Returning to Ghana Jan 2013: New Trip Proposal

First off, I want to thank all of my followers who are STILL posting, commenting and sending me emails, years after my last post! You are the ones who keep me excited and motivated to write! If you need advice on Ghana and want to learn my opinion, please email me your name, phone number, and best time to call you (calls must be within USA). I have so much to say about the country I love, I cannot possibly answer all of your questions through blog entries or emails.

I am very excited that I am going back to Ghana this Jan 2013!!! Last time I went to Ghana was summer 2011 so it has been a trip long over-due. I am very excited about volunteering at West Africa Aids Foundation with my mentor Dr. Naa. I will stay with her family again and help out in every way I can. Dr. Naa came up with a wonderful project proposal that I am very excited to get started on. She realized that there is a large problem with traffic accidents in Ghana, and there are very few ambulances available (they usually only respond to the needs of the wealthy). If you remember back in 2010 during my study abroad trip, I founded the WAAF Ambulance Fund to raise money for the clinic to get their own ambulance. Patients are commonly transported to and from hospitals in taxis, which is a major health and safety concern. The proposal Dr. Naa and I are working on together is to develop a First Aid Program, teach basic EMT/ first responder techniques, and provide First Aid kits to drivers in Ghana, to help increase the chances of car accident victims recovering after an accident.  Many drivers of taxis and trotros (vans) have not received first aid training before, and once they are properly trained and supplied, they could make a large impact on car accident survival rates. Many American basic First Aid techniques must be altered in order to make the education relevant and effective in Ghana. Drivers can make a significant difference in reducing road-side mortality rates if they learn how to ensure the safety of passengers during traffic accidents.

Since my return to USA, I graduated with my bachelors from Cornell University, I got my EMT-B license, and I worked as an EMT for the largest private ambulance/EMS company in the Northeast.  I am very excited at the opportunity to put my EMT skills to good use through teaching and educating others. The idea of bringing two of my passions together, my love for EMT/medicine and my love for Ghana, will be an excellent opportunity for me. I am also in the process of getting my application together for medical school, which is a long and rigorous process in and of itself. I am looking forward to going back to Ghana to return to my source of joy, inspiration and motivation. After all, if it wasn’t for my study abroad trip to University of Ghana and my internship at Dr. Naa’s clinic back in 2010, I may not be here writing to you today and I may not be on my path to a career in medicine so early in life! Well, I would like to believe I would have found this career path eventually, and I would HAVE to find my mentors at WAAF someway…It seems like I was destined to be here, to become a doctor and to work in underserved areas with the people I love and admire on a local and global scale. I could talk about my love and passion for medicine, WAAF/IHCC, and my proposal in Ghana for days… I will sum it all up in a smile 🙂 and a <3

What made me decide I had to go back to Ghana? It’s funny, I was reminded of these reasons recently. First, one of my best girlfriends from my study abroad trip went BACK to Ghana to see her boyfriend that she met there in 2010. I was interested in how they kept the relationship alive, long distance for over 2 years without seeing each other! Now that takes strength! She inspired me to return to Ghana. As you know, I publicized my engagement with my Ghanaian boyfriend in the beginning of my blog, but since then we decided it would be best to just be friends since long distance wasn’t working well for us for various reasons. Well, I am happy to inform you that I am still in contact with him and he is in a position to make an impact now and help me with my developmental projects in Ghana. I am very excited to go back and see all of my friends in Ghana, including my Cornell grad friends, my friends from U of Ghana who I met during study abroad, and all of the wonderful people who have helped me and inspired me along the way. I want to go back to the Night Market and say hi to the lovely friends who made my breakfast sandwiches each and every morning, and I want to go back to my friend at Bush Canteen who made all of my beads. I remember, she measured me and tied together all of my beautiful waist beads. And I also have my friend who made all of my traditional Ghanaian clothes and styles! I have so many people I love and miss in Ghana, I can’t wait to visit them 🙂  My third source of inspiration that really encouraged me to go back was my other girlfriend’s wedding party! She got engaged to a Nigerian while she was in Ghana. They knew each other through mutual friends and they had a long distance relationship for a while. I am happy they received blessings from both sides of their families, and they are getting married! I am very happy for them.

These stories prove to me that love IS what makes life so beautiful. Passion and love, whether its for a person, a place, or a purpose. If you LOVE who you are and you LOVE what you do, everything else will fall into place. Life is too beautiful and intense to let a day slip away from you. You have to seize every moment, reflect on what you love, and make a difference for others in anyway you can. Sometimes just saying hi to a neighbor or giving away something as a gift is enough to keep the source of human connectedness alive. Sometimes it takes more—well sometimes it takes dedicating a CAREER and livelihood to follow your dreams into uncharted territory, to stand alone on a cause that you are passionate about, and to find others who support that mission as well. I know I don’t stand alone—although I am alone in my studies and my medical school mission, I know I have people who love and support me on a local and global level, and I want to succeed for US ALL. I can envision myself as a first year medical student, retuning to Ghana in Summer 2015 and sharing my experiences with my mentor, Dr. Naa, in the same clinic where all of these beautiful ideas were born.

Thank you for your continued support and I am looking forward to your responses and feedback.

Have a great day!

~Peace and Love ~

Back to GH 3 times since December– New prespective on healthcare in GH, friendship and other updates ;-)

WOW! It’s been a while since my last blog posting back on December 17, 2010. My life has really changed a WHOLE lot and I have tons of updates for you.

First off, I want to thank my friends and readers who continue to read my blog and comment it even a whole year after my first entry! A lot of my experiences in Ghana are fun to describe and quite meaningful to me.  I really enjoy sharing all of my thoughts and getting feedback from everyone. Also, I really love hearing from the people who contact me because they are moving to Ghana or have a similar passion for GH and international medicine!

Now, lets not beat around the bush! Let me get straight to the point– do to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I was able to get a first hand experience of the medical system in Ghana.  Specifically, I learned about the Neurosugery department at Korle Bu and I also got to know several nurses and doctors in the ICU, sterile recovery wards, and [highly] non-sterile recovery wards. At first, I did not want to blog about my experiences right away, but its been over a half of a year since the incident and unfortunate situation occurred.  I will dedicate a whole blog entry specifically on what I saw related to the hospitals in Ghana.

In addition, I got to spend a lot of time with Dr. Naa and her family. I am very grateful for their support, mentorship, and hospitality during my several trips to Ghana. I know I will always have a home and a family to count on whenever I travel to Accra 🙂 I had a lot of great experiences interning with Dr. Naa as well as spending time with her 4 lovely kids. I really enjoyed spending time discussing ways of expanding West Africa Aids Foundation and opportunities overseas with Mr. Eddie Donton, CEO of WAAF, Dr. Naa’s husband. The whole family is a joy to be around and I love rememebering all of our fun times together. I know our relationship between their family and my family will continue to grow and we hope to collaborate on some future endevors in AIDS prevention and treatment.

Also, I will delve right in and explain how I’ve been able to continue to live my incredible GH lifestyle even now that I am back in the States! Well, I am not living a GH lifestyle per se since I am living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and I am working a few jobs and starting school in a few weeks.. But I have INCREDIBLE Ghanaian friends here in NY! All of the deep connections and bonding experiences I mentioned in my previous blogs accurately describe the friendships I am forming here. I am still a part of the Ghanaian community and my friends continue to include me in EVERYTHING, which I am very grateful for! I feel like I finally found my niche and I know where I fit in. I feel like my friends play a large role in creating a fun, loving, hilarious, supportive, entertaining, nurturing environment! This experience is best described as taking GH and placing it in NYC. I couldn’t be happier about my new friends! Like in Ghana, we have tons of fun but I also know that they will always be here for me and I can always count on them to be supportive and understanding. I am also learning to be better person and a better friend. I realized part of what I love about my Ghanaian friends is that they are TRUE friends and they are not afraid to tell you the truth, even if its not what you want to hear! I am able to grow from these experiences and feedback is key. I am learning how to be a more patient person, a better listener, and to be even more open about my thoughts. As a result, I have gotten quite creative and poetic lately, and I can definitely thank my source of inspiration for that 🙂

People always ask me when I am going back to Ghana. The answer is this simple: As soon as someone pays for my flight or whenever I am able to find enough grant money to travel! My best friend here in the states (of course a Ghanaian) needs to get his visa situation together so we can travel! I want to go back to Ghana with a bunch of my NY Ghanaian friends because I know they will make the flight and the trip 1000000x more exciting. No matter where they go, they still have the perfect combo of NY/GH swag! I know I write about this combo all of the time, but NY and GH are really best of both worlds, so the people who live in and experienced both atmospheres are really dynamic and exciting to me. I love being around you guys SO MUCH 🙂 😉 😀 :-*

I have SO much more to say about our GH adventures here and abroad.. This entry is just an intro. There is a lot to update <3 <3

<3 <3 Peace and Love <3 <3

Back Home NOW <3 My message to Ghana, From Kaylin

I have so much to say I have to write another blog entry.  I have too many ideas to fit them all in my Facebook status.  The first thing that happened when the plane landed in NY after two, 7-hour flights, was that my Blackberry powered on. I checked my email in a few minutes and I responded to an email from my Teach for America recruiter.  I also sent an email to my boss, and planned to come into work to tutor science in two days.  It is an incredible luxury to have my email right at my fingertips.  It also makes me realize that I will never complain about having slow internet ever again in my life.

Ghana taught me how to be calmer and more satisfied with the small joys in life.  The second I stepped off the plane, I stepped into the winter and the hustle and bustle of New York City.  Everyone is always rushing and running everywhere. What is the rush? If you constantly rush in life, you never take out enough time to enjoy the present, the here and now.

Ghana is overall a healthier place then New York.  As far as mental health is concerned, in Ghana you will rarely be stressed or anxious.  You learn to relax and you realize that certain things (like electricity and water) are not within your control or influence.  They will turn on and off as they please.  However, you will never go without water or power for so long that you cannot survive happily.  You can always buy water at the store in a plastic sashay, and you can always take a trotro/walk to the nearest internet café.  The weather is so gorgeous; you can usually hang outside with friends, so what is the need for power anyway?  In Ghana, rather then spending hours on facebook, you can simply walk next door and see your friends.  That’s the way life should be.

New York is so cold and dry.  My skin was a lot happier in Ghana. I never had dry skin in my life, and now my skin is so dry from the cold here.  Ghana’s main export is cocoa, so I continue to use cocoa butter lotion as usual.  I stepped off the plane in my AfricanWear and I felt fantastic! I love the feeling of bringing Ghana home with me.

It was never a secret—my boyfriend and I are engaged and we are in a long distance relationship now.  The first question my friends from home always ask me is, “Is he an American?” No. He is a Ghanaian. LOL that question is so funny to me.  Why would I want anything less then the best? I am engaged to the best man in the world for me, and I plan on spending the rest of my life with him.  Long distance doesn’t really faze us since we know we are going to be together forever.

I am not going to lie, the first thing I did after putting my bags down and taking a hot shower, was engagement ring shopping! I tell my friends over and over again, the ring is more for them then it is for me.  If I was in Ghana, I wouldn’t want an engagement ring because I would be with my fiancé everyday.  But in New York, I swear, the first question people ask me is “Where is the ring?”… As if a ring is supposed to symbolize my love for my future husband.. craziness. But then again, what else should I expect from USA?

I am not being critical of USA entirely.  I will admit it; I went on a shopping spree or two within this first week of being home.  New York is good for superficial things like good food, huge department stores, and a wide selection of everything!  I know there are fantastic school, job, and internship opportunities in New York too.  New York is the second best place in the world to me.  One amazing thing about New York is that it’s the home to my amazing family. I am very grateful to have the most loving, caring, open-minded and supportive family in the world (which I love dearly!).  However, as far as locations are concerned, Ghana is better then New York because Ghana has more of the deeper, meaningful qualities I love to incorporate into my life.  But New York is certainly the place I plan to go to get all of my degrees and to go to medical school.  My fiancé and I already have a plan to get an apartment together in the City while I am in medical school and while he is pursuing his masters in a NYC graduate school.

Ghana, Ghana, Ghana. Why are you so sweet, so beautiful? So deep so meaningful? Why do you explain the meaning of life in such simple terms, and why are you always right?  You asked me to return to my history, my roots, and my values.  You asked me to ignore all of the corruption and competition at home, and to open my mind to freedom.  You showed me a way out.  You held me by the hand and led me around the most beautiful land on Earth, and you introduced me to the most caring and loving people I have ever met in my life.  And for that, I thank you and I will be forever committed to you.  Ghana, I will do anything and everything to live a life full of meaning and purpose.  I want to make a difference for women and children, and I want to make this world a fairer place.  I want every child to receive a good education and good health care.  I know I am not superhuman, but I know I will do my part.  I love you and I thank you for inviting me to “study abroad” with you, in order to find myself and discover meaningful purpose and direction in my life.

Peace and Love. We are all one race, the human race. One love. <3