West Africa

It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago, the nine awesome young women that make up the West Africa Discovery team, were just landing in Accra, unsure of what kind of adventure they were in for. Now they are in the thick of it all; with stronger muscles and glowing dirt tans, they are looking and feeling more like locals and have definitely caught the “I love Ghana” bug. The journey began in Cape Coast, where the ladies got a hands-on history lesson by revisiting the memories of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at both Elmina and Cape Coast Castles. Through group discussions by the beach and under the stars, the group explored the role Ghana played in  shaping Western society as we know it today. The group bonded above the rainforest at Kakum National Park, which made the squishy tro ride back to Accra that much more fun.

Cape Coast Looking out at Cape Coast Castle from Elmina castle

Back in Accra, the group got the opportunity to visit Old Fadama: Ghana’s largest illegal settlement. Over 80, 000 people, mainly from the regions of the North, have established a community there. But twenty years later, they are still not recognized by their government, face possible eviction, and are denied access to crucial human rights: proper sanitation, education and health care. By helping a graduate student conduct surveys of the members of the community, they were able to ask questions about what life is like for the women of Old Fadama, why they still continue to live there, and what they hope for the future. Hearing the stories and struggles of community members unleashed an array of emotions and feelings of powerlessness. However, the group learned the importance of uniting community spirit and that Old Fadama would not be forgotten even as the group continued eastward to the Volta Region. After a three hour climb up a lush, green mountain side, the group arrived, sweaty and out of breath, to the village of Wlitodzi, working with an eco tourism group called Rise Up Ghana. Wide-eyed and all smiles, they spent the next three days immersed in mountain village life. Wlitodzi is not accessible by road, and lacks a health clinic and enough teachers. The group learned to plant and pick cassava, and tried fufu for the first time. They visited the primary and junior high schools and helped the students with homework and learned new games and songs.

The team gearing up to plant cassava in Wlitodzi The team gearing up to plant cassava in Wlitodzi

Six weeks have come and gone and our early summer Global Health trip to West Africa is over! Our trip took us through some of Ghana's busiest city streets, its vast and beautiful mountains and forests, the red-earth and clay roads of the north, and along its breathtaking coast. Along the way we made great friends and got to learn about  the lifestyle, culture, food, drink, dance, and everything in between. Our work and volunteer placements ranged from the surgical theater at the National Cardiothoracic Center in Accra to the makeshift football pitch at Horizon Children's Centre (HCC) in the Upper East Region. During our independent travel time, we each managed to travel from the northern-most region to the western gold coast. Some of us saw the expansive Mole National Park on the way, while others chose to extend their volunteer placements in Kumasi and Accra. We all met in Princess Town - a dreamy fishing village in the western part of the coast - to have a few days of rest, relaxation, and a disorientation from the mind-boggling six week adventure that had just transpired.

Mole National Park, Ghana Mole National Park

It's been one week since our team triumphantly tro-troed into our home-sweet-home in the town of Sandema. After a scenic (aka snail pace) twelve hour bus ride, we are settling into rural life in the Upper East Region. The sun is hotter up here, but...

This morning we went down to the market and haggled with some tro tro drivers to guide us around for the day. We wanted to get out of town and explore some new sites. Since the 12 of us would fill up a whole vehicle...

At last, the whole WAD is finally together! The last participants arrived on Friday and we all connected on the sandy shores of beautiful Cape Coast. For some, this was their first time ever seeing the ocean so once we arrived from Accra, the afternoon was...

The OGWAGH trip has started and all is well here in Ghana. After two intro days in Accra - filled with exploration, money exchanging, and a rather zealous visit from street artists - we trekked up to the Volta Region for our orientation in beautiful...

After Jeremy, Michelle and I bused and tro tro-ed from North to South, ate our way through groundnut stews and mangoes, got some Azunto dance lessons from the streets and lived without power ("it is lights out") in our home-way-from-home in Sandema, we are now...

The hospitality here is unlike anywhere else in the world. For those of you coming out, you're in for a treat. Last night was an epic night. Picture sleeping in a Castle overlooking a breath taking coastline. You go down to the ocean to play,...

A Town, City, and country, I have missed so much, has welcomed me back with open arms and open hearts! A place where you step in, and feel a lack of those simple comforts of home, a place where the heat can be unbearable, and you're not...

Yes, it's been a while since we've blogged. But there was so much going on that it became a little difficult to pry ourselves from the awesomeness for even a second to put it all up. There's lots to catch up, so I'll try. Our last...

We've been in Accra since we got back from the Volta Region on July 10, and we've had some incredible experiences. For starters, everybody has been living with our very gracious host families, experiencing life in Ghana from a family's perspective. We've been having meals...

Wednesday was the official start of the West Africa Global Health program, as our nine fresh-faced participants finally arrived at Kotoka International Airport from their trans-Atlantic journeys. And they were thrown right into the grind of things, interacting with artisans and husslers over buying –...