Volunteer Abroad - Benin, Volunteer Abroad Programs

Even in Benin, Pieces of American Culture Appear

by Morgann Lyles, Greenheart Travel Volunteer participant in Benin

I returned to the hospital on Wednesday, but there wasn’t a lot to do since there were no consultations that day. I followed the Chief of Internal Medicine around as he carried out his administrative tasks then made rounds to his patients. He is an anesthesiologist, and almost all of his patients were in comas. He tried to diagnose what level of a coma they were in by asking them to squeeze his hand or open their eyes. One old guy was talkative, though he didn’t always make sense. He told us that if he had known we were coming, he would have prepared a little more.

Dr. Hounnou made sure I understood what was going on and encouraged me to ask questions. I have found that to be the general trend with the hospital staff. He also enjoyed introducing me to folks as “our American intern.” He told me that he didn’t have much to do in the afternoon, so I shouldn’t bother coming back after lunch. I rested at home and played around with the kids after school. I also walked around town a little bit. I was shocked to find a woman selling t-shirts from Duke, my Dad’s alma mater, and North Carolina Central University, my Mom’s lesser-known alma mater. I paid the vendor just to take pictures of them. I guess when people donate their old stuff to charity, it really does end up here!

Today was another sick day, unfortunately. I did not go to the hospital again because I actually felt worse this morning than I did on Tuesday. Thankfully I feel better now, especially since my host mom took me to get some crackers and Sprite – our American remedy for an upset stomach. For part of the day, my host sister and her two toddler friends were left under my care. I played around with them in spite of our language barrier. The plan for the rest of the evening is just to chill so that I will be prepared for my weekend trip with Eline, the volunteer who arrived the same weekend as me in Cotonou, to Grand-Popo and Ouidah. More on that later…

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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