Leila (1/3) “There were chickens running through the hospital in Ghana”

The “do it yourself” was the decisive factor

When I was 16 I’ve spent six months in America. That was the first time that I was away all alone.

I think what has changed a lot for me was that my parents said “If you want to go to America there is money that you would get when you are 18 and it is the only financial resource. You can decide whether you want it now or when you’re 18 but you organize your stay in America yourself”.

The “do it yourself” was the decisive factor.

I went to fairs, I’ve informed myself everywhere and doing something like that by yourself when you’re 16 and that I did decided everything alone was super important to me.

I think that it also developed the thought “I can do it alone.”

After I graduated school I’ve first done the training as a paramedic because I couldn’t get into medical studies right away. After that, I realized that I really want to go away again. Then everything happened very quickly and quite spontaneously and it took only one month until my departure to Ghana.

I went to Ghana and my stay there was organized by a small organization from Cologne. One of the reasons (of going to Ghana) was because it is one of the few English-speaking West African countries.

I have been conveyed to a hospital and I had a host family where I could live. That was my first really intense experience. I had the feeling that I know a little about Africa because I have been to South Africa but there (in Ghana) I experienced Africa quite differently.

Before, I’ve consciously got to myself few ideas. I tried not to develop expectations and then be disappointed. And everything went so fast. I’ve thrown myself in there so rushed and had not much time to think about it before my departure.

Living situation in Ghana


The house in which I have lived with my host family was built of stone and had a corrugated iron roof. There were pipes but no water came out. I had to go to the well and get water.

It was amazing how quickly you get used to it because the life around fits to it. If I had to go to a well in Germany to get water I would ask myself “why?”

You wash everything by hand. Washing machines don’t exist. You have to get rid of a certain standard. You have to renounce on something like that.

You must be able to give up the luxury you have at home. There I had, for example, a foam mattress on a few planks. It was not comfortable. There was no hot water. There is no hot water coming out of the well.

Working in a hospital in Ghana

The hospital where I worked was probably one of the better hospitals. Unfortunately I have not seen any other hospital because I was not in the capital. There are teaching hospitals with more western standard.

If you were lucky there were gloves, sometimes there weren’t. Luckily I had my own gloves. I also brought face masks.

There were chickens running through the hospital. You just have learned everything about hygiene in your paramedic training and then you arrive there and think to yourself “oh chickens!”

There is constantly no electricity, many diseases.

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