Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Ghana

By Patricia Mae Santos
Brown University
Global Impact Fellow

During my time working with Unite For Sight in Ghana, I was inspired by the remarkable efforts of local ophthalmologists and staff to provide both local and remote villagers with access to proper eye care in the form of exams, prescriptions, and free corrective eye surgeries. As a Global Impact Fellow, I had the pleasure and the privilege to work alongside these dedicated professionals on a day-to-day basis. Needless to say, after coming back from my first trip, I was eager to share my experiences with others and somehow continue my support for Unite For Sight and the local clinics that this organization supports. As such, when I was invited to be a Campus Representative, I was honored to accept the position. As the Campus Representative for Unite For Sight at Brown University, I was given the valuable opportunity to promote Unite For Sight’s mission to eliminate preventable blindness in the developing world. Through the active promotion of Unite For Sight during info sessions held across campus, I was able to reach out to a wide variety of students by sharing my own experiences and assisting those who wished to participate in the Unite For Sight Global Impact Corps.

Last semester, with the help of my fellow Campus Representative, Indu Voruganti, we were able to arrange for Dr. James Clarke and Dr. Ernest Awiti of the Crystal Eye Clinic in Accra, Ghana to come to Brown University to talk directly to students about the perils of improper eye care in West Africa. Their talk not only succeeded in spreading awareness about this serious global health issue, but also provided students with an inside look on how they work with Unite For Sight and the Global Impact Fellows to improve the eye health of their fellow countrymen. Having worked with them directly myself, it was a pleasure to have them visit Providence as they made their way speaking at other universities across the Northeast. Collectively, these experiences have propelled me to continue working as Brown University’s Unite For Sight Campus Representative as I further my interests in global health and build upon my contributions abroad right here in my home institution.