It took a while, but then I was finally there! After months of looking forward, weeks of preparation and a more than 24 hour travel, I arrived at my destination in Damongo alone. The first 6 weeks I had spent alone in the MUSTANGH house and I learned to function as a junior-doctor at the West Gonja Hospital. At my arrival, there was only one doctor working at the hospital, so I was very welcome.
From day 1, I was able to see patients by myself and work independently, but my supervisor was also always available for help or feedback. Ghanaian people in general, and the hospital staff in particular, are very warm, kind and fun people. After a hard and lonely first week, I was adopted into the daily life of the village Canteen. The variety in patients and diseases is unknown to Western standards, as is the limited availability of treatment methods. The discrepancy between happy daily life outside and the often depressing, hopeless situation of patients inside the hospital is big and painful. But this alternation in both extremes is characterizing for the GEZP internship and Ghanaian life.
In my sixth internship week I almost lost my good hope, because I was losing touch with things from home, but then came Nicolas: a junior-doctor college. He came exactly on time, from then on life got more pleasant. It was very informative to spent so much time alone, however it is much more fun to go on this adventure with more than just yourself. Eventually we would be with 3 students when Bregtje came to accompany us. From then on, work became more of a routine and patients became more used to ‘Obruni’ doctors. Because of this, the last weeks were the best and I had a hard time saying goodbye to my colleagues and friends, it was good to see that this was a mutual feeling. Ghana, Damongo and the West Gonja Hospital were an experience to never forget and made me a better young doctor and a better human being. I can say to everybody who is doubting to do an internship like this: do it!
Read more: Tessa Smeets: Master Health Sciences