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Physio Blog: Africa 2009

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”


In 2009, fresh out of university I set off for a travelling adventure that would provide me with memories that I hope to stay with me forever. As my dad had watched me leave for the second time , my belongings upon my back, and his face showing no less worry than the first time I’d ventured off to far away lands. The blog below describes my feelings and experiences through my eyes. I look back on the 3 months fondly. Part of my life that I’m glad has happened but that I probably wouldn’t want to repeat. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone has led to some of the most incredible moments of my life and I hope this blog encourages you to do the same. Find your way whether it be Africa, South America or at your local hospital. Open your mind and embrace those moments that make you feel uncomfortable, learn from them and share what you have learn’t with others.

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Ghana – Arrival

by Annom on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 4:08pm ·

Hey so arrived in ghana on thursday its been pretty crazy literally was chucked in a room to sleep and then woken a few hours later to leave for Koforidua. bundled into a car I travelled 2hours to the town with my new room mate Christiana from germany. She is really nice and my total lifeline out here. We dropped our stuff at our host family and then went to the hospital for induction. (7am) We were greeted by the nosy, busy streets of Koforidua and the constant calling of ‘obruni’ meaning white person. At this point i was feeling pretty fresh and enthusiastic about seeing the hospital.

The hospital is relatively large and the A and E department has people spilling out around the edges until the afternoons when everything shuts down ‘no one gets sick in ghana in the afternoons! The physio department isn’t too bad the facilities are actually quite good surprisingly yet the priorities are very different and out patients are seen before the wards!!! The department has two physios and several assistants but none seem to actually treat but normally asses the patient once and then sit in the corner while the patients appear to complete irrelevant exercises or do they wrongly.

Today was much better and the physio talked through some of the assessments which were more promising. Im also learning the language quite quickly. well the bossy parts anyway ‘up ‘ down push pull etc. Anyway back to day 1! after the induction we looked around the hospital the wards are very basic rusty beds with thin mattresses and that is basically it. A lone sink maybe in the corner with water that does flow and no soap. at least there is intention! After that we were taken for some food and to get our locals I’m cards so we can keep in touch with other volunteers.

We then travelled 2 hours back to Acraa for the volunteers party. By this point i was very tired and feeling extremely antisocial especially when faced with a group of cocky americans. there was a lot of team building exercises which no one wanted to a participate in some and another girl ended up basically doing them alone. We then had to choose something original to buy 4 5 Cedi’s i suggested a chicken so we got a chicken and took it back!!! luckily the guy helped us catch it because I woudn’t have stood a chance. after the party we traveled again back to Koforidua this time taking a different route trying to negotiate the pot holes, people and rubbish …everywhere!

When i arrived back to the host house i slept well waking at 5.30 to the sound of ghana getting up! People were cleaning and shouting and washing and all sorts. the weekend was spent catching up sleep, reading, becoming acclimatised and finally having my first strip shower. it was lovely is was so cool. its so hot here! On monday the tap was running which i was really excited about but couldn’t bring myself to try it as felt this would b a waste! cant believe ‘ve only been here a few days and already thinking like this. We visited Boti falls on sunday and were literally climbing up rocks on our hands and knees but dangerous but n/m some very worth while photos.

Have had two days at work now and feel totally shattered. It had been really good though because Chistiana and i have been treating together and developed a more european way, documenting notes,handwashing etc. anyway everything is good and I’m looking forward to working here. working hours are 9 until 2 so i have asked if i can go to the orphanage in the afternoons so this will happen from thursday. Christiana is also teaching me spanish whoop whoop.

right best get on but hope u are all well and enjoying yummy meals. so far i have had the same meal for lunch and dinner so i think the next few months will consist of yam plantain and rice with a wing of chicken. Paul I’m not sure you’d manage on the diet. I’m hoping to start running next week when my bodies more used to the heat so mayb ill lose some weight. take care x x x x


Ghana – HELP!

by Anomm on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 2:59pm ·

To all physio graduates,

Some of you may be aware that i’m currently volunteering in Ghana. after a week of being here I am still completely shell shocked and cringe every time i enter the hospital and realise the true situation here. I am writing to ask for your help in any form possible.

The physios here do not see any ward patients unless the doctor requests (which is never). Patients with stroke, amputations and abdominal surgery are often sent home without being seen, being left to fend for themselves and usually die. sorry to be dramatic but this is the reality.

Today i treated an amputation I found her laying on the floor because she was scared she would fall out of bed. Her wound was undressed and touching the floor. She is 3 DAYS post op.

Altho the work here is very frustrating and demanding it is helping. I work with another newly qualifies PT from Austria and we treat together as there is little guidance from the other physios. I would like to start a group that i can email case studies to. Being so far from home and with so many diseases that i am not familiar i would like to be sure i am doing the right treatment and would welcome any discussion or suggestions. If you are interested in being part of this group please can you contact via facebook or email.

Additionally if you have any old text books or equipment that you could bear to part with this would be incredible useful especially simple things such as soap and gloves. (most wards do not have a running tap, let alone soap.

If you do have anything you can spare I would greatly appreciate it, along with the ghanian team. i do not have the address with me but let me know if u would like to send anything.

Thanks for reading this guys, good luck to all who are still job hunting, well done to those who aren’t, happy travels to those who have run away x x x


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Project Abroad (This is the only company I have experience with and they were organised, helpful and provided reassurance for travel. I was not happy about how much was donated to the project I was actually working in – it appeared nothing went into improving facilities/training of locals or equipment. I would not recommend this placement to those considering prior to university. You receive minimal support and its great for the experience but you may not learn as many western physiotherapy skills as you might hope).

 Work the World also have projects available.

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