A UBC prof and her nursing students learn from those they serve in Ghana
It is good to make a difference. Just ask Muriel Kranabetter.
For her work since 2009 leading fourth-year nursing students to Ghana for clinical practicums, the associate professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus School of Nursing was honoured in a special tribal ceremony in the remote village of Chanshegu.
“It was quite an honour,” says Kranabetter, who dressed in traditional garb for the colourful festivities, spread out over several days. “There were a number of ceremonies, each with dancing and chanting and drums.”
Kranabetter was given the name Malgu Naa – “King of Peace and Unity.” Chickens and goats were sacrificed and the village feasted for days.
Kranabetter makes the trek to Ghana for six weeks every year, leading students in providing nursing care in Chanshegu and the surrounding villages. The team teaches maternal and infant health, gives immunizations, holds classes in schools and works with Ghanaians to provide nursing care in hospitals and clinics. But UBC’s initiative in Chanshegu goes beyond the annual trip. For example, three years ago they raised funds for water filters following a cholera outbreak.
Then a request came for help of a different kind – the village wanted to build its own nursing clinic. The closest free clinic is 20 kilometres away, accessible only by foot. Sick and elderly villagers are often too ill to make the journey and succumb to their maladies, which might otherwise be treatable.
Plus, 10 per cent of the village’s population of 500 are orphans – due to high maternal mortality from malnutrition, bleeding, infection, hypertension and lack of proper care.
It was a tall order, but Kranabetter and her students wanted to support the village in what they needed.
UBC community pitches in
Among those pitching in was Wade Bottorff – whose wife Joan is a faculty member of UBC’s Okanagan campus School of Nursing. Bottorff, an experienced builder, travelled to Ghana last spring, and helped the crew work with Ghanaians to cast bricks on site for the footings of the 6- by 12-metre building.
The project is a partnership with the Ghana government, which will fund a nursing position for the new community clinic. Meanwhile, the School of Nursing students are conducting fundraisers for the $10,000 needed to pour a concrete floor, build the walls and put a roof over the clinic, which will contain examination areas, a meeting room, storage, washrooms and living quarters for the permanent staff nurse.
For students, the opportunity to work together with the community of Chanshegu holds deep meaning.
“As a collective, we are making a huge difference,” says Samantha Waller from Kelowna, who will go to Chanshegu next spring and looks forward to living with and learning from the local community. “Leaving a significantly positive footprint for Chanshegu is a lasting legacy.”
UBC’s Okanagan campus students have a website to take donations by credit card, PayPal, cheque or cash. About $2,000 has been raised. For information on donating to the Ghana clinic project, visit their website or Facebook group.
Nursing students also hold an annual Global Gala to support their overseas practicums to Ghana, Zambia and India – but need to raise dedicated funds for the clinic. This year’s fundraiser is being held Saturday, November 23 at the Laurel Packing House in Kelowna, and will feature African-inspired food, live music, silent auction and presentations by students who have gone on past trips. Tickets to the Global Gala are $50 each or $375 for a table of eight and are available at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 250.874.0784.