May 09, 2011
Lynda Barton is spending six months volunteering with MOTECH Ghana through Grameen Foundation’s global volunteer corps, Bankers without Borders. This is Part II of a two-part series. If you haven't yet, you can read part 1.
I’m in my fourth week now and have had the opportunity to visit our field sites in the Upper East Region of Ghana to see Grameen Foundation's Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative in action. These are some of the most remote areas in Ghana, where MOTECH really makes a difference for expecting mothers. We visited 12 facilities during my three days in the field, interviewing nurses and midwives at each location to collect their feedback regarding "Mobile Midwife," the MOTECH mobile application that they have been using.
I was absolutely humbled by the dedication of these nurses and midwives and how they manage to work with so few resources available to them. One of their greatest concerns is their fuel allotment for the month. If they have too many follow-ups at patients' homes for that month they run out of fuel and can't afford to do more visits -- not to mention the long hours they must put in to finish the paperwork that is required at the end of each month. Most of these nurses and midwives work very long hours and weekends. MOTECH and the efficiencies it provides should help them in the future, if all of their client data can be uploaded electronically via the mobile phone application, because their paper registers will no longer be needed.
This project is amazing since no two days are the same and I'm able to contribute to so many different things. Day two in the field was mostly devoted to shooting video footage of expectant mothers who are using the Mobile Midwife application, asking them about their experience and how it has helped them so far during their pregnancy. We interviewed one mother’s husband, who was impressed with the program and often listens to the voice messages his wife receives as part of the program. He especially likes the messages that tell her to eat meat and eggs, those that tell her not to carry heavy things, and the reminders for vaccinations and check-up appointments; he ensures that she never misses an appointment (for some, the distances to the clinic are significant, so this is not always an easy task). It was so interesting to meet some of these ladies and their families and listen to them speaking in their local dialect.
Volunteering is not only an opportunity to broaden my horizons on a professional level. It has also given me an opportunity to meet new people, see new places and learn about different cultures. I’ve tried to do as much as possible -- in and out of the office -- and Ghana has impressed me with its welcoming people and interesting places to visit. So far, I’ve managed to join a book club, meet new volunteers, make friends with other locals and expats, visit the Aburi Botanical Gardens, get to know a few restaurants and bars in Accra, and visit the Cape Coast and Kakum National Forest, to do the canopy walk. I know there’s a lot more exciting work to come – stay tuned!