Earlier this summer, my friend Rachel and I visited my dad’s uncle, James, in Ghana, who works as an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor at the Tamale Teaching Hospital there.

Before going to Africa, my only out-of-country excursions had been to countries in Europe. I hadn’t experienced a developing country, and I hadn’t seen extreme poverty. I was a little nervous to travel there, but I wanted to experience the different culture and learn as much as I could.

During my trip, one of my biggest takeaways was how different life in Africa is from my life in the United States. While in Tamale, the electrical power often went out as I was trying to send emails and we had to boil our water before drinking it.

I stayed in my great uncle’s house during my stay in Ghana, so I didn’t experience what it’s like to live in poverty. However, when I was there, I saw beggars, young kids selling fruit, and extensive malnutrition among the children. What I saw in Ghana was much different than what I experienced in Europe.

This trip changed my life. The people I met were less well off than the people I know in the United States, but they looked on the bright side and chose to enjoy life.

During my trip, I spent some time observing the Shekinah Clinic, which provides free food and health service for the poor and destitute. This Shekinah clinic was founded by Dr. David Abdoulai, a doctor who was selfless beyond measure. The clinic is now run by Dr. Abdoulai’s widow, who I greatly admire. While visiting the clinic, I watched her deal with conflict with grace.

As I was observing at this clinic, a young man walked in for a check up with Dr. Turner, who is the lead doctor at the clinic. Dr. Turner asked the young man when he was born; after thinking for several seconds, the young man said he didn’t know. Then, he showed Dr. Turner a bruise on his leg from 2008 that hadn’t healed, and Dr. Turner said it was because he was malnutritioned.

The clinic greatly touched me. I can’t help the clinic medically, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help. Traveling to the Shakinah clinic inspired me; I now want to start donating to the clinic regularly. 

I hope everyone can find a cause that they are passionate about. It doesn’t take traveling to a different country to find a way to help people. There are people all over the world who are in need.

I loved my time in Ghana. Even though my trip to Ghana was filled with multiple delays, leaving Ghana was more difficult. It’s an experience I’ll always cherish.

If you get the chance, you should spend some time traveling. Traveling to Ghana opened my mind up to the world around me, and it might do the same for you.

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