Things have been a little quiet online with Healthy Villages, Inc. lately, but behind the scenes, a lot's been going on! In collaboration with Gail Nyoka, professional storyteller, playwright and author, we have a grant funded project that gets underway soon! Gail and Godfried will be traveling throughout the Volta Region (the part of Ghana where we do our medical work) to record the ancestral stories of the Ewe tribe. These stories are in danger of dying out, as the current generation of Elders passes on.
As in much of the world, reverence for the elders in Ghana as the keepers of wisdom has diminished, as society becomes overly focused on technology. Somehow as a human species, we've come to enjoy staring at people interacting on a screen instead of going out and interacting with real humans ourselves. Sadly, that means that while in the past the elders would gather children in the evenings to teach them through the use of stories passed down generation to generation, now kids gather at the home of whomever has a TV. And communities suffer.
As you know, we at Healthy Villages, Inc. are focused on sustainable health for Ghana's villages. Through this project, we hope not only to preserve these stories for our current and future generations, but also to revitalize storytelling as a means of fostering healthy interaction between all ages. We also will be especially interested to learn wisdom stories about caring for the environment, with a future project to create a book of lessons for school children relating ancestral stories with ecological education.
Please follow along with us as this exciting project unfolds!
Voices of the Ancestors: Environmental Education Through Storytelling WEBSITE HERE
Voices of the Ancestors Community Facebook PAGE HERE
Make a $50 donation to this project, and the book of ancestral stories will be donated in your name to a school in the Volta Region. You can make a donation through the Voices of the Ancestors page on this website HERE.
Rather than traveling village to village as we have done previously, we planned three days at one clinic, in the village of Atoklokope. The village has a newly built clinic and is raising money for a labor and delivery building. The clinic is not yet in use, so we were able to use the space to set up tables, chairs, and benches for our work. Our pharmacy was set up outdoors, under a huge mango tree. We learned quickly that the interior office spaces were just too hot for comfort, and everyone moved their tables and chairs outdoors, in the shade of the building or under the trees.
Patients were seated under a canopy until they could be registered and process through the stations we had set up – registration, weighing, vitals, history, testing, evaluation, and pharmacy. It was great having nine volunteers, as it allowed our patients to be seen more quickly than in past missions, and their wait time was less. We had nine Ghana Health Service staff, paired with each of our volunteers for language interpreting and mutual learning.
We worked from around 8am to 3pm with an hour break for a cooked lunch in the shade. Being at the same clinic for all three days made it less stressful in terms of breaking down, packing up meds and supplies, and setting up in a new location every day or two. The downside was not reaching as many people in outlying areas. However, we saw the maximum number of patients we could have possibly treated – we were completely exhausted by the end of each day. Godfried and our volunteer Mike could not have lifted one more box onto the top of the car either!
Below are some data from the mission:
On February 24, 2018 we welcomed our nine volunteers to Ghana. Our volunteer group included five RNs, one nurse practitioner, and three non-medical volunteers. This mission focused on girls and women, and included something new for Healthy Villages, Inc. Since July 2017, over 100 volunteers in Virginia USA gathered together to contribute their time, energy and money to sewing and putting together 600 kits of washable sanitary pads and hygiene products for school girls in poor villages in Ghana. The kits included two moisture-proof panty shields, ten flannel pads, two pair of underwear, a washcloth, enough pain reliever for one period, body wash or soap, and clothespins for hanging the laundered pads. This huge undertaking by the hardworking and dedicated volunteers in the US was rewarded by clapping, calls of “God bless you!”, and remarks such as “this gift will be life changing for me!” by the girls and women who received the kits.
No doubt about it, this was both one of our most successful missions in terms of number of people served, and one of our most challenging. While we had hoped the rains would come in before the arrival of our group of volunteers from the U.S. and the climate would cool down; instead we had sunny, hot days with a temperature index over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. We were “stationed” at two different village secondary schools and a remote village clinic – none of which are air conditioned. The school headmasters and health clinic staff took care to provide us with places out of the sun to work – but it was still very challenging for our volunteers used to a temperature-controlled environment.
As I type this out, I'm waiting at gate A12 in the Indianapolis airport, boarding a flight to DC in about half an hour. Tomorrow I'll be seeing the wonderful people in the photos above and thanking them in person for their open-hearted devotion to an amazing project. Our board member, Lisa Bowers, and her sister, Teresa Richard, probably didn't know what they were getting themselves into when they offered to take on the project of sewing enough cloth menstrual pads so that 600 girls in poor villages in Ghana can have a means of menstrual hygiene. They've gathered together church groups, ladies circles, book clubs, and other service groups to cut fabric, sew the pads, package pain reliever, and donate underwear, washcloths, and soap. The project has brought together women, men and children in the US with a common goal - to give girls in Ghana dignity and empower them for success!
Every single one of the people who've contributed to this project will be with us in spirit as our women's health mission volunteers from the Washington DC and Portland, Oregon areas, and our Ghana based staff travel village to village to distribute these beautiful products to schoolgirls. We are also grateful to the Ghana Health Service - Ketu South Municipality, the Ghana Education Directorate, the Ghana Girl Child Coordinator, and the Ghana Special Needs Coordinator who have been meeting together to choose the villages and the girls to be served by this project. It's really humbling to think of how many people have joined hands across states, countries and continents to make this dream a reality.
BECAUSE NO GIRL OR WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO SUFFER SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT BECAUSE OF A NATURAL AND BEAUTIFUL PART OF BEING FEMALE.
No girl or woman should have to miss a week of school or work every month, or not be able to reach her goals in life because she has no means of menstrual hygiene. Healthy Villages, Inc. is currently pursuing grant funding to continue this project in a sustainable way. Stay tuned for updates!
In addition to sharing the kits of washable, reusable pads, our volunteers and Ghana staff will be spending three days attending to the medical needs of female patients in a remote village. We'll be posting photos and videos of our activities, so please follow us on social media so you can get ongoing updates (click on links below)! Our volunteers arrive in Ghana on February 24!
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In July 2016, we sat down with veteran strategic planner Dana Letts, of New Mexico USA, to brainstorm our goals and vision in starting a non-profit. We had just finished our first healthcare mission, a dental mission that served over 300 people with free dental care. Our question was “how do we make healthcare in Ghana sustainable?” We completed the strategizing process with a mission, vision, and goals.
In August 2016 we officially became a U.S. non-profit organization and attained 501c3 status in September 2016. Since then, we’ve organized and led healthcare missions in October 2016, April 2017, August 2017, and October 2017. Since our first mission in June 2016, Healthy Villages, Inc. has provided totally free healthcare for 4134 villagers living in remote, impoverished villages in Ghana’s Volta Region.
We’ve been able to do this by bringing in volunteer teams of licensed healthcare providers from the U.S. and Canada to work alongside our Ghana-based medical team in an outreach setting. The volunteers make a “minimum required donation” to Healthy Villages which covers their in-country expenses and pays for our staff, medications, and our administrative costs. Their donation is tax deductible.
Providing free care to over 4000 people is quite an accomplishment, of which we are justifiably proud. However, we recognize that outreach missions do not provide a sustainable means of providing follow-up care and medication management. This is an area for continued development as we move forward into 2018.
The year is winding down – just 26 days to go until 2018! Please consider Healthy Villages, Inc. for your end of year charitable giving. We operate our healthcare missions on a shoestring. With additional donations, we can expand the work we do to support specific projects that will make a difference in the lives of poor villagers in Ghana.
One such project is being piloted alongside our Women’s Health Mission in February 2018. Right now, we have a group of dedicated and enthusiastic ladies (and two men!) who are sewing 600 kits of washable and reusable sanitary pads for donation to schoolgirls in the villages. A lack of suitable menstrual hygiene products is a major cause of school dropout, early pregnancy and marriage, and a continuation of the cycle of poverty.
Each kit will contain ten pads, two moisture-proof shields to prevent leakage, two pair of undies, a washcloth, a bottle of body wash, and pain reliever. That’s 6000 pads and 1200 shields they’re sewing, and they’re also taking up collections of the other items in local churches and workplaces. What an undertaking!
We would love to be able to continue this project, having the pads sewn here in Ghana by local seamstresses. This would supply much-needed work to support these hardworking women who are often the only breadwinner for their family. But that takes organizational support, the ability to purchase the needed fabrics, and wages for the seamstresses… and that requires money. Plain and simple.
Long story short, there’s a lot of need we can fill, with the money to do it.
Here are several ways you can donate:
Website – using the ‘donate’ button on any of the pages. Your donation is secure through PayPal.
Facebook – using the ‘donate’ button on our FB page – facebook.com/healthyvillagesghana/
Amazon Smile – log in to Amazon Smile to make your Amazon purchases, and designate Healthy Villages, Inc. as your chosen charity. We get a small percentage of your purchase amount from Amazon.
eBay for Charity – go to eBay for Charity and designate Healthy Villages, Inc. – we get a small percentage of your eBay transactions.
Personal check or money order – email us at email@example.com to get an address to send it to.
Buy a beautiful, 100% made in Ghana, batik scrub top by following this link:
All profits go to Healthy Villages, Inc. These also make great casual shirts with an African flair!
Come on a fundraising tour of Ghana! You’ll have the option of participating in healthcare or other community development activities, and afterwards we’ll take you on a great tour of the country! These are fundraising trips to benefit Healthy Villages, Inc. programs. See the Fundraising Tours page for more information!
Interested in joining us for a mission in 2018? Your knowledge and expertise is needed! Please go to the Health Missions page for information on the mission, travel, and costs!
December 1 is the day set aside to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS around the world. I'm old enough to remember when AIDS first came on the scene in the U.S., and what a horror it was. According to the website worldaidsday.org, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS was first identified in 1984. Since then, more than 35 million people have died from HIV or AIDS. Worldwide, 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. The numbers are staggering. HIV/AIDS has been one of the "most destructive pandemics in history."
According to the website, WorldLifeExpectency.com all but five African countries are rated as having a "high" death rate due to HIV/AIDS - the other five are close to the "high" level. In fact, most of the countries of the world with a "high" death rate from HIV/AIDS are on the African continent. This website lists Lesotho with the highest death rate from this disease - 761.77 deaths per 100,000 people. Ghana ranks #34 worldwide for HIV/AIDS deaths at 49.9 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. has 2.2 deaths from HIV/AIDS per 100,000 people.
As I write this, it’s hard to believe that less than two weeks ago I was in Ghana, and we were just completing our final health mission of 2017! We had another successful mission, and again, we learned a lot about the health of folks living in remote villages and how we can best impact their wellbeing in a positive way.
Our mission team consisted of a Canadian doctorate-level nurse practitioner and her 13-year old daughter, two RNs from the U.S., and our seven Ghana Health Service personnel (pharmacist, physician assistant, EMT, and community health nurses) who assist with prescribing, dispensing medications, explaining tropical illnesses to our volunteers, and language interpretation. On the organizational side, we had three staff providing us with delicious, nutritious meals and doing our laundry, and Godfried and I keeping everything organized and running smoothly. Together, we were able to examine and treat a total of 650 patients – 590 girls and women ages 10 to 99, and 60 young children that their moms had brought for care. We set up our outreach clinic in three different communities for two days each. This report focuses on the girls and women we saw.
Our team of three RNs from the U.S., and one doctorate level nurse practitioner from Canada and her 13-year old daughter, will be arriving soon to head out into the remote villages of Ghana’s Volta Region to evaluate and treat women patients. This will be our first mission devoted solely to adolescent girls and women.
In addition to assessing and treating our patients for everything from bodily aches and pains to severe illnesses like malaria, we’ll be testing for diabetes and high blood pressure, and providing enough medication to last until they can access ongoing treatment. We’ll also be testing for pregnancy, when warranted, and providing prenatal vitamins to all pregnant and early post-partum women (a huge thank you goes out to the non-profit organization, Vitamin Angels, for providing 198 pregnant and lactating women with vitamins to improve the health of them and their babies!).
If women present with symptoms indicative of HIV, or request testing, they’ll be confidentially tested. If positive, they’ll be referred to the municipal hospital HIV clinic, where they can get free medication and counseling. There’s a big push in Ghana to get the word out that HIV is not a death sentence – and that treatment is free and confidential. However, women are concerned about the stigma attached to having HIV, and being ostracized by their village. It’s a hurdle to overcome in slowing the rates of HIV in Ghana. We hope to make a positive impact on this challenging public health issue.
This will be the first of two back to back women’s health missions – the next is from February 24 – March 8, 2018. On our 2018 Women’s Health Mission, we’ll be distributing 500 kits of washable and reusable sanitary pads to schoolgirls in the Volta Region, as well as providing medical care for these young girls and other girls and women in the villages. If you’re interested in joining this, or any of our other healthcare missions in 2018, please go to the Health Missions page of our website and click on any of the dates to read all about the mission, and get information on pricing and travel.
Oh, and you read that right in the first paragraph! The teenage daughter of our NP will be our photographer, videographer, and publicist, as well as assisting the team in other ways. It’s sure to be a life-changing experience for everyone, but especially for this brave young lady.
Stay tuned for trip updates!
Interested in joining us for a mission in 2018? Your knowledge and expertise is needed! Please go to this link for information on the mission, travel, and costs:
Support the work of Healthy Villages, Inc. by purchasing one of these awesome scrubs tops, made in Ghana from Ghanaian batik fabric! Profits go to Healthy Villages, Inc., to buy medications for our missions.