Work the World has programmes in two African countries and we often hear from students that are unsure how to choose between the two. I had already been out to Ghana earlier this year, and loved it, so I was pleased when the chance came to visit Tanzania so that I could see firsthand the differences, if any, between the east and the west. If you are a little unsure as to where to pick, maybe this brief insight will help. If not, there is always the option of a split destination placement to experience the best of both worlds. ;-)
Surprisingly I found the two quite different. With a placement in Ghana you are instantly immersed into African life - the house is in a typical residential part of Takoradi and when out and about you will come across very few other westerners, even at the market circle. The locals cannot do enough to help you - in fact Ghanaians are known for their amazing hospitality. In Tanzania the houses are located in residential areas too, but you'll find more expats and wealthier Tanzanians.
One of the key parts of my job is to helps students decide how to make the most of their time away. The village experiences offer a unique insight into rural and poverty stricken lifestyle, which adds a fantastic dimension to your placement both clinically and culturally. I visited the villages in both Ghana and Tanzania and they were all completely unique, offering different focuses, communities and healthcare positions. Whichever one you go on you will truly appreciate the type of healthcare the majority of Ghanaians or Tanzanians will receive throughout their life.
In terms of placements it is harder to offer direct comparisons as there are three destinations in Tanzania and depending on your discipline and interest, there are a huge range of opportunities. I would recommend giving us a call or going on the webchat and we can narrow down the options available.
Tourist attractions are the last big comparison and it's hard to compete against a country whose highlights read like a top ten "destinations to visit before you die" list! Tanzania is famous for many things including the thrilling ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, safari in the Serengeti & Ngorogoro Crater and the idyllic white sands and diving opportunities of Zanzibar. Ghana on the other hand has very little "world reknowned" sites. What it does have is it's reputation for it's warm, spirited people who love to welcome you to beautiful, unique sights. I visited a village built entirely on sticks, hung out with locals and played with the kids. I also took a canopy walk (one of only 5 in the world) with some local Ghanaian tourists that really gave me a sense of life in the rainforest. In Tanzania you cannot help but be part of the tourist hub,unless perhaps you go to Mwanza which is off the tourist trail, whereas in Ghana you will avoid the worst of the tour buses and safari jeeps. It's tough to decide which is best when there are plus points for both!
Some things are the same wherever you are. Whilst on placement you will be thrown into an African healthcare system which is very different from what you will have ever experienced back home. Students tend to find there placements unbelievable rewarding and beneficial to their future studies and future practice, yet shocking and a little unnerving at times. To be able to return to a shared household full of other healthcare students going through similar experiences is a comforting. In every destination we have a house that we are proud of.
I would struggle to pick my favourite out of the 2. Both have sun, beaches and some of the happiest and friendliest people I have ever met. They also both have similarly unreliable transport options but TIA - this is Africa and part of the cultural experience! Whichever you choose, both offer something slightly different but equally amazing.