Saturday, September 20, 2014

A tragic day in Ghana

Friday, September 19, 2014

Our day began as it usually does.  We met in the lobby at 8 except for Clarence who showed up a little late.  We left at 8:30, us with Dever’s and Bullock’s & Clarence in the other car.  We headed for the District Office.  The plan was to see the last two sites, then return to their offices so that we could interview the engineer (or person who sites in the exact location of a borehole or hand dug well), those who would be doing hygiene training, and some contractors.

We arrived at 10 AM at the offices and soon we were all in our cars ready for the day, our two cars and their two cars.  In front of the offices we had to make a left hand turn.  The white truck full of council people was first to leave so crossed the road and waited at the side for the rest of us to follow.  Clarence was at the wheel again and next in line so he began to edge forward a bit so as to see if anyone was coming.  Also on the left was a small van or local transport bus, temporarily stopped to let passengers off and on, which sort of blocked his vision around the curve.  Those in the white truck saw a motorcyclist roaring down the road at a high rate of speed and so gave him a hand signal to slow down.  At the same time, Clarence began to inch forward out onto the road.  Before E/S Bullock could even get out the word for him to stop, the biker ran into the SUV.  He hit the left front fender just in front of the wheel, flew over the hood, landing on the road.  I saw him land on the road and his helmet rolling down the street.  Someone said he did not have it on, but it was just attached to his bike.  We all knew that he was dead.  Sister Bullock came out of the truck quickly, visibly upset, but at the time I didn’t even know it was their car that was involved.  Elder Bullock’s previous job was as a policeman in Canada, so he stayed with the car and with Clarence. 

In Africa, people are very happy to get involved and many times will kill someone that has an accident, especially if someone accidentally runs over a child, even if it wasn’t his fault.  The only good thing was that there were so many witnesses, and even the Honorable District Councilman was there, that the driver was probably somewhat at fault.  Even so, can you imagine how we all felt?  But, one man from the council office told us that the man was ‘responding to treatment’—really?!!  We couldn’t believe that but think that they, who are so used to people dying (we see vehicles on the side of the road every day that have obviously been in violent accidents) that they don’t seem to react about things in the same way that we do.  They have a ‘it’s God’s will’ attitude.

The police came and took away the bike, and people carried the body off of the road.  Sadly, the people seemed less concerned about the victim than the accident itself—no one immediately ran over to this young man to see if there was anything that could be done for him.  The police impounded the car to find out if there was any default in the car, but someone had to remove the fender, pulling it away from the wheel, so that it could be moved.

So, with the encouragement of the Council, our downhearted group ended up going out to see the last two areas that want water projects, and then came back to the office; Clarence & E/S Bullock went to the police station to fill out reports.  As we waited for them at the offices we learned for sure that the man had died, by the same man that told us he was being treated.  Shortly thereafter the father of the young man came by so Jim and Elder Dever went over to him to give their condolences.  He was probably a man in his 40’s.  Right after that, the group returned from the police station and we started for the hotel, with the driver from the district taking Clarence & Bullock’s back, so we paid for their gas.  We arranged to rent a van for Saturday morning so that we could get back to Accra

Dever’s went home and we had dinner at the hotel.  I was concerned about Clarence because at dinner he first learned for sure that the man had died.  He said that he had a date later this month to come back to Kumasi to fill in more reports, but that it would be okay.  Nevertheless, he was not his usual happy self, wolfing down food, but eating very slowly.  What a sad day for all of us; what a sad day for this young man’s parents.

Saturday: We left the hotel in the rented van that we got from a local Bishop and he hired a man to drive us to Accra so that he could bring the van back to Kumasi afterwards.  We left just after 9:30 but didn’t arrive till about 4 PM.  The road varied from double divided highway to areas of body-jerking dirt ones.  We also hit areas of stop and go traffic.  We also had a typical breakdown—we heard a clunking noise, so he stopped.  We got out of the van while he looked at wheel bearings and changed a brake pad.  Somehow, the clanking stopped and we were able to proceed.  Most African cars are leftovers from other countries that used them up and don’t want them anymore…

                                                   Fixing the van on the way to Accra.

We had to create our own shade while we waited.

We dropped off E/S Bullock’s things at their apartment, picked up our extra suitcase, were driven to the church office where Bullock’s picked up their truck, and delivered us to the Novotel.  Also there we met the wheelchair couple and a couple that was to train them.  They have been on lots of missions but this is a new area of work for them. 

Well, I know I said that the Golden Tulip was a 5-star hotel, except that the salad I ate last night gave me a bad stomach in the morning—I took our famous Lomotil pills, making it tolerable for me to get back to Accra.  We were to meet the wheelchair couples for dinner, but couldn’t because I became very ill again, had to take a nap, and had bland food delivered to the room.  I feel better.  I am relieved!

Love, Mom & Dad, E/S Greding, Jim & Karen

PS: Tip of the day: never eat the salad…

PSS: Neils & Marti Ludlow—Bullock’s are from Canada and said that they met you when you were there organizing the clean up after flooding. 

Everyone in Ghana is concerned about what diamond and gold mining does to the land, how is scars the land, how it pollutes the water.  Everywhere we went this week we saw many areas where groups of men were working.  The workers receive little for their labors but those who own those mining rights make all the money, and at what price to the land?

Cocoa grows on the trunk and large branches of the trees--interesting!

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