Claire Volunteers in Ghana

Claire, a student from Cockeysville, Maryland, volunteered in Ghana with Cosmic Volunteers at an AIDS advocacy organization.

She emailed us with some of her impressions:

I just wanted to thank you all so extremely much for my amazing trip to Ghana. I’m sorry this comes so late after I got back but I’ve had hardly anytime to sit down and write this.

But it truly was the trip of a lifetime and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

The people were wonderful and welcoming, the people at the school I worked with, the children at the home, and especially my coordinator in Ghana.

I also want to give a huge thanks to everyone at Cosmic Volunteers. It couldn’t have been possible (obviously) without your help. And to Scott, thank you also, for taking my phone calls even when I was stressing. :]

So all in all, it was absolutely wonderful. It meant so much to me and I truly will never forget my time in Ghana.

And actually, I’m hoping to be returning to you all next summer with my sister!

Thanks again!!

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!”

“Um.”

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