It has been about five years now since I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana and be a part of something meaningful. For this reason, I dug up one of the reflections I had after the trip ended which went as follows…
My experience in Ghana was one of excitement and sprinkled with eye-opening experiences. During our time there, we had some fun at the local beach as well as our times in the village. This trip had transformed my general outlook because prior to this trip I was one to see things in a negative manner and found the faults in most of the things I did or experienced. Such experiences seemed enjoyable to some but personally not so much. Mostly due to my constant complaints. Throughout the trip, my outlook on life had slowly changed for the better as I started to see things in a more positive light, learned how to complain less and enjoy the things in front of me.
Not only did my outlook change, but my goals had also transformed. Before the trip, my goals seemed to only benefit myself as I wanted to graduate high school /college and then become a pediatrician. Afterward, my goals altered towards making a difference in people’s lives in whatever manner is the most possible and accessible for me.
Specifically, I hope to one day help those living in a third world or developing country whether it be assisting the children in their race towards education or the people in the village with their necessity of clean drinking water. When I saw the children and the women carrying the water from the water source to their village it made me realize that we in America are so blessed to have the clean water that we do but we waste it to the degree that is disgusting to look at. I intend to pay close attention to the amount of water I use in order to do so I will stagger my showers, take shorter showers, turn off the tap when brushing my teeth or washing the dishes among other ways. All in all, the experience was phenomenal it changed me as a human being as well as it inspired me to contribute to the well being of the society whether it be locally or globally.
The Present.. (5 Years later)
After rereading the reflection as a college graduate it sounds a little corny or over the top. However, the last bit about wanting to help people who are not as fortunate as most in America still rings true. I still do want to be a physician and be able to benefit people who do not have access to medical insurance, clinics or preventative care. I believe everyone deserves access to care, attention, and medication (if needed), and no one should be deprived of that. Likewise, something important to note is that the disease is not the focus, but instead, the focus is towards fixing the environments these people are in. If the people have no access or a means of obtaining help, then that will be forever engrained into their minds as a “normal” experience to them. They will believe that living with the disease is normal and everyone has it. JUST because they never knew or had the chance to seek help. Which in my mind is absolutely absurd (with no means of disrespect).
I recall vividly during this trip, where the Asemko children had to walk 20 to 30 minutes away from their village holding large jugs on their shoulders to their nearest water well. The water itself was brown and murky, however, it was the only option they had for cooking, bathing, drinking, and other essential tasks they had to finish. As an outsider, it made me question how we as Americans waste water filling up kiddie pools, taking long showers or letting clean water drip down our cars onto the ground after a car wash. I felt ashamed. We have the resources but we fail to help people like the children in Asemko along with people in other third world countries. But, again the issue was not just clean water since this water was the root of many other issues the village had to face.
The children who walked to these wells did not have the chance to obtain an education since it was not just a one-time activity. They fell behind their other classmates. They were not able to read or write. Plus, the ritual of obtaining water begins at a young age, since older family members cannot bear the walk anymore. For this reason, only a select few are able to pass elementary school or middle school, but a slim amount of individuals are able to move on to higher education. As a result, the lack of water as a resource among the Ghanaians fueled issues on education among others like illnesses which stemmed from drinking the murky water.
For this reason, I believe that a culture’s lifestyle is put into perspective when one experiences their reality. It is a powerful thing to read about the culture in Ghana however, it was even more impactful when I experienced it first hand.