Josephine, Advancing Healthcare in Ghana
April’s Community Service Spotlight is shining on Josephine, an 11th grade, first-year TASIS England student. Originally from Accra, Ghana, she also calls Santa Clarita, California home.
To fulfill her International Baccalaureate CAS requirement, Josephine chose to continue a project close to her heart: Redeveloping Rural Hospitals in Ghana (RHG). From a young age, she recognized that hospital patients in rural areas of Ghana are not as fortunate as those in first-world countries. With this knowledge, she took it upon herself to make a difference in her home country. She has already accomplished the renovation of one hospital and is continuing to work, alongside fellow TASIS students, to improve healthcare facilities in Ghana.
RHG reconstructs, spruces up, and provides much-needed equipment to rural clinics: tiling, painting, providing proper bedding, creating storage for medicine, accessing electricity, and providing a water supply. They want patients to recover in a better equipped, more vibrant and pristine environment, to encourage and promote healing.
What inspired you to start to Redevelop Rural Hospitals in Ghana (RHG)?
Josephine: Growing up I lived in a little town called Axim. It had a hospital, which I thought was the “real deal.” I was impressed with the façade and the facilities because I didn’t know any better, until I travelled to the U.S. I then realized my little hospital did not seem so impressive anymore. This completely transformed my opinions about the world. I was saddened to see that some parts of the world are restricted in getting proper and adequate health care, while for others it is served on a silver platter. I couldn’t understand the reason for this and so, after contemplating the issue, I decided to make it my goal to raise money to redevelop my home town’s clinic. My journey to redeveloping rural hospitals was well on its way.
My first redevelopment was a success. When I started attending TASIS and Mrs. Reinikainen discussed our CAS Project, I thought, why not continue what I have already started? And so I initiated a club with three other girls in my year group—Bella, Nicole, and Luiza—which has gradually grown in size. We set the same goal for RHG, which is to create a healing environment in Ghana’s rural hospitals and clinics so that the patients can experience comfort amidst their infirmity. We set out to devise a plan, did some investigation on our next location, and set a timeline for the project.
This year, we are going to the Ziavi community, in the Volta region of Ghana. It’s a small township that has developed itself without much help from the government, which I find very impressive. Seeing a community that takes responsibility for its environment and for the welfare of its people motivates me to continue serving others.
The club and I are going to reconstruct various areas and rooms of this clinic to make them more appropriate for the different procedures that take place in each room. We will also provide them with proper bedding and sheets, storage for medicine, electricity for air-conditioning, couches, and more.
Has there been any favorite moment you have had while working with the community?
Josephine: A project like ours creates a sense of unity and collaboration, allowing members of the community to come together to help redevelop their facilities. My favorite moment was the cleaning day. I was surprised at how many people came into the clinic to help me clean, wash the tiles, sanitize the utensils, and so on. I remember the moment we finished cleaning; it started raining so we went inside to keep warm. I remember how nice and comfortable it was to sit on the floor in the newly cleaned clinic, and just talk and congratulate each other for a job well done.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your project?
Josephine: This year raising money has been quite challenging. The process has slowed down, which is saddening, but from previous experience I know that these challenges occur. Last year, I wrote letters to companies, embassies, and hotels asking for sponsorship. I waited for replies, but they never came. So I wrote to them again and again. Finally a reply came in from one of the companies, followed by the next, and the next. It is important to keep trying and looking for new opportunities.
We continue to stay determined to raise more funds and receive sponsorship for our current renovation.
How do you believe we could better support developing countries, specifically in regards to world health care?
Josephine: As Susan Cooper said, “All it takes is one small action, by one person. One at a time.”
I suggest getting involved in what has already been started to support these countries. Join in raising awareness, get involved in group, a campaign, or an organization. Help raise funds and donate if you can. It doesn’t take much to change the world.
Do you have any advice for students on how to start a large-scale project?
Josephine: “Why do I want to do this?” is the question everyone should ask themselves before getting involved in a large-scale project. You need to visualize and understand what the project requires: time, devotion, effort, determination, and most importantly, patience. Set a goal that will be your motivation as you embark on your journey. Most importantly, make sure you are starting something you are passionate about—interest inspires willingness.
How can we help and support RHG?
Josephine: RHG continues to fundraise and accepts sponsorships. We would be truly grateful if the TASIS community could help gather monetary donations or recommend sponsors. In addition, educating and raising awareness about these healthcare needs is equally important. Share information with your friends and family on the importance of improving the medical resources in developing countries.