It's hard to believe that our trip is quickly coming to an end. Three of our teammates left directly from today's clinic to head to Accra, and the rest of us are leaving at 4:30 AM tomorrow to make it in time for a series of flights starting at 10 AM and ending with the last person leaving at 10:45 PM. It's going to be a long day of traveling, but those of us with later flights are excited to have the day to explore Accra and the cultural market. We have one last team dinner tonight, and we'll be packing up all the medical supplies and donations we brought with us this evening- after that, all our official R4G 2013 tasks are complete, and we'll just be focused on enjoying our last hours in Ghana and making sure everyone gets home safely!
In addition to being the last day of the trip, today was the last day of our five clinics, and it was a generally difficult day. It was alternately extremely hot and heavily downpouring, several of the shelters built in the village collapsed during clinic hours, and we just couldn't keep up with the number of patients seeking medical care. It was an exercise in management, quick thinking, and tamping down personal needs and emotions in an attempt to focus one others in need. I don't think our team did it perfectly, but we managed exceedingly well given the circumstances. We were able to see most of the patients waiting (nearly 200 patients in 6 hours), and the remaining 40-50 will be seen by a Ghanaian physician and Lillimed Clinic volunteers next Wednesday using supplies donated by R4G.
Last night we had the opportunity to have dinner with Dr. Victor Agbeibor, the family medicine attending physician at St. Francis who traveled to Ghana with the Bon Secours residents this week. The dinner itself was the usual medley of goat stew, a veggie option, and a million bowls of french fries, but the conversation was inspiring. Dr. Victor is originally from the Volta region (where we have been working in Ghana), attended medical school in Russia, and is currently working in Richmond and traveling internationally for medical missions whenever possible. His short speech was funny and poignant, but his message was serious, direct, and clear: this trip is not the end of our global work as future healthcare providers.
It has become exceedingly clear to me over the past few weeks that the amount of work left to be done in the field of global health in developing countries is immense. The message we received last night is that coming to Ghana for three weeks does not give us the right to check off a box on our to-do list that reads "International Aid." We have a duty and a responsibility to continue the work we've started here, and as REACH 4 Ghana continues to develop and grow as an organization, the results of our work and the relationships we are fostering between our countries will grow. This isn't the end- it's the end of the beginning.
We can't thank you all enough for your support, encouragement, donations, and love over the past year, and I hope you'll all keep reading as we continue to share our thoughts, reflections, frustrations, and ideas for the future after we get back home.