The Ghana Program involves working with Unite For Sight's five eye clinic partners in Ghana, which include three eye clinics in Accra and two eye clinics in Kumasi. Global Impact Fellow volunteers work with the local eye clinics to provide eye care to villages located throughout eight of the nine regions of Ghana. The villages are located 1-8 hours from each eye clinic.
Unite For Sight's partner eye clinics in Ghana include:
Volunteers participate exclusively with Crystal Eye Clinic, and they may arrive on any Saturday and depart on the subsequent Saturday in 2016 or 2017. Crystal Eye Clinic is closed from December 23-31, 2016, due to the holiday season. Volunteers may instead arrive on January 1 and participate until January 8.
Global Impact Fellows may arrive on any Saturday, and depart on any Saturday in 2016 or 2017. Global Impact Fellows participate for at least two weeks, and they may participate for multiple months, up to a year, if desired. Volunteers may optionally pursue a research study in the Global Impact Lab.
Village Outreach Programs in the Greater Accra, Central, and Eastern Regions
Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellows work with the ophthalmic nurses and optometrists of Crystal Eye Clinic, Saint Thomas Eye Centre, and Save The Nation's Sight Clinic to provide eye care in remote rural villages that are located 1-3 hours from the capital city of Accra. Each eye clinic's team visits a different village location on a daily basis. Therefore, on any particular day, there are usually three Accra-based outreach teams (one outreach team from each clinic) providing eye care to three different villages.
The teams of eye nurses, optometrists, and Unite For Sight volunteers is transported on a van to the villages during the morning and returns to Accra in the late afternoon. In the villages, 100-300 patients each day receive an exam, diagnosis, eyeglasses, medication, and treatment. Patients requiring advanced ophthalmic care and surgery are transported from the villages to Crystal Eye Clinic, Saint Thomas Eye Centre, and Save The Nation's Sight Clinic, for surgery by the local Ghanaian ophthalmologists.
To learn more about the daily programs, read the Dispatches from Crystal Eye Clinic's Outreaches, which is a Facebook page updated by Crystal Eye Clinic's outreach team. For poignant stories about the impact of the outreach programs, read Crystal Eye Clinic's optometrist Dr. Ernest Awiti's Notes From The Field.
Overnight Outreach Opportunities in the Volta and Western Regions
Many volunteers also have the opportunity to participate in Crystal Eye Clinic, Saint Thomas Eye Centre, and Save The Nation's Sight Clinic's overnight outreach activities in remote villages located 3-5 hours from Accra. The volunteers travel with the local eye clinic staff to a more remote region of Ghana, where they stay for 3-14 days and lodge in a local hotel or guest house. These overnight outreach options provide volunteers with a unique perspective about eye care needs in various regions of Ghana.
Refugee Camp Outreach Opportunities
Some fellows may also participate in outreach activities at Buduburam Refugee Camp, located approximately 90 minutes from Accra. Crystal Eye Clinic's team visits Buduburam twice per month.
Village Outreach Programs in Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, and Upper West Regions
Global Impact Fellows participating with Unite For Sight for at least 20 days usually are scheduled to rotate for 2-3 weeks with Charity Eye Clinic or Friends Eye Centre, both located in Kumasi (Ashanti Region).
At Charity Eye Clinic, Global Impact Fellows work with ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Twumasi and ophthalmic nurses to provide eye care in rural villages located 1-3 hours from Kumasi. These outreaches occur in the Ashanti, Western, Brong-Ahafo, and Northern Regions.
At Friends Eye Centre, Global Impact Fellows work with Dr. Seth Wanye and ophthalmic nurses to provide eye care throughout the Northern and Upper West Regions.
The Charity and Friends village outreach formats are identical to the programs with Crystal Eye Clinic and Saint Thomas Eye Centre in Accra. Participating with the Accra- and Kumasi-based eye clinics introduces volunteers to many regions of Ghana.
This program provides an extensive and immersive global health experience, and Global Impact Fellows learn about the complexities and realities of global health and social entrepreneurship from the Unite For Sight program as well as from Dr. Clarke, Dr. Twumasi, Dr. Gyasi, Dr. Baah, Dr. Wanye, and their ophthalmic staff.
Additionally, for those with a special interest in medicine, ophthalmology, or optometry, Dr. Clarke, Dr. Twumasi, Dr. Gyasi, Dr. Baah, Dr. Wanye, and their ophthalmic nurses provide opportunities to learn ophthalmic and optometric skills. Global Impact Fellows also have an opportunity to observe cataract and pterygium surgeries provided at the eye clinics.
This program is suitable to anyone 18 years and older who has an interest in international service, global health, and social entrepreneurship. Individuals between the ages of 15 and 17 may participate as Global Impact Fellows if they participate with a parent who is also a Global Impact Fellow. Global Impact Fellows range from gap year students, undergraduate students, and medical students to public health students, public health professionals, nurses, educators, opticians, optometrists, ophthalmology residents, ophthalmologists, filmmakers, and photographers. This program is also open to teenagers who would like to accompany a parent who is also a Global Impact Fellow.
Standard Global Impact Fellows
Global Impact Fellows assist the ophthalmic nurses and optometrists in all aspects of the eye care programs. They take patient history, test visual acuity, observe the ophthalmic nurse or optometrist during examinations, distribute medication and eyeglasses prescribed by the eye nurse, provide eye health education in the villages and schools, and help with the coordination of patient surgeries. Volunteers also have an opportunity to observe sight-restoring surgeries provided by the ophthalmologists at Crystal Eye Clinic, Saint Thomas Eye Centre, Save The Nation's Sight Clinic, Charity Eye Clinic, and Friends Eye Centre.
Eye Care Professional Volunteers
Ophthalmologist volunteers work daily with Dr. Clarke at Crystal Eye Clinic, Dr. Gyasi at Saint Thomas Eye Centre, Dr. Baah at Save The Nation's Sight Clinic, Dr. Michael Twumasi at Charity Eye Clinic, or Dr. Seth Wanye at Friends Eye Centre. Visiting ophthalmologist volunteers work alongside the local ophthalmologists to provide ophthalmic care and perform surgeries. Optometrists work with Crystal Eye Clinic, Saint Thomas Eye Centre, Save The Nation's Sight Clinic, Charity Eye Clinic, and Friends Eye Centre's optometrists and ophthalmic nurses to provide optometric care in rural villages.
Increasing numbers of Unite For Sight ophthalmologist and optometrist volunteers are bringing their teenage children to accompany them on the Unite For Sight Accra program. The eye care professionals and their family members are able to participate in varying capacities to provide eye care to patients living in extreme poverty. The teenagers participate as standard volunteers, while the optometrists and ophthalmologists work with the local Ghanaian ophthalmic staff to provide optometric and ophthalmic services. Those interested in this opportunity are encouraged to view the video by Dr. Rose, who participated in Ghana with his wife and three teenage daughters. Each family member interested in participating is required to apply separately to the program and submit individual pre-departure requirements.
Filmmaker and Photography Volunteers
Unite For Sight filmmaker and photographer volunteers document the voices of patients who receive sight-restoring eye care through Unite For Sight programs. The videos and photos promote awareness and information about global eye care needs and demonstrate the commitment and dedication of Unite For Sight's local partner eye doctors, who work tirelessly to provide eye care to those living in extreme poverty. This experience offers students, filmmakers, and photographers an opportunity to learn about development issues while making a significant impact.
Prior to traveling abroad, each volunteer receives a personalized weekly schedule, which includes all of the details about where they will be participating each week.
Most volunteers are stationed in Accra for approximately 20-50 % of their time in Ghana. While participating in Accra, Fellows lodge at the Telecentre Bed and Breakfast in Achimota, Accra. A double room with shared occupancy costs $25 per day plus 15 % government tax. Though most volunteers lodge in a double room with shared occupancy, there is also an option for a single room, which costs $38 per day plus 15 % government tax. The Telecentre provides a 5 % discount on the weekly bill for those who stay for a minimum of one month. For those staying for a minimum of two months, the Telecentre provides a 10 % discount on the weekly Telecentre bill.
Breakfast provided by the Telecentre costs $5, lunch provided by the Telecentre costs $7, and dinner provided by the Telecentre costs $8. Most days, however, volunteers eat lunch (protein bars or similar food) in villages during the daily outreach programs, and volunteers usually eat out together in local area restaurants for dinner. Many volunteers eat breakfast at the Telecentre.
While each volunteer's rotational schedule varies, volunteers are usually stationed outside of Accra (and therefore not at the Telecentre) for approximately 50-80 % of their time. When participating in Kumasi or the other overnight outreach locations, volunteers lodge at hotels near the eye clinic or outreach site. The food and lodging expenses are highest in Accra since this is Ghana's capital city. Lodging expenses in Kumasi and other locations range from $6-$20 per day.
Volunteers participating for ten days are more likely to spend most of their time in Accra, while those participating for at least 20 days will spend significant time outside of Accra on the overnight outreaches.
This program is suitable for undergraduate and public health students interested in pursuing an internship for academic credit, as well as for medical and optometry students interested in pursuing a clinical rotation for academic credit. You should consult your academic institution regarding how you can arrange this type of course credit. Unite For Sight will complete student performance evaluations required by a university so that a student can receive academic credit. We can also provide a letter for the university that confirms a student's planned participation in the Unite For Sight program and describes the student's pre-departure online global health coursework and global health field participation. Please review the Academic Credit section of the Unite For Sight website.
This program is also appropriate for undergraduate students, medical students, optometry students, and public health students who would like to pursue a community-based field research project, which requires that the student have a faculty mentor at their home institution and receive IRB approval. Those interested in research should read the Global Impact Lab section of the Unite For Sight website.
Read narratives by past Ghana volunteers: http://www.uniteforsight.org/volunteer-abroad/volunteer-accounts#ghana