West Africa Global Health
Due to high demand and interest, we run two West Africa Global Health programs in the summer. Take your pick!
PROGRAM 1: MAY 28 - JULY 6, 2014
PROGRAM 2: JULY 13 – AUGUST 21, 2014
EARLY BIRD DEADLINE: DECEMBER 16, 2013
- From the capital city to the northern villages, get the big picture on rural and urban health issues and the underlying conditions that cause them.
- Hike up to the highest waterfall in West Africa and stay in a homestay in the mountain village of Wli.
- Live in the town of Sandema and learn about healthcare on the ground in northern Ghana, where OG began seven years ago.
- Confer with the National Control Program for HIV/AIDS and meet our partners at the largest teaching hospital in West Africa.
PROGRAM FEE: 2,755
COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION: 750
WEST AFRICA… THE WAY WE SEE IT
In Ghana, people often say “nothing works but everything works out.” This rings true throughout the country. In the hectic tro-tro (public minibus) stations in Accra, men yell over each other in vans weaving through the market and spilling onto the streets. Behind the castles of the ancient Gold Coast, strong ocean currents crash against colonial fortresses. These castles once housed slaves by the thousands to be sent to the Americas and now serve as a backdrop while fishermen reel in huge nets from small hand-carved wooden canoes. Nearby is Kumasi, the capital and cultural heart of the Ashanti region. Walking through the market you will encounter Rastas, travellers, and meat slaughterers alongside traders from as far as Mali and Niger.
Sandema, a small town in northern Ghana, is a remarkable and memorable series of images, sounds, and smells. Dusty red paths meet up with the few roads that cross through town. Children are constantly popping out from behind trees and out of mud huts to better investigate the new Smali Smali (foreigner). In Sandema, your senses overtake you. To experience Sandema is to feel the wind pick up before the rush of a sudden rainstorm that washes away all your worries. You smell bubbling palm oil, spicy soups, fried fish, and the soft sweetness of shea fruit just off the tree. This is the Africa that we love and the Africa that you will fall in love with.
Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!
- Explore the tropical jungles and enormous waterfalls of the Volta region.
- Visit French-speaking Togo or Benin for a relaxing beach experience.
- Learn about Ghana’s tragic past at the Cape Coast slave castles.
WITH OG YOU LIVE LIKE THE LOCALS.
The Global Health program will be split into several styles of accommodation, from sharing local guest houses to dorm-style hostels. There is nothing better than being taken in by warm and welcoming Ghanaian families. Being hosted by local families is an incredible way for the team to integrate within the local community. Pounding fufu, telling Anansi stories and waking up with the sun can be expected. Trusted homestay families have been pre-arranged by OG and has definitely been the highlight for many past participants. In addition, the group will at times be staying at other hostels and guest houses along the way. Although some are better than others, in each place we stay there will be a safe and enjoyable place to lay your head!
GLOBAL HEALTH SAMPLE ITINERARY
*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.
Just click on the headers to read more!
We arrive in Accra via Kotoka International Airport, where program leaders will pick you up from the airport and we will head to our hostel for our first night in country! Stretching across the Atlantic coast, the capital city will serve as our first meeting point as people start to fly in and send emails to parents and friends letting them know we have arrived. We will get to know each other as we explore this city and prepare for the contrast between this modern metropolis and the rural villages to follow!
Orientation activities will take place in the small town of Wli in the Volta Region of Ghana against the beautiful backdrop of mountains and waterfalls. Team members will be able to ease into Ghanaian culture and pace of life all while getting to know each other. We will be welcomed by a local friend who will prepare a taste of real Ghanaian cuisine! An orientation isn’t complete without a waterfall hike, so we will take a day trekking up to the largest waterfall in West Africa! Let the adventure begin!
This portion of the program will be dedicated to exploring global health as an aspect of environmental health. Possible focuses include water quality assessment in Ghana’s rapidly expanding mining sector and permaculture projects in the Brong-Ahafo Region. Commonly overlooked but extremely relevant when studying health, this is a new section of the program that everyone is excited about. We will keep you updated as this section develops!
In the long journey north to Sandema, in the Upper East Region, the group will stop over in Kumasi to stretch our legs and explore the country’s second-largest city. Team members will have the opportunity to visit and receive updates on OG’s current and past projects. We will also meet with the Kaleo Area Women Development Association to learn about their work in empowering women and improving the health of their community. We will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit rural villages and really get an inside look at the concerns they face regarding healthcare, nutrition, and the stigma built around HIV/AIDS.
We will be living in the town of Sandema, where OG began back in 2007! Located in northern Ghana, Sandema is where team members will take part in educational and volunteer placements with local and national NGOs and initiatives, including the Sandema District hospital, Sandema disabilities centre, and Horizons Children Centre. There will be several opportunities to branch out into many particular niches in the health field. Throughout this time, we have had many participants find their true passion in health and get a chance to explore a variety of career path choices. Sandema is a place that is what you make it. This time has been a highlight for many team members with its variety of opportunities, relaxed vibe, group dinners, discussions under the stars, and so much more!
Team members will also have Independent Travel Time (ITT) – a staple of all Operation Groundswell programs. All team members will be given detailed travel guides and information on the best places to see and how to stay safe. You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, team members are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for themselves. Participants are given the emergency contact number of program organizers during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. ITT is the ideal time for team members to learn more about their specific interest, whether that be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing. Many past team members have taken it upon themselves to hit up all 10 regions in this time, cruise through the safaris of Mole National Park, or even revisit their homestays and volunteer placements.
The group will reconvene at a community-run colonial slave castle-turned-guesthouse in Princess Town, back on the Atlantic coast of Ghana. Set against pristine beaches, we will have a program debrief known as Disorientation. We will speak to our goals and accomplishments, discuss ways to collaborate on future projects, and how to stay in touch after the program. Everyone will enjoy our last tastes of delicious local cuisine from our wonderful friend and guide, Joseph! This is a place most will never forget. This is a time for reflection, many laughs, chats, and late night hang out sessions. One of many highlights, and a perfect way to end the program!
MEET YOUR PROGRAM LEADERS
Get ready to spend six weeks with some of the raddest people on earth…we’re not even exaggerating! Just click on their name to read more about them.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Sarindi grew up in the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, China. It was here that she first started to have the thirst for adventure as she travelled all around Asia. After moving to Toronto and while attending the University of Toronto, she found the perfect field that intersected her love of travel with her truest passion in Global Health. She desperately wanted to see the issues she was reading in class first hand, so she enrolled in the OG West Africa Global Health Trip in the summer of 2012 and hasn’t looked back since! Sarindi just came back from a four-month internship in Cape Coast, Ghana interning and researching with Ghana Health Service in the Reproductive and Child Health units of two hospitals. She currently also serves as the Co-Director of the University of Toronto International Health Program. In her spare time, Sarindi is an avid indie concert go-er and works at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Sarindi is really excited to be joining the OG family and to be leading the trip that sparked her passion for Global Health and love for Ghana.