Emma and I just got back from our Super Tour of the Upper East - six site visits in just two days. We were especially excited to head to the Upper East Region after a fantastic meeting with Regional Director Awoonor-Williams. Here's a play-by-play. We walked into the air-conditioned office and told the secretary our reason for visiting. As we sat down to wait, the office began filling up with other visitors. These visitors proved to be very interesting and entertaining, to say the least. This is where it gets good. The first lady walked into the office carrying some paperwork, her handbag, and a pillow. Yes, I said pillow. Yes, she brought her own pillow for the couch. Next, a group of about five people walked into the waiting area and were immediately beckoned into the Regional Director's office. Ten minutes later, about seven different people emerge. Five minutes after that, three more people leave. None of them appeared to be the five that had originally entered. Do not be alarmed if you are having trouble keeping up with this. Emma and I still do not know 1) how so many people fit in that room and 2) what happened to the original five. Wait. I saved the best for last. One man was telling a story so interesting that we couldn't help but listen. Here's the shortened version: he left his house to do some traveling for work, and in his absence, the local women from the village had chosen his house to be the centerpoint for the Market. His house was taken over by the Market. As in, he came home and people had staked out part of his porch to sleep on. The best part is that the District Chief couldn't do anything about it. Can't move the Market. Not only did we find ourselves saying "Only in Ghana," during this story but on numerous occasions Emma and I turned to each other with the exact same question: is this real life?
Finally, after our highly entertaining wait, we met with Regional Director Awoonor-Williams. We first explained how Chief Director Anemena suggested sending another shipment - this one with a more surgical focus - to the Upper East. Sincetwo regional shipments are currently on their way to the Upper East, we also got a chance to talk about accountability with respect to distributing the supplies. The idea of regional shipments (instead of direct district shipments) makes sense because many district hospitals benefit from just one shipment. This also allows the Regional Director to distribute the supplies based on the need of each hospital at a given time. But because this is a relatively new idea, we still had a few questions to work through - like how involved are we once the shipment arrives in the region? Or who should we be in contact with to know where the individual supplies ended up? Fortunately Regional Director Awoonor-Williams was more than helpful and together we sorted through these questions.
Once the shipment arrives in the Upper East, the Regional Director will coordinate transport of supplies to the appropriate hospitals. The supplies are distributed according to request lists made by each individual district hospital. That way, for example, if one hospital is in dire need of an oxygen concentration versus another that needs surgical gloves, these respective supplies can end up in the most needed place. Regional Director Awoonor-Williams also suggested sending him the packing lists for the two shipments already en route to Ghana so he could show us his plans for distribution. We couldn't have been happier with the outcome of the meeting and look forward to following up with our shipments to the Upper East Region!