Approximately 6000 kilometers away from Holland my AIESEC experience started. Because of my gap year I wanted to do something. Not only travelling but also something related to my study. Then I found the Medicine Project, the perfect combination of learning in a hospital and travelling.
In October 2017, I started the Medicine Project in Ghana. Together with someone I met during the preparation days, I travelled to Kumasi, the second largest city of Ghana and our stay for the first 6 weeks. The most interesting thing about this project is to get to know the differences between Holland and Ghana. Three of these differences I noticed the most.
In the hospital, they have not a lot of instruments and less drugs then in Europe. Because of this they cannot comply with Dutch standards. However, this lack does not affect the care of the patients that bad. They will find their own way to give the best care they can. Six weeks I enjoyed working at the hospital. The people who worked there taught us so much, not only medical related, also about their culture. Our mentor taught us stitching on an old mattress, for example. He even let us put a few stitches during an operation.
Our mentor also taught us a lot about the Ghanaian culture. Together with him we were invited to a wedding of the sister of a doctor we knew from the hospital. I think one of the most amazing experiences in Ghana. Because we lived and worked 6 weeks at the same place, in the end we were integrated in this culture; doing your groceries at the same market, using the same trotro’s to go to work and being able to talk to a lot of different persons.
Ghana, not only far away in distance, also far from our western culture. While we are living in a time when it is normal to travel the world twice, some people in Ghana have never seen another village except from their own. Asking about sightseeing is useless because they have never done it themselves. This is only one example, but it made me realize that in our culture, we’re not happy anymore with the things we should be happy about (for instance travelling) and we just follow the crowd. We always want more and travelling is only a part of this. With this in mind I hope to be able to gain a little of this Ghanaian mind-set and I’m trying to look at things differently.
The last difference is the something I think is the most beautiful characteristic of Ghanaian people. In Ghana people from all different religions live next to each other. In Ghana people who are rich and people who are poor live next to each other. And they all accept the others. Maybe that’s the reason that Ghana is a smiling country.
This post was written by Tess Bulten. Tess went on a voluntary project with AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international voluntary projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth.