My trip to Ghana was definitely the best experience of my life to date! I had the most amazing time in this country and would not change a single thing about it other than to stay longer! The people are so friendly and all of the Work the World staff were fantastic in making us feel welcome and at home throughout our stay.
I graduated in summer 2009 as a physiotherapist and decided to go to Ghana for post graduate experience, working in the regional hospital physiotherapy department.
The department is set aside from the main hospital and is similar (yet a little less high tech) to an outpatient department you would find at home. The patients and general routine of the department is somewhat different however!
A typical weekday in Ghana would start at about 6.30am when we would wake up (this sounds mega early but you will find that the day is already in full swing with the locals by this time!). Ophelia would be there by about 7am to cook us breakfast and then we would set off down the hill to get a taxi. This little stroll to the taxi is nothing like home, with chickens and goats wondering around in the road and children running up to you to high five you, shouting 'Obroni!'. The taxi to the hospital takes about 10 minutes where we would be dropped off ready to start work at 8am.
The physio team is made up of Auntie Hannah, or 'Madam', who is the big boss and assesses all new patients. Mavis, Rhoda and Mena are three physio's that work in the gym and electrotherapy section of the department and Auntie Vick and Auntie Charlotte are the physio assistants. All of them are so friendly and helpful. They even invited us to Auntie Vick's daughters wedding!
Patients would start wondering in at about 8.30am and we would firstly take their blood pressure (if you don't know how to take blood pressure manually, you'll soon learn!).
There is a massive variety of cases coming through the door every day. The majority of patients we saw were stroke victims and a lot of these patients had been coming to physio for years, so had really built up a rapport with everyone working there. Other patients we saw were paediatric cases such as foot drop, road traffic accidents and general mobility. Most days we would try to get up to the wards to see the inpatient cases when the outpatients department quietened down. We would usually finish the day by about 2pm.
Some days after work we would head off to the Takoradi Beach Hotel to spend some time by the pool. We paid a small fee of 5 Ghana Cedi (about £2) to use the facilities for the day - you can get a month pass for cheaper if you prefer. We really liked it here and most of the time it was just us by the pool so it was nice to relax after work.
Weekends in Ghana were mainly devoted to visiting different places. Cape Coast is an hour tro-tro trip away and is a must. It's a great place to meet other travellers from all over the world and we met a group of people who we later travelled to Mole National Park with. Cape Coast also has a fantastic castle which you can tour around and learn more about slave trading, which is really interesting. There are a few places to go out in the evenings and plenty of cheap hostels to stay in too.
Another great place to stay in is Green Turtle Lodge. It quite literally is paradise! It's one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, although you should book early to get a room otherwise you have to stay in a tent. This isn't so great when there's a MASSIVE thunder storm in the middle of the night! The place is run by a couple from New Zealand who help protect the green turtles which are sometimes sighted on the beach. The food is great, there's plenty of cocktails and its just a great place to spend your weekends.
Mole national park is another trip we made during our time in Ghana. We had to take a week off work to complete it because it takes a while to get there by bus and tro-tro. It's definitely worth it though - we realised the minute we got to the hotel. There is a swimming pool which looks over the water hole where the animals drink from and we were lucky enough to see an elephant whilst we lay there sunbathing! From the hotel you can do a walking trek and a jeep safari and I can recommend both. Even if you don't see an elephant, the wildlife is lovely and its good fun!
In summary Ghana was amazing. If you're the type of person open to a completely different way of life and willing to get involved you will definitely love the experience. I met some wonderful people whilst I was away who I am still in contact with now and miss loads. I also gained loads of experience on my placement. All thanks to Work the World!