I have been in Ghana for just 7 days, but already I know a significant shift has occurred in my life. While I have been with the RHC for about 3 years, this is my first trip to Ghana to meet the Kekeli women and hear first hand about the impact these women are making in their communities. It is one thing to read about their inspiring work in an email, but something completely different when I am sitting next to a Kekeli woman under the shade of the mango tree looking into her smiling eyes and hearing about the taxi plan created to ensure that all women in labor have a reliable source of transportation to the hospital. As I have now visited many of their rural communities, I understand the importance of having a reliable taxi on call when they could be hours to the closest maternity ward.
To recap a little from this week though – Kristin has now experienced the Ghana “moto” ride given by one of the RHC Ghana staff, Godwin. We have all tried “kenki” and “pepe,” kind of like a tamale with salsa. I have learned how to snap with the person whose hand I am shaking and say a proper greeting in Ewe (although I have still not mastered the skill of balancing heavy objects on my head while walking around). I have swapped nursing and baby stories with the other moms in the Kekeli program, and of course learned how to wear a baby on my back! It has been a wonderful way to connect with the women and they are all desperate to meet my son!
And as for today … it was graduation! After one year of studying the Home Based Life Saving Skills curriculum, the Kekeli women have completed their training. HBLSS is comprised of preventive and life saving skills topics that help to reduce maternal and infant mortality through birth preparedness, problem recognition, and community action referral plans. We were honored to have a member of Parliament come to the program and give an inspiring speech about how educating a woman truly educates a community.
The impact has already been seen in the communities since this training has begun, as can be seen in the story of one Kekeli woman, Beauty. She was called when a woman in her community was in labor but still at home. The husband had been called and they were waiting for him to come and take her to the hospital, but he was delayed. Because of the knowledge Beauty had learned, she encouraged the woman to empty her bladder and gave her a sacral massage. The baby was born and Beauty cut the cord with a new razor blade, covered and cleaned the baby, cleaned the woman, and then transferred the mom and baby to the hospital. Beauty has provided care at the time of delivery in this way to 6 women since the HBLSS program has started.
I can’t believe that my time is almost up here, but I am already planning when I will come back. And as for the Kekeli women and the RHC Ghana team – the work goes on!