A day socially mobilizing

Today was our first day of ‘social mobilization’ with Ghana Health Services.  GHS, the Ghana Red Cross Society, and the Church of Latter Day Saints are all doing cooperative mobilization efforts whereby teams travel to neighborhoods and let the community know firsthand the salient details of the measles exercise (it’s free, on 3-6 November, available for children 9-59 months, and even if your child has had one measles jab you should take her for another).  The teams are also using radio, television, and other forms of media to reach the populace (but for the most marginalized door-to-door is the most effective means, since no electricity means no television, and likely no radio).

I slept a couple of hours last night and then got up at 4am today to meet the Mfantsiman District community health workers at the clinic in Biriwa.  We got acquainted briefly and then set out for Asafora.

We drove for a long time in the dark, down a one lane road flanked by tall grass and palm jungle.  Eventually mud-and-thatch buildings loomed into site and it was pronounced we’d reached Asafora.  It was still pitch dark as we met up with the community volunteer from Asafora and knocked on the door of the Chief’s palace.  They are particular here about their language — wherever the Chief lives is a palace, irrespective of size or amenities, and the Chief can also be interchangeably referred to as “the King” in English.

We were led by the volunteer into a small room lit by a blue bulb, to wait for the Chief to rouse.  As we waited I was told the Chief is in ill health.  Minutes ticked by.  Mosquitoes buzzed around the room.  Eventually a hunched figure, wrapped in Kente cloth, shuffled to a seat at the table in the room.

We talked with the chief and he said he’d already heard of the campaign from the radio; score one for GHS.  His extremities were shaking markedly, as if he had advanced Parkinsons, but he was still able to tell us the brief history of his village; he is the eighth chief, and the village was founded in the 1800s.

The whole day proved to be a succession of interesting experiences — lots of waving to happy kids, thanking crowds inFante (to their delight), and making sure people understood to get their kids vaccinated (thankfully it was my job to film this and the rest of the team’s job to convey it in Fante).

We’re off now to film the Red Cross’ social mobilization, so this update is going to have to be brief!  Also, happy Halloween.

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