Written by Ingryd London, Go Global Participant (July 2015). Ingryd has been volunteering at Morning Star Integrated School.
For the last four weeks, I’ve been teaching at Morning Star Integrated School. I take 3 shared taxis to work and start teaching at 8am. My class is waiting for me and I am keen to start the first lesson of the day – Religion and Moral Education.
As I begin teaching, one of my students comes in late and explains that her four year old brother has been knocked over by a motorbike. In all honesty I didn’t even understand what she said at first, I just knew it was bad because the rest of the class gasped. After taking her aside and discovering that she lives together with her brother alone, she explains that her brother has been taken to hospital by their aunt.
I remain calm and relieved to know he had been taken care of and I continued my class. Later, I find the boy sitting in his class with several open wounds on his head and leg! There are some teachers around him but none seem to be doing anything.
So I did what I could. I washed his wounds with filtered water and bandaged some of the deeper cuts. Luckily I managed to contact one of the other volunteers who happens to be working in a local clinic. They agreed to let me take him there to be looked over.
We got the all clear from the clinic but we were advised to take him to Tamale Teaching Hospital – on the other side of town – to get a full scan of his head for any injuries. Myself and another teacher hop in a shared taxi to get over to the hospital.
Although our already crowded share taxi was getting uncomfortably full, I placed the boy on my lap so we could squeeze another person in the car. He begins to fall asleep, leaning his head on my chest. He seems tired and yet relaxed. Sweating at the back of the car with the unforgiving mid day Ghanaian sun hitting us, and no working windows at the back, I didn’t think the situation could have gotten any worse.
But somehow it did.
Without warning the little four year old boy throws up all over me. I get given a dirty cloth to wipe his mouth and he falls straight back asleep. I am now covered in sick, I have blood on my chest from his head injuries and the car is dirty. Deep breath (well not so deep – you don’t want to smell that stuff in…), stay clam, it’s just a little sick….
And maybe a little more – as he leaned forward to throw up again, I was ready! I had the cloth in my hand ready to catch his sick. No point thinking about it too much as I’m covered in sick anyway.
I am screaming in my head trying to figure out what the hell this water-like bright yellow liquid is!;
“Why is it yellow? I mean so very yellow?
I don’t understand…
What on Earth has this child eaten?!?!?”
“Tut tut tut- Malaria” the large woman with a baby on her back sitting at the front casually interjects my thoughts .
Sorry??!?! Did I hear this right?… did they say malaria? That thing I am desperately trying to avoid by taking pills every single day? That thing no one really seems to know much about other than weird things happen to you when you are on medication and that it’s from mosquitoes?
Ok. And breathe. It’s ok Ingryd. It’s just sitting inside the cloth that you are holding with a cut thumb. It’s just….it’s just….absolutely bloody terrifying!
Oh and we only have another 10 minute journey until we get to the hospital!
Why is no one else freaking out?
As my mind continued to race I felt a particularly warm feeling run down my leg. Yep, that’s right, this little child has now wet himself on my lap. I had to get out of this taxi and get home and shower.
Ha. Funny that. I can pay 1 cedi (around 15p) to get in a taxi. I can go home. I can have a shower in clean water. I can go to the clinic and get checked.
And I did all of those things.
I went straight home and into the shower. I bathed with diluted disinfectant and soaked my clothes. Then I cried.
I cried for suddenly realising that there are so many children here, day in day out that get hit by bikes and suffer similar accidents like Obert. And yet he is one of the lucky ones. He has a school with at least a few teachers that care about him enough to take him to hospital and look after him.