Jeffrey Hopcian


Jeffrey Hopcian

Med student invades Ghana.

Africa » Ghana » Volta February 26th 2009

Hohoe After my week at Donkorkram hospital, I completed a large loop by return to Accra via the eastern Volta Region. First I took a long tro-tro ride another branch of the Volta River. We crossed by large canoe in a ride that took about 1 hour. Then by tro-tro to the little town of Hohoe. Wli Falls Quick day trip to Wli Falls. This waterfall is the highest in West Africa. It's divided into two tiers. To reach the top tier, my and one guide took a one hour hike up the mountain. This was without a doubt the most difficult hike I've ever done. The path was really narrow and thick with trees and boulders. At times, it was really a small rock climb rather than a "hike". My guide did it in flip-flops... ... read more
Canoe across the Volta
Woman in town
House with Volta Mountains in background

Africa » Ghana » Central » Cape Coast February 26th 2009

Cape Coast Traveled west of Accra down to Cape Coast with two other medical students, Jenny and JJ. Cape Coast has an interesting history beginning. Beginnin in the 15th century, Europeans (Portugese, followed by Dutch and British) were trading Gold with the people occupying present day Ghana. Eventually this became an official British Colony known as "Gold Coast". Despite this name, gold was soon replaced as the chief export of the region by human cargo meant for European slavery, earning the unofficial historical name, the Slave Coast. The region containing present day "Cape Coast" and "Accra" is part of the Ashanti region of Ghana and the Ashanti people were middle men for the slave trade... capturing other Africans and selling them to European traders who'd set up forts along the coastline. These European traders constructed massive ... read more
Our little hut
Our little beachfront hostel
Cape Coast Castle

Africa » Ghana » Eastern February 23rd 2009

Donkorkram, Afram Plains. An eight-hour trip from Accra via bus, tro-tro and ferry boat brought me to the Afram Plains. This region of Ghana is listed by the government as one of a handful of "underdeveloped" regions of Ghana. Historically this region's economy consisted mainly of farming, but the construction of a dam along the Volta River further south created the huge Lake Volta, which is actually a series of finger-like extension of lake. The Afram Plains is bordered on three sides by the Volta Waters, which has had an effect on the climate and agricultural productivity. The Afram Plains region has one main city, Donkorkram. Aside from this town, and a handful of other villages coincidentally located along the electrical grid to Donkorkram, most of the region is without electricity. Donkorkram consists of two main ... read more
Ferry crossing at the Volta River
Hospital Exterior
Typical group of homes, mud and thacth houses with communal kitchen

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Accra February 19th 2009

Dining in Ghana was tricky for the first few days, mainly because I was trying to follow the advice of my guidebooks and eat only from upscale restaurants while keeping within a budget. Finally, I grew braver and started exploring more authentic cuisine from local eateries and even some street vendors. Looking like a true tourist... I've been photographing my food. Here are a few featured meals. Jollof Rice with Fish. Resembles Spanish rice in appearance but the spices are different. It's basically spiced with a combination of red pepper and garlic that Ghanaians seem to use in virtually all food. The fish was head, skin and fins still on. Lots of bones and little meat. Not particularly enjoyable for me. Plus... I kept worrying it came from the very polluted waters along the Accra shoreline. ... read more
Jollof Rice with Fish.
Fufu, palmnut soup, goat meat

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra February 12th 2009

Beach Excursion Ada Foah. The second weekend in Ghana. A befriended Ghanaian med student (Pablo), several other international students (Brazil and Germany) from the hospital and I traveled by tro-tro (2.5 hrs) outside of Accra to Ada Foah for a quick beach getaway. The village. The village of Ada Foah is a small fishing community. We got off our bus and walked about 1 mile through the villge to reach the beach. All mud huts with straw roofs. The women were cooking in communal open-fire stove kitchens while the men were out fishing. The children run around mostly naked and scream and laugh hysterically when they see the group of Obruni (white people) passing through. We felt like complete intruders and tried not to gawk at the extreme poverty and poor sanitation. I avoided photographing ... read more
Jenny on the walk through Ada Foah village.
Ubiquitous Goats.
The Brazilians.

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Accra » Korle Bu February 6th 2009

Update from the hospital wards This first week, I've been tagging along with the medical students from the University of Ghana Medical School. They are "junior" medical students and are doing pediatrics for the first time... so most of their patient interaction is geared towards learning how to take a history and perform a physical exam. The faculty here know I'm almost done with school and mainly allow me to do what I want and at times have me help teach basic physical exam skills to the students. My interaction with patients is limited, of course, by language (see below) as many of the patients and parents speak only minimal English and I speak even less Twi. I've been able to distribute some of the toys Dr. Tom (thanks Dad!) provided. The kids are so ... read more
Taking photos of one another
Covert photo of med student rounds
A future doctor

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Accra » Korle Bu February 1st 2009

My Hostel. So, my hostel is about 1.5 miles away from the hospital... which isn't too bad. It's a nice walk each day. My roommate is Emeka. He's from Nigeria originally, but studies medicine in Germany. He's here for a few months doing surgery and ob-gyn rotations. Our hostel hosts medical students, many of which are from surrounding African nations. There is no running water (due to recent shortage)... but we do have satellite TV. Go figure! :) We bathe with buckets that we fill from a main water tank that is filled with water shipped in by trucks. Food. So I've been drinking bottled water and eating food from restaurants... so stomach issues yet! I've been venturing around town by tro-tro (pictured) and found my way to an open air market in a neighborhood ... read more
Hostel Exterior
My Room
My Roommate, Emeka

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Accra January 29th 2009

Irish Bar Well... after a long day of walking around Accra alone, I felt the need for a reminder of home. I made my way through the city by foot to a little Irish Bar started by some expats who live here. I met some other travelers and felt recharged. It's now safe to say that cheesy Irish-themed bars are quite literally everywhere :) Day 2 I am now set up in my student hostel near Korle Bu hospital. Korle Bu is just outside the city center (slightly too far to walk) and the hostel is even further away (about 1.5 miles from the hospital). Photos to come! There's a bus each morning that takes students to work. I live in a room with another medical student from Nigeria whom I've not yet met. Korle ... read more
Entrance to Children's Ward
Women go to work at the hospital
Goats go to work at the hospital

Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Accra January 28th 2009

I've arrived safely in Accra! I spent last evening in a hostel and this afternoon I'm attending to some errands in Accra. I'll be making my way to Korle Bu Teaching hospital this evening. I've received word from the hospital and they have my apartment waiting and have made the changes to the dates of my rotation. All seems good! Here's a summary of my 12 hrs in Accra so far! Arrived at the airport a bit after 9 PM. My luggage (thanks again for the toys, Dad!) made it here safely. There was a cab driver waiting for me arranged by my hostel. I think I was ripped off on the fare a little bit... but it was still only $15. My hostel last evening was a bit futher out than I'd hoped... and ... read more

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