Being of service to others sits at the core of Bloxham’s Christian values. Lower Sixth’s Rachel D. showed her dedication to others by giving her time over the summer to volunteer for a medical programme in Ghana. Below she recollects her trip to West Africa and her experience of the Ghanaian culture.

“For two weeks this summer, I travelled to Ghana completing an unforgettable volunteer medical internship programme with the organisation Projects Abroad. Their aim is to make a difference globally to those in need and to enable students to ‘discover what you are capable of,’ offering hundreds of different programmes in many different lines of work in countries all around the world.

Alongside ten other volunteers, I gained invaluable experience in the Local District Hospital, shadowing the doctors and nurses across a range of different departments, including theatre, the neonatal intensive care unit and even the morgue. My time was mostly spent in the maternity ward where I witnessed extraordinary natural deliveries and Caesarean sections, took ultrasounds and vitals and cleaned, weighed and dressed just minute old babies!

In the local communities and schools, we gave health check-ups to Ghanaians who wouldn’t be able to afford healthcare. We tested for Malaria and Hepatitis B and were fortunate enough to be able to give free treatment to people who tested positive. For those who needed it, these bush clinics also included the cleaning and dressing of wounds to prevent infection. It was clear what a difference we were making, doing small things to potentially change someone’s life, which enabled me to grow significantly in confidence. To these communities, we gave out donated clothes and shoes and were also able to spend time with the children, who shared with us many Ghanaian songs and dances and we all had so much fun exchanging customs.

We also got an amazing insight into the culture of Ghana because our evenings and weekends were full of activities such as African dancing and drumming, Ghanaian cooking classes and Twi language lessons. We went to the Cape Coast Castle and learnt about the history of Ghana and the slave trade, as well as enjoying the beautiful sandy beaches and palm trees on the coast!

We truly experienced a Ghanaian lifestyle by living with our incredible local host family, embracing everything from cold bucket showers to drinking bagged water.

Inevitably, things sometimes didn’t go quite to plan but every one of these experiences taught us valuable lessons and brought our group, as volunteers, so much closer; for instance, our minibus had to be pushed out of a ditch and there was even a brief spell in the emergency room – not as a volunteer, but as a patient!

Perhaps the best aspect of this trip was experiencing it with the ten other medical volunteers who I lived and worked with. We came together from all around the world, bringing many different backgrounds and cultures too. It was amazing that we could bond, sharing a desire to help those who are less fortunate than us and learn so much along the way.”