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Tessa Smeets: Master health sciences

Tessa Smeets; januari 2013-juli 2013I’m already back for two months in the Netherlands and so my adventure in Ghana had already ended. During my Health Science bachelor I got interested in the topic of HIV/AIDS. Since then it was always a dream for me to go to Africa myself. Thanks to MUSTANGH Foundation and the West Gonja Hospital I got this opportunity and was able to experience the African way of living in Ghana. I really enjoyed it! It was my first time to Africa (even the first time outside of Europe) and the first time I was travelling alone. What I had in mind about this trip was to learn a lot about myself, the health care  in Ghana (Damongo), and especially I would like to learn of the Ghanaian culture, the people, the surroundings en everything the Ghanaian life would bring me.

In January my Ghanaian adventure would start. With a little excitement and an emotional goodbye I left Schiphol and a few hours later in arrived in Accra. The first impressions were overwhelming, in a positive way. It was obviously clear I was in Africa. When I arrived in Damongo the son of Kassim (night guard) welcomed me very friendly. I hadn’t installed myself jet but they already took me for a guided tour around Canteen, where a lot of people looked at me, the ‘obruni’.

Luckily a few days later Mirte and Monique came, with who I had a really good time.

In the last three months I travelled a lot and experienced special moments with Charlotte. Also in the hospital I made some friends. Kassim and Jane also made this trip very special. Kassim, an alert hero, who you could always ask for help. And Jane, who became like a second mother for me during my stay (in the time I was there she also became a mother for the second time because she had a baby!). Samdeen has become my ‘good friend’ and a lot more friendships were built. I can say that I also built up a good friendship with my Ghanaian sister Falila.  Thanks to modern life we are able to keep in contact regularly. There is one thing very clear, you will never be alone in Ghana and you will get a lot of new ‘friends’ over there.

Something more about my work in the hospital. I was the first  Health Science student in the West Gonja Hospital so my tasks at the Public Health department weren’t very clear yet. Work was more about baby’s, children and pregnant women. I didn’t got a lot of new information related to my study, but at the other side I learned a lot from the people I’ve met. It helped me to develop myself more, now I see topics about healthcare in another way then I did before. Especially it was a great experience to drive to outreach projects on the motor and doing some work over there with cute baby’s, pregnant women, chaos with documenting everything in books and the enthusiasm of the schoolkids of the health program.

I fully enjoyed this whole experience and I can recommend to everyone who is interested in Africa to do their internship  in the West Gonja Hospital. You will learn a lot, also about yourself. You will make a lot of new friends and I also advise to travel through Ghana (although the busses can be very frustrating sometimes; but hey, that’s the African way of life). All I can say is that I lost my heart in Ghana and I will go back for sure.



Read more: Mirte Widdershoven: GEZP