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Dear Friends and Family,

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Ghana for over 2 weeks and this is my 1st opportunity to get to the internet. We arrived Sun 11 Sept. I am traveling with Aimah Bey, storyteller, board member, administrator, cook, hospitality hostess, in charge of house and food, photographer, scribe and 20 year friend. We were stuck in Accra for 3 days where we acquired 2 lovely bamboo shelf units that are a great find.

Arrived to empty, dusty rooms with spiders and webs and little else. The kitchen was being used for storage. The old stove and cabinets were greasy and nasty, light fixture broken, toilet not flushing, sink leaking and faucet revolves when you try to shut it off, bare cement floors except in the living room an old, faded, dusty, funky, once was red carpet, and no furniture.

Don’t misunderstand, I love the place. It is a 2nd floor apartment with 3 rooms, a kitchen, and a private bathroom with flush toilet and shower, now both working. It has a covered balcony, screens on all 14 windows (I only had to fix one), and we added a screen door out to the balcony so we can leave the door open for light and air. We are only one building away from the busiest corner in downtown Abura Dunkwa. The Akoti Rural Bank and Western Union are on the corner. We are the next building up over the cold store (sells ice and frozen meat). It’s a short walk from the market, the phone store (to buy credits), the internet cafe (it was a bar on my last visits), 2 churches, the mosque, and 5 minutes further to the hospital. The new house I planned to rent was much further out, isolated and was not yet finished.

Grace and her husband Daniel had swept the place and brought the things I left in storage. 2 of 3 ceiling fans did not work and the 3rd was S L O W. The electrician took the 2 away and brought them back. One squeaked and grumbled LOUD and the other had only 1 speed. We changed regulators and capacitors. When the 2 fans were working the 3rd fan quit!

Grace, our miracle worker, househelp, laundress and cook is PREGNANT. She claims to have 4 more months but NOT BLOODY LIKELY. Anyone have a plan B? Aimah and I and our household help have been jamming to get the place ready and nice before the ladies arrive tomorrow. Started this yesterday but the power went out, I am now resuming.

We arrived here with 3 trunks full of 4 airbeds, sheets, blankets, dishes, pots, pans, condiments and gifts. 150 + lbs of medical supplies will be arriving with the ladies. We have been cleaning and organizing, shopping and preparing. Many trips back and forth to Cape Coast with help from Daniel, Grace’s husband, Seidu, a student who runs errands and helps with heavy work, and Khadijah, a traditional midwife who knows everything and everybody and where to get whatever we need. Teacher (he teaches biology at the senior high school) has completed a Fanti translation of words and phrases commonly used in the birth environment.

We traveled to the village of Ohenkro, in the Abura Dunkwa district, to meet with the traditional midwife, Ata and her mother and 2 sisters, all midwives. I met Ata at the hospital on my last visit in February. Ata was with the mother she had delivered of triplets at home. She brought mother and babies to the hospital because the babies were so small. At the hospital, they were trained in “Kangaroo Care” and all went home breastfeeding exclusively. I met them on their weekly visit to be weighed and evaluated by the nurse-midwives on the labor unit. The mother was wearing 2 of the babies and the midwife was wearing the third. I wanted to know Ata but I couldn’t communicate so I took her cell # and had my friend and translator Khadijah call her and set up a meet for this trip. The drive, by taxi, to Ohenkro, took 45 minutes over some of the worst roads I’ve seen, up and down and full of holes. There are no vehicles in the village and I wonder how they get to the hospital in an emergency. Their birth kits contained umbilical tape and a new razor. The mother had a wooden Pinard horn for listening to the fetal heartbeat. We promised to return to share instruments and do some classes with them. When we left they put palm nuts and kinke (food they grow) in the taxi boot for us. The taxi driver was a theif, he stuck us up for an exhorbitant fare. It made me get a # for a taxi driver willing to work with us.

We now have chairs and tables, linoleum in the bedrooms, kitchen and on the balcony, curtains made and hung, tablecloths and napkins, the carpet has been washed and dried, and menu items worked out. I wish I had taken before and after pictures, didn’t think of it until we were well into the transformation.

Most of what we have purchased are startup capital items that won’t have to be repeated each time we come. We send thanks and blessings to our supporters/angels whose help has gotten us this far. We are still in need of your support. Keep us in your prayers. Send us some money if you can. A little money goes a long way here. Western Union is on the corner and it’s cheaper to send money to Ghana than within the US. It’s $8/$100 to Ghana and $11/$100 within the states. I also have a PayPal account, sazmidwife@aol.com, it is free to transfer money by PayPal.

Please forgive, I have not been in my e-mail in 3 weeks. I will do better. Check out our Facebook Fan Page and our site midwivesonthemove.wordpress.com. I can be reached by phone at 011 233 271 906 735.

I know this is the work of the Most High. Only the Creator could have brought just the right people together at just the right time to make this miracle evolve. Special love and thanks to Kareemah Hunter for being the angel with a computer who worked her miracles, to Zena, my packing angel, who shifted and reshifted the load until each trunk had 51 lbs and she included much more than I thought humanly possible, to Nadia Seraaj who made the impossible easy, to Claudia DC who edited, supplied language, encouraged and handheld me through the birth of Midwives On the Move, to Jennie who threatened me, loved me, encouraged and put the first $200 in PayPal and told me to figure out how to get it out. To you ladies, our board members and so many others too numerous to mention, who supported and pushed this concept forward, my endless gratitude.

Peace and Love, UmmSalaamah