Farewell Ghana…until next time!

As we began our final day,  we were eager to return to Korle Bu to meet with Albert OseiBagyina  and observe Dr. Laing’s cleft lip surgery. We were divided into groups that rotated throughout the morning.  Two groups of graduate clinicians worked in teams assessing both children and adult’s speech and language abilities and providing functional recommendations.  Other graduate clinicians provided language stimulation to children in the burn unit and showed techniques to parents.  Meanwhile, another group prepared to enter the operating room.   Students  observed and listened to  Dr. Laing as he explained the procedure for repairing the bilateral cleft lip on the tiny patient.  We were all amazed at the opportunity to stand a few feet away from the operating table and watch as Dr. Laing masterfully cut and sutured  the patient’s lip.  After everyone had observed the surgery and all the patients were seen, we bid goodbye to Albert OseiBagyina and the other staff at Korle Bu.  

After leaving the hospital, we returned quickly to our hotel and prepared for our evening departure.   Our packed bus then headed to the market for some final shopping and a visit to a Ghanaian art gallery.  The gallery housed beautiful paintings, beaded necklaces, antiques, and unique replicas of traditional burial caskets which included a Coca Cola bottle, a sneaker, and many others.   Dinner was our next stop, where we would enjoy our beloved chicken/fish and spicy jollof  rice.   After a delicious meal, it was time to head for the the airport.  

Many of us were filled with heavy hearts knowing that this would end our trip to Ghana.  Our amazing journey had begun just 2 short weeks ago and had traversed an array of patients and emotions.  We knew there was much work left undone but hoped that our efforts would impact many.  Throughout our experience, we gained much more than improved clinical and assessment skills.  Ghana and its extraordinary people had influenced us more than we had ever imagined.  We leave with the Ghanaian spirit within.

Ma da se pa! 

Students with Vivian and Regina at their unit school

Students with Vivian and Regina at their unit school


Thursday January 10th

We woke up before the crack of dawn (330am) to leave Kumasi and head to Accra. Unfortunately not even 10 minutes into our journey, our bus broke down. Luckily we had some handy men on board who apparently fixed the problem with some duct tape. We finally departed and despite some rough terrain along the way we arrived in good time. Around 11am we visited the unit school of two wonderful special education teachers who we met at the professional development retreat. The teachers, Regina and Vivian, were surprised and excited to see us. They told us about their school and gave us a brief tour. They also told us about how they became special education teachers since there is a stigma in Ghana about working with children with special needs. During our visit we also had the opportunity to meet the head teacher, who greeted us with warmth. Before we left we provided Regina with bags of therapy materials that we collected, and she was very grateful. After visiting Regina and Vivian’s school, we headed back to Korle Bu Hospital to assess patients with cleft lip/palate and provide therapy recommendations. We saw 12 patients, some with repaired cleft lip/palate and some with unrepaired cleft lip/palate. After assessing and providing recommendations, we met with the cleft palate team, which included surgeons Dr. Laing and Dr. Paintsil, as well as an ENT, Dentist, Nurses, 2 Speech Pathologists and a Social Worker. Each patient was brought in and the case history was discussed amongst the professionals. One speech pathology student for each patient presented our assessment findings and speech/feeding recommendations. Being a part of the cleft palate team at Korle Bu Hospital was such an educational experience for all of us, as we were able to ask questions and learn from the amazing cleft palate team. One patient that was particularly interesting was a young girl age 7 who had an unrepaired unilateral complete cleft of the lip and primary palate. She was recently adopted by a man who found her in a village about 9 hours away. Both of her parents had passed away and she was living with her grandmother who did not have the resources to take care of her. She was not attending school and was often ridiculed. After speaking with the family the man was able to adopt the child and he picked her up 9 days before today’s meeting. He knew that he could help her by bringing her to the cleft palate clinic at Korle Bu. During our evaluation we found that the young girl’s speech was minimally affected by the cleft lip. She used appropriate placement of her articulators for all sounds, which told us that after she has her lip repaired her speech will develop typically. The generosity and caring nature of this man changed this little girl’s life and it warmed all of our hearts. Following the cleft palate team meeting we all boarded the bus and sang the traditional Ghanaian songs that we learned on this trip. For dinner we stopped at a restaurant where Anthony Bourdain has eaten. It was delicious! Tomorrow we are planning to go back to Korle Bu Hospital and observe a cleft lip surgery, which we are all very excited about! Goodnight All!


Day 2 Kumasi

After a delicious breakfast, we were energized and prepared to work at the Effaduasi Methodist Unit School or Komfo Anokye Hospital. 

At the unit school, TC students facilitated as the teacher, Belinda Bukari, used the new schedule board and calendar within the classroom.  During a literacy activity, students incorporated the use of a word wall containing important vocabulary words from Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle, which is a class favorite.  As well, TC students engaged the children in a group activity using the soccer ball that had been provided at the professional development.  The children were encouraged to communicate verbally or nonverbally throughout the play activity. Many students from the general education classroom also joined the game and interacted with the special needs students.  Finally, TC students returned to the market with the unit school children and observed as they purchased food using the AAC market cards.  It was an exciting and amazing experience to see the children implementing the market cards functionally.

Meanwhile, other TC students were working at Komfo Anokye Hospital. The waiting room was filled with families that had traveled for several hours seeking help for their children.  TC students worked diligently assessing and providing recommendations for 18 patients.  The patients that were seen had varying difficulties  including dysfluency, hearing impairment, language delay, or cognitive impairment.  Everyone was touched by the parent’s dedication to practice and use the recommendations and their appreciation for the help.

In the afternoon, we boarded the bus and headed to the Cultural Center for some shopping and visit to the museum to learn more about Ghanaian history and traditions. We also meet and talked with a local wood carver, Emmanuel, and his son with whom Cate Crowley has known for several years.  Everyone was also able to watch as craftsmen meticulously wove traditional kente cloth.  

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