West Africa Global Health
Due to high demand and interest, we run two West Africa Global Health trips in the summer. Take your pick!
PROGRAM 1: MAY 21 - JULY 1 (Applications Closed!)
PROGRAM 2: JULY 10 – AUGUST 20
- Learn about healthcare in Ghana from a holistic perspective: the big picture on rural and urban health issues and the underlying conditions that cause them.
- Live with host families and immerse yourself in the local culture and family life.
- Experience the town of Sandema, northern Ghana, where OG began five years ago!
PROGRAM FEE: 2,750
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 the backdrop to fishermen reeling 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 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 including the most welcoming of all homestays! 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 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 into Accra at Kotoka International Airport, where trip 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, send emails to parents and friends letting them know we have arrived, and 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. Participants 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 trip 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 trip 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. Participants will have the opportunity to visit and receive updates on current and past projects through OG’s past participants within 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 with health care, nutrition, and stigma build around HIV/AIDS.
Participants will be living in the town of Sandema, where OG began back in 2007! Located in northern Ghana, Sandema is where participants 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 to many participants with the variety of opportunities, the relaxed vibe, group dinners, discussions under the stars and so much more!
Participants will also have Independent Travel Time (ITT) – a staple of all Operation Groundswell programs. All participants 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, participants are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for themselves. Participants are given the emergency contact number of trip organizers during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. ITT is the ideal time for participants to learn more about their specific interest, whether that be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing. Many past participants have taken it upon themselves to hit up all 10 regions in this time, cruise through the safaris of Mole National Park, or even just revisiting 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 trip 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 TRIP 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.
Not only an avid traveler and hippy at heart, Kali can be found taking part in wilderness and rescue training, diving, and wearing her utmost favorite Birks trekking many mountains of the world. Kali’s passion is continuously being educated through global experiences. Her passion for traveling began with her studies in Eco Adventure tourism which landed her in educational tours in both South Africaand Jamaica in long term placements. Years later, she had many educational operational and motivational moments learning, growing and developing as an individual, program coordinator, director, and trip leader. After Kali’s first ever run program with Operation Groundswell in 2007, she has always had a soft spot in her heart for OG and what they stand for. She considers herself one of the most lucky girls in the world to be running the Global Health program in West Africa can’t wait to share the experience this summer! In her down time she can be found a local pubs with great live music, long boarding, snowboarding…or her favorite thing of all, LAUGHING!
Noel discovered his life-long lover…travel… at the early age of 15. He has backpacked through four continents and spent many a summer in the Canadian North: sea kayaking through glacial channels, white water canoeing down the Madawaska, and teaching alternative education programs beneath the northern lights. He spent the last summer biking 4000km from the west to east coast of Australia (couldn’t figure out the bus schedule). Ghana however, is where he truly fell in love with travel. While living there in 2006 he found a home, a family, and a whole new perspective on life. He has been itching to get back ever since and Operation Groundswell has provided the perfect opportunity! Summer 2013 will be an exciting time for Noel and his lover…they gave birth to his dream job: providing experiential education programs in West Africa. He’s got a knack for scoping out new ideas, a flare for making just about any situation a good time and a bottomless iron gut of a stomach. He looks forward to introducing you to one of his favourite corners of the globe.