Medical mission returns from Africa - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Medical mission returns from Africa

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - There are many things we may take for granted here in the United States such as access to healthcare or even electricity.

In Ghana, Africa these things are a rarity and sometimes even non-existent.

"Patients were, immediately when we got there, lined up waiting to see us and it was nonstop throughout the whole week," says Dentist Sean Tarpenning.

A weeklong effort by doctors, dentists and others from Eau Claire working to create a lasting impact.

"What made this trip different from any other is that, working with Operation Dignity and trying to help the people of Trede, the town that we're in, in Ghana, Africa actually start to learn to take care of themselves," says Registered Nurse Wayne Street.

Trede is one of the poorest villages in the region and lacks proper healthcare.

"There we literally worked out of a jail that's been unoccupied for 20 years.  We only had basically plastic folding lawn chairs that we worked off of and used headlamps," says Tarpenning.

Seeing patients as part of Operation Dignity's mission.

"Many of the villagers don't have the opportunity to see a medical doctor or a dentist.  It's just not available to them," says Operation Dignity's Medical Mission Organizer Jamie Paige.

So the doctors and dentists did their best in the midst of a crippled healthcare system and a Malaria outbreak.

"So between a Malaria epidemic and people that didn't have any type of healthcare, our resources were tapped and overwhelmed every single day that we were there," says Street.

"I think the biggest problem is they just don't have any trained dentists over there.  In all the towns and villages we saw, we saw perhaps one office that was maybe a dental office," says Tarpenning.

So when a dentist does come to town, there's no shortage of patients.

"Just a sea of people.  You just can't imagine or fathom how many people lined up just to get the care that they needed," says Paige.

All free from some caring Wisconsin professionals.

"America is a gifted country.  If you can take some of your own gifts and share it with others, of the needy of this world, they'll be grateful for it and they'll be better because of it," says Street.

Ghana has it's own gifts too.

"Our teams go over there to change lives, but often it's our lives and our hearts that are touched and changed by these people," says Paige.

The medical trips to Ghana were originally an idea of Jamie Paige after hearing of similar trips by mayo health system nurses to other third world countries.

Many of the volunteers on the trip expressed their eagerness to return again and continue to help the people in remote villages of Ghana.

The group also hopes to one day train the native people some basic medical care.

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