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Claire Christmas with a young patient
Claire Christmas with a young patient

Internal News - 10 January 2005

Student experiences life as a Ghanaian pharmacist

Claire Christmas, a third year Pharmacy student at the University, won a competition to help sponsor her trip the Ghana capital, Accra, where she experienced life as a medical volunteer.

Sponsors Provincial Pharmacy Locum Services asked Claire to produce a video that could be shown to other students and volunteers interested in working overseas.

The video outlines the six weeks Claire spent working in the Holy Trinity Medical Centre alongside Ghanaian doctors, nurses and pharmacists, helping dispense medicines to patients.

“It was a real eye-opener. You kind of know what to expect, but nothing can prepare you for what it is really like,” said Claire. “We arrived late at night and took a taxi to the house we were staying in. It was quite a culture shock waking up in the morning and stepping outside into an African street.

“The hospital in Accra is quite new and is financed by nearby companies, so has relatively good facilities. But the transport links are not so good, and as soon as you travel away from the capital you begin to meet people who have absolutely no access to medical facilities or medicines at all.

“Whilst I was working for the hospital we went on a few outreach missions to nearby villages. The people I met were just incredibly happy, friendly and welcoming. They have a lot to deal with, but always greeted you with a friendly smile.”

Claire spent the weekends and evenings with other volunteers working in Accra. They had all volunteered through i-to-i, a company that helps people from all over the world find volunteering opportunities in developing countries.

“I have always loved travelling, but always wanted to go to a developing country and do something constructive. The best thing about the whole experience was people I worked and lived with; they were amazingly friendly and I am keeping in touch with many of them.

“The experience has given me a new perspective on a number of things that we take for granted. It was really worthwhile and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to go.”

If you would like to see the video or ask questions about the Claire's experience of volunteering, please email pr2cac@bath.ac.uk.