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Africa » Ghana » Ashanti » Kumasi
August 11th 2014
Published: August 16th 2014
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Hi all, first time I've had wifi since I arrived so here goes!

After arriving in Accra and spending one night at 'Pink Hostel' I was met by Joe, one of the Projects Abroad (PA) staff at 6am to take the bus to Kumasi.

The 'VIP' bus proved entertaining especially as there were a few local films being shown which were hilarious to say the least!

Arrived in Kumasi where I was met by Gabby, the PA coordinator for the area, who would take me to my host family.

The family are lovely, the parents are Eva and Sammy were so welcoming and hospitable, and their two children, Eben (3yrs) and Happy (9months) are absolutely delightful!

I have been given the title of 'Uncle' to the children and Eben in particular has taken a shine to all of my possessions, leave my phone unattended for 5 minutes and an intense game of 'Angry Birds' is underway!

When I arrived at the house there was one other volunteer, Chris, staying with the same family. Unfortunately he left the day after I arrived so I didn't have much time to get to know him but it was good to get some tips about travelling in Ghana!

The following day (08/08/14) was my orientation in Kumasi where Anthony, another of the PA staff, collected me from the house and showed me where to get the 'tro-tro' into the city centre.

The tro-tros are essentially minibuses which can take up to 15 people. They operate specific routes and can be hailed much the same as a bus in the UK, as well as the driver each tro has a 'mate' who takes the money and when the tro is stationary, yells it's destination to attract customers. Tros are incredibly cheap when compared to buses in the uk, for 1 Cedi (roughly 15p) I can get to most places in Kumasi!

During my orientation, Anthony took me to Adum which is the district forming the city centre, here I was able to exchange money and buy a phone to use while I'm here.

I was also able to have my first taste of traditional Ghanaian food; rice ball in peanut soup, this simple dish was delicious, although extremely spicy which took me by surprise!

Upon returning to the house, Anthony gave me the phone numbers of other volunteers who are also staying in Kumasi and I was able to contact Andrew, a British student, who said that a group of them had travelled to Cape Coast for the weekend and that I was welcome to join them.

Having read that this was one of the essential tourist destinations in Ghana, I knew I had to take up this offer so after a 4am start to get the bus by myself, I made the 4 hour journey to Cape Coast.

When I arrived I knew this was a good decision, all the other volunteers are lovely and Cape Coast was a very interesting place indeed.

There is a beach area including 'Oasis Beach Resort', which is a highly westernised tourist zone. This is where we chose to stay as it is by far the safest place for non Ghanaians to stay in the town. The resort backs directly onto the beach and the accommodation comprises of an array of wooden cabins with bunk beds.

As I was a late arrival to the group of volunteers, all the beds in the cabin were taken so I dragged a sun lounger into the room, rented a mattress to put on top and hung my mosquito net, not pretty but surprisingly comfortable!

The Saturday morning was spent at a historic fort in Cape Coast which had been used to imprison African slaves prior to them being shipped to other parts of the world. This was an eye opening experience into the horrors of that barbaric trade, very humbling but definitely worth the visit.

After a morning of walking around the fort we felt an afternoon at the beach was in order, the sea was a perfect temperature and provided a welcome chance to cool off from the 33 degree heat!

The evening was spent at the restaurant in Oasis, serving western food and drinks alongside local dishes it is always a popular choice for all the tourists in the area.

The following day we travelled to Kakum national park where the canopy walk is situated. After a climb of 250 metres, a walkway begins which takes you over a valley in the rainforest. The construction of said walkway was rather suspect to say the least, being made of wooden planks tied to old aluminium ladders and held up by a network of ropes. The guide assured us that the walkway could take the weight of two elephants of 3 tonnes each, however I very much doubt this, as parts of the walkway felt as if they were about to collapse at any moment!

After the canopy walk we took the bus back to Kumasi, and then a taxi home for some much needed rest.

Monday morning marked the first day of my time with the Public Health Project, after taking two tros I met the other volunteers at 'Sofa Line' station. Here we took another tro to a suburb of Kumasi where we quickly set up and began work.

After finding tables and benches, setting out all the medical equipment and ensuring everything was clean, a queue of locals had already begun to form.

The work consisted of a general health check including BMI, blood pressure and body fat, as well as hepatitis B tests and blood grouping.

As it was my first day I was assigned the role of doing the BMI and body fat measurements, this involved taking the height, weight and age of the individual and measuring their body fat percentage using a sensing device.

Later on I moved to taking the blood pressures of the patients using a stethoscope which proved challenging at first but became more routine by the end.

The outreach section of the Public Health provides patients with free advice about their health situation as well as advice as to what they should be doing to improve any concerning areas. I look forward to being a part of this over the next 8 weeks!

As I write this it's 9:50pm meaning the rest of the family are fast asleep (everyone tends to go to bed and get up far earlier than in the UK) and I won't be far behind.

Thanks for reading and I'll be sure to update with my progress as often as possible!

James






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