Life Changing Experience Volunteering in Senya for Two Months
This summer, I worked with The Anidaso Nsae Foundation (TANF) and Becky’s Foundation in the small village of Senya Beraku for seven weeks. As a health care volunteer, I daily worked in the Senya Beraku Health Center. In the health center I worked in and rotated through the different sections: outpatient department, phlebotomy laboratory, reproductive and child health, and the antenatal clinic. My personal favorite was being in the lab learning how to be a phlebotomist. In my two weeks there, I learned how to perform typhoid, sickling, syphilis, pregnancy, lymphocytosis, urine, and blood grouping tests. I also learned two methods of drawing blood for testing.
In addition to working in the clinic, our team of medical volunteers worked to organize and support medical outreach programs. I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of three programs in my time there. The first was a family planning and reproductive health program for women in the Senya community. We discovered that many women in the community were apprehensive of using family planning methods because of misconceptions and fears that birth control can lead to infertility. We answered questions and educated women of all ages on the accessibility and different forms of contraceptives. The second program was not organized by our group but was executed in the Senya Health Center. It was a diabetes screening clinic and I helped prick fingers and test blood sugar levels of patients as well as measure their blood pressure. Previously, many patients had no idea what diabetes even was but after screening, they were able to get the information needed to manage the condition. The final and largest outreach we did was a five-day program in Wiae, a village 12 hours from Senya in the Northern region of Ghana. We screened over 1,200 people for malaria, exceeding our goal of 1,000. Approximately 46% of those that were screened tested positive for malaria. We were able to give all of those patients whose tests came back positive treatment. Additionally, we were able to give all that attended multivitamins and deworming medicine. People with open wounds also came out and we were able to properly dress their wounds. Anyone whose vitals signaled a case above our abilities, we referred to the nearest medical facility.
This summer has definitely grown my comfort zone in many different ways. While safe alternatives were made available to us, it took me longer than I expected to adapt to living with the lack of running water, consistent electricity, air conditioner, good internet access, a TV, a couch, and more small things. I found this trouble acclimating to be an extremely humbling experience; especially coupled with comparative luxury we enjoyed as volunteers in Senya versus the average resident of Senya Beraku and Ghana as a whole. My two months made me more deeply and intimately aware of my socio-economic privilege.
If I had been asked before whether I could live happily in a village such as Senya, I don’t think the answer would have been yes. However, I will never forget one particular weekend about one month into my trip when I realized that my perception and comfort level had truly changed. As I drove back to Senya in a taxi, I felt a tangible wave of relief when I saw the familiar shoreline indicative of nearing our residence. Walking out of the taxi down the familiar streets back to our home, it dawned on me that this is what Senya Beraku had truly become: home. I realized how much value I had placed in commodities and convenience. My everyday interactions with the people of Senya continually refreshed and inspired me making it possible for me to feel like a native. The kindness and generosity of the residents of the village in spite of the relative little that they have still blows my mind.
I highly recommend working with TANF if you want to learn more about Ghana, grow their comfort zone, and gain insight about people from different backgrounds. I also explored many different parts of the country and go to experience the beautiful beaches and landscape of Ghana!