Friday, July 3, 2009

Curtins Returns to Obuasi!

We received the call! Curtins has been released from the hospital. They believe that all of his symptoms are being caused by malnutrition. The good news: We can buy plenty of food to help offset this for some time. We have already purchased close to $2,000 worth of food which will last for some time. However, the most expensive foods are precisely the ones that kids like Curtins need the most. Things like fish, peanut butter, beans, and other protein-rich foods are extremely important here in Ghana where protein is often hard to come by. Most meals are full of rice and corn and soup, but it is extremely difficult for the kids to come across protein which is so important at their peak growth age.

On a brighter note. William, one of the older boys at the orphanage was suffering from an infection in his kidneys which caused his face and hands to balloon. The cause was most likely malaria throughout his life. However, after visiting the Doctors at the hospital in Kumasi, he was prescribed an antibiotic to cure the infection. Because the orphanage was unable to cover the cost, United Students for Africa was able to provide William with the antibiotics he needed. In just the past week, William is back on his feel playing "futbol" and running around with the other kids. The pains have ceased and William is on the road to recovery!

If you would like to help us help these kids, please donate by either sending a check to:
United Students for Africa, Inc.
627 S Manchester St.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Or by visiting our website and transferring money via Paypal:

Today we plan on visiting the market again and spending the money we have set aside for Adullam orphanage on other necessities. We will be visiting the Volta Region Sunday through Tuesday to bring aid to Hardt Haven--an orphanage specializing in children with HIV.

Thank you all for your support. We look forward to touching as many lives as possible throughout our last week in Ghana.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Curtins Update from Komfo Anokye Hospital

Good news! Curtins is doing excellent. I went to visit him yesterday in Kumasi. I went along with one of the kids from the orphanage and one of the workers. We took the "metro" bus and arrived right at visiting hours. As soon as I walked through the door, Curtins got out of his little bed and yelled Michael and ran to me. That was the first time I had seen him run since last year.

We spoke to the Doctor and he informed us that Curtins hasn't thrown up for two days--since the nutritionist met with him. He seems very strong right now and wouldn't stop talking! He kept asking me questions and telling me he wanted me to get him five eggs. After I went to get him all 5 eggs, he told me, through an interpreter, that he didn't want to stay there anymore. I assumed he meant the hospital so I told him he had to stay to get his tests done. He replied, "America!" That was about the only english word he knew how to speak. I got the point though.

Apparently Curtins won't stop telling everyone that he doesn't want to stay here anymore, but wants to come to America with us when we leave. I told him he had to stay in the hospital until he gets better before he can think about America! I also told him he should start studying english... :)

When we left, Curtins was sure to ask me when everyone would visit him again. I told him we would come back soon. He is supposed to be getting his heart scan right now, but who really knows. Hopefully he gets it done soon.

Until next time,


Monday, June 29, 2009

Market Days

After compiling the list of things needed by Adullam, we went through and put everything in order of importance. Because they freeze just about everything, buying in bulk of all foods is made possible. We tried to place nutritious foods, especially protein rich, at the top of our list.

After compiling the list, we split up into groups of three. Janie, Genna, and Kerri had their hands full taking pictures of each of the kids and taking down names in order to explore the possibility of starting pen-pal program with schools throughout America. The directors liked the idea because it would give the children the chance to learn more about America and also to practice their English.

Michael, John and Laine were sent to the market to do the dirty work. In the market we split into two groups, each with a separate list of items. In all we were able to purchase close to $1,000 worth of goods in 3 hours. We bought beans, frozen fish, plantains, yams, toilet paper, vaseline, toothpaste, groundnut paste, cabbage, garlic, onions, and much much more.

It was an extremely successful day and Adullam was so excited to receive so many necessities. To top off the day, we received a phone call from Curtins from the hospital explaining that the nutritionist came by and he is full of energy and has stopped vomiting. Curtins then got on the phone and sounded so excited and much stronger. I can't wait to see him today and report on his condition after speaking to his Doctors.

Tomorrow, we will be slaughtering the sheep that we gave to Adullam. It will be the first time the kids will be eating meat other than fish in over 2 months. You should see their faces when we took the sheep out of the car!

Life is great here in Ghana, we had a huge thunderstorm last night but luckily were able to cut down huge branches to use as umbrellas on our walk from the orphanage to home. Everyone is doing great and we have touched so many lives up to this point. We can't wait to see what the next 11 days has in store for us!

Genna, Janie, John, Laine, Kerri, and Michael

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goats, Curtis, Long Drives, Ghanaian Hospitals and More

Really been slacking on the blog I know. Days are flying by and it seems like there is never enough time to make it to the internet cafe. The past couple days we have experienced many different things. Most importantly we had a meeting with the founder of the orphanage and figured out all the necessities that they will be needing. Everything from rice, beans and tomato paste to soap and toiletries.

We finally figured out how we will accomplish everything in the last weeks we have here. We are planning a day trip to visit villages outside Obuasi; this is where poverty has its strongest hold. Furthermore we will be visiting an orphanage in the Volta Region about 8 hours away by car. The orphanage is called Hardt Haven and specializes in orphans with AIDS.

Today was very busy. We woke up extremely early to meet everyone at Adullam where we left for Kumasi to visit Curtis and speak to the Doctors. He was moved to the pulmonary/cardiac unit of the hospital because they believe he has a heart condition. However, they still have not ruled out Tuberculosis.

The Doctor said they haven't done the further heart scans because there is only one machine and one Doctor capable of using it. They were able to do an abdominal ultrasound and x-ray which they said came back normal--other than the fluid and gas buildup which they said was caused from malnutrition.

They confirmed he had an infection from his blood tests and gave him a prescription and he is feeling much better. They also prescribed a strong vitamin to help him gain strength since he is rejecting almost all the food they have given him. The good news is that Monday they will be sending a nutritionist to visit Curtis and go over a meal plan with the doctors so they can ease him into consuming full meals.

As always, whatever we find out we will let everyone know immediately. The next couple days should be extremely exciting and we can't wait to see what is in store for us.

Michael, Genna, Janie, John, Kerri, and Laine

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Little More Info

The days have been hectic but so far everything is going well. The place that we are staying is nice and comfortable but we have been trying to find a constant food supply that saves as much money as possible. We've been living off eggs and MRE's.

Yesterday, at the hospital, everyone was quickly humbled. The hospital we went to was the biggest hospital in Ghana and it was incredibly busy. We walked in to the waiting room which had over 300 people in line. Luckily we had all our information and they considered Curtis' case an emergency so he was sent to a much shorter waiting room that took only 2 hours. Janie and I (Michael) were able to go with Curtis in to see the doctor. I think he took the case a little more seriously simply because of our presence. He checked Curtis' vitals and felt his stomach and asked many questions about his health. We told him everything we knew and explained that everytime he ate, he would throw everything up an hour later. We also stressed the fact that he is 6 years old and weighs about 25 lbs. His heart rate was extremely high at about 140 bpm when he was practically sleeping on Janie.

The Doctor spoke to us for a bit and admitted Curtis into the Pediatric Emergency Unit. We walked Curtis over to the area which was on the other side of the hospital where he was taken in to see specialists. The hardest part was watching him get his IV and hearing him scream. They took his blood and injected him with something quickly after. After the examinations the Doctors said they were suspicious that it may be Tuberculosis or a congenital hear problem; neither of which are good, but the latter can be treated much more easily.

Last night he spent the night at the hospital with one of the people from the orphanage, Nelson. In the room next to him, there was a baby getting a spinal tap that had meningitis. Because the hospital has no closed rooms, we were able to watch the entire process. During the night Curtis slept extremely well but could not hold food down as he threw up what was given to him twice. I asked to stay the night with Curtis but Nelson told me only one person should stay with him and that I needed to go back to Obuasi to get his health card. After six hours at the hospital we returned to Obuasi for the night.

This morning we woke up early again and returned to Kumasi after picking up one of the mother's at the orphanage. The drive wasn't too bad today and everyone seemed pretty comfortable. The hospital was once again filled with sickness and suffering so it was emotionally draining even for the two hours we stayed today.

As soon as we got to the hospital I walked into the Pediatric Unit to see Curtis laying on a table having an ultrasound of his heart. It was clearly working much too hard. The Doctor then sent Curtis to have an x-ray of his lungs to check for tuberculosis. I took Curtis across the hospital where he again threw up all his breakfast. We waited a short time and the Doctor allowed me to see his x-rays after they were developed. His lungs looked clear, but his heart looked very big for his body size and the Doctor confirmed that his lungs were clear and that they weren't entirely ruling out TB but they were going to focus more on his heart. The doctor who performed the ultrasound requested a more detailed scan of his heart because he said it looked as though his heart had an abnormality in the blood flow. After speaking to the doctor more about it, I still don't fully understand what they mean but they literally said: "blood is flowing abnormally through his heart."

We left Curtis again with one of the mothers and took Nelson back to the orphanage. Tomorrow he will have more tests done to confirm what exactly is wrong with him. He is so strong yet I know how hard this is on him. Last night, Nelson told me they were both awoken by the screams of parents, twice throughout the night, because two babies, one hour apart, died. I can only imagine how scared he is. Thank you all so much again for your help. I will try and update the blog whenever we hear more information.

Michael, Janie, Genna, Laine, John, and Kerri

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here Today, Ghana Tomorrow

Hello our trusty followes,
I want to apologize for keeping you all on the edge of your seats the past couple of days. Turns out much has changed since last year in the small town of Obuasi. The good news is, everything is for the better.

Our long and arduous journey across the Atlantic was only the beginning of our travels. Again we were able to see much of Ghana: from the capital of Accra, to the rainforest of the Central Region, everything was beautiful... and tiring.

We arrived in Obuasi to find out the internet cafe we were accustomed to using has closed. We visited the orphanage our first full day (Sunday) and played with all the kids; they were so excited to see us. Some asked for Matt, and we had to explain that he couldn't make it this year. I quickly found Curtis! but was searching for Joseph only to find out he had been adopted six months earlier. It was sad, but it made me happy to know that he is somewhere with a family now.

Curtis was in even worse shape than last year and could barely reach me across the orphanage. (I'm being rushed now because the cafe is closing) The gist of the story is that he hasn't been able to hold food down for the past year and has a serious condition. We took him to the hospital in Kumasi to see a specialist and he was immediately admitted. He is spending a couple nights there until they find out what exactly is wrong with him. We don't know how much it will cost but we have already committed to covering his stay. We are going to find out what exactly he needs and how much it will cost before we will be able to guarantee that we can cover it.

I need to go now. Thanks for reading.

Michael, Genna, John, Janie, Kerri, and Laine

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our Last Blog, For This Trip at Least

Today was the hardest day we have experienced since being in Ghana. Each one of us grew so close to the kids which made it so much meaningful but also added to the difficulty of our departure.

The kids were so sad to see us go. Many of them cried which didn't make it any easier on us but we feel so luck to have made so many friends and to have had such a successful trip. We also made sure to take contact information for many of the kids and look forward to sending letters and gifts every once in a while just to cheer them up and let them know we have not forgot about them.

We are now in Accra and will be flying home Monday morning. We just wanted to post one last blog to thank everyone who followed our experiences and to thank everyone again for all of their support. This trip could not have been possible without the support of so many of you! We look forward to sharing all of our pictures and seeing everyone back home. We miss you all so much!

Michael, Matthew, and Genna