Simone Rath - Public Health in Ghana
After finishing an intensive science degree and being apprehensive about what my next step would be, I decided that it was time to take a break and travel. My dilemma was that I wanted something very specific - I wanted to travel with a purpose. I wanted to go to an atypical tourist destination and I wanted to travel within certain dates. As it happened, Projects Abroad was able to fulfil these criteria with their Public Health project. I chose the Public Health project with the intention of pursuing a job in that field. With my academic background I would have a project with both familiar and challenging aspects.
My Public Health Placement
The Public Health project provided me with the opportunity to get involved in a variety of activities and gain exposure to a diverse range of Ghanaian communities. Our public health team met every morning at a local transport station before venturing off into areas of the Kumasi region to provide health screenings (weight, blood glucose, blood pressure, Hepatitis B), education, and treatment for wounds, ringworm or malaria. We visited all areas of the community including a timber mill, a carpentry business and schools, as well as more isolated villages.
One of the most unforgettable things that happened on my trip was meeting a young man on an outreach programme. After chatting with all the volunteers and making it his mission to learn all our names, we found out he was doing so in order to pray for us and keep us safe. The appreciation they have for the time you give is heart-warming!
I think the most important aspect of this project was the sharing of information in the form of counselling so people could be well informed of their health status and how to maintain good health.
Free Time in Ghana
As an inexperienced traveller, navigating through flight transfers was the hardest logistical part of my trip. The support I received in Ghana came not only from Projects Abroad and my host family, but the eccentric family that was formed by the volunteers. We were all united by the common thread of purposeful adventure.
We were eager to explore and learn more about the Ghanaian culture. Together at the weekends we planned trips to Accra, Cape Coast and Lake Bosumtwi. Not only did we learn about Ghanaian culture, we were able to share the cultures of our own countries with each other. The friends that I made on this trip are amazing people, with whom I share many funny and memorable moments.
My volunteering experience challenged my perspective on life. Living without the comforts we take for granted, such as technology and hot water, makes you reassess your priorities and how much value you place on them. Having purposeful work and adapting to the lifestyle of a Ghanaian creates this connection to the community where you don't feel like a foreigner. It's true what you read! Ghanaians are incredibly friendly and willing to help out others with good intentions.
I have wonderfully fond memories of Ghana. I think what was vital to getting the most out of my trip was the right attitude. Come to Ghana with a willingness to learn and embrace the new, unique and different. Also keep a diary; you are not going to want to forget a single detail!