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Dumsor: Ghana mission trip July 2015

“Dumsor (or more appropriately dum sɔ) (off&on) is a popular Ghanaian term used to describe persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outages.” - Wikipedia

Power is of vital value in Africa and especially in rural Africa. Electricity is a crucial necessity in provision of healthcare in Africa just as in the rest of the world. Our trip this July brought us into learning a popular phrase in Ghana, Dumsor. A lot of us in Africa battle with the problem of inconsistent power supply. This means that frequent black outs have been the norm in many countries.

But that is where we also get to realize that God was never unfair in allocation of resources. Northern Ghana is blessed with lots of sunshine. We never needed to warm water for showering and the scrub sinks in the operating rooms never flowed with the icy water that chills my hands whenever I scrub for a case in Kenya.

Dr. Specky and I left for Ghana after a successful course that we conducted in Limbe, Cameroon in the 3rd week of July. Our flight was scheduled to leave Douala at 10:30am on Sunday 26th July. There was a slight scare of cancellation when our plane delayed in leaving Djamena, Chad due to bad weather. We connected through Lome in Togo and arrived in Accra on schedule at 12 noon. The flight from Lome to Accra was only 25min! I hear some people live in Accra and drive to Lome daily to work. Very possible.

Bawku is far. Look at the map below

Count it this way: when travelling from Nairobi, it is a 5 and ½ hour flight from Nairobi to Accra, 1 hour flight from Accra to Tamale, then a 4 hour drive from Tamale to Bawku. We arrived at our destination at 9pm.

There are interesting things we shall tell you about our trip this time, so allow me to go back to the story about Dumsor.

On our third day of the mission, the lights went out for a short while. While waiting for the generator to kick in, the head anaesthetist walked in with a very bright flashlight, or so I thought it was. The lights soon came back and you can imagine my astonishment when I saw what it was. A phone. Imagine a phone that has a flashlight (not those tiny led flash things), 3 sim card slots and a battery so powerful that it can last two to three weeks and charge your iPad. It was appropriately nicknamed “dumsor”.

This Chinese phone was a working solution to an African problem. We never got to use it since the emergency generator and the power invertor systems worked superbly, but we did get ourselves one for use back here in Kenya. You never know the day you may need to use your phone for more than two weeks without access to electricity and still charge your iPad using the same device.


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