The School Screening

Since arriving back in West Africa I have been working with different people and families and finding out more about CHE (community health evangelism). As time goes on some things become clearer and some things become more confusing. While in Ghana I was able to take part in what they call a SEED Project. This is usually a project that can be done in a day.

The SEED project takes place after a member of a community/village has invited CHE in to help make the community aware of the problems that are going on. Usually this happens through somebody in the village who can see that there is a need in their community and they have a desire to see change. Once the training team is in the community they then start to get to the know those they will be serving. Then to create awareness of what CHE is all about they do some sort of SEED project. This can be a variety of things: school screening, football game, market clean up, etc.

So for my first SEED project I partook in was a school screening. Our team consisted of myself (a nurse), and 4 trainers (CHE trainers). The adventure began as soon as we left Ema’s house; he is one of the CHE facilitators in Ghana. We drove from house to house picking up all the different trainers and then from place to place collecting all the supplies needed. After picking up our last team member we hit the road towards the village. We drove by plantain fields, up and over rolling corn hills, and through many small communities. Finally we turned a bend and the groomed dirt road came to an end. The rain had fallen the day before which made the road like dough and the cracks like canyons. But onward we went. After the car made it through many bumps, bangs, and skids we arrived.

We all got out of the car and grabbed our supplies. As we scrambled up the muddy hill that led to the school, I slowly saw little heads and hands appearing in the windows and doors of the small school building. Suddenly I was filled with excitement knowing I was going to be able to play with these kiddos but then filled with joy knowing that I was going to be able to help them maybe even in a life saving way.

It took us about 20 minutes to set up. The school had 126 children that ranged from 5 to 10 years of age. Going into this screening we all knew that the age that was most at risk were the youngest. Our main objective was to get the child’s height, weight, basic assessment (head, eyes, mouth, skin, etc.), and then finally a blood test to check for anemia. As we divided ourselves into the specific jobs, I volunteered to be the ‘STABBER’ and do the blood tests. I just LOVE inflicting pain on small children… Wa Ha Ha!! Three of the team members did the other various jobs, and then the final team member did a prayer walk around the school.

“Let the games BEGIN!”
The teachers gathered all the students together from youngest to oldest. One by one the children came through. My station was the last station. Since I knew that the children were going to HATE me I decided to construct a balloon man with a latex glove to help distract them. Then once they had completed everything they received a small gift (pencil, pen, or peanuts).

Within two and a half hours we had completed our school screening. We gathered all of our supplies and said our goodbyes. As I sat in the car bumping and sliding along the awful roads my eyes stayed fixed ahead of me. I glanced down at the finished reports that laid in my lap, shocked by the results. Out of the 126 kids, 95% of them had anemia, 80% were severely malnourished according to their heights and weights, and 75% showed signs of other skin diseases. Last year I saw a lot of things like this while in Togo and felt so helpless. But then as I thought about CHE and the changes that can be made, my focus changed.

Before we were leaving the school one of the teachers that I had ‘stabbed’ came out and asked if we were going to bring back medications to get them better. I took his outstretched hand and told him that we were going to bring him something even better. I told him that we would bring him ways in which he could help himself, his family, his community, and the generations to come.

Even though the reports that laid in my lap were heartbreaking I realized that they were attached with a hope. This was the first time that I have worked in a village that that I knew the community would be helped as long as they had the desire. This was also the first time that after seeing a devastating situation I knew the burden didn’t rest on just my shoulders. This is the first time I left a community of powerless faces and knew that soon those faces would brighten as they discovered the POWER that is within them. After leaving the village it wasn’t just the community that was being challenged with this focus change but myself as well.

• Side note: What would this world look like if we all realized the POWER within us? What if we were to truly LIVE the way that we were created to live? What if we were to LOVE one another the way we were taught to love? What if we were to LOVE and SERVE God the way he intended us to?

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