Volunteers can contribute to a variety of medical areas, mainly treatment of tropical infectious diseases.
Since the introduction of a national health insurance scheme a decade ago, access to healthcare facilities has significantly improved in Ghana, especially in urban areas. However, the urban healthcare system still faces multiples challenges. Most medical cases in Accra are related to poor sanitation. Malaria continues to be the primary cause of death, and diarrhea, typhoid, tuberculosis and skin infections are common. The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains a serious problem, and multiple organizations are supporting education about and treatment of the disease. In addition, reproductive health issues affect many mothers, and high rates of infant mortality and malnutrition persist in the area.
The projects in Accra focus on both medical treatment and public health education. They empower volunteers to contribute to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases, and to provide quality healthcare. Volunteers live in a small community outside Accra and work in medical centers in the area.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work at a hospital for five to seven hours a day, they can contribute to a variety of medical areas, mainly treatment of tropical infectious diseases such as malaria and typhoid, emergency medicine, maternity and primary care. The doctors and nurses determine the level of responsibility delegated to volunteers, but activities may include assisting in the emergency room, conducting patient interviews and exams, maintaining medical records and suturing wounds. Additionally, depending on the local need, volunteers may work with patients to educate them on topics like nutrition, personal hygiene and reproductive health.
There is no typical day :-)
Volunteering abroad is all about finding your role in local communities. Unlike a tourist, volunteers travel to serve instead of to be served.
Also, remember that you’re working in the developing world in very poor contexts—conditions are constantly changing. There is no script to follow and being adaptable is crucial. This is what makes international volunteering challenging and rewarding.
In general though, you’ll be working Monday through Friday. Weekends are off. Every project is different, so you want to read the detailed project descriptions.
Connecting with the locals and other volunteers is also a big part of the experience. You’ll have plenty of time after your work and on the weekends. Volunteers often check out tourist sites together, hang out in the evening, travel on the weekends, etc. It’s up to you, don’t worry you’ll have a lot of fun too :-)
Once a collection of small towns, Accra evolved from a colonial capital into one of West Africa’s largest cities. The capital is a microcosm of Ghana: exciting, chaotic and fun. Volunteers often explore the city center, a mix of modern boulevards filled with businesses and remnants of Ghana’s colonial past, including the fort by the picturesque Jamestown fishing harbor. Exploring the maze of stalls at the Makola market to feel the rhythm of the city is a must, and one should not be afraid to practice their haggling skills at the Arts Center market. Volunteers also love to spend time at the nearby beaches on weekends, or exploring the small fishing villages by the coast. Taking a four hour bus ride to Cape Coast to visit the historical sights and enjoy the local beaches is another popular weekend activity. There are also opportunities for hiking and discovering the local fauna and flora at national parks like Kakum or Mole.
When you arrive at the Accra airport, a driver meets you and brings you to your accommodations.
You live with a local family or in a volunteer house. If you have a preference, please let us know in your application and we will try to accommodate you.
Family stay: You live with a local family in a community on the outskirts of Central Accra where all the projects are located. The families are very friendly and welcoming, and their homes are the most affluent in the community. The homes have fans to stay cool, and you generally share a bedroom with one to three other volunteers. Bathrooms have flush toilets and are cleaned regularly. While some of the homes have showers, which are a luxury in Ghana, others do not. So, expect to take baths using a bucket of fresh water – while different at first, for most people it is an easy adjustment that further adds to the cross-cultural experience. The homes are all well located and within walking distance of conveniences like banks, grocery stores and internet shops. For laundry, you generally hand wash your clothes at the house – however, depending on your family, they may be able to do your laundry for you.
Volunteer house: The house is in a quiet residential area in a local community on the outskirts of Accra where all the projects are located. It offers you a comfortable, cozy and vibrant place to live. You usually share a room with one to six other volunteers. There is no wireless internet access, which is a rarity in Ghana, but we provide free access at the local team’s nearby office. There are fans to stay cool, and the bathrooms are modern and have flush toilets and showers. Bathrooms are shared and cleaned on a regular basis. For laundry, you can hand wash your clothes at the house, and the house is close to small convenience stores, internet shops and banks. The house also has a spacious living room where volunteers frequently get together to hang out and socialize.
Thanks to the large number of ethnic groups that live in Ghana, Ghanaian cuisine includes a wide range of traditional dishes. Usually centered on a starchy staple, such as rice, cassava, yams or corn, Ghanaian food may include fish, goat, beef or chicken seasoned with a wide variety of spices and flavors. You can expect to eat basic but tasty food throughout your placement. Every day volunteers receive breakfast and dinner.