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Medicine in Ghana by Emma Crowe

A boat on the shore in Ghana

On a cold, wet day in Northern Ireland, I decide I would set myself a challenge by embarking on an adventure to give back to the world around me. After remembering the stall Projects Abroad had set up at my school’s career day, I researched the company more and thought it was the one for me. I'm not one for going away from home and so reading about the support that I would have whilst away on my project really reassured me. Every word that I read was completely 100% true; I couldn't have had any better support while I was volunteering for my two weeks. Anyway, less about how I found Projects Abroad, as you have clearly already found them and if you’re reading this, I’ll talk more about my time in Ghana on the two week Medicine Short-term Special!

My first impressions

A group of High School Special Medical volunteers

Entering a country like Ghana for the first time was an eye-opening experience. Ghana is a poverty-stricken developing country that felt like a different world to my own. To have physical evidence of genuine economic depression, and then to go on and immerse myself in that realm, forced me to recognize the things, the people and the opportunities I take for granted every moment of my life at home. During my time in Ghana, I made loads of great friends, with whom I plan to keep in touch with.

My Host Family

When travelling to Ghana I was expecting that I was going to live in a small shack, but this expectation was wrong. I arrived at the front door of a nice, big stone house with a small courtyard at the front where we met the family on arrival. We were greeted with bright, cheerful smiles on everyone's faces. There were eight people living permanently in this house. Our host mother is a private caterer and her food that she cooked for us each day was amazing. Living in the house was our host mother’s sons and some grandchildren, myself and seven other volunteers from America, Poland, and Canada. The family were so welcoming and helpful throughout the two weeks that we stayed with them. I especially enjoyed playing with the grandchildren every evening as it gave me a little more sense of home!

My Medical Placement

High School Special medical volunteers in Ghana

The Medicine Short-term Special project included a variety of activities. On the project we delivered care to communities of people of varying ages. We performed basic physicals/check-ups on school children whose ages ranged from around four to 18 years old. We were also able to extend our services to the teachers of some schools and other school faculties. We dressed the wounds of leprosy patients who lived in a community solely for lepers. We learnt that people who have had this disease have permanently damaged nerves, and therefore can be severely injured, but have no conscious realization of it until they look down and notice a bloody gash down their leg. Because they are unable to feel, this makes them more susceptible to injury and more susceptible to complications from injuries and infection. These patients therefore require a great deal of medical attention.

We also gave lectures to orphans in an attempt to educate them on hygiene practices. The children we engaged with were welcoming, kind, and maintained incredibly high spirits through the unimaginable hardships they have undoubtedly gone through. The children performed traditional songs and dances for us, and even offered us lessons!

My overall experience

All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity that I am incredibly fortunate to have had and I’m sure I will embark on another journey with Projects Abroad again soon. I learned so much and developed bonds with some incredible people whom I hope to see again in the near future.

Emma Crowe

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