In 2005 I saw a patient at Ohio State who needed repeat corneal transplants. His father was originally from a little village in the Akim District of Ghana – Akroso. He asked me if we could help a young man from this village who had bilateral retinal detachments. I told him if they could get him here then we would try our best to help him. I then started getting emails from a nurse from the Netherlands -Marian Remmerswaal. Marian had apparently been volunteering in Ghana for three months per year for the past 30 years. She has built a clinic, library, and a boarding school among other things in this small village.
Marian arranged travel for the patient as well as his local ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Quartey. They came and the patient was cared for by Dr. Robert Chambers. When the team returned to Ghana Dr. Quartey had a stroke and surgery was difficulty. Marian asked if I wouldn’t come and try to fill the void.
That was the beginning of our adventure in Across and the transformation of a field devoted to the making and distilling of palm wine. The people of Ghana including Lawrence and Charles Bengpong as well as Marian and her friends in Holland at Eyes on Ghana and her friend Jacquline who has participated in a number of mission trips.
A number of ophthalmologists, fellows, residents, and medical students have participated in these trips. Among these were: Dr. Matthew Ohr, Dr. Sarah Hilkert (twice), Dr. Adam Cloud, Dr. Cate Jordan, Dr. Lena Chheda, Dr. Rachel Ream, Dr. John Welling, Dr. Rebecca Kuennen, Dr. John Pajka, and Nate Mauger.
Instrumental to the success is the ophthalmology team in Ghana including in a addition to Marian and Jacquline: Dr. Mercy Dawson, Vadis Berg Mensa (sp), Kwame, and Samuel as well as Lawrence’s wife Juliet and their entire family who has taken such great care of all of us over the past ten years.