My summer in Ghana

Having recently graduated, I found myself at a loss for what to do with the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to work within the health field, but aside from the usual paths of medicine, dentistry or scientific research, none of which appealed to me, I had very little idea of the options available to me.

I decided, like many others in my position, to take some time out and do some internships.

I came across the Tzedek internship and knew this was something I'd love to do. Interning for a year would be a challenge, but the prospect of spending five months in Ghana was too exciting to ignore.

Tzedek is a Jewish international development charity, which works in the UK Jewish community to educate about extreme poverty, as well as funding small vocational training projects in Africa and India to help people living in some of the poorest communities. British Jewish students have been visiting some of these projects every summer for the past 19 years, spending their holidays volunteering in Africa or India.

This year, students will work with local NGOs in Tamale, Northern Ghana. Amongst other opportunities, they will be teaching English in schools, helping to teach computer literacy skills to local workers or working in the local health centre, interestingly named "Shechina health centre". While on the Tzedek overseas volunteering programme, students have the opportunity to learn Jewish ideas about poverty and discuss controversial topics within the international development field, such as Fair-trade and the "drop the debt" campaign.

Participants will visit the elephants at Mole National Park, learn how to cook Ghanaian recipes, watch African dancing and drumming and maybe even meet a few chiefs. I can't wait to fully embrace Ghanaian culture during my time in Tamale. I will be spending my time visiting schools, filming beneficiaries of the Tzedek funded projects and preparing for the volunteer programme. I also hope to visit a community of 70 families in a remote village in West Ghana, who practice Judaism, keeping Shabbat and kosher and who learn Torah from Jewish visitors to their small synagogue.

I have been inspired by my experiences so far in the UK, working with schools, JSocs and youth movements educating about extreme poverty. As part of this year's Tzedek fundraiser, "Dare yourself", I dared myself to live on a pound a day for 5 days. Although this was a huge challenge, my dare succeeded in raising awareness of extreme poverty and the fact that 1.4 billion people live on less than this a day, every day. I also raised £1,000 for Tzedek projects in Africa and India.

I am now hoping to pursue a career in health education, particularly in the developing world. My time at Tzedek in the UK has been invaluable and I know myfive months in Ghana will be fascinating.

It's not too late to join me in Ghana. To volunteer this summer, email leah@tzedek.org.uk to find out more.

Hannah Gaventa is a King’s College London graduate with a degree in biomedical sciences. Read her blog r here.

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    Last updated: 11:14am, April 25 2012