Hats for Ghana Nursing Scholarships

After volunteering in a hospital in the Volta Region of Ghana, Montreal nurse Julia Garland decided to start fundraising with handmade cloth hats.

Julia has raised over $10,000 to date, enough to fund three separate yearlong scholarships for Ghanaian nurses.

As Sarah Giles wrote recently in The Canadian Press, brightly coloured cloth caps are used by some Canadian doctors and nurses before heading into the operating room.

Retired anesthetist Dr. Glenn Gibson believes he was an early trendsetter in slipping on brightly coloured cloth caps before heading into the operating room.

So he was a bit disappointed when some hospitals started to ban the cloth protective headwear, which allow doctors to show a little personality.

“I like cloth OR caps. I got tired of wearing the plain green ones, so about 25 years ago I started making my own … with ridiculous colours and designs that nobody would buy,” said Gibson, who estimates he had about four dozen at one point.

Our medical volunteers in Ghana can use any type of cap during their healthcare internships in Ghana. The more important aspects of the medical volunteering program include learning about medical care delivery in Africa and providing treatment to locals.

As a healthcare intern in Ghana, you can work at a large hospital or a semi-rural clinic. The two primary locations in Ghana for the programs are Cape Coast and Volta Region.

You are welcome to specialize in a particular department like maternity or emergency medicine. Medical and nursing students can receive academic credit through their internship with us in Ghana, typically as an elective with their school back home.

Ghana Medical Interns in Surgery

Ask The Pilot in Ghana

American pilot Patrick Smith, who wrote the popular aviation column “Ask The Pilot”, wrote about his fascinating experience flying domestically in Ghana in West Africa.

Patrick has always been one of my favorite reads, and his piece on co-piloting a domestic flight in Ghana is no exception.

I would never recommend that anyone take a domestic flight in Ghana. Yes road safety is horrendous there, no question. But at least you have a chance in a vehicle.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from Patrick’s piece on Ghana, as he flew from Kumasi to Accra:

The drive to Kumasi’s airport takes about 45 minutes. That’s five minutes of actual travel time and 40 minutes of idling in gridlock amid mufflerless trucks, overpacked tro-tros, ambling goats, and gangs of adolescent hawkers going car to car peddling everything from cellphones to wallets to burlap sacks of that staple of Ghanaian subsistence, the cassava root.

The terminal [in Kumasi] is spartan and cheerless, but a pleasant enough place, all things considered. It’s a single-story block with windows facing the runway. The arrival and departure zones are basically the same room, separated by a corridor of offices and a small waiting area cooled by ceiling fans. I’d describe the décor as “Soviet tropical.” The Antrak ticket counter, if we can call it such, is a claustrophobic room on the arrivals side.

Inside, two women are seated behind a small desk. Like almost everybody in Ghana, the women are remarkably friendly. They recognize me from the earlier phone call and extend a warm greeting.

“Is the flight to Accra on time?” I ask.

“Yes, of course!”

The women tick our names from the reservations list, then politely ask us to pay.

“Sure.” I nod toward Julia, who has already pulled out the Visa card and placed it on the desk.

With this, one of the women opens her eyes wide and makes a moaning sound. The other makes a tsk-tsk noise and shakes her head. They appear startled, eyeing the credit card as if it were a rotten cassava.

“Oh, I’m sorry. We don’t take credit cards.”

“But … you mean?”

“Cash only, please!”


Now, maybe I’m not as well traveled as I think I am, because who ever heard of an airline, particularly one with resources enough to operate a $9 million ATR turboprop on scheduled services, that doesn’t accept credit cards? I’m either too jaded, or too naive, but I think to myself: This isn’t Congo or Mali, for heck’s sake, it’s Ghana!

The problem is, we’re out of money. The nearest ATM is back downtown, and departure is only half an hour away. There are no more flights until tomorrow.

“But this is all we have.”

Read the rest of No ticket? No problem. Hitching a ride in West Africa, the world’s most “dangerous” place to fly.

Kaitlyn Scott in Ghana and India

Kaitlyn Scott volunteered with us not only in Ghana but in India as well. Kaitlyn, from Springfield, Virginia, spent her spring break in 2005 volunteering at an orphanage in Ghana. The next summer, as a 17-year old, Kaitlyn traveled to Bangalore, India to volunteer at both an orphanage and school, teaching English skills and doing arts and crafts with children.

After Ghana, Kaitlyn wrote to us:

Thank you so much for organizing my trip to Ghana. It was such an incredible experience! I’m so glad everything worked out, even with such short notice. My host family was so nice, and I loved learning a new language and culture. I had such an amazing experience that I’m eager to do more international volunteering. Thank you for all your help!
— Kaitlyn

While in India, Kaitlyn’s mother Ardyth dropped us a line:

Hi Cosmic, I just got my first email from Kaitlyn today, and she sounds very happy. She said she was going to start at the orphanage in India tomorrow and was starting her Hindi lessons. Thank you so much for checking on the details. We appreciate all that you have done to give Kaitlyn this incredible experience (She said she had ridden a camel yesterday…) Thanks again for all your work!
— Ardyth Scott (Kaitlyn’s mom)

Kaitlyn’s Photo Album from Ghana:

Kylie Annett Volunteers at Orphanage in Ghana

Your Pre-trip Guide was very helpful. I researched the lonely planet guides and alike as well and found these to be an invaluable resource.

The local Project Coordinator Elvis was very helpful. I couldn’t fault him in any way, he was always there for me if I had any questions or needed explanations of local situations.

My host family treated me with so much warmth and friendliness. I found the host family aspect of the experience to be fantastic particularly because I got to sample the local foods which I helped cook.

One weekend I travelled with a fellow volunteer to Akosombo and the Lake Volta region. Another weekend I went to two local Castles where the slave trade had once taken place, they were both very interesting.

Kylie Annett (Australia)
Orphanage volunteer in Cape Coast, Ghana

Fishing Boats in Ghana

A must-see on any volunteering trip to Ghana is its beautiful coastline. One of the more interesting sights are the colorful traditional fishing boats known as “pirogues” (not to be confused with our favorite Polish food pierogis!)

Many visitors go to the touristy town of Elmina to see the boats and the fishing industry scene. But don’t forget about the capitol city Accra.

Below are some photos we took on the beaches of Accra, not too far from the city of Tema. One of our volunteer program coordinators in Ghana regularly takes our participants to see the boats and even talk to local fisherman.

You will notice that the boats usually have some words and phrases with some sort of Christian reference. Ghana, as you will quickly learn on a visit there, wears its Christianity on its sleeve – and its fishing boats. On this day, the boats had phrases like “God’s Time Is The Best”, “The Bible”, and “Everything By God”.

5 Reasons You Will Love Ghana

I can think of 50 reasons why you will love Ghana. But here are just five to get you started.

5 Reasons You Will Love Ghana

1. Experience African culture minus any political strife or street hassles

As World Nomads wrote recently, “Ghana is one of the gems of West Africa. It’s a relatively stable country in a region not known for peace and stability.”

2. English is an official language

Quora user Sedem Garr writes that:

“If you plan on coming to Ghana and you’re worried about language barrier issues, you won’t have any problems at all as long as you are in the cities and towns. I have lived in Ghana all my life and can only speak English. It has never been a problem for me.”

3. There are direct flights to Ghana

The website tripsavvy has the details:

Delta Airlines has direct flights from Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK) to Accra (ACC), the capital of Ghana. The flights from Atlanta leave several times per week in the late evening, arriving in Accra mid-afternoon the next day.

Delta’s direct flight from New York (JFK) to Accra (ACC) leaves late afternoon, arriving in Accra early the next morning. The flight operates several times per week and takes around 11 hours. 

United Airlines has daily direct flights from Washington DC (IAD) to Accra (ACC). The flight leaves Washington DC in the late evening and arrives in Accra around midday the following day. It takes about 10.5 hours. 

4. The weather is tropical (but not oppressively hot)

From Trip Advisor:

Ghana enjoys a year round tropical climate, but it does have rainy seasons.  The coastal region (including Accra) has two rainy seasons, one beginning in March, and peaking in May or June, the other in September/October.  Even during the rainy season, Accra can still enjoy an average of 5 hours a day of sunshine.  During this period, the rain tends to be…thunderstorms.  Average temperatures along the coast are usually in the 75-90 F range.  In the north part of the country, there is a single rainy season starting in May or June and it tends to be significantly hotter as you go further north.

5. Ghana has natural beauty 

Kakum National Park is on coast of southern Ghana. It’s famous Canopy Walkway, suspended 30 meters above the ground, provides treetop views of the forest. Kakum protects an area of rainforest, home to endangered mammals such as forest elephants, bongo antelopes and primates like the Diana monkey. 

Ghana Volunteering

Lake Volta, encompassing 3,275 square miles, is the largest artificial lake in the world:

Lake Volta Ghana Volunteering

Mount Afadjato rises just over 2,900 feet above sea level. Located near the Togo border, Afadjato attracts tourists because of its waterfalls and the community-operated nature reserve on its slopes.

The majestic Akwapim mountain range begins about forty-fives minutes outside of Accra, in Ghana’s Eastern Region. Aburi has breathtaking views of the lush, green mountains, which are often shrouded by fog in the early morning.