I am now officially on my way to Accra! My preparations for this trip have kept me busy, since I found out I am going right around the end of September. I have been on two prior trips with Child Family Health International, the first being in Puerto Escondido, Mexico in 2009 and the second being in Córdoba, Argentina this past April, however I have never been to Africa. I am incredibly grateful for the multiple conversations with the staff of CFHI, who have helped answer my questions. Since I am the first participant, it will be a lot of trial and error, but overall I am a seasoned traveler and feel well-prepared.
In the past few weeks, I have been getting the oral typhoid vaccine and malaria prophylaxis, treating my clothes with permethrin, buying some needed supplies from REI, getting my tickets arranged just a few short weeks ago, and most importantly doing some research on Ghanaian culture and medicine in Ghana. The book I recommend for this is called Ghana-Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture. As I began my trip today, I realized that I forgot a few things, namely a hat. I definitely have a ton of sunscreen though and figure I now have a great excuse to get a nice hat in Ghana 🙂
I departed Denver this afternoon and flew into Detroit. I have a red eye flight to Amsterdam and then will have a 3 hour layover there before making my way to Ghana. As of now, my flight is slightly delayed due to a plane coming in around the time boarding was supposed to take place. They are currently cleaning it and will have it ready with takeoff in an hour. I’m not too concerned because I have originally a 3 hour and 50 minute layover, leaving me space for delays. My next post will be a continuation of how the Amsterdam airport is haha. My friends and I debate if it counts if you have really been to a country if you just pass through the airport. I am in the boat that says it totally counts, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t return to have a more thorough look in the future.
I want to take a moment to share some of my goals before I arrive to Accra. Like with anything, these will evolve over time and become more refined as I dive into this incredible experience. 1) I hope to come away from this experience with a better understanding of how the local team finds innovative ways to improve health of its community 2) I would like to be able to have both rural and urban exposure while in Ghana 3) I want to really take in the culture and customs as I experience health care delivery in a new part of the world.
My role as the fellow selected to participate in this program is to pilot the two programs, the first of which is in the capital of Ghana at the children’s hospital called Child Health and Social Determinants. The last two weeks will be in a different city on the coast called Cape Coast. The program at this site is called Hospital Medicine in Coastal Ghana. Both look incredible to me, where I will have unique opportunities to meet with health workers and better understand what public health looks like in Ghana, while also spending time in the clinic and with NGOs in the country as well.
My flight is now boarding, so I will discuss these programs in further detail later.