Bernice Breaks the Barriers in Ghana

Bernice Breaks the Barriers in Ghana
by Susan Pennington
Over 400 years ago Shakespeare wrote:  “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”  Those words were never more true of anyone than of nurse Bernice Egu at the International Health and Development Network (IHDN) Mission Hospital in Ghana.  In a small, poor village where she grew up with her parents (who are farmers), Bernice has done more to beat the odds than most.  Her story is nothing short of amazing.
By simply completing high school, Bernice did more than many in her area.  But completing high school was not enough for her.  She knew that she wanted more:  a college education.  Unfortunately, the high price tag made it a near impossibility, but that didn’t stop her.  The IHDN hospital needed housekeepers to sweep floors.  Bernice went to work while in high school, hoping to save money to pay future tuition bills.  It was during a visit to the hospital—which Dr. Edem Agamah had envisioned, prayed about, and brought to fruition in an untilled field in Ghana—that he noticed how very clean the floors were.  “There was hardly a speck of dirt on the floors and I asked, ‘Who did this? Who swept these floors so clean?’”  The answer was:  Bernice.  This reminded Dr. Agamah of his own childhood, when he had swept the floors of his classroom so clean that his teacher not only noticed, but also paid him for his efforts.
Upon seeing this, he called Bernice over for a conversation and learned that she wanted to become a nurse.  He sought to invest in those who shared his vision of loving the Lord, following Him, and caring for the sick—and who had a desire to move beyond their limits.  Dr. Agamah decided that IHDN would invest in this young woman, who already displayed a work ethic that impressed those around her.
He introduced Bernice to the head administrator of the hospital.  Soon after, she was moved from housekeeping to clerical work in the registration office.  Again Bernice excelled, giving her all to being “very thorough, humble, gentle, caring, and dependable” in Dr. Agamah’s words.  Learning that IHDN would sponsor her for her nursing degree if she agreed to return to the hospital to work, Bernice applied to Ho Nursing College—the top nursing school in Ghana.  She was accepted—and graduated 3 years later with distinction at the top of her class!
Bernice returned to the hospital in 2017, fulfilling her dream to become a nurse.  But she had not left the hospital entirely while studying.  Mrs. June Agamah recalls that during breaks and summer vacations, Bernice returned to help and work at the hospital, often alongside teams of doctors and nurses from the U.S.  They (and the patients) were awed by this tiny lady’s determination, dedication, loyalty, and extreme dependability in her work.
At only 28 years old, Bernice Egu has set the bar high and become a role model for many others in the area.  Dr. Agamah says her abilities in nursing have even created some jealousy, because people from poor villages are not expected to succeed.  But there is such maturity in this beautiful young lady that Dr. Agamah plans to “continue to push her and encourage her to learn more.  She has the potential to learn more than we can imagine and is inspiring other nurses.”
Her maturity, dedication, and work ethic were clearly displayed when Dr. Agamah, an oncologist, wanted to begin treating cancer patients in Ghana.  He sent a chemotherapy training book to the Mission Hospital in advance of a team of doctors who would provide training in that subject.  When they arrived, Bernice had read the entire manual and was already delivering chemotherapy to cancer patients.
When we spoke with Bernice she was at the hospital—on her day off—assembling data on cancer patients for an upcoming Mobility and Mortality conference.  “I have a lot of compassion for my patients and love helping people,” she said.  Building relationships and providing the best medical care possible, while bringing people to the Lord, is IHDN’s mission.  Bernice is breaking all the barriers to make that a reality.  Would you like to learn more about the mission and ministry of IHDN?  Edem and June Agamah are members at Hope Church, and take two trips a year to Ghana.  For more information, contact June at [email protected]

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