Lynn, Shanuka and Rebecca
Akim Oda Government Hospital ( Elective Ghana ),
Clinical interest: General medicine
On our first day, the Electives Ghana team helped us smoothly bridge the cultural divide with a tour of Accra that included getting a SIM card for our phones, learning how to use public transport, and trying our first local foods. On the first day of our elective, Kofi travelled with us to the hospital and made sure we were properly settled in. Sefa runs Elective Ghana with a level of passion that makes it more than just a business; you will feel well cared for and get more than your money’s worth.
By far the most exciting and rewarding part of our time in Ghana was our work at the hospital. The hospital is split into 4 wards: female, male, maternity, and paediatrics. There are only 4 doctors for the entire hospital and each is responsible for one of the wards. We spent our time working on the male ward. We would arrive for rounds in the morning at 8 am, followed by out-patient clinic, emergency, or theatre in the afternoon. During our stay, Tuesdays and Thursdays were days that the doctor in charge of male ward operated. He would allow us to scrub in and, under his supervision, do large parts of the operations (mainly C-sections, hernia repairs, and appendectomies). On the other afternoons, we would either hang back on the wards to do jobs and check up on new patients, or head to the emergency department to help with triaging cases.
Akim Oda, though it is neither a particularly attractive nor interesting town, quickly became our home; a place that we looked forward to returning to after every weekend trip away. The people in the town are very open and friendly, and would go out of their way to help us out. There is a sizable market and many good spots for cheap food. We loved eating red red (beans and plantains) from a street stand on the main road opposite Liberty and between Linda’s restaurant (another of our go-to spots) and the market – but make sure you go early, it’s usually sold out by 2 pm. At the junction where bungalow road (on which our accommodation is located) meets the main road, there are stands selling everything you need for your daily life, including full meals for as little as 1 cedi (= 0.25 USD). In addition, there is a good seamstress at the junction. We bought cloth at the market and had matching outfits made, which were a big hit with the hospital staff! You should also try braiding your hair- the Ghanaians love it- even if you’re western friends laugh!
There are a few places in town to drink. We would often head to Linda’s after work, not too far from the hospital, for much needed debriefs and wind-downs. Here, we would have dinner and a drink, either a Club (beer) or an Orijin (who knows what but delicious). If you want to take drinks back to the house, there’s a few pubs outside the hospital which will let you take bottles home, however you will need to pay a 15 cedi deposit on these bottles, which you will get back once you return the bottles. Otherwise the local dance club is called Rise Under Pub, which is about 15mins from Akim Oda. We went there a few times with the surgical team and ward team and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there!
The hospital provides accommodation at a house that is a 25 min walk from the hospital. The house is spacious, each room is equipped with a bed, on-suite bathroom and fan (one room even has air-con! – Lynn and Rebecca stayed in the air-con room whilst poor Shanuka had to sweat it out in his room (comment obviously added by Shanuka). Sometimes the water in the bathroom won’t come, so you’ll need to go outside to turn on the pump and then wait for a few minutes for it to start. The kitchen has plenty pots and dishes, so don’t worry about bringing anything. There is a garden with a orange tree (leading us into competitions on who could best slice them Ghanaian-style). The walk to work can easily be shorted by catching one of the many passing share-taxis on the the way for 1 cedi. As any of the Ghanaians will confirm, you should avoid walking home alone after dark, opt for a taxi instead. Lynn made this mistake on one occasion and had her groceries snatched. During our stay, the other rooms in the house were occupied by Ghanaians, who also worked at the hospital. We sincerely hope you’ll also have the pleasure of becoming friends with Kofi, who is always down for a game of cards or a chat in the evenings.
Weekend trip to Cape Coast
Feel free to take a day or two off from work to extend your weekend for a trip! We only managed one weekend trip as a group (we were enjoying work at the hospital so much that we opted to work through one of the weekends). We met up with the other students doing electives through Elective Ghana in Cape Coast. It’s a lovely coastal city that boasts attractions such as the old slaving castle (that offers excellent guided tours), Kakum National Park (with its famous canopy walk) and the old harbor with its many painted boats. On the down side, its being the most touristy city in Ghana meant that we experienced a level of hassling by vendors and people in the streets that we hadn’t experienced anywhere else in Ghana. Overall, we definitely recommend a visit. It’s an easy trip by trotro from Akim Oda with one change in Mankessim. Hotel Francilia was clean and comfortable with a pool and wifi (roughly $22 per night), but it was a 15 min drive by taxi out of town. We would recommend looking for a more conveniently located option; or consider staying in a treehouse in Kakum National Park to enjoy the wildlife by night! YEAH DO THAT (comment added by Rebecca).
Potential weekend trip: Busua Beach
I (Lynn) had some time at the end of my elective for traveling. Busua is a small coastal town roughly 2 hours east of Cape Coast that could reasonably be reached for an extended weekend. The beach is the nicest I’ve seen so far in Ghana and the tourism is laid back. You have the option of taking beginner surfing lessons from the locals, canoeing through the mangroves or else just lazing on the beach. I highly recommend the French-owned Busua Inn ($11 per night), which has clean, attractive rooms and an expansive wooden-terrace restaurant overlooking the ocean with a menu reflecting the nationality of the owners. Other food options include Ghanaian-run Daniel the Pancake Man and the Okorye Tree Restaurant, both offering delicious and reasonably priced food.
We very much hope that you will have an equally rewarding and memorable experience as we did. We will never forget the time we spent and the friends we made in Akim Oda.
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