Volunteer Experience Africa
Hannah Cameron, 21, studied Pharmacology at Leeds University and decided to set up Volunteer Experience Africa after doing volunteer work in Ghana and Kenya. She says, "it was a wonderful experience for me and I wanted to give other people the chance to sample the same. I first volunteered in Ghana when I was in sixth form, where I spent time in a local hospital gaining invaluable work experience (as I was applying to study medicine at university). While I was there I made friends with many of the locals and hospital staff and have returned on two subsequent occasions."
Volunteering in Africa has made me aware of how vastly different life is in the developing world. I formed a very good relationship with the head doctor at the hospital where I volunteered and having experienced such a wonderful time there myself decided to enter into a partnership with the doctor so as to allow other volunteers to visit the hospital and have the opportunity to sample the same life changing experience that I did when I first visited Ghana as a volunteer at the age of 17.
Why we need year abroad students, the benefits of volunteering and what it involves
The hospital and two schools where we run our projects in Ghana benefit massively from university students volunteering. Both are very poorly funded and are grateful of any help, support or advice/ ideas that you can give them. The Ghana Medical Project offers the opportunity to work on various wards, in surgery, in the pharmacy and labs and in outpatient clinics. There is also an HIV clinic where volunteers can spend time. This may involve going out into the community to carry out HIV tests and to educate people about HIV and how it is spread. Nursing, medical or any other healthcare students can provide great help and support to the hospital through volunteering. Healthcare in Ghana is very different to here in the UK and doctors and nurses are very interested in learning about healthcare in the UK and about possible improvements that they can make. In return this can be a very useful experience for volunteers as they will be able to learn about healthcare in the developing world and about diseases (and their treatments) which they will probably never have encountered here in the UK. Volunteers will have the chance to get very hands- on if the wish to do so. Schools in Ghana have very little funding, so volunteers are given a very warm welcome! Any students who have an interest in teaching, languages, or who simply wish to volunteer in Africa can provide great support to the schools. Volunteers can help teach maths and English, give ideas about alternative teaching methods or organise activities for the children. Any activities, ideas or worksheets that the volunteer can give to the school are a massive help! In return volunteering in a school is a very rewarding experience. The children are very welcoming and will love to hear about where you are from and what you do at home.
What the project involves
Both our teaching and medical projects are quite open, and you will have a choice in what you would like to do with your time there. If you are volunteering on the medical project it is possible to request to spend time on certain wards or departments, and if you are volunteering on the school project you may choose to help teach a whole class or you may wish to work with individual children. The school project is quite flexible in that you will start when school starts but can finish at either lunchtime or the end of the school day. The medical project is also quite flexible; you will start around 9 o’clock and can finish at lunchtime or can choose to return in the afternoon. You can also request to be woken through the night if an emergency comes in. The projects run from Monday to Friday and the weekends are free to travel around Ghana or you may wish to just relax in the accommodation.
What we, as a company, get from you volunteering
All of our projects have the same cost which includes all of your food, accommodation and airport transfers and a local representative who can provide informal advice and information. The hospital provides the food and accommodation so money paid by the volunteer goes to the hospital to cover these costs and also includes a large donation to the hospital. We pay a local man (a friend of mine) to be our representative in Ghana, so we are also helping people in the village where the projects run.
Find out more about Volunteer Experience Africa and how you can get involved before, during and after your year abroad!