Volunteer Review: Rashae H., Midwifery in Ghana
I’m Rashae H., a 21 year old Nursing student at Lincoln University, PA, and an aspiring Midwife from Washington, DC. For most of my life I longed to be a doctor. Sure, my specialty changed a bit, from Pediatrician, to Gynecologist, even a Neonatal Care Physician. It wasn’t until the conclusion of my junior year at Lincoln that I stumbled upon the idea of Midwifery. It was brilliant as it combined all of my previous medical career paths. To be sure I wouldn’t stray away from yet another medical dream, I sought out a program that would allow me to practice my newly found passion before completing school and entering a field that could possibly no longer interest me. After being awarded the ‘Vira I Heinz Women in Global Leadership Scholarship’ to study abroad in any country of my choice, I did a bit of research and found the amazing Projects Abroad program. It was perfect; Projects Abroad offered the ideal international service learning opportunity that I had been searching for. I had found a project that would allow me to volunteer as a Midwife in the beautiful country of Ghana.
After a few short weeks of review and the application process, I quickly began to prepare for my abroad experience in the Cape Coast, Ghana. Time raced, and before I knew it, four weeks had passed since my landing in Accra and I found myself preparing to return to the States. I assure you - my experience in Ghana was filled with many memorable faces, voyages, and meals. My most memorable event however, was the night of July 20th. It was my best friend’s 22nd birthday back home in the States, and moments after I had completed the expensive international call to congratulate her, I was also wishing a happy birthday to the first baby I had ever delivered. The midwives I worked with will remember that moment as the time “Rasheed” almost blacked out (the University hospital staff couldn’t pronounce my name correctly, so they called me “Rasheed”).
My Midwifery placement
During that first delivery I was gowned, gloved, masked and prepared, but I had not eaten since breakfast, so I was a bit dizzy. I was disappointed after doing an afternoon shift with no deliveries, so I decided to stay for night shift. It wasn’t until I was encouraging my very first patient to push that I realized I was starving. Hungry and bloody, I had to stop in the middle of my first birth and take a seat. The midwives laughed at me and offered me water and biscuits. One of the supervising midwives attempted to take off my protective gear, but I was so determined to help deliver that child and I didn’t undress. I found the energy to proceed. After this delivery, I went into the nurse’s station and ate one of my favorite Ghanaian meals; tilapia with red pepper sauce. I was extremely satisfied with that meal. Afterwards I stormed back into the delivery room and with the midwives, I helped deliver not one, but two more babies within the same hour!
During my time at the University Hospital, I worked alongside a variety of brilliant women. The bond I made with these women is what allowed me to act as a midwife, and even relocate to a few other wards, including surgical and radiology to assist with various needs. My placement was awesome. I was able to work a variety of shifts, experience hands on medical training, and learn international customs. As I showed initiative and effort I was taught to perform various medical assignments that included administering medications intravenously and intramuscularly, collecting vital signs, and performing vaginal exams.
Traveling around Ghana
The highlight of my abroad experience was in the University’s delivery room. However, aside from my time at the hospital, I would often travel to neighboring cities during the weekends, or visit a local bar. The beach was always a go-to spot, especially because of the wonderful weather. I was surprised to have experienced little rain despite my traveling during the rainy season of Ghana. I spent much of my trip meeting new people and trying new foods. I socialized with many local Ghanaians and other volunteers from a variety of countries. If we weren’t at the beach, traveling, or enjoying the music at the local bar, we were eating food. I loved trying the various foods Ghana had to offer. Although the tilapia was my favorite, I also enjoyed Red Red, Fu Fu, Ghanaian omelet, and pancakes. I also met a local Ghanaian- Afrika, who prepared the best pancakes I have ever tasted.
My host family
My host mom, Agnes, prepared delicious traditional Ghanaian meals each night. Agnes and I developed a strong mother-daughter bond. In fact, I was treated as an addition to the family. My host sister, Bella, would teach me to sew after Agnes would show me a new dish. I loved my Ghanaian family and friends and I keep in contact with them all.
I definitely plan on visiting Ghana again for the Cape Coast festival and next time, I plan to stay longer!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.