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The Village of Sahani during COVID-19

(The above image is a gathering at the Sahani Village of Nanton before the pandemic. Now twenty people or fewer are allowed to gather.)

Separated by a Pandemic – United in our Response

It’s been nearly five months since I last saw my partner and in that time, the world has transformed before our eyes.

In March, we spoke on the phone whether he (my husband, Chief Suale) should fly back to the States. I worried about his health and well-being given most people in Ghana live in communal ways.

 

 

While I would’ve liked to have my husband with me, in my heart I knew he needed to stay in Ghana so he may assist the people during this challenging time.

The Government’s Response

Ghana’s government responded swiftly to the coronavirus; closing all borders by land, sea, and air on March 23rd. All travelers arriving into Ghana (before the lockdown and closure of airports) were tested and quarantined for fourteen days. Certain roads throughout Ghana were closed to help prevent the spreading of the virus.

  • In a country with over 30 million people, there’s been 5,735 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths.*

Map of Ghana, West Africa

COVID-19 in Tamale, Ghana

In the Northern region, there are thirty-one cases and ten confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tamale.

The infected individuals in Tamale are from Guinea and Burkina Faso and were in the city for business after traveling through Burkina Faso and Togo. Officials quarantined the individuals at their hotel while also testing the hotel staff.

At one point, a Guinean woman (who was part of the group quarantined) escape from the hotel in the early morning hours, but she was found and detained a few days later in Accra.

Restrictions of Large Gatherings

President Nana Akufo-Addo has received praise for his swift response to the health crisis as well as his poignant messages to the people.

The president put in place strict, social distancing measures including no gatherings at mosques, churches, or city markets and large weddings and funerals cannot be performed at this time. Schools are closed until further notice.

Communal living and celebration is an integral part of the Dagomba tribe. It’s not uncommon to see enormous gatherings at weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies.

Often anyone is invited to these celebrations who live nearby whether you know the individual or not. It’s about sharing in the joyful festivities that’s significant.

Chief Suale and the minister meet at the Sahani Village.

While these government orders have been tenacious, it’s necessary to help flatten the curve of the virus.

Minister Offers Help

Recently, a government minister met with Chief Suale to discuss the needs of the village. Ministers meet with chiefs to assess necessities; especially during a state of emergency.

The minister provided hand-washing stations to our village, and these stations were placed throughout the community. Chief also placed a hand-washing station near the roadside for travelers who pass by.

Not everyone has access to clean, running water so these hand-washing stations are vital in protecting the people against the virus.

Nurse Visits our Village

Two weeks ago, Chief brought a nurse to the village to speak about COVID-19. The nurse discussed factual information about the virus and offered the best practices to initiate during this time. He also handed out hand sanitizers to the people.

The demonstration was especially important since it provided preventative practices for the community. This is crucial since the nearest doctor and hospital is over an hour away from the village.

 

A nurse travels to our village to share preventative efforts against COVID-19.

Lifting of Restrictions

On April 20th, Ghana eased partial restrictions of lockdown. Some have been critical of the president’s decision fearing the lift in restrictions may cause a surge in infections.

While there was a spike in new cases, this was in part due to a clearing of a backlog of samples that were recently tested in laboratories for the virus. **

Enhanced testing and contact tracing have also become more prevalent which may also be part of the growing number of cases.

What has worked in Ghana’s favor is the government’s swift action, using their own emergency funding, (versus waiting for international aid) and fast, extensive testing.

Drones Helping Combat COVID-19

Ghana is the first country to use drones to test for COVID-19. The drones provide quick delivery of samples from remote, rural areas in the bush that would normally take several hours to deliver.

Using drones can saves hours, even days in providing test results. This, in turn, offers a quick response to individuals who test positive for the virus.***

Gratitude

We are grateful for the government’s assistance to our village. While we remain vigilant, we know continued education is important.

Chief and I are creating a Foundation to continue our efforts in providing for the village on many levels. We shall keep you posted on our efforts.

During these ever-changing times, we’re grateful for the healthcare and essential workers who are serving so many around the world. We want to express and share our deep appreciation for your assistance and service. Thank you!

Come Together

It’s evident now, more than ever, that we realize how connected we are to each other. Let us move forward and create a world where we lead with a courageous heart, one filled with kindness, wisdom, understanding, empathy, and compassion.

This is my aspiration and motivation as Chief and I traverse this new landscape together knowing within our hearts, we are all One.

Take care everyone and be well.

 

Peace, love and blessings,

Napag Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Statistics as of May 16, 2020
** From BBC News article  
***  Time’s article 

Nanton Village

The Village of Nanton

For the next few posts on this website, I’ll be sharing my time in Ghana with my partner, Chief Suale.

 

Traveling to Nanton.

Billows of red, dust trail behind our car as it barrels down the dirt road. We’ve been traveling for over an hour into the bush to visit with family and the elders of the Nanton village.

Family is all-encompassing in Ghana and good friends are often called uncles, aunties or grandfathers, and grandmothers.

 

The Family

There is an inclusivity in Tamale that is incredibly comforting and welcoming.

When you’ve been away in America for some time, (some family members consider a couple of months a very long time) it’s necessary to see all your family and when I say all, that means many people; consisting of immediate, extended family, friends and friends of friends. Even people that may not know you, greet you as family.

Welcome sister!

or

My wife, welcome!

 

Visiting one of our grandfathers.

Yes, that’s right. There are men other than my husband that call me their wife. Of course I’m not their spouse, it’s an expression; a term of affection. Women also say to me:

How is my husband doing?

or

Give my greetings to my husband.

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