Student nurse, Laura Rushbrook, spent her elective over in Ghana. As part of her trip she spent a week on the Fasin village healthcare experience - an experience that really enhanced her placement in Ghana, introducing her to village life and giving her a better understanding of the healthcare difficulties faced by remote communities.
"I did the village experience in the last week of my trip, the best time to do it when you have a basic understanding of the health issues and treatment procedures in Ghana. I would highly recommend it to other students, to gain a real insight of what village life is like and how the clinics cope with limited resources they have.
I and another student Rosie would spend the mornings at the clinic and then the afternoons with Meshack, our Work the World guide. Meshack orientated us into village life and set up village activities, so we saw how palm oil was made, went to the seamstress, saw how alcohol was distilled and met the chief of Agona, the highlight for both of us.
We lived with a family for the week, an opportunity not to be missed. It was a privilege to live with the cobbinah family - they were lovely and made us felt welcome; getting us involved for instance pounding fu fu."
Fufu, for the uninitiated is cooked cassava, rice, plantains and yams mashed up together until you get a doughy consistency. This is then broken up into pieces and dipped into sauces and soups. It is a staple of the Ghanaian diet, particularly in remote communities, and the students love to get involved pounding it out with sticks. When it comes to the tasting though, students are vague. I decided to check this out with our Brighton team and it seems that there is a good reason fufu has not made it to our local cafe..... Omar commented "it's like chewing gum - you have to swallow it whole!". Abby and Faye screwed their noses up "it's disgusting!". For Lewis, Alison and I, the only members of the team still to visit Ghana, it was left to Dave to champion the chewy delight. He started well.... "when it's served with spicy grasscutter soup, it's pretty tasty", but then Omar pointed out that grasscutter is actually a giant rat. Perhaps we won't be taking Dave's recommendations for our Christmas dinner!!!
But while we may have been sidetracked by fufu, Laura wasn't! She definitely found there was more to her placement than food. Working in remote villages can often be a much bigger challenge than students imagine, and not just because conditions are basic. Treatment can be very different to that in the western world and it is important students accept that they are now in Africa, and this is how it is done.
"The clinical experience was very interesting. Clinic would start at 8.00am and finish around 1.00pm and the majority of cases were malaria, maternity care and wound care. At times it was frustrating - we would sometimes have dealt with things differently to the nurses over there - but it was a great learning process.