Here at Healthy Villages, Inc., our focus now turns to women’s health. Our next two missions, next month (October 22-November 3) and in February/March of next year, are devoted to women and girls. Females living in poverty throughout the world have particular life challenges, and these needs are also a factor here in the remote villages in Ghana.
One issue faced by adolescent girls and women is something that women in the ‘developed world’ don’t even consider – a lack of menstrual hygiene products. When I think about going to a supermarket or drug store in the U.S., where an entire aisle is devoted to the numerous brands and types of pads and tampons, all at a reasonable price, it makes the situation for girls and women in the villages seem quite dire indeed. What menstruating female wants to have to worry every month about how to handle her monthly flow? Some of the villages we work in are many miles from the nearest market where hygiene products would be available. The cost of the products, plus the cost of transportation to get there, plus the time to get there to buy them, is overwhelming to poor women. It’s not like most of us ‘westerners’ have experienced - a ten-minute, middle of the night run to the nearest 24-hour supermarket to pick up those needed supplies. You kinda have to be here to see what I mean. (Come on a mission with us and you’ll get it! See the HEALTH MISSIONS page for details.)
Then there’s a lack of basic education about menstruation, and other women’s health concerns. The Ghana Health Service is working to break down the taboos around openly talking about what happens at puberty, sexual health, HIV, family planning, and so many issues that directly affect women. We are looking forward to bringing that conversation to our female patients in the villages in the months ahead.
To address menstrual hygiene, one of our board members in the U.S. has organized a project to sew 500 kits of washable, re-usable pads. Each kit will contain 10 pads, and other necessities needed during ‘that time of the month.’ The pads are really beautiful, and how exciting that the groups putting the kits together have stepped forward so readily to help girls here in Ghana. Their rallying cry is “THIS IS FOR THE GIRLS!” How awesome is that!
Three of our women nursing staff here in Ghana are organizing educational events for the schoolgirls who will receive the kits. We’re focusing on girls of adolescent age, and our nurses all feel a special desire to be friends and mentors to these young girls as they move into womanhood, with the hopes that they will be empowered to continue their schooling, and reach their highest potential. Too often, the simple need for menstrual hygiene products prevents girls from attending class, causing them to miss up to a week of instruction each month.
Both in October and February, we’ll be conducting medical missions devoted to women. Some of the major health concerns we’ve noted in past missions are diabetes, high blood pressure, malaria, respiratory and urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), and general body pain. We can’t solve all these problems during a short mission, but we can diagnose the issue, get the patient started on medication, and refer them to the nearest clinic where they can receive ongoing care, if needed. As we continue to develop as an organization, we plan to make a more sustainable impact on health management in the villages where we work.
This brings me to our continuing quest for funding. It’s challenging, as a new organization, to get the needed funding to continue and improve on our efforts in the villages. However, the more missions we complete, and the more of a track record we develop, the higher the likelihood that we will receive funding from a major foundation that will allow us to grow. In the meantime, private contributions are both welcome and needed. Here are several ways you can support our work:
AMAZON SMILE – Make your Amazon purchases through Amazon Smile, and designate Healthy Villages, Inc. as the charitable organization you’re supporting. Amazon donates a percentage of your purchase amount to us.
EBAY FOR CHARITY – Follow this link to designate Healthy Villages, Inc. as the charitable organization to receive a percentage of your transaction from eBay: https://charity.ebay.com/search/healthy-villages-inc
FACEBOOK – Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/healthyvillagesghana/ - click on the ‘Donate’ button on the page, and make your donation directly through Facebook.
WEBSITE – Any of the ‘Donate’ buttons on our website will allow you to make a donation through PayPal.
BY CHECK – Of course, you’re more than welcome to just simply send a check! Please contact me for an address to send it to. We do request that checks be sent by registered mail to our U.S. address. Sadly, even the U.S. postal service is not immune to theft.
IN KIND DONATIONS – We are always in need of empty medicine bottles (with the labels removed and no sticky residue remaining). There is also a long list of over the counter medications we need on each mission trip: ibuprofen, acetaminophen, multivitamins, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, antacid tablets, pink bismuth tablets. Children’s summer-weight clothing (sizes newborn to six years) is donated to the health clinics we work out of, and used as an incentive to get moms to bring their little ones in for well-child checks and immunizations. These items can be sent to our U.S. address and we will hand-carry it in luggage to Ghana. Please contact me for the address.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN OUR WORK IN GHANA, AND YOUR SUPPORT!
From August 5 through 17, 2017, Healthy Villages, Inc. (in conjunction with Show Me Your Stethoscope – SMYS) carried out a healthcare mission in the lower Volta Region of Ghana, devoted to the care and treatment of children. We had four healthcare practitioners from the U.S. on this mission – three registered nurses, and one dental hygienist. Our Ghana-based staff consisted of seven people – a pharmacist, a physician’s assistant, and five community health specialists, who were partnered with our volunteers for language interpreting and mutual education and learning.
We did outreach in six different remote communities during this mission, seeing and treating a total of 1259 children. The youngest child we saw was a newborn of one-week old, and the eldest was 15 years old. This was the largest number of patients who have come to us during the six clinic days of our missions. We were surprised and gratified at the number of children to whom we offered care. It was also surprising how many children were quite ill, received multiple diagnoses, and went home with several different medications to treat those illnesses. We expected about half the number of children, and expected to be focusing more on well-child exams and distribution of vitamins and de-wormer. Part of the reason for this is that during general health missions, caregivers bring very few children to be seen. We felt we had performed a great service to the young by focusing solely on age 15 and under, because we now realize that children’s healthcare needs may go unaddressed.