Wednesday, March 21
We then made a trek to Ile-Ife, about two hours away, where Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife is located. We visited friends of Dr. Hwang: Drs. Jason and Belen Lohr (both LLU School of Medicine alumni) and their two children, Michaela and Joshua. (Incidentally, Dr. Lohr has applied and been accepted to our online MPH program, which he will begin this summer.)
We also visited the pediatric clinic and gave out stuffed bears and clothing to the children who were patients there. We watched the cafeteria staff members cooking tofu, which was a new experience for all of us to see. In addition, we met with Dr. Herb Giebel (another School of Medicine alumnus) and his wife, Gail, and we met some alumni from the School of Public Health’s distance-education MPH program in Africa, Drs. Henry Ine and Peter Opreh.
Thursday, March 22
The international economic policy conference at Babcock University went according to schedule. Loma Linda MPH student Stephanie Walls took charge of the day. She worked in conjunction with Dr. Daniel Aina of Babcock University’s political science and public administration department to provide participants with a lengthy syllabus for review prior to the conference and a survey to complete.
There are a lot of leading American economists who have a lot to say about international economics, particularly that which affects policy in Africa. The syllabus contained numerous articles and ideas proposed by these leading economists. However, many of these wise individuals have never been to Africa. It was our intention to collect data, opinions, and recommendations from those who actually call Africa home.
Participants were split up into several discussion groups, each with its own topic such as foreign aid, trade, diversity, and globalization, and then each group made a summary presentation. All the participants (which included faculty and staff, but were mostly students) were involved, animated, and intelligent about these topics. The conference was a huge success, and it is our hope that this stimulates continued thinking at Babcock University and perhaps spawned a few future politicians.
Friday, March 23
Early Friday morning, we left our new friends at Babcock University to begin our long car journey toward Ghana. Babcock University loaned us its bright yellow and green student association van, and we piled our luggage into the back. We squeezed into the remaining seats and set off at 6:30 a.m. Potholes, honking horns, and multiple border checks marked the journey, which took us through Benin and Togo. The van began backfiring frequently after we filled up with petrol near the Ghana border. “Akwaaba,” or welcome to Ghana!
Our van managed to choke its way to Valley View University in Accra, and around 2:30 a.m. we arrived. We are very grateful that the van made it to Valley View, as it was very ill and actually stopped running the next day. Godwin and the driver had to have the entire system flushed and tuned in order for it to make the journey back to Nigeria.
Monday, March 26
Monday came very quickly and along with it, the second of our international economic policy conferences. This time, MPH student Angela Kamau was at the lead, and we worked with Dr. Kenneth Swansi, Valley View University’s vice president of academic administration. It was another successful conference, with more data gathered. Our students worked very hard and did an excellent job. More than 200 participated in the two conferences, and it was a lot of hard work to manage that many people.
During this trip, we experienced highs and lows, heat and humidity, beautiful sights—and some more painful to see. We ate pounded yams, fufu, homemade tofu, red gravy, vegetables with melon seeds, plantains, malt, milo, and pawpaw (papaya). We conducted seminars, collected research data, and treated and comforted patients. One of us (Jeff) even preached a sermon to a French-speaking audience. We were serenaded by children, visited family and friends, and made some new friends along the way.