Yesterday, I had a (long) adventure in trying to find the Ministry of Health for a meeting with the Director of the Procurements Office. Getting to the MOH is somewhat of a challenge in Ghana, as it’s in a part of Accra that not all taxi drivers are familiar with and not somewhere I can give directions to. I remember having some trouble getting there last year, but it was not nearly as difficult as this time.
I asked the first taxi driver I could signal if he knew where the Ministry of Health was and he replied that he “could not go there” and drove on. The second taxi that stopped was a “yes” and I climbed in thinking “that wasn’t so bad.” We drove for a while and then stopped at a building close by the airport (which is definitely not in the same section as the ministries). The driver gestures to a building and asks if that was it. After telling him no, and repeating that I needed the Ministry of Health, he tells me that he only knows the Ministry of Finance and so we stop to ask directions for the first (of many) times. After talking to our first helpful pedestrian we drove further into the city, only parts of it recognizable to me. After some time, the driver stops again to ask our second good samaritan how to get to the MOH. We start again and I begin to feel like I’m getting a tour of Accra, seeing parts of the city that I’m sure I’ve never seen before. The only problem with this tour is that I’m really supposed to be somewhere else and I don’t actually know what anything I’m seeing is (or where we even are).
We get closer to where I think the ministry should be and I begin to recognize some of the buildings. We stop again though for more directions. We pull into one area, buildings that belong to one ministry or another but aren’t part of the Ministry of Health. So I tell the driver we’re still in the wrong place and we ask our fourth person for help. After not getting very far, we realize we’ve been directed to a health clinic instead of the MOH. We find our fifth spontaneous guide, someone who definitely seems to know where the MOH is, and after getting detailed instructions, I feel the hopeful that this time, this time we will find it. We take off and drive again but the driver thinks he passed it so we turn around and ask another (sixth) time for directions. Soon we are somewhere that I know is close to the ministry, but still not quite right. We ask our seventh, and final person for help, drive a few feet, make a turn, and then I see it- the best thing I’ve seen all day. The beautiful blue sign that says “Ministry of Health” on the building across from me.
I yelled “this is it," paid the driver, and asked him if he would ever remember how to get here in the future if I called him. Amazingly, I was still on time for my meeting. Excited, I found the right office and sat down. And then waited an hour for my meeting to begin.