Just a short one hour drive from the work the world house in Takoradi lies a small fishing village called Akwadaa. Since early May, this scenic and rarely-visited village has been home the third and newest Village Healthcare Experience for the Ghanaian Programme.
As with all week long village experiences that we run in Africa, the core elements are simple – to offer students a unique insight into local communities, by providing safe accommodation with a local host family, five mornings working in a village health clinic and organising authentic and enjoyable afternoon activities using a knowledgeable local guide.
It is also a great pleasure for us to be able to offer both a once in a life time trip for students and also to give these often quite remote villages a chance for interaction with foreign students. By using host families, local guides and making donations to the local clinics, we really believe the village experience provides benefits for everyone involved!
Speaking with a few students after their return to the UK about their time in Akwadaa, it was great to hear how students had loved it so much they had wished they could have stayed for two or three weeks! It certainly seems to building up a great reputation to complement the two other village experiences at Abura and Fasin that we have been using for over a year now.
Akwadaa, a village of just over 2,000 people, is a fishing community with the majority of the inhabitants actively involved in the fishing industry. The village is surrounded by stunning beaches to the south and is split into two areas by a river estuary that runs into the ocean. The village harbour is packed full of the beautifully painted local fishing boats and the village offers a wealth of beautiful photo opportunities, especially at sunset!
The house is located on the western 'new' side of the village a short five minute walk from the health clinic. Being at the top of the hill the house has great views of the rest of the village and surrounding countryside and coastline. The house is centred around a large courtyard where the children like to play and Auntie Comfort can often be found preparing food for the family! The house has a really fun and vibrant atmosphere with everyone joining in with the daily chores and activities.
The house is connected to the national grid and has electricity but doesn't have running water, instead the family take it in turns to collect the necessary water from the nearby bore-hole well. Although students will be living as traditionally as possible, as with all our village experience accommodation, we provide beds with mosquito nets and the host mother cooks three simple but nutritious meals each day.
In Akwadaa the staple foods of the village include cassava, banku, rice, chicken and vegetables. There is also a wide variety of fresh fruits grown locally. It is not unusual for students to help Comfort with the preparation of the food.
After a busy morning in the clinic and some lunch back at the house, students travel with Wisdom (from the clinic) and undertake a range of activities that provide a unique insight into the lifestyle and traditions of the local villagers. The afternoon activities do change to a degree throughout the year depending on the season but include a range of the following:
- meeting the chief of the village
- spending time with the local fishermen to learn about the important role they play in the community
- learning how to preserve the fish that are caught using the local traditional methods
- taking a canoe ride in one of the locally built canoes to the nearby lagoon
- learning how the local alcohol is distilled
- a guided walk along the local walking trails to explore the stunning coastline
- relaxing on the beach and more often than not joining in with an impromptu game of football!
The village clinic:
The Akwadaa Health Clinic, where students spend five mornings working, was opened in 2005 and offers a crucial service to around 7,000 people who live in the very rural Ashanta West region. The centre serves 13 communities and is a focal point for many people in the local area.
The clinic is staffed by two young and enthusiastic nurses, Jeff and Wisdom. They offer a general outpatient service during the day and also work in an outreach capacity, regularly visiting smaller communities where people are unable to travel to the centre itself. The nurses also undertake primary school health education programmes and are actively involved in providing family planning advice and child welfare clinics. To date the two nurses have learnt a great deal from our students and their interest in teaching students about the local diseases and issues affecting the village population has been a source of much interest and praise from our students.
Jeff and Wisdom have created a schedule for students to experience the full range of the services they provide to the community by encouraging students to join them when they undertake outreach work in the surrounding villages and when they visit the local primary school and offer free healthcare education. As a result, the clinic time in the centre offers a wide variety of experiences from outpatient examinations and assessments, outreach visits and education programmes and a fantastic comparison to the larger hospitals in Takoradi.
You really can’t go wrong adding a village experience onto your trip in Ghana. Go on, explore a side of Ghana that very few people gets the chance to enjoy!