Horns announce my arrival at the Kotoka International Airport. My eyes took in the crowds before me. A year and a half has passed since I have seen so many people gathered together in one place.
I had to remind myself that COVID was still around. Yet, even with the reminder I still could not understand how so many could gather together.
I reflect back on that moment, and now I can understand how there was a large crowd gathered at the entrance. It appears that there is a communal respect that Ghanaians have for one another. What I could not see then, that I could now, is that each person in that airport entrance felt safe. A feeling that had not felt in the heart of my own country in some time.
In the last few days before I return to the United States, I review Ghana’s handling of the COVID crisis. I feel that Americans could learn so much in knowing how to handle COVID by seeing how Ghana deals with this terrible crisis.
As of 23 August, Washington state enforced mask mandates for the state for all indoor locations for persons that are both vaccinated and unvaccinated. In response to these actions, there will most likely be protests – arguments between wearing the mask and not wearing the mask. There is no consensus over what should be done to protect the whole country.
For the most part in Ghana, I have seen the opposite take place. There are larger concerns over acquiring enough vaccines for everyone. COVID seems more like an inconvenience than something that needs to be fought against. There are struggles over finding work. Ghana faces infrastructure issues that affect how Ghanaians commute each week.
In the United States, we are divided on the smallest of matters. There is no time to focus on the larger issues such as our homelessness crisis or how so many of our students are facing debt. We are concerned about wearing a mask inside. We get mad about having to sanitise or wash our hands before entering a crowded space.
In Ghana, washing stations are common. I can walk out the door of my work place to find a washing station. The hallways have automated devices of hand sanitiser. Although there are crowds, I feel safe in Ghana. I feel that others care about my well being. In the United States, the division will overtake each individual until we sadly lose more lives to this deadly disease.
The issue that affects Ghana comes from the small quantities of vaccines available. Although there is an effort by the Ghanaian government to secure more vaccines, there are not enough to cover the population. Where vaccines are being distributed, there are lengthy queues. Even though distribution is separated by region, there are still so many attempting to be vaccinated outside of restrictions set by the government. There is a general motivation to receive the vaccine in order to be healthy.
News pundits in the United States continue to reveal the unfortunate updates for the state of the nation with those that refuse to be vaccinated. There are two specific groups in the United States that refuse the vaccine. The first of the groups are anti-vaccinators. This group refuses any vaccine for varied reasons. Overall, the group feels that vaccines are dangerous.
The other is the group of those hesitant to receive the vaccine. These groups of people refuse to be vaccinated for the lack of answers to their questions. Many feel that there is not enough information about the vaccine or what is in it, so they refuse to receive it. The United States has more than enough vaccines to cover the population. Despite the volume of vaccines, some are going to waste from the actions of these groups.
Education on COVID
Ghana educates the public on how to keep safe. The media does not entertain thoughts of the vaccine being unsafe. There is discourse, and then Ghanaians can decide on the actions they need to take. I look back at the country that I must return to, and I am ashamed. For the sake of our pride, we allow the deaths of our brothers and sisters to be in vain.
We hear stories of heartbreak from those that had their lives ravaged by COVID, and turn our backs to follow our own interests. I am returning home to masks, packed hospitals, and angry vaccine protests. Some people feel that they are fighting for their freedom. I look at those that can vaccinate, but do not. I see those that could wear a mask, but refrain. I see these selfish actions that pain me. How many more people must die before the situation in the United States changes?
There is so much that I will miss upon leaving Ghana. I believe what I will miss the most is my security. I feel secure knowing that I can be in a crowd, but see others wearing masks around me. I wish I could see the desire for all Americans that are able to be vaccinated, to take advantage of the opportunity. There is no need to see so many people die needlessly. There is a way to stop the disease from spreading, but I believe this would start with Americans caring for one another. I love my home of the United States, but I am disappointed in the disregard we have for human life. I can only hope that Americans can change their mindset to want to help one another.