West Africa

"It's a great day to have a great day." We were all mentally preparing ourselves for this 6-8 hour hike in the scorching heat, but what we weren't mentally prepared for was hiking that in the middle of a thunderstorm. ...

They say what you do in life isn't nearly as important as who you do it with, and this trip was a perfect example of that....

Waves crash on the sandy shores and the air has a familiar whiff of salt and suntan lotion. This is where our week began....

When we got to Wli, we stared up at the mountain we would climb the next day, wondering what to expect from the luscious green expanses....

Ghana is where you live what you believe. It is loving your neighbor and loving the world at the same time. And in order to connect with others, we have to let people matter, to allow them as individuals to be as important as humanity...

Written by Sarindi Aryasinghe and Kali Burnell, 2014 West Africa: Global Health Program Leaders. During our stay in Accra, we were staying with Mama Tina and her family by Danquah Circle, Osu. Everyone was more than happy about the running shower, the close Internet cafés, and the busy local vibe. Our adventure started with a visit to Korle Bu, the largest teaching hospital in West Africa. It was a life-changing visit as we witnessed the lack of supplies and the number of emergencies.
Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
After our tour, we attended a meeting with the National AIDS Control Program, where we learned about all the preventative measures being taken as well as in-country progress. Our night ended with a food hunt, where we tried for the first time some of the local dishes: fufu, banku, rice balls, and waakye. We ate traditionally around a table and ate with our right hands.

Written by Sarindi Aryasinghe and Kali Burnell, 2014 West Africa: Global Health Program Leaders. We spent our first few days in Ghana in a small village in the Volta Region called Wli. It was at this endearing and welcoming place where we opened ourselves to each other as we were experiencing similar physical and mental challenges. Some of us played competitive sports, trained daily, and were extremely fit, while some of us haven't jogged in years. Regardless, we all hiked up the tallest waterfall in West Africa together and through the sweat, pain, and bug bites, we encouraged each other and supported one another from start to end. By the end of the hike, we were no longer a group of strangers, but 13 girls who had each others' backs.

Written by Lauren Hauszner, 2014 West Africa Grassroots Education. Living in Canada I often hear stories of slums in faraway places, stricken by poverty or affected by war. In my mind, I have created a perception of what these places look like. Starving children with bloated tummies, surrounding their pregnant mothers wrapped in brightly colored pieces of cloth. Men with guns or weapons ready to fight at any given moment. The elderly mixed in the crowd sitting around just waiting for the day to pass; waiting until they are moved back to their homes. A sense of hopelessness is painted on the faces of everyone. This is what penetrates my mind based off of what I know from home. However, visiting a community classified as a slum was a much different experience for me. On a wet and muddy day, our Grassroots Education team went to visit Old Fadama. This is the largest slum in Ghana and is home to around 80,000 people; 61,000 of which are children. Before entering the slum I had this vision in my mind of what it will be like, but not long after arriving, a much more exciting and colorful picture has replaced my own vision.