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Jessica Poad and Kyle Drury

Spring Break volunteers help schools and communities through medical care in Ghana

A Ghanaian school girl gets a health check from a volunteer.

Jessica Poad and Kyle Drury are two American college students who spent their spring break in the historic town of Cape Coast,  where they helped provide important basic medical care for disadvantaged children and adults in the community.

For many students, spring break is a time to have fun and relax, but increasing numbers of students are choosing to use their break to give back to others. Kyle, who plans to be a medical doctor, chose to travel abroad to Ghana as a volunteer. “A lot of my friends will go to the beaches during spring break and I thought volunteering mattered more,” he said. “So I looked into it and found Projects Abroad.”

During their week abroad, the two volunteers worked on medical outreaches at a leprosy camp, two schools, and two communities.  

“The first day we went to the leprosy camp where we helped the cured lepers by cleaning and treating their wounds,” Jessica explains. “Later that day, we went to a school to offer oral hygiene education and then later treated ringworms, skin rashes, and other skin infections. We did a similar exercise in another school. We also went to the fish market to educate the men and women on hypertension, body mass index, and blood sugar. We then offered free checkups for all of those to them as well.”

Through the medical outreaches, they observed varied degrees of injuries and skin infections that affected the children they treated. One special case was a particularly shocking one for Jessica.

“There was a child with a leg that was broken – he said he got hit by a car three years ago and his leg was broken then. But his leg was not set properly and he has some complications with it. It was shocking to see that because in America, the broken leg would have been set properly immediately after the accident and it would have been completely healed now. Unfortunately, he’s going to have his leg like that for the rest of his life.”

Education played a big role in their project. Together, Jessica and Kyle helped educate hundreds of school children about personal hygiene, especially oral hygiene.

A class of Ghanaian school children listen to a lesson about dental hygiene.

Miss Mercy Ghartey, Headmistress of Methodist Kindergarten and Primary School, one of the schools they visited, was grateful for the work of the volunteers. “I believe the medical outreach will influence my pupils to keep themselves neat and it will help them to prevent certain diseases. I’m very happy and I believe both the staff and the school children will be very happy to see you again. My teachers will use the health information that the volunteers gave to teach the children every other week. We appreciate what the volunteers have done. We hope that Projects Abroad visits us regularly.”

Through his volunteer work, Kyle has learned a lot and has developed his own perception about Ghana. “I hope that it was as helpful to them as it was to me. I learnt a lot by being here and working. It has impacted me more than it has impacted them, I guess, and I hope that I’ve impacted them in some way through the education I gave and the treatments and checkups I performed.”

He continued:  “West Africa is not a bad place. It’s not the scary nightmare that the media make it out to be in North America. They make it seem scary – like Ebola and malaria. The people are still people and they are still lives that matter. Just because they live in a different part of the world doesn’t mean that they are in anyway less than we are.”

Read more about the Public Health in Ghana Alternative Spring Break Trip and our standard Public Health in Ghana project.  

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