In conversation, hearing of almost forty nursing students and four professors travelling to rural African communities to live and work for five weeks may seem like a humanitarian mission.
But the five-week practicum experience for UBCO nursing students and their professors in Ghana and Zambia is not just a trip about helping.
For the nursing students, the trip to Africa is about the larger theme of global health, which is an experience that both the African communities and the visitors from UBCO will learn from.
“The practicum is a very collaborative experience, it’s not one sided,” said Maggie Bannerman, who will now be visiting Ghana as a nursing professor after experiencing the trip as nursing student years ago.
“In fact, I find the UBCO students will probably learn more from the Ghanaian people than vice versa.”
For the nursing students, this adventure of a lifetime is part of a five-week practicum that will see the two groups of students spend time in rural communities and nursing schools in Ghana and Zambia.
The students will work alongside health professionals in the local hospitals and clinics, as well as teaching sex education classes at local schools, but mostly the students are there to help the residents of the African communities with whatever they need to build a healthier life.
“For the students, their assessment skills and understanding of global and public health will grow immensely, that's what the African communities will teach our students,” explained Bannerman.
It may be hard for the average North American to comprehend the state of the health system in much Sub-Saharan Africa. During their practicum, the students interact with people who are dying from illnesses that could have been prevented with better access to health care, or be cured with surgery, antibiotics or other medications.
The practicum serves as a reminder that while Canada’s health care system may not be perfect, it still does an excellent job of serving the Canadian people.
“We have social work services, diagnostic tools, antibiotics,” reminded Bannerman.
“The trip really opens your eyes to the benefits of living in a country like Canada."
Bannerman and her group of nursing students leave for Africa on March 6th.
Those interested in supporting health initiatives in Ghana and Zambia can help fundraising efforts by clicking here.