I’ve always been a bit scared of hippos. I think it started in Ivory Coast when a missionary shared a horrific testimony about being attacked by a hippo. Then in 2008, I saw a hippo attack victim first hand at BMC (and I saw ‘justice’ served to the aggressor).
The hippopotamus is considered one of the most dangerous animals in the world because it is so aggressive and unpredictable. Add to that the statistic that they kill about 3000 (!) people a year and you’ll understand why I was hesitant to get in a dug-out canoe and approach them on the Black Volta. Nonetheless, after a bit of research I understood the importance that Wechiau plays to protecting these large, amphibious creatures in Ghana and wanted to support that community with a visit and some advocacy.
Last October, at the very end of rainy season, Nils and I hiked to the White Volta rapids north of Gambaga. There we found the engorged river roaring over an impressive rock formation. We decided then that we’d come back at the end of dry season to see the difference.
Nils and our friend Richard Jangdow joined me this time. The hike was a long one (9.5 miles, in & out) and it was blazing hot (108°F in the shade) but we made it and enjoyed soaking our feet in the water. Comparing the photos from this trip and the last one, I’m surprised that it wasn’t that much lower – probably a meter at most.
After hanging out at the rapids, we headed back to the hunter’s camp about two and a half miles east and the ferryman offered to give us a canoe ride up the river. I hung back and flew my drone to get shots of them in the boat.
Recently, I was able to visit one of my patients in his home, to greet his wife and new baby boy and to pray with them. Over a year ago, I had to amputate his lower leg. He had been shot by armed robbers. The tibia and fibula were shattered and the blood supply to the foot was compromised. The patient first chose to go to the local “bone setter,” and returned only when the foot was already dead. He finally agreed to amputation and healed well afterwards. He was highly motivated to get a prosthesis and did very well with the training. Once he returned from the training center with his new leg, he rode his bike from his village to the hospital (about 3 miles) just to greet me.
When we went to the Baptist church in his village, he saw me and invited me to greet his wife and new baby. The pastor of the church accompanied me and we encouraged him and prayed with them. The best part was when my son asked me which leg was the fake leg!
However hot the iron is, it’s gonna cool.