Elon students visit Ghana with Global Medical Brigades

Ashley Meerbergen and Associate Professor Angela Owusu-Ansah led the group as part of a 10-day visit to provide medical relief to villagers while learning about local cultures.

Students traveled to Ghana from Aug. 4-15 as part of Elon University's Global Medical Brigades.
Twenty students traveled to Ghana last month with Elon University’s Global Medical Brigades, bringing supplies, medications and a pediatrician for a makeshift medical clinic in a small West African village.

The Aug. 4-15 visit included included four days of clinic, two days of door-to-door community visits, and several days of preparation, education and sightseeing.

Led by chapter president Ashley Meerbergen and Associate Professor Angela Owusu-Ansah, associate dean of the School of Education, students were guided by the international nonprofit organization Global Brigades, a student-led health and sustainable development organization with a mission of empowering volunteers and under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities.

In the community of Akwakrom, in the central region of Ghana, the Elon students set up an intensive health care clinic, consisting of six major stations through which the community members would pass. These included triage, physician consultation, dental, OB/GYN, public health and pharmacy. Working through translators and local physicians, the students interacted with the community, learned about Ghanaian culture, and gained medical experience and knowledge from Ghanaian physicians, pharmacists and American pediatrician Lucia Benzoni of Litchfield, Conn.

Many students said they felt as though the highlight of the trip was learning about the community’s culture and bonding with the diverse group of community members.

“Throughout the course of the brigade, most of us thought we were helping the villagers,” said Elon junior, Nicandro Mandujano. “However, we came to realize that they in fact were helping us have a different look at life.”

Students said their experience in Ghana was eye-opening in many respects and gave them new ways to look at their own lives, experience at Elon, and how they want to spend their time in the future.

“This experience has reignited the spark in me towards pursuing a career in medicine,” said Elon junior Joseph Incorvia. “I now have a new perspective on what privilege is to me and we are all incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be here at Elon with the ability to do whatever we set our minds to.”

Elon University’s Global Medical Brigades is preparing for another brigade to Ghana next summer. Students with interest in participating should contact Ashley Meerbergen at ameerbergen@elon.edu.

For more information about Global Brigades as a whole, check out http://www.globalbrigades.org/.