day. We screened 150 people at another local church. Overall, my communication skills improved while I was in Ghana. Giving instructions to people who speak a different language was tricky at first, but I quickly adapted some efficient methods. We advertised the next day's outreach over the van's loud speakers on the drive to supper that night.

Wednesday: The announcements worked, and we screened 250 patients on outreach. What blew my mind was the amount of time people were willing to wait around to see the doctor. Could you imagine showing up to an appointment at 8:00am, only to see the doctor at 4:30pm? That's what most of these people did! The patience they displayed in waiting their turn illustrated how much they valued the service.

Thursday: We drove back to the city in the morning. Lian and I observed surgeries all afternoon. Unite For Sight graciously provided a drive to the eye clinic for the village people with ailments such as cataracts. Pictured below is the outreach team standing with some patients:

A major barrier to health care in the Third World is lack of transportation. Unite For Sight eliminates this barrier by travelling to the villages on outreach, and also providing transportation for those who require surgery. This way, health care is being delivered to those who need it most.

It was an enjoyable experience working with the people in the village this past week.

I am going to write a final entry tomorrow to sum up my month in Ghana. I appreciate you following along with the blog.



Sunday, 25 September 2011

Gearin' Up For The Week

Hello again,

I am packing my bags and getting ready for the village this week. Instead of going on outreach and coming back to the hotel at night, I will be travelling to the village for the full week. There won't be internet there, so I will be unable to update the blog.

I will provide some closing remarks on Thursday about my time in Ghana.

Hope you all have a good week!


Friday, 23 September 2011

Two Busy Days

Hi everyone,

The past two days were quite busy. We were on the move for ten hours each day, and we screened over two hundred people in total. Yesterday, I did visual acuity for everybody, and today I worked at the dispensing table. The sun was hot and I was glad to be in the shade.

Before I came to Ghana, I had to do training for Unite For Sight. One of the modules taught me about caregivers for blind people in the Third World. All too often, blind adults are cared for by younger members of the family. When a child is given the responsibility of caring for an older adult, it makes it difficult for him or her to attend school. Pictured below is a child leading a blind adult by a walking stick:

Where will this child be in ten years from now? Will he be able to obtain a proper education to secure meaningful employment? If his sole responsibility is to care for his blind relative, his development will be hindered by the burden. By intervening and providing eye care to this woman, and other people like her, the hope is to break this negative poverty trap.

The week went by really fast, and I'm glad it's time to kick back and relax! I'll check in again soon.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pig Skin and Broken Vans

Howdy from Ghana,

I began the day with another plate of rice, noodles, and fish for breakfast. Then the outreach team and I departed for the village. We drove three hours through rural Ghana. I listened to my iPod and watched the palm trees and small communities pass by. Aside from the infrastructure, it's not that different from home. I still find comfort in seeing the red soil.

My job today was to operate the dispensing table. After the patients sat with the optometrist, they came to me to receive their medication and/or glasses. We saw exactly 100 people today, and it went quite smoothly.

Pictured below is the village we visited:

The van broke down on the drive back, and we sat on the side of the road for an hour. I barely noticed the time go by! Time is more fluid here, and less compartmentalized than at home.

Lian and I went back to that African restaurant where I had the scary crab stew last week. A word of caution: Don't order the cheapest thing on the menu unless you know what it is. I was unknowingly served a bowl of spiced pig skin for supper. Let's just say I was glad Lian got plantains and beans, because we were able to share.

Time to rest up for another busy day tomorrow.