Malaria and More!

June 18th, 2018 by alexroney
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This last week has been incredibly eventful. I don’t even know where to begin. Well let’s see if I can pick up from where I left off last time. So last weekend we got to bike to the small Fulani church. The Fulani’s are a people group spread across a large portion of West Africa. Now when I say small, I mean small. Like very small. As in one room. But the people are absolutely awesome and Pastor Alex is an awesome guy. Also every time he greets me (we see him in the hospital occasionally because he works at the pharmacy) he says, “You have a great name” and then shakes my hand. But man oh man is church different here. Their worship portion of church is much closer to a concert or a party. They love their music. They love when everyone is involved in the service. Last week they had testimonies for a good portion of the service. The teaching is actually pretty solid. Pastor Alex does a good job. This past weekend we did attend a church that was… different. More on that to come. So this last week I was in the hospital following my mom most days. When I wasn’t following her I was with Dr. Foile. Dr. Foile lived here for much of his life growing up and it seems as if everyone here knows him. He is very experienced with the way medicine works here and maybe even more experienced with how surgery works here. So I’ve been able to sit in on a few surgeries which is the coolest. I’ve seen a few hernia repairs, typhoid perforations, and even an amputation. I’m really getting my money’s worth of exposure to the field of healthcare.


We have also been able to go explore some nearby places. There is a formation known as an escarpment which can be seen very close to Nalerigu. This past weekend we got to explore the escarpment at a few places. First on Saturday, the Haun’s (one of the families that live here) took us out about 20 minutes outside of town. So first I need to explain what the escarpment is. It’s a very gradual climb up to a high point and then drops off quickly. It’s really quite beautiful. So after one of the bumpiest rides of all time we got there. It was a short walk out to the cliff. The escarpment overlooks a vast area of very flat land and is remarkable. You can see all the way to Burkina Faso (country to the north of Ghana). I’ve heard from many that we picked the right time of the year to see it. Since we’re here at the beginning of rainy season, everything is lush and very very green. Once you get to the edge there a lot of places to climb around which I thought was awesome (I’m still a kid). Coming back, it was a beautiful evening. There was a slight breeze and the sun was well on its way down. Little side note: I was kinda starting to feel bad but I didn’t think much of it. After we got back to the house I really wasn’t feeling well so the next morning, I slept in a little and then came to rounds at the hospital a little late. Apparently my mom had let Dr. Foile know about my symptoms and so I walk in and he asks how I’m doing. I let him know about how I’m feeling and he says, “You’ve probably got Malaria”. So that sucks but I’m getting medicine for it now and hopefully I’ll be feeling better in a few days. Thats why I’m typing this blog post at 10 in the morning. Anyway, after we finished rounding we headed of to church. This time we went to one of the biggest churches in town. It was founded by the same people who started the medical center (Dr. Foile’s father and others). Now keep in mind I was not feeling the best at this time but the service drug on for-ev-er (Sandlot style). The worship part of the service was about an hour and as loud as could be. Then we did a conga line as my mom described it for the offering. And then later in the service we did that again… I’m still not sure what the second time was for. But just when I was feeling like the service had to be about over the pastor started their message for the day. The message could have been delivered in about a minute but this church was rather charismatic. I was actually wondering if the pastor had to do vocal warm ups so his voice wouldn’t give out. So we showed up at about 9:45 and didn’t leave until 1:00. Needless to say I hope we go back to the small church next week. After church we got food and then headed to a town called Nakpanduri. We went and explored the escarpment there as well. I think I may have worried my mom more this time though because I went climbing (sorry mom), but I can’t help it. It’s just so fun! So after climbing around and a rock about the size of a truck that rocked back and forth, we headed into Nakpanduri to see Madam Denise. Now I cannot do this woman justice with words on a page. She has to be the most eccentric person I’ve ever met. She lives by herself in the smallest house of all time. One room that is divided by a curtain into a living room and a bedroom. She loves her animals. She has a goat, a monkey, two dogs, a lot of chickens, even more donkeys, and a ton of doves. She also loves her trees. And just nature in general. I think if she had the opportunity to go back in time before many modern technologies she would. And she would be the happiest person alive. I’ve never met anyone who loves nature as much as she does. I don’t even know how to begin to describe her. If you want to know more information then ask me in person and I’ll be able to capture Madam Denise much better.


I think thats about all for now. But yeah if y’all don’t mind please keep me in your prayers because I’ve been feeling pretty crappy. And if you don’t mind praying for my mom and I, we are both missing home dearly. Thank you all again for your thoughts.


*Update: Found out I do not have Malaria. Thank you for continued prayers.

Settling In

June 10th, 2018 by alexroney
Posted in Uncategorized|

After a long week of settling in and working at the Public Health Department it’s nice to have a little time to relax and unwind. So at work I got to move around and explore. I worked in the lab (a tiny hut with a thatch roof) where I was testing pregnant mother’s health through a hemoglobin check as well as checking for protein in urine which could indicate pre-eclampsia. I also ran the “pharmacy” (a small table on one side of one of the huts) where we dispensed vitamins for the mothers and registered them in the system. So you are all aware, the system is a ton of logbooks where all of the information from a visit is entered and the pregnancy is tracked through all of the follow up visits. The Public Health Department runs by dividing employees up into stations. When a mother walks in, her route is dependent on whether or not she is pregnant or just coming in for a well child visit. From there she follows a set of steps to get all of the required information, shots, medication, etc. they need in order to be well for another month before she comes back for her next visit. Overall it is actually a pretty smooth operation but I can’t help but wonder how much better it would be with a computer. When manually inputting information into logbooks, errors occur, quite frequently sometimes. The system isn’t bad but they need some updating of technology.


Work is only a small part of life over here though. I haven’t had a night yet where there wasn’t Frisbee or basketball to be played or exploring and socializing to be done. Volunteers at Baptist Medical Center (BMC) are welcomed into the community and it’s very easy to feel like you belong. The families that live here full time are amazing. They’re so kind and do their best to make you feel at home. One of my very favorite experiences so far has to be church. I’m going to have to take a full post to explain that though. But everyone I’ve met has been wonderful and welcoming and I’m quickly growing to love the nature. They have beautiful flowering trees and odd plants that look like they might belong in a world in Star Wars. They also have interesting animals and beautiful scenery and bats (which I love because they kill the mosquitos) and even a millipede (I call him Milton) I see every night on the way to the schoolhouse.


There is so much to cover but the days are starting to fly by. It seems like its getting harder and harder to even go out into the village without hearing someone shout “Alex!” (usually one of the kids we play with). I guess I must be recognizable somehow… Can’t really put my finger on what that reason would be. But anyway, tonight at Frisbee, Richard, a very nice man and a Prince asked me, “So are you liking your visit to Ghana?” And the answer is absolutely yes. Very much.

From Kansas City to Nalerigu

June 5th, 2018 by alexroney
Posted in Uncategorized|

After what my mom has described as a “whirlwind trip”, things are finally beginning to settle down. A week and a day ago we were leaving New York to come home to Kansas City and start packing. The two days flew by quicker than I could learn how to say “Good Morning” in Mampruli (The local language spoken here in Nalerigu). But somehow we managed (mostly my mom, bless her heart) to get most if not all of our ducks in a row before heading off to the airport on Thursday. So far we haven’t recognized any major misses on packing but there is still a lot of time for our lack preparation to become apparent. After saying goodbye to my dad at the airport (we miss you a lot) and exchanging hugs we were off to our connecting flight to Newark. That flight would take my mom and me to our next flight where we would travel over the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. In spite of about an hour and a half in delays, we boarded and left for Newark.


We arrived at Newark and made our connection. Turns out we had plenty of time and our worrying was for naught. And that’s all I have to say about Newark. Not a very noteworthy airport and in a rather industrial part of town.


Our next flight was the trans-Atlantic portion of our journey. This was easily the biggest plane I’ve ever been on and probably the fanciest as well. With in-flight meals and many comforts I hadn’t ever had on an airliner before, the 7-hour flight didn’t seem so bad, however by the end I was getting up to go to the bathroom just to stretch my legs. Anyway, pulling a complete 180 from Newark, we arrived in Brussels. The airport was surrounded by green and church steeples formed the skyline of the distant city. Sadly, a close connection left us little time for exploring and confined us to the airport. After a brief check of our visas and our boarding passes as well as one last text to families and loved ones (I miss you Jamie) we were allowed to go to the gate and board. Since our first 7-hour flight it was obvious that long flights had lost some of their appeal. But with an inflight meal that was delicious and Belgian chocolates we had made it to Accra, Ghana.


With luggage in hand we met our driver who would take us to the guesthouse for the night. My first impression of Ghana and third-world countries was that it is very easy to understand why motor vehicle accidents are such a big problem. Driving was not for the faint of heart. It was for the thrill seekers who wanted an adrenaline rush. But to the Ghanaians it was just a normal commute. Arriving at the guesthouse I have never been so happy to see a bed in my entire life. So settling down we went downstairs and ordered dinner, which was prepared fresh for us by some ladies in the kitchen and my goodness was it delicious. Ghanaian dishes are traditionally spicy so how could I not love it??


The next morning I woke up feeling rejuvenated and ready to go. We grabbed breakfast from the lovely chefs and hit the roads back through traffic to the airport (terminal 1 could’ve fit inside the church auditorium). We walked out on the runway to board our next flight. When I reached the top of the steps that folded out from the plane I could see straight over the top of it. I feared for what space I would have to contort myself into for the duration of the flight but was pleasantly surprised with my aisle seat that offered all of the leg room in the world (whenever the aisle was clear that is). The flight was only about 50 minutes long and as soon as we were up in the air we started descending. The airport in Tamale (pronounced tom-ah-lay) was 1 building with metal rollers like the ones used in factories functioning as a luggage conveyor belt. Collecting our luggage we set out with a prayer that our driver was waiting for us. William met us in the parking lot. William is the husband of the main surgeon for Baptist Medical Center, Heidi. The Haun’s (Will and Heidi) have two children, KJ and Trey and they live in Ghana full time (minus occasional trips back to the states to remind those who support them that they are still alive and doing work in Ghana). Will does photo journalism as a missionary and travels to neighboring villages to spread the gospel. So Will drove us in to Tamale where we picked up his son who had been waiting at a restaurant, and we headed to the market to do some shopping. The markets were crowded and Will said the stock changed weekly. They basically took whatever came on the supply trucks and threw it on the shelves. The market places were packed and the same was true of the city itself. It was clear that people flocked to the urban areas. So after Will’s shopping and two trips to the ATM (they have a problem with the machines running out of the larger bills so many times people have to go back to the same machine 3 times to get the amount of money they want) we headed out.


We drove through a downpour and had to drive with all of our luggage in the cab of a small size pickup with five passengers. It was nice to get out of the city and find a little bit of space and fresh air in the countryside. Farmers were just starting to plow as the rainy season was obviously on its way. After the rain let up we made really good time towards Nalerigu. Nalerigu is a small town in the northern region of Ghana. It is home to the Baptist Medical Center, which is the main area hospital for a large part of the region. Turning onto the dirt road through the center of town was an experience all on its own. But there will be more on that to come later.


Thank you all for reading so much. I hope it wasn’t so unbearable but please give me a shout out if you have any questions about what life is like over here. I do have much more to say that I will get to in my next post. To my family, I miss you so much; the same goes for my girlfriend and everyone at church. Thank you all for your continued prayer.

With Love in Christ,


Introducing Myself

May 30th, 2018 by INMED
Posted in Uncategorized|

Hello! My name is Alex Roney. I am a Undergraduate Student at Iowa State University, and I’m starting my INMED service-learning experience at The Baptist Medical Center, in Ghana beginning in June 2018 .