Chapter three. “To get the hang of it”

During a couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to find the title for this chapter… Since I wrote my last post and after reading your comments I’m feeling a bit intimidated… maybe you are expecting too much…

I’ve been in Ghana for a month… actually, more than a month, I am going now for the second one, the time here goes faster…..and one thing I can tell you is that I am getting the hang of it, I’m feeling better here now.

During the first month, you need to adapt yourself to a lot of things. I mean, here you are out of your comfort area, not only away from home but also out of your usual work. Sometimes with a lot of empty time and not a lot of friends to fill it in. But life could also appear in the middle of something that looks dead and, like in the picture, something grows inside you.

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Then, you start thinking “maybe I will not set the whole world on fire”, and you feel frustrated in the work even in your personal life here. But in the end you get the hang of it. Don’t worry, this feeling appeared only during the first weeks and then it disappeared and… reappeared again later on and I guess that it will go on like that …This is like a roller-coaster going up and down, but, nevertheless, it is not bad. You only need to accommodate your mind to these changes and you’ll always find something positive. You need to get the hang of it  (one similar expression  really funny  in Twi “ahaaaa” when you understand something).

As usual, I will start telling you about my work. I think you already have a lot of information about my NGO here, Earth Institute, but just as a remainder I’ll tell you that they opened a lab here called the TLI Tropical Laboratory Initiative in collaboration with the MVP (Millennium Village Project) with the idea of supporting several clinics in the area.

And now, what I can do for Earth Institute during my time here? (Juanito this is for you, I am spending some of my time working…). They are doing a transition from private to semipublic and need to be sustainable. It all sounds very good, but when you come here it is different from what you thought. First of all is their way of working, which is a bit different here, and maybe not all your ideas will be suitable enough to be put in place here .

Hold on! Stop thinking in your “normal” way. Maybe you should adapt your objectives to the way of work here and in that case, you need to find some alternatives that you could use here in the field. After one month here, you know how they work and communicate. As you can see, the medical histories and installation are very far from our thoughts, there aren´t computer or a big database, but the clinics are working and with the help of TLI they are getting a very important drop in child mortality during the last years.

But, if they are working properly, what can I do to have a successful work here? Yes, I could definitely do something. Nowadays, the plan doesn’t look bad.I can work to increase the communication with the clinics and increase the level of organization inside TLI (I know that This is Africa, but we can work to improve the organization). I started working on basic organization of the lab (schedule of motor rider) and doing a poster to put in each clinic, even I’m going to speak with them closely, spending a lot of time with them… Here they need more personal contact, and the way you communicate needs to change, be more friendly and spend a lot of time with them. Maybe you need to work in those small details that usually you don’t see in your normal live… Smile, establish a good communication, be empathic…

This is why I changed my plans after my first observations and now I am thinking in a different way. I am getting the hang of it. I mean, doing my first time days, I was visiting the clinics to increase the number of samples that they send to the lab. In the clinics, I am getting to know more people and I also have the opportunity to see how they work and it is really awesome.

This is a marketing work, very far for my usual work, but it is not bad. I will keep you informed about my advances, this is only the first step of my plan, because in the second part we are working with the government to introduce the lab in the NHIS( National Health Insurance Scheme)

And, like always, what about my feelings during this time?. Now, I could say also that I am getting the hang of it, I feel like at home for several reasons. Last week it was my birthday and the previous days I wasn’t feeling  that well, being away from home, family and friends.  But I need to THANK YOU ALL for your support because during that day I felt like at home. Thank you for the video Jaime et all, seeing you all was amazing, also your cats, Bea, and all your families… I cannot mention each one in the video but thank you all. Also thank you to my family that is always there and, of course, my friends ( your video before my departure was amazing too), and all the people that gave me their support during that day…Also I got a letter, paper letter (amazing…), for my birthday. But it was not only out of Ghana that people wished me a happy birthday, I also found a place here, at the weekend, where I could spend a terrific day with my colleagues in Kumasi (feeling like at home). You can see that at the end of the day I am getting the hang of it:

I will speak about some experiences that also help me to get the hang of it. In a weeding during my first month here, they invite me to do pictures and share with me this special day, without know me…I was walking on the street and they gave me the opportunity to share with them this incredible time:

Two weeks ago, also I went to a funeral. Can you believe that? Here it is like a social event. I’ve been told that in the Ashanti region it is very deep-rooted, and all the close and distant relatives and friends come to be with the family wearing their typical clothes, black or black and red (I will speak with more details about it in a future post, but in the funeral there are food and drink and dance), but here you have some pictures:

To finish talking about these weeks, just one event more that you need to see at least once in Ghana. You have to go to a church and see all the people dancing and singing (I will try to take better pictures next time), here you have some from outside the church:

All these kinds of things mark the difference. People try to make you feel at home and, by doing so, help you to get the hang of it.

 Today it’s a long post, but I don’t want to finish without telling you something more about Ghana. Ghana also can give you the opportunity to see different scenarios that always surprise you (some pics come from other post but there are new too):

Bosomtwe Lake

Cape Coast and Elmina

Ashanti (Aboaboso)

And I have also discovered the nights in Ghana… Something that could sound silly, but it gives you another view as well.

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Remember, the small things can help you every day, even discovering new things to do.

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At the end of the last post I told you that I was still here… I suppose that I am still here but  I’m a bit different now, this experience can help you to get to know yourself a little bit more and, the most important thing, sooner or later, you’ll GET THE  HANG OF IT!

Sorry again for the long post, but I never know when I should finish it. I could never imagine that I would write more than two sentences…And also the pics…I am still so shy to make pictures everywhere.

As always you can see the post in Spanish ( at least some parts)  in https://pablocastanedaghana.wordpress.com/

ME DA SEE and speak soon.