October 23

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Chapter 2. “This is Africa and also…..THIS IS AFRICA (TIA)”

I´d like to keep talking to you about my experience in Ghana, I thought it could be useful to have something that could come with us during all the story, like a nexus….one sentence for each chapter, doesn’t  looks bad….

In the first post, I spoke about the expression “do not cross the bridge till you come to it”. At some point in the first chapter I used an expression that we foreign people usually use here ……TIA (read T-I-A , which means : THIS IS AFRICA)…..Usually this expression is used for bad things, or when something is not working properly or in what we understand is our particular European way ….I want to clarify that it can also be used  in a good sense – Africa could be the mixture of these different feelings like in the picture: an amazing lake with a storm coming.

But first, I’d like to apologize for my English (soon in my personal blog you will find the translation to Spanish https://pablocastanedaghana.wordpress.com/) and also for the not so good quality of the pictures, this is my first blog and I will try to improve with each post. Laura have commented that she prefer the English version……up to you..

As you already know, the project I’m working in is called TLI, TROPICAL LABORATORY INITIATIVE. It runs in different sites and countries, but I will speak specifically about my lab here in the Bonsaaso cluster in Ghana (the first one opened and now a reference for the others). The main task here in the Bonsaaso area is to confirm and give laboratory diagnosis for some rural clinics.

tli

When my supervisor Yanis told me that the lab was in a remote area, and that the daily trip to “the office” could take us more than an hour by car…I never thought what it really meant. But this is Africa. Bonsaaso is an area with several small villages that, even though distances are not very big, the roads are a pain in the arse. If you think that it is hard every day,  it can get even worse if it rains (can´t wait to see what it will be like during the rainy season). I want to show you some imagines about my every day trip:

 

You can look how is raining here every day:

Can you imagine how this clinics can get any analysis or confirmation of diagnosis for TB and Malaria? This is the work of TLI and here also I can say that this is Africa. An amazing idea implementing here, the samples are recollected in each clinic everyday by a motorist  (remember these roads…) and the laboratory sends the results by sms the same day so that the treatment can start or to confirm the results. Now the laboratory is working with 8 clinics (I will speak about the clinics in next posts), let me show you a map:

foto1

Sorry for this picture, but it is not easy to find this map in Google map. In the centre Tontokrom is the lab and the clinics are marked with one H.

Even more, when I saw the lab, my new office for the first time, I could only think about TIA …. How can they work here?…this is Africa.

But after a couple of weeks here, I assure you that this modest lab rocks. We work hard and the results for the detection of Malaria  | Hepatitis | TB, etc. are very good…and here too, this is Africa.

My feelings, this is what everybody asks about, the part you´re waiting for.  My first week in the hotel was awful, I must say. I could only think about changing my room for a better one because the power is not as good as at home, and it´s not always that you can enjoy electricity or water (for a proper shower), or maybe you cannot get your phone charged, but this is Africa… I need to adapt myself to this facts that can be a problem in our northern mentality.

But Africa is also the people, the people that help, the people that come to you always with a big smile on their face. For me, one of the main things that can define this big continent is the way people smile, their happiness and their music:

and the colours:

You see smiles everywhere, in everybody´s faces, you hear the music, those happy and fast rhythms, and you can feel they worry about you,asking you how you are doing, how you are feeling… you can also hear the sound of AFRICA.

And Africa is also the countryside… the big landscapes, green all around, the size of nature, the mountains, because everything is huge here… It´s amazing how I can spend 2 hours on my daily trip to the office. During this time I can see all the children going to school, playing, laughing, smiling… it’s only with them that these two hours seem to be less….and also THIS IS AFRICA.

But don´t be afraid… I´m still here, thinking about including more poetry and heavy words to have more impact on your subconscious, trying to get your attention …..but I am still here,  I am getting angry a lot of days and also I am complaining for a lot of things…..food, water, work…..still me.

foto-mia

Thank you again for reading this. If you want to see the Spanish translation check https://pablocastanedaghana.wordpress.com/

ME DAA SE

In the next blog Pablo will return…