On the recent visit of the Frontiers of Justice delegation to Ghana, they stopped by the Shekinah Clinic in Tamale, a long time CRS partner agency. Here is a reflection by Melissa Livermore, a Math teacher from Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, MN:
The Shekinah Clinic fully embodies the Catholic Social Teaching principle of Respect for Life/Human Dignity. Supoorted by Catholic Relief Services for several years now, here care comes in the form of love first with medical care secondary. The 35 volunteers who work in the clinic and surrounding communities validate the concerns of their patients. Everyone who works for the clinic including its founder Dr. David Abdulai, other licensed doctors and nurses, caregivers to those in the hospice homes and the surgical nurse who learned through practical experience, not formal training, receive compensation in the form of small amounts of food and the sharing of donations such as used clothing. All of these people are volunteers and theirs is a mission of love.
Surrounding the clinic are huts built and maintained by villages for patients to stay in when they are far from home. Unfortunately some of the modest huts stand in disrepair from neglect by their contributing communities. The clinic has a laboratory but can’t find a technician willing to volunteer his or her time to run it. With 165 patients living at the clinic and the 60 people it sees on a daily basis, the clinic is a very busy place.
This clinic provides its services free of charge, a radical concept here in Ghana. Dr. Abdulai became a bit of an outcast when he opened the clinic in 1991. Many shared the common thought, “There must be something wrong with a man who provides free services.” This clinic, his clinic, was built out of love. Patients receive care in the form of doctor consultations which always results in an affirmation of the person and in the very least some vitamins, surgical operations, hospice for HIV/AIDS patients with free medical care, meals on wheels for about 80 elderly and mentally handicapped patients, support for abandoned lepers residing at the clinic and weekly care to the prisons which includes free daily meals to the ten most malnourished prisoners. The food support for those living at the clinic is provided by CRS.
The mutual respect between the clients and the volunteers was quite evident. As we made our way around the clinic, Mr. Shaibu Muniru, a very thorough clinic staff, introduced his patients in hospice care and those suffering from leprosy living in small rooms by name. This clinic is a living testimony to the power of love!
An afterthought. Solidarity is all about listening. It is saying, “I am here for you.” It is not strategizing, forming opinions or telling the other how to solve her or his problems. Where is the dignity in that? Shouldn’t the answers come from the experts, the ones affected most? It is asking, “What can I do to help you?” And genuinely mean it. Solidarity is saying, “I am here for you.”
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