Emma and Jonty
Volunteers Ghana 2016
Firstly, thank you for the opportunity to undertake this placement, there are many advantages to us having volunteered with a relatively small and flexible charity, there are very few charities that would let an anaesthetics trainee and paramedic go and work for a relatively short period of time in essentially a GP role, and hopefully we haven’t let you down in this regard.
As all will know, the people both locally
and everywhere in Ghana are very friendly, we never had any abuse/hassle
(unlike we have occasionally in other parts of the world!) and we felt very
comfortable living and working amongst the health centre staff.
The Community Visits were probably the highlight of our
stay, from a work point of view. Unfortunately we only managed 5 outings in
total due mainly to David being away trying to sort out health insurance issues
and on one occasion when the chiefs son sadly died and he could not be around
to organise the visit. The visits were well structured, the community
volunteers seemed keen and did some good presentations which we struggled to
add much to; and the clinics we held afterwards were well attended (generally
10-15 consultations). We soon learnt that although it was not ideal to
question, examine and treat these people at the time of the visit, very few of
them attended the health centre in the following days/weeks despite our
recommendation so we decided to diagnose and treat as much as we could on the
day itself. We would definitely encourage future volunteers to try and
undertake community visits early in their stay so that the maximum number of
villages are visited.
Volunteer Ghana 2011
Katie and I volunteered for FHN between February and April 2011; at that time the volunteer accommodation was yet to be completed, so we lived in the maternity wing of the health centre – an interesting experience, as we were occasionally woken overnight by the sound of a newly-delivered baby crying! Working in Boamadumase was my first experience of being somewhere with such staggering health inequalities, and really drove home to me how lucky the UK is to have a health system that is functional and free at the point of access.
We were lucky to work with the fantastic community health volunteers who represent each of the villages around Boamadumase, and each week did an outreach clinic in one of the villages. We reached these communities on foot, and I was always struck by how far people had to come when unwell in order to access health services – the furthest village being around 90 minutes’ walk from Boamamadumase.
I hugely enjoyed my time at the Huttel Health Centre and learnt a lot from working with the local staff and volunteers. A lot has changed since our trip, and I’d love to go back and visit the clinic and see how things are progressing.
Manager at the Huttel Health Centre / Ghana
The project is moving on well, and it is very interesting with all incredible experiences we encounter almost every day. Running a project of this kind in the rural area which is of necessity to human life, is one of the best experiences one should have tested in life. Huttel Health Centre is found in the area comprising of about sixteen different tribes with different background in terms of economic, tradition, belief, education, religion etc. When you find yourself operating within these communities with divergent way of life, it takes skillful efforts to converge them on a common platform for the benevolent purposes. This is what foundation human nature has achieved over years, in running this project in Boamadumase and all the remaining twelve surrounding
The clinic runs 24/7 unabatedly with amazing staffs, who are equiped with all it takes to deliver quality health care service,
including good relations with clients. Despite the government mitigation of national health insurance, we still have our vision and mission in place as never before. We have new Physician Assistant (Sani), who has been working with us few months now. Jennifer is also the new nurse employed to fill a gap, she is good and serious with her works. We also have doctors Jonty and Emma from United Kingdom who has been with us for almost three months, they have been effectively involved in the day to day activities of the clinic so far consultation and outreach program is concerned. The maternity is running well. Afriyie, the midwife assistant is in school receiving her training. The staff are happy working with fhn.
The solar installation at the new accommodation block and a replacement of batteries at the clinic has been one of the great achievements so far. It has really helped to eradicate the most unbearable problem of light out that was tormenting us for all these years. We have appreciated all the collective efforts of foundation human nature (fhn) in solving this problem for us.
The outreach program too is going well. We have the volunteer doctors with us and community health volunteers who are
coming up with all the good presentation on health topics with the experiences they have acquired over these years of working with us to make this year’s program one of its kind.
Lots of greetings from Huttel Health Centre.
I’ve been involved with fhn for about 15 years working with our supporters to ensure we have adequate and consistent funding to allow ongoing patient care & many other shorter-term projects to happen. We’ve always stayed true to our principles of having almost no running costs overseas to allow money raised to flow directly to our health centre and in turn, to improve the health of the communities with whom we work. I’m always so impressed with the dedication of our team on the ground as well as all the international volunteers who visit the centre to give their time, expertise and training to create an outsized impact. I know that with that strong ethos, the future of the centre will be a very successful one.
Volunteer Ghana 2014
In 2014, I volunteered with Foundation Human Nature (FHN) for 3 months.
FHN runs a small health centre, The Huttel Health Centre in Boamadumase, a small village in Ghana, where people from all the local villages come to.
Working at the Huttel Health Centre with such amazing people was one of the best experiences of my life.
I learnt a lot about tropical diseases, paediatric nursing, midwifery and learnt how differently holistic care is viewed in different cultures.
With FHN, every Tuesday we did outreach visits in different villages. We held health talks in the middle of cocoa fields, walked through corn fields to get to remote small villages, visited primary schools for health talks. Working with a group of local people was such an enjoyable and rich professional experience. The team that works regularly at Huttel Health Centre are such a dedicated group of people that love doing what they do and are always keen to learn more in order to improve the care provided by Huttel health Centre.
Overall living in Boamadumase for 3 months was the most challenging, beautiful, humble and fun, professional and personal experience I have ever had. So thank you FHN! I would happily come back!
Volunteer Ghana 2013
Once I completed my Diploma in Tropical Nursing (DTN), I knew I had to consider a wide range of NGOs world wide and that most would be charging me for becoming a volunteer. I had learned with Claire, the wonderful DTN's director, how NGOs must fundraise - but not get their funds from their volunteers on-the-ground. FHN was, therefore, a joy to find. I had never been to Africa but I felt ready, and connected, to become an aid worker... little did I know about the challenges I was going to face! From entering the village and dancing with the kids, meeting the elders and the local chief, to leaving 3 months later with tears in my eyes, I adored and endured this adventure.
Beyond the clinical practice (mostly within tropical diseases and non-communicable diseases), I went even further opening my mind to different lifestyles, behaviours and beliefs... obliged to understand in order to provide effective care. Developing protocols and working side by side with the staff at the clinic took most of our time - delightfully. Outside the clinic, it thrilled me to be able to work with children, teenagers, elderly with decreased mobility and the Community Health Workers (CHWs). Not just to teach, but to exchange knowledge on health & health care. More, to witness the birth of babies in such a poor setting, to play paramedic and travel to the nearest hospital with patients - not in an ambulance - but in a taxi, to see mothers giving up their child's treatment so they could feed the rest of their children, to paint the clinic walls making them children friendly, to offer a new football to kids playing with a paper-ball, to stop a thousand times to photograph... and so on!
To my co-workers RN Nadia and Dr Meghan, FHN, the local staff and every soul we came across. Your smiles, and the Ghanaian sunsets, are forever with me.