2009 – July – Medical & Orphanage Mission – Ghana

A dozen volunteers traveled to Ghana to donate their time and skills in Ophthalmology, Optometry and Otolaryngology.

Cape Coast: 407 Patients 51 Surgeries
Tema 514 Patients 52 Surgeries

Images below: Charles leading a trip planning session with the team and their families, including orientation about Ghana. Also, a practice exercise at setting up a sleeping net for malaria mosquito protection.

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The Trip That Changed Lives – by Rachel Karlen 

I never could have imagined what experiences awaited me when the plane finally landed in Ghana, Africa. When we got off the plane, many local people swarmed us, trying to sell different types of food and clothes. Already I knew this was going to be a very eventful 3 weeks.


The 4 of us teenagers were all asked to work in the orphanage. I felt a little nervous because I had no idea what to expect. When we finally arrived, I saw that the design of the orphanage was very unique. There were about 10 little houses, each hosting 8-10 children. We were each assigned a house to work at.

The word “work” has many different connotations. “Working” in the orphanage was mostly playing with the kids, telling them stories, eating lunch with them, and helping them learn how to read and do math. I was shocked when I realized how smart these children were. Unlike many children back in America, these children wanted to read and wanted to do math on their free time. It was truly amazing to see such work ethic in children so young.

Helping these children really made me become close to them very quickly. The third day I was there, all the kids in the house called me “Auntie”. It was probably one of the sweetest and most genuine moments in my life. Each house was it’s own little family, and everyday that I came back I felt more like part of their family.

One day, I came and brought a bunch of pens and some paper. The kids were ecstatic. Before that, the house had a few pieces of paper that all the kids shared. They would draw on the paper, and erase it so the next kid could be able to use it too. Bringing something like paper and pens felt so small to me. At that moment, I realized that something small to me was something huge for them.

Another day that I came, the kids all wanted to go to the little candy store that was inside the orphanage. In order to get there, we had to cross a rickety little bridge. The girls immediately grabbed my hands and were terrified because they were convinced that there were alligators under the bridge. The boys saw the girls fear and walked across acting brave. It was so cute because it reminded me of how kids act back at home.

We finally got to the candy store and all the kids were jumping around because they were so excited. I bought them all candy and they had so much fun choosing what they wanted. Now that I look back on it, it was more of a self rewarding experience.

There are so many things that I have learned from going to Ghana. First, I learned that small acts of generosity truly impact these children’s lives. Second, I learned how fortunate I really am. These children made me realize how lucky I am without even realizing it. Third, I came out of this experience more knowledgeable about the world. I am more aware about what is actually going on in third world countries and it’s easy for me to talk about it with other people. Over all, this experience was priceless. I would not give it up for anything. I am extremely excited to be coming back this summer to help again.