Does two weeks in the hot sun swatting away pesky flies, tunneling your way through thick fields of millet and praying your fragile grasp of the local language is enough to get you from Point A to Point B sound like an amazing time?
For Ghana PCVs it does!
For the last year and half, volunteers from across the country have made the trek north – waaay north – to the tiny district of Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo to assist in the CDC and the Noguchi Institute’s study on Anemia and Parasitaemia (A&P) rates in IRS zones. PCVs have acted as field assistants, supervising the ten, four-person teams that operate in the district, traveling to randomly picked villages and households to interview mothers and test (and treat) children for malaria parasites. Volunteers engage in checking field notes, sorting and tracking preliminary data, and providing moral support and comic relief to the work-worn nurses and translators who still can’t quite grasp why these foreign kids seem to enjoy working so hard without getting any pay. Ghana PCVs have also added invaluable data to the overall project such as a side study on outdoor sleeping patterns and GPS mapping of communities and A&P prevalence throughout the entire district.
Because of the unique nature of Peace Corps service, volunteers have been able to quickly adapt to the harsh conditions and sometimes frenetic-sometimes sluggish work pace to become effective members of the team. They establish solid rapport with the Ghanaian staff and can stomach the hot drinking water and local cuisine with only a mild grimace. Most of all, they appreciate that the hard work is providing them with a valuable learning experience in the field of malaria epidemiology. This April, a new set of four volunteers will return to the field to complete the sixth and final round of the study, continuing a rewarding and fruitful partnership with their CDC and Noguchi colleagues.