14 Aug From Rolling Hills to Expansive Plains
Written by Noelle Le Tourneau and Alanna Miller, 2015 Ghana: Global Health
Though we were sad to leave Cape Coast, everyone was excited for the adventure that lay ahead in the North. After a short bus ride, we spent the day in Kumasi exploring the largest open-air market in West Africa. At the stalls we had the chance to practice bartering, shop for souvenirs, and learn about the history and Twi language of the Ashanti Region.
The next morning we headed out at 4 am to catch the bus to Sandema, a small town in the Upper East Region, situated right next to the Burkina Faso border. Over the twelve-hour bus ride we were able to see the sun rise and set in the same vehicle, while watching the landscape change from lush, rolling hills to expansive, flat plains. Seeing the orange sunset over the silhouette of the baobab trees made the arduous journey North worthwhile.
The next morning, despite the pouring rain, we made our way into town down a beautiful, tree-lined red dirt road to the Sandema Teaching Hospital. We toured the hospital and spent some time talking with the hospital administrator who spoke about the challenges that a rural district faces in regards to healthcare. The nurse leading the tour mentioned the lack of qualified professionals willing to work in rural districts, the unreliability of electricity, and the apprehension of patients to visit the hospital when they need medical attention. After the hospital visit we explored the Sandema market, where we bought fabric and ate a local lunch of waakye and red red. In the evening we visited Horizon Children’s Centre, where we were greeted by the boys with a welcome song. HCC provides an opportunity for younger community members to access education and a safe living space. After the boys sang their song for us, we returned the gesture with an unrehearsed rendition of ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz.
We spent the remainder of our time in Sandema working with Ghana Medical Help, which consisted of health outreaches to rural communities, focusing on malaria prevention and nutrition. The OG group also aided GMH in conducting demographic surveys with local farmers. These surveys allow GMH to assess the success of their current programs and better inform GMH of how to assist the community in the future. Although our time in Kumasi and Sandema was brief, it gave us the opportunity to experience life in Northern Ghana. Our experiences here were the final steps for preparing us for our various journeys during Independent Travel Time.