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Ghana Summer Camp 2006

Project Dates: August 3-17, 2006

Youth Corps staff at the 2006 Ghana Summer Camp

Ghana Camp Volunteers Experience Challenges

by Melvin Rhodes

Before they even got on the plane, the six Youth Corps volunteers (Laura Beth Childers, Zachary Smith, Francesca Nixon, Mark Mirigian, Michal Lisa Capo and Kirsten Korthuis) headed to Ghana's annual summer camp were learning some serious lessons about the hazards of modern travel.

We all woke up Aug. 10, departure day, to hear of chaos at London's Heathrow Airport as a result of a terrorist scare. British police had intercepted a plot to blow up 10 to 15 jumbo jets.

As a result of the terrorist scare, new rules were introduced on hand luggage. The result was long delays at some airports. For the eight of us going to Ghana, our flights from the United States were delayed as were flights from London to Accra. Michal Lisa did not make the connection and had to fly to Accra a day later.

Four of our volunteers had to wait 10 days for their luggage, so finding replacement clothes and toiletries in Ghana was a priority. Included in their luggage was some of the equipment needed for the summer camp. We simply had to make do. The soccer balls and Frisbees can always be used next year!
Eventually, everybody made it and we were in Accra ready to see some of Ghana en route to Kumasi, the venue for our annual summer camps.

Ghana youth campers enjoying a meal

In Kumasi, we were able to buy the clothes needed. The camp was held at Prempeh College. Staff stayed at the Freeman Center, a guest house run by the Methodist Church. We had 100 campers from around Ghana and 30 volunteers helping.

Everything went well on the first day, but then three of the four girl volunteers from the United States got sick. The two guys were fine and remained so.
Laura Beth had to go to the hospital when dehydration became a problem, and she was not able to keep anything down, including fluids. They gave her an IV, which helped her build up her fluids. After one night they released her, but she needed to return as she continued to dehydrate. Francesca, the only girl not to get sick, was able to stay with her.

When a blood test showed that Laura Beth had been bitten by a mosquito, the doctors and nurses began to treat her for malaria, which was actually making her dehydration problem worse. The malaria pills led to more vomiting and diarrhea. It became necessary to take her to Accra, from where it was hoped she could get a flight home to continue further treatment for dehydration.

It took us all day but we made it, just in time to get the two last seats on a British Airways flight out of Ghana. Two of the girls left. Kirsten, who was also sick with a stomach bug, tried to leave on KLM but there were no spare seats, so she had to remain for a further 48 hours.

Every year, we all have to come together to help each other, but this year the bonding that took place was that much greater. We worked very well together as a team.

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