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Shayan Shakeraneh - Medicine in Ghana

Shayan from Canada tells us about his summer in Ghana.

Last summer I began thinking about volunteering internationally in a hospital, preferably in Africa. With this thought in mind I went through an extensive research online to find a appropriate, suitable organisation since many international volunteer organisations do only conservation works and so forth. It was only when I found Projects Abroad, a UK based organisation, having a medical placement programme that I really felt my goal was becoming more reachable.

Summer 2006 Ghana

Without hesitation I felt in love with Projects Abroad and its medical placement programme, and decided to volunteer in Ghana, West Africa, for the months of May and June 2006.

Now writing this in my room in Vancouver, Canada and reflecting back on my experience in Ghana, I have to say it was the most wonderful, gratifying experience in my life. It was everything I expected and more, and Projects Abroad most definitely made it blossom even more.

During my stay, I volunteered at Ghana Police Hospital (GPH) in Accra and spent my time in different wards such as 2 ½ weeks in theatre, 2 weeks in male ward, 2 weeks in children's ward, one week in OPD (Out Patient Department), and one week at maternity and labour ward. I met some amazing people and learned immensely from them. I observed many illnesses and operations dealing with Caesareans, hernias, fistulas, varicose veins, sebaceous cysts, appendicitis, and even natural births. I had the opportunity to partake in some procedures including cleaning the wounds of patients and changing their bandages at male ward and applying baby oil and dressing the newborns at children's ward. I had the most wonderful time in theatre witnessing live operations and confirming my ambition to become a surgeon one day. Words simply cannot describe this experience and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.

In addition to my work at the hospital, I took leadership in taking other pre-medical students for medical outreach every week on Fridays to Good Shepherd Orphanage in Odupong Ofaakor, a town 1 ½ hours from where I worked. At the orphanage we treated the wounds of the orphans with our medical supplies and referring severe cases to GPH for treatment. One notable case was 5-year-old Isaac Ntiamoah who had a swollen right testicle (R.I.H.) since birth. On June 27, 2006 Isaac had a successful operation and recovered fully. In fact, the next day following his operation, he was playing in his hospital bed and had a huge smile on his face. This smile is worth the whole world to me and has made this trip definitely worthwhile. Realizing that Isaac's life is now going to be better because of what we did is the most gratifying feeling that one can have.

The orphanage and I were also featured in the local newspaper, The Chronicle, in an article called "A Place Orphans Call Home." After finding out the filthy water that the orphans drank, my roommate, Erik Schmok, and I decided to find a suitable site for building a well at the orphanage. We sponsored the cost of the investigation and CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) World Reach Ghana (www.cbn.com; www.cbnworldreach.com) covered the cost of building the well.

As I mentioned in the article in The Chronicle, I would love to come back to Ghana when I am a surgeon and treat the patients for free. One thing that I have realised in my life is that people do NOT have a choice in where and how they are born. Those abandoned orphans and those poor patients in Ghana did not choose to be born where they are born and in what state they are born. May one day I have the blessing to visit them again!

Shayan Shakeraneh

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