Day one of the campaign

Another long but productive day today!  I feel bad that the last few days here, some of our most amazing and productive (in both a filming and humanitarian sense) have gotten lackluster updates because, frankly, I am just too beat to make a proper write-up.

We wake up at 5:30am or so, and I shower (if the water is working), eat a Clif Bar, and start prepping our gear.  Usually the gear is mostly ready to go from the night before, so I just need to pack it into a bag, double check we have everything, and then we can go.

Today we spent the morning at the Red Cross vaccination site (at CC RC HQ).  The site was busy, but not too busy, never getting a line more than 10 or so kids deep, but easily pushing through 120 or so kids by 11am.  Their goal for the day is 300, so that is right on track.

We checked out some other sites, including one in our own neighborhood (maybe 200-300 meters from our house), which is really great, to see that GHS reaches so well into the community.

In late morning we headed out with the Red Cross to more remote Abura sub-district areas to resupply vaccination sites with syringes and vitamin A.  They all had enough vaccine on hand, so it was just the former two items they would run low on.  A GHS supervisor would also double check and then sign off on their paperwork.  (Photo at right was taken in a semi-remote village, in front of their clinic.)

I was wearing SPF85, Miranda wearing SPF100+, yet we both got burned while riding in the back of the Ghana Red Cross pickup truck.  It was a fun ride, though, culminating in dozens of children chasing after us down a dirt road.

Once the day was done we headed home, made some food, and then my prep work for tomorrow began.  This is why I don’t have time to properly blog now, because I have to backup between 40 and 120GB of footage, first transferring of off via USB to our primary netbook, then transferring from the netbook (via USB) to terabyte drives.  Everything has to be backed up in at least two places for safety.  Meanwhile I have to recharge all of our camera batteries, clean any gear that got dirty, fix anything that is bent or came loose or otherwise was “Africanized” (our gear, so far, has largely been undamaged).  Sometime around midnight or 1am I finish with prepping all of the gear for another day of shooting, can eat some dinner, read a bit in my book, and then head to sleep.

So, sometime in there I get a chance to blog a little bit maybe, review some of the photos we’ve taken in between shooting (and edit one or two in Photoshop for posting here) and then update this blog.  The netbook isn’t powerful enough to review footage, so we are flying blind when it comes to what we shoot.  In a way I guess it feels a lot like shooting film, as I won’t see the final product for a while, and must trust in my abilities.  I am really eager to get back to the States and review our footage, if only because the photos I post here are generally snaps taken in moments between shooting — all of the really “good” moments are captured in video, not in still.  Maybe next time around we’ll have more budget and I can bring a good stills photographer.

After we got home Miranda was feeling a little hot and nauseated (our room measured 94F ambient temp at 7pm) so we went for a brief walk around the neighborhood.  Every kid we saw who looked to be under 5 we stopped and asked to see his or her left pinky, and all but one or two had already been vaccinated!  A great feeling.

Also, speaking of great feelings, yesterday we were chatting with some teenaged or early-20s neighbors, and one of them asked me what I do, and I explained I am working on becoming a doctor.  He inquired what sort of medicine I am interested in, and I told him infectious disease.

Today, on our brief walk, we passed one of the girls from that same group, and she said she had some questions for me.  She pulled me aside and asked if I was studying infections, and I told her that yes, I am learning about infectious diseases.  She began to ask me about vaginal discharge she was having, and basically she has a yeast infection.  We talked to her for a bit about symptoms and duration, and then gave her some medicine that should help her, and told her the name of a good chemist who will help her out if the medicine does not work.

It was a really good feeling, to be approached this way, by someone in a community in which I am living … someone who lives in a board and tin shack, without running water, but needs medical help, but has no access to a doctor, and in that moment today I was able to be of service to her.  That we brought way more medicine and supplies than we would need now seems smart, since we were able to give her something that should help her discomfort, as well as give her hygiene advice that will hopefully prevent future occurrences.  It was just a little medical problem, and actually well outside the purview of what I consider myself well versed upon (too bad she didn’t need to know about burn bandaging or reducing dislocations), but it still felt good to be there for someone who otherwise would be on her own.

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