I’ve travelled before, but nowhere like Africa. I wanted to do something for my elective and realised that this was probably the last chance I’d get to do something like this.
I’ve got a daughter as well, so it was hard leaving her for 4 weeks, but I knew I wouldn’t get this opportunity again. I just wanted to see for myself how the hospitals in Ghana worked.
You can read things and watch things, but you don't really understand it until you go.
- We visited a school on a trip into the local community -
Me and my friend met at the airport and we were both really excited for the trip. We didn’t arrive in Ghana until late, but we had a quick tour of the Work the World house and it was much bigger than I thought it would be — it was like a villa.
The following day we went straight to the hospital for our induction where we met the ward staff for the first time. Then the Work the World team took us out for a tour of the town so we could get our bearings.
- The babies were much easier to weigh when they were asleep! -
The team showed us where we could exchange money and took us to a place where we could get a local SIM card with minutes and data so we could all stay in touch while we were there. It was cheap and lasted me the whole 4 weeks. We walked around the local markets and got some advice about where to buy things.
On Tuesday we started our placement. We saw differences right away. There was a lot of malaria, which obviously isn’t something we see much of in the UK if at all. The cases were in all ages, from babies to the elderly.
- I got to have experiences I wouldn't have thought possible -
We saw a lot of cellulitis as well. We do get that in the UK but never at the depth we saw it at in Ghana where it was much more advanced. We saw way more road traffic collision injuries than you do in the UK as well.
For me it was about seeing that local hospital staff didn’t have a lot of equipment compared to us, but they make do with what they have. It was really impressive, like using the end of a latex glove as a tourniquet. They don’t need all the fancy equipment, they’ve just learned to adapt.
- We were all close knit by the end of the trip -
We went out into the community to do some community nursing as well and that was amazing. The community team was so welcoming and so were the patients we visited. They even offered us food even though they didn’t have much. We travelled out to see people who couldn’t get to the hospital, like the elderly and people who couldn’t afford the transport.
They lived in make-shift buildings and shacks, but they seemed happy with what they had. The kids were all smiling and laughing and coming up to say hello.
- Visiting the community was a life-changing experience -
We spent time with lots of different people, taking blood pressure and things like that. I’m much more confident doing manual blood pressure after that experience because we did so many under supervision.
Outside of the placement experience we did some travelling around Ghana as well. We went to a place in Takoradi itself called monkey hill, which is like a rainforest in the middle of the city. We weren’t lucky enough to see many monkeys, but a local guide showed us around some of the nearby villages and it was a lovely afternoon.
- We didn't see many, but they were up close! -
The big trip we did was to Mole National Park. On the way there we stopped off to do horse riding and the area was beautiful — it was a real “Oh my God this is amazing” moment. There was a huge lake and we went on a boat trip across that as well.
We stayed over in a city called Kumasi before heading to the national park the following morning. The hotel we stayed in was probably the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The rooms were amazing and so was the food. And when you’re in the pool, you’re right above an elephant watering hole so you can see them all drinking below.
- We got up close and personal with the elephants too -
If you’re thinking about going on a trip like this, there’s nothing to think about. Just go. Even if you go on your own, you’ll make friends from the off and I made friends there I know will be lifelong. I still talk to the people who are out there as well.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you won’t get anything like it anywhere else.