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Jai Balwantrai Mistry - Medicine & Healthcare, Physiotherapy in Ghana

During my travels

I signed up to Projects Abroad to participate in the Physical Therapy placement for three months in Ghana as well as one month of traveling time. My placement was based at the Eastern Regional Hospital, Koforidua and this was a 10 minute taxi ride from my host’s family’s house. During my time in Ghana, I was able to experience many things such as learning about the culture, adapting to how people live as well as learning the local language.

My first day in Ghana

The day after I arrived in Ghana, I participated in the Projects Abroad Health Walk. At the Projects Abroad Head Office in Accra, I was woken up at 4:30am. I felt tired, but made my way outside to find loads of volunteers who I managed to make friends with.

The walk started at 6am and we had a band with us which consisted of drums and trumpets so many of us got into the rhythm to learn the Ghanaian way to dance. The weather was so hot and this was my first taste of Ghanaian weather. We finally arrived at Osu Children’s Home where we met the children who were delighted to see us. At the orphanage, the volunteers took part in activities such as soccer, table tennis and volleyball. Later on, the children took part in a dance competition. It was really amazing as the kids had some brilliant dance moves.

My host family

At the orphanage

Once the program at the Children’s home finished, I was taken to my host family. The journey took 2hrs 30mins from Accra to get to Koforidua which is in the Akuapem Hills. I arrived at my host family’s house and I didn’t know what to expect. I was welcomed by Mrs Danso and she gave me a welcoming hug.

I was introduced to her son Kwabena who took me to my room and explained the house rules to me. The house was big and there were 3 other Dutch volunteers that were living with me, but they had gone traveling for the weekend. The day after I arrived, it was Ghana Independence Day so I was taken to town to watch the ceremony. It was a full house and the atmosphere was amazing.

My Physical Therapy placement

Learning to surf

The work at the hospital was a fascinating experience. I did, however, find the first month difficult as I found it too quiet at the hospital as there weren’t many patients to treat. In my final two months I was given the responsibility of treating a large number of patients everyday which was pretty amazing. The equipment and treatment is so different compared to England. My average working day at the hospital was 9am – 1:30pm. Every patient that I treated taught me and expanded my vocabulary of Twi which is the main language in Ghana.

I particularly enjoyed quiz nights every Wednesday. This involved catching up with volunteers and taking part in the quiz. We also learnt how to play traditional Ghanaian games as well playing soccer which was good fun. As well as this you can plan traveling for the weekend with the volunteers. The staff were always helpful if there were any problems and they were able to sort it out and give you advice. At the weekends, I went traveling with other volunteers and did a lot of things such as surfing on the Atlantic Ocean and seeing the highest waterfalls in West Africa.

Traveling after my placement

With the children at the orphanage

After finishing my placement, I started my one month of traveling. The worst thing was saying goodbye to my host family, as well as the Koforidua staff. It got too emotional for me and I ended up in tears.

My dad came to Ghana for one week so I traveled with him. We started in Accra, seeing Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park which was interesting, as well as Independence Square. We then traveled to Cape Coast to see the two castles. It was very educational and I was very shocked to hear how the slaves were treated and the living conditions they had, which was quite bad. I enjoyed spending time in Kumasi, where I got to see the King’s Palace.

Once my dad left, I spent the remainder of my time with my Ghanaian friend. I got to experience a Ghanaian a wedding, seeing how smart everyone is dressed up. I also taught for a week and this was a new experience for me. I was shocked to see this use of the cane and felt bad for the kids that got hit.

My last days in Ghana

My last week in Koforidua

The final part of my traveling was the long journey to see the Northern part of Ghana. The journey was unpleasant, too long and the roads were very bad. I went to Paga to see the crocodile ponds, where I got to touch and sit down on a crocodile. I made my way to Mole National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Ghana in which I saw elephants, antelopes and warthogs.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Ghana and I am hoping to return again as it is an experience that I will never forget. The Projects Abroad staff were brilliant and made me feel welcome in the country. Going to Ghana has changed me a lot, especially becoming more independent and confident as well as respecting the culture and lifestyle.

Jai Balwantrai Mistry

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