FAQ

What Medical Advice do I Need?

Students should get the latest medical advice on inoculations and malaria prevention before coming to Ghana from their physician. Malaria risk exists all year round. Immunization against yellow fever, polio and typhoid are usually recommended, but please consult your physician prior to travel. Other recommended vaccinations can be found at the Center for Disease Control website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ghana.htm

Is it safe to volunteer in Ghana?

One of the key reasons for using Elective Ghana to facilitate and organize your elective or volunteering in Ghana is that we will do everything we can to ensure you are safe during your time abroad. Ghana is one of the safest countries in Africa. We ensure you are placed in safe environment and you will be very well looked after while volunteering in Ghana. Ghanaians are very warm and friendly towards visitors. Irrespective of the laudable hospitality of Ghanaians, we still advice that students on their private (unofficial) travels take good care of themselves and their belongings wherever they find themselves. We assumes no liability for items lost or other misfortunes encountered during such off-program tours although we would offer every available support within our means in the event of such a problem.

Do you cater for groups or other specialist volunteers such as professionals?

Yes we do. All of our programs are suitable for any type of volunteer and even those who are traveling as a group. However we also tailor programs for groups and individuals seeking to volunteer in specialized programs that may not be part of our standard projects. So whether you are a group, a researcher or a student seeking to volunteer in a specific area, we will design a program for you. For these volunteers, we ask you to contact us so that we may get in touch with you and begin working with you to develop a program that will meet your specific requirements.

Can I do more than one placement?

Yes you can, starting with the Teaching/Urban Hospitals and ending with the rural hospitals. This is especially so for those who will be volunteering for more than 3 months. Working in multiple placements can give you a chance to experience different aspects of Ghana and thus enhance your overall volunteer experience.

What happens when we first arrive?

This depends on your arrival at the airport. If you fly to Kotoka International Airport, we pick you up at the airport and drive you to the city centre (our safe student housing) or any other hotel of your choice where you stay and relax overnight. Students are required to send flight details prior to their traveling dates. Please note that if you arrive in Accra, you will be paying the cost of overnight stay at a hotel in the city or the student hostel. We cover the cost of airport pick up and transfer.

Where will I stay?

Our participants live in student housing, by default, but upon request we do arrange a Ghanaian host family. For student housing, you get to spend time with likeminded people, and you have a house that you can call home for your duration in the program. You have a place that has the peer environment to unwind and get to spend time with colleagues. For those who prefer host family, we believe that goes a long way in giving volunteers greater insight into the lives and culture of Ghanaians and thus enriching the volunteer experience. We make efforts whenever possible to accommodate specific requests that a volunteer may have with regards to their preferred accommodation.

Do I have to speak Twi?

No you do not. You will get along extremely well with just English. However, it is helpful to learn some basic words and phrases of Twi and this is covered during our training and orientation program.

How is the Ghanaian food?

There is real variety in Ghana regarding food. Most families eat a combination of fish, chicken and beef with mostly beans and rice. Food for vegetarians is often limited. The numerous restaurants available offer both local and continental dishes and in the cities you can get pretty much everything like you do in your home country. At the request of students, special arrangement could be made towards preparation of food for students but the cost involved would be borne solely by the requesting student or students. Cost per meal for such arranged preparation is $ 3.00.

Foods served during your volunteer period include traditional Ghanaian foods like Banku and Okra soup (cooked corn/maize dough and okra soup), Red Red (cooked beans with red oil and fried ripe plantain), Fufu and Light Soup (pounded cassava and plantain, with spicy meat/fish/chicken soup), Boiled Yam/Plantain with Palava Sauce (green, leafy, red oil stew), Kenkey and Rep Pepper (cooked corn/maize dough with fried fish and ground chili).

Ghanaian meals also consist of other universal dishes such as beef, chicken, fish, rice and pasta. French fries, burgers, pizza etc are available in restaurants and hotels. Breakfast usually consists of bread, eggs and tea. Fruits and vegetables abound in Ghana and feature frequently in menu preparations. Ghanaian-grown coffee and tea are common beverages.

What if I am Vegetarian?

We have enough food variety even for vegetarians. Eggs and beans are easy to find and are incorporated into many dishes. We just need to know your special needs in advance.

Is it safe to drink the tap water in Ghana?

It is generally recommended that you drink bottled water during your volunteer stay in Ghana and whilst upcountry or traveling. You can buy bottled water from any supermarket and most shops in Ghana. The most common water-borne diseases in Ghana are typhoid, cholera and dysentery. Other less common ones include gastroenteritis and amoebiasis. We have a constant supply of clean water in the water cooler in our student housing.

How can I communicate with home from abroad?

When you arrive we will help you get local SIM cards for your mobile phones. It’s very cheap to communicate via phone (voice and sms) from Ghana to other parts of the world. Alternatively, we will show you where the nearest internet cafe is so you can send emails.

Is it possible to stay longer?

Yes. We can normally increase time at a project, including accommodation, with advanced notice. You must, however, be aware that a longer stay may necessitate a visa extension and extra cost.

What’s not included in the price?

Please note that the fees stated on this web page do not cater for feeding, accommodation, travel insurance, flights, visa fees, work permits, airport taxes, vaccinations, day to day expenses in terms of food, bottled water, travels, snacks and soft drinks etc. These are solely the responsibility of the volunteer and elective student.

What’s the food like?

There is real variety in Ghana regarding food. In the cities you can get pretty much everything like you do in your home country. Most families eat a combination of fish, chicken and beef with mostly beans and rice. Food for vegetarians is often limited. The numerous restaurants available offer both local and continental dishes. At the request of students, special arrangement could be made towards preparation of food for students but the cost involved would be borne solely by the requesting student or students. Cost per meal for such arranged preparation is $ 3.00

How do I get a Visa?

Contact Ghana Embassy in your country for a Visa. Pretty much, all foreigners require a passport and a visa to enter the country. We however strongly encourage our volunteers to obtain their visas before they depart from their country as it is more convenient, and saves time.

When will my placement be fully confirmed?

We will confirm your placement, based on the availability of placement sites and the dates of your elective, via email. When possible, you should contact us at least 6 months to a year prior to your arrival to enable us to fully set your program. As places are limited it is only fair to give them to those serious about going You must send us your flight itinerary so that we can pick you up from the airport and can confirm your dates of elective. Upon arrival, you will pay the $150 placement organization fee to the Elective Ghana coordinator. This is the last step to confirm your placement, and you will not be sent to your elective site until Elective Ghana is paid in full.

What clothes will I use in the Hospital?

Medical Or Pre Medical Students are required to come with their Scrubs. In addition, students should bring appropriate hospital attire for ward rounds and clinic duties.

Can I use my Visa Card On Arrival?

There are several ATM facilities that accept Visa/Mastercard in Accra. In the country, Visa ATMs are abundant, but Mastercard ATMs are harder to find. For this reason, we recommend bringing a Visa ATM card. Elective Ghana will facilitate getting you to a bank to get money before we send you to your elective placement sites.

Is it safe to go shopping in Ghana?

Accra & Kumasi are major metropolitan areas and the largest cities in Ghana. It has a selection of shopping malls and large supermarkets that will cater for most of your shopping needs. However, like any big city, it has criminal elements and we ask all our volunteers to apply common sense. While out, do not wear any expensive clothing and excessive jewelry. Avoid dark or isolated alleys and always take a taxi after dark. Common criminal incidents involve snatching of purses, watches and jewelry. It is safe to shop in most cities. We shall recommend and guide you regarding appropriate areas to shop and visit during your volunteer orientation and training.

What other safety issues should I be aware of?

There is real poverty in the developing world and you are likely to be more fortunate than most local people you meet. You will probably attract souvenir hawkers as well as street children and beggars in smaller towns. Be sure to take some precautions such as:

  • Have a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
  • Do not walk on your own at night in the major cities.
  • Do not wear excessive or expensive jewelry.
  • Do not carry a lot of cash with you.
  • Do not carry a lot of camera/electronic equipment.
  • Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
  • More safety issues will be discussed at your orientation.

What clothing is appropriate?

Bring along some comfortable, casual and semi-casual clothing such as sweat/T shirts, shorts, jeans, skirts and any other clothing that you would ordinarily wear. Include warm clothing for nights, especially if you volunteer in the rainy season and cold seasons (March to November). When out in the community, it is good to follow local etiquette. Dressing in Ghana is quite liberal, but women should not wear shorts or skirts that are above the knee. Approach dressing with cultural sensitivity in mind and you will be fine. Avoid excessively flashy or revealing items.

Please ask when you are not sure what is and is not appropriate. Footwear can be any comfortable walking shoes such as sports shoes. It is also advised to carry a pair of open-toed sandals, especially for those who will be volunteering in the hot season (December to February). Carry a few smart outfits for special occasions that you might be part of e.g. dinners or parties.

What do I need to pack?

Volunteers need to bring their own towels, toiletries and other personal effects. Please note that volunteers are responsible for their own laundry. It is safe to bring your hair dryers, shavers and other electrical products. Other suggested items:

  • Medical School ID: You must bring your medical school photo ID with you. Your medical school ID will grant you registered student status at your placement.
  • Up-to-date vaccinations: yellow fever vaccination is required to get a visa to Ghana. Other recommended vaccinations can be found at the Center for Disease Control website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ghana.htm
  • Malaria Precautions (anti-malarial prophylaxis, bed-nets, insect repellent).
  • Cell Phone: unlock your cell phone before you come and Elective Ghana will provide a Ghanaian SIM card for your use which must be returned before your departure
  • Luggage that is easy to carry. We recommend a hiking backpack over other types.
  • Clothing: In general, bring professional clothing that you would wear in your home hospital. For leisure time, it is recommended for women to wear knee length shorts and skirts (or pants). Shorter skirts and shorts are not appropriate in many of the rural communities you will be staying.
  • White coat (Teaching Hospitals only): You are required to bring your own white coat if your placement is at the Teaching Hospitals since one must be worn at all times during patient contact. We do not provide coats. We encourage interaction with the Ghanaian Medical Students to enrich your placement at the Teaching Hospitals.
  • Stethoscope
  • Penlight and Spotlight
  • Merck Manual or other clinical reference
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Hat
  • Basic medical kit (e.g. aspirins, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic cream, and anti-histamine cream, etc.).
  • Adapter plugs and converters for electrical appliances.
  • Hairdryers and Shavers.
  • A few really good paperbacks you haven’t started yet.
  • Assorted photos of family and friends. Not for you, but for your host community. They’ll love these, as it gives them a better sense of who you are.
  • A journal to document your experience.
  • Earplugs
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance

What about electricity supply for laptops, Hairdryers, etc?

The electricity supply in Ghana is 220/240 volts/50 Hz (240V 50 Hz D & G). The electric sockets are three-pin square. Countries with different voltages and frequencies will need a power converter. It is important to check this as incorrect use may damage your equipment. Check your electrical equipment to see if you will need a power converter and/or a plug adapter. Volunteers may purchase power converters in their home countries or here in Ghana. For plug adapters, these are widely available in shops and supermarkets all over the country. We advise volunteers to purchase them after arrival in the country and after confirming what type of sockets they have in their accommodation facility.

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