In Ghana, ‘Akwaaba’ means welcome, and from the moment I arrived it was clear to see why Jordan and King chose the name ‘Akwaaba Volunteers’. Five of us volunteers arrived on the same flight and were greeted at the airport before travelling the short journey to the house. A house which had dogs, cats, other volunteers and three meals a day provided, we settled in straight away.
Every day, me and two other vet students travelled by a ‘tro-tro’ to the vet clinic. I think if anyone from home could have seen us trying to understand the hand signals needed to catch the bus, they would have laughed! But luckily King travelled with us everyday until we had mastered it.
LA Veterinary Practice were amazing in allowing us to get fully immersed within the vet practice. We were able to take the lead on consultations, with one of the vets acting as a translator if needed. As well as performing full clinical exams and administering both vaccinations and therapeutic treatments, including subcutaneous and intramuscular injections. The days at the clinic began at 8am and ran until around 3/4pm, during which we saw and treated a wide range of animals, from tiny kittens, to huge Caucasian Shepherds and even a goat!
We were lucky enough to attend lectures by Dr Amakye-Anim at the University of Ghana- School of Veterinary Medicine regarding infectious poultry diseases. On one day, we participated in an outreach project at a local poultry and pig farm. This was something Jordan had suggested we ask Dr Amakye-Anim to do and I would fully recommend. It was such a great opportunity to see different farming/production systems and the associated benefits and issues even if we didn’t have any wellies and walked around the farm with plastic bags attached to our feet all day!
As a third-year vet student, it was an amazing opportunity to see and communicate with people who had very little money but are willing to spend whatever they do have on their companions. It was interesting to look at veterinary practice in a different perspective within another country. Equipment and medication are both very limited compared to the UK leading to differing treatment regimens alongside treatment of exotic diseases that I had not witnessed before.
From climbing the highest mountain in Ghana to feeding wild monkeys, our weekends were spent visiting the most beautiful areas Ghana had to offer. During the first weekend, we visited the Volta region for a weekend of mountains, waterfalls and monkeys. I don’t think I will ever forget when Wisdom (a young Ghanian) found us unprepared for torrential rain and bit off large leaves for all of the volunteers to use as umbrellas- if that doesn’t sum up the friendliness of Ghanians I’m not sure what will! On the second weekend, we travelled to Cape Coast. Our hostel was literally on the beach and we enjoyed a relaxing night of comfort food with all us volunteers together. The following day we had the opportunity to walk through the canopy (130ft off the ground!) of Kakum National park, as well as visit Cape Coast Castle with a historical tour based on the slave trade. It’s safe to say these were once in a lifetime experiences.
During each evening, we were given the opportunity to join in with other programmes, contributing to the education and entertainment of children suffering due to poverty and unemployment. This was so rewarding and also gave us the opportunity to play sports, teach English and generally just have fun!
I can hand on heart say, that this ‘obroni’ had an experience I will never forget, and I cannot thank Jordan and King enough.
P.S Don’t just buy the cheapest flights- a 24-hour delay in Lisbon and 4 days without a suitcase is not the ideal way to start a volunteering trip!