09 Jun Global Health: Out of the clinic and onto the farm
After an adventurous couple days hiking in the mountains, we all packed into a tro truck for a five hour road trip to Kumasi to experience one of the busiest cities in Africa.
While we were there we had an amazing opportunity to work with an organization named KAWDA (Kaleo Area Woman Development Association) that works to provide support for women who are HIV positive. After a presentation by the founder, Albert M. Annadie, we learned that the organization was founded in 2000 and began with a membership of 21 women. Now, KAWDA currently has over 300 members who are all vulnerable. Our group had the chance to meet some of these women and interview them about their experiences with stigma and treatment. Collectively, we all agreed that the woman we got to interact with were some of the strongest people we had ever met. We left truly inspired and grateful to hear the stories shared so honestly.
In the days that followed we were able to meet someone else pretty extraordinary named Mark. Mark grew up in poverty in Kumasi, never sure where his next meal would come from or how his day would go. When he was approximately 10 years old Mark had the opportunity to go to school at Horizons Children Centre and quickly learned that he had a chance to make something of himself and turn his life around. He did exactly that and worked hard all through school. Mark’s currently in his second year of medical school and looking to make a difference within public health in Ghana by putting a priority on people first.
Our final day in Kumasi was wrapped up with a scavenger hunt given to us by our team leaders. We ventured out in the busy market to find out selected items on our list that included learning the Ghanaian national anthem, trying a local food and getting a photo of the best outfit. It was a busy afternoon where we really got an idea of what it takes to keep up with the Kumasi people in the market. Not to mention all the interesting sights and fun facts.
Now we’re hanging out in Techiman learning about farming at the Ghana Permaculture Institute and experiencing first hand the importance of food security in a global health crisis. The permaculture concept is a system that combines natural food processing that integrates people with land to ensure present and future success. So far we’ve been able to plant over 50 plantain trees and fertilize Moringa trees using chicken droppings and visit a mushroom farm where some we bagged compost and helped with the spawning process. We also got to plant over 10,000 seeds for Moringa trees that will begin to grow within the next six days. The set of activities have been a different approach to public health that is showing us the importance of positive environmental impact and possibilities when people can farm ethically and provide for themselves and future generations. Though the farm work has been a challenge, we are definitely gaining a new appreciation for sustainable agriculture and are looking forward to the next few nights here before heading North!
The next week we are in Sandema, working on various projects including work at the Horizons Children Centre, where our friend Mark got his start!