A CHESTER student who took a year out to volunteer in Africa is encouraging others to do the same.
Harriet Walker, 19, decided to go to Ghana after she finished her studies at Christleton High School, Village Road, Christleton, last year.
She spent much of her time in Central Regional Hospital, Cape Coast, near Bura, in Ghana, and took part in a range of activities including visiting a leprosy camp and organising games for local children.
She said: “I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and I arrived to find what looked like a fairly modern hospital from the outside, but when I went onto the wards and really opened my eyes, it was then that I realised how wrong I originally was.
“I visited a local leprosy camp each morning and along with a few other medical volunteers, we cleaned and re-dressed all of the inmates’ wounds. I have to say that this was one of the most rewarding experiences of my time in Ghana, as if we didn’t take the time out of our own busy schedules it was clear that no one else would.
“You really did feel like you were making a difference to these men and women and despite the language barrier, their faces clearly showed the appreciation.”
Harriet and other volunteers, who had come to the country through the organisation Projects Abroad, also took part in ‘Out-reach’ projects, where they were taken to smaller communities to offer help and support.
Harriet added one morning she and a local nurse vaccinated 380 under five-year-olds against polio.
“I just want to say that it isn’t all about your placement,” added Harriet, who is planning to go to Leeds University. “Almost every weekend I travelled to other areas of Ghana with other volunteers, and I even made it over the border to Togo for my nineteenth birthday.
“The placement was challenging, my host family were friendly and supportive and the country is beautiful, if not slightly crazy. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I loved every moment of it.”
For more information go to www. projects-abroad.co.uk
See full story in the Chester Leader