Greetings from Africa! I have just been settling into my last core country, Ghana. This means we are in the final third of the program. I’m sad, and very surprised, at how fast my past 4 months abroad have flown by but I’m excited for yet another new country I get to explore.
I am living in Kontomire, Ghana, a very small village in the Ashanti region, about 6 hours away from the capital, Accra. I’m living with a new host family and have a new roommate, Isa. My host family consists of 8 kids (I don’t know for sure how many kids there are because random kids often walk in and out of the house watching me and Isa, but there are at least 8 kids) and 2 parents. Two of the older sons speak fluent English which makes communication a lot easier than in the past. The living conditions have been something I’m still adjusting to. The two main differences from past homestays are that we have to take bucket showers and use a latrine (latrines are hole in the ground style toilets, so you have to squat in order to use it) which has been difficult. However, the camp girl side of me is shining through and learning to live with these new challenges. Isa and I honestly have it pretty easy because our latrine flushes, whereas most others in the community just have a regular hole, which leads to a constant stench. I’m also bonding with my younger host brothers. There are 2 who are too young to go to school yet, so they wait for us to get back from work and play with us in our free time. The parents are both coca farmers (fun fact: Ghana is one of the world’s top coca exporters so chocolate here is amazing!) so they are out of the house for the majority of the day. Our family is also Muslim which is so cool. Kontomire is very religious and the people typically look down on anyone who doesn’t believe in religion or a God, but there is a variety of Christians, Methodist and Pentecost, and Muslims so they are accepting of differing religions. I do love my host family, however, I constantly feel guilty when I remember that Isa and I occupy one room while the other 10 family members are crammed into 2 other rooms. I’m grateful for how welcoming they have been to us but I struggle with why I have been granted so much over others.
For the next 6 weeks, we will be studying public health here in Ghana. Every morning we head to clinics to observe, We talk to nurses and doctors and are shown a variety of cases which they work with daily. I spoke with one Physicians Assistant for a while and I asked what she thought was most needed in the clinic. Her response was that there is no singular answer. Ghana needs so much help and limiting it to just one issue would be far too harmful. She spoke about the epidemic of Malaria in our region (then questioned me if I was taking the right safety precautions, which I am) and the severity of “lifestyle diseases” such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, etc. which also plagues Ghanians. It’s hard to see that this place is struggling a lot more than say Raleigh, NC (lack of education, widespread diseases which aren’t even in the US, etc.) yet has such a tiny fraction of the resources than even just one hospital in Raleigh.
I’m excited to learn even more about this culture in the coming weeks. I feel like I’m being challenged in all the right areas and already don’t want to stop traveling. I hope you are also challenging yourself wherever you are.
Miss you, love you,