In July 2016, we sat down with veteran strategic planner Dana Letts, of New Mexico USA, to brainstorm our goals and vision in starting a non-profit. We had just finished our first healthcare mission, a dental mission that served over 300 people with free dental care. Our question was “how do we make healthcare in Ghana sustainable?” We completed the strategizing process with a mission, vision, and goals.
In August 2016 we officially became a U.S. non-profit organization and attained 501c3 status in September 2016. Since then, we’ve organized and led healthcare missions in October 2016, April 2017, August 2017, and October 2017. Since our first mission in June 2016, Healthy Villages, Inc. has provided totally free healthcare for 4134 villagers living in remote, impoverished villages in Ghana’s Volta Region.
We’ve been able to do this by bringing in volunteer teams of licensed healthcare providers from the U.S. and Canada to work alongside our Ghana-based medical team in an outreach setting. The volunteers make a “minimum required donation” to Healthy Villages which covers their in-country expenses and pays for our staff, medications, and our administrative costs. Their donation is tax deductible.
Providing free care to over 4000 people is quite an accomplishment, of which we are justifiably proud. However, we recognize that outreach missions do not provide a sustainable means of providing follow-up care and medication management. This is an area for continued development as we move forward into 2018.
The year is winding down – just 26 days to go until 2018! Please consider Healthy Villages, Inc. for your end of year charitable giving. We operate our healthcare missions on a shoestring. With additional donations, we can expand the work we do to support specific projects that will make a difference in the lives of poor villagers in Ghana.
One such project is being piloted alongside our Women’s Health Mission in February 2018. Right now, we have a group of dedicated and enthusiastic ladies (and two men!) who are sewing 600 kits of washable and reusable sanitary pads for donation to schoolgirls in the villages. A lack of suitable menstrual hygiene products is a major cause of school dropout, early pregnancy and marriage, and a continuation of the cycle of poverty.
Each kit will contain ten pads, two moisture-proof shields to prevent leakage, two pair of undies, a washcloth, a bottle of body wash, and pain reliever. That’s 6000 pads and 1200 shields they’re sewing, and they’re also taking up collections of the other items in local churches and workplaces. What an undertaking!
We would love to be able to continue this project, having the pads sewn here in Ghana by local seamstresses. This would supply much-needed work to support these hardworking women who are often the only breadwinner for their family. But that takes organizational support, the ability to purchase the needed fabrics, and wages for the seamstresses… and that requires money. Plain and simple.
Long story short, there’s a lot of need we can fill, with the money to do it.
Here are several ways you can donate:
Website – using the ‘donate’ button on any of the pages. Your donation is secure through PayPal.
Facebook – using the ‘donate’ button on our FB page – facebook.com/healthyvillagesghana/
Amazon Smile – log in to Amazon Smile to make your Amazon purchases, and designate Healthy Villages, Inc. as your chosen charity. We get a small percentage of your purchase amount from Amazon.
eBay for Charity – go to eBay for Charity and designate Healthy Villages, Inc. – we get a small percentage of your eBay transactions.
Personal check or money order – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get an address to send it to.
Buy a beautiful, 100% made in Ghana, batik scrub top by following this link:
All profits go to Healthy Villages, Inc. These also make great casual shirts with an African flair!
Come on a fundraising tour of Ghana! You’ll have the option of participating in healthcare or other community development activities, and afterwards we’ll take you on a great tour of the country! These are fundraising trips to benefit Healthy Villages, Inc. programs. See the Fundraising Tours page for more information!
Interested in joining us for a mission in 2018? Your knowledge and expertise is needed! Please go to the Health Missions page for information on the mission, travel, and costs!
December 1 is the day set aside to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS around the world. I'm old enough to remember when AIDS first came on the scene in the U.S., and what a horror it was. According to the website worldaidsday.org, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS was first identified in 1984. Since then, more than 35 million people have died from HIV or AIDS. Worldwide, 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. The numbers are staggering. HIV/AIDS has been one of the "most destructive pandemics in history."
According to the website, WorldLifeExpectency.com all but five African countries are rated as having a "high" death rate due to HIV/AIDS - the other five are close to the "high" level. In fact, most of the countries of the world with a "high" death rate from HIV/AIDS are on the African continent. This website lists Lesotho with the highest death rate from this disease - 761.77 deaths per 100,000 people. Ghana ranks #34 worldwide for HIV/AIDS deaths at 49.9 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. has 2.2 deaths from HIV/AIDS per 100,000 people.
As I write this, it’s hard to believe that less than two weeks ago I was in Ghana, and we were just completing our final health mission of 2017! We had another successful mission, and again, we learned a lot about the health of folks living in remote villages and how we can best impact their wellbeing in a positive way.
Our mission team consisted of a Canadian doctorate-level nurse practitioner and her 13-year old daughter, two RNs from the U.S., and our seven Ghana Health Service personnel (pharmacist, physician assistant, EMT, and community health nurses) who assist with prescribing, dispensing medications, explaining tropical illnesses to our volunteers, and language interpretation. On the organizational side, we had three staff providing us with delicious, nutritious meals and doing our laundry, and Godfried and I keeping everything organized and running smoothly. Together, we were able to examine and treat a total of 650 patients – 590 girls and women ages 10 to 99, and 60 young children that their moms had brought for care. We set up our outreach clinic in three different communities for two days each. This report focuses on the girls and women we saw.
Our team of three RNs from the U.S., and one doctorate level nurse practitioner from Canada and her 13-year old daughter, will be arriving soon to head out into the remote villages of Ghana’s Volta Region to evaluate and treat women patients. This will be our first mission devoted solely to adolescent girls and women.
In addition to assessing and treating our patients for everything from bodily aches and pains to severe illnesses like malaria, we’ll be testing for diabetes and high blood pressure, and providing enough medication to last until they can access ongoing treatment. We’ll also be testing for pregnancy, when warranted, and providing prenatal vitamins to all pregnant and early post-partum women (a huge thank you goes out to the non-profit organization, Vitamin Angels, for providing 198 pregnant and lactating women with vitamins to improve the health of them and their babies!).
If women present with symptoms indicative of HIV, or request testing, they’ll be confidentially tested. If positive, they’ll be referred to the municipal hospital HIV clinic, where they can get free medication and counseling. There’s a big push in Ghana to get the word out that HIV is not a death sentence – and that treatment is free and confidential. However, women are concerned about the stigma attached to having HIV, and being ostracized by their village. It’s a hurdle to overcome in slowing the rates of HIV in Ghana. We hope to make a positive impact on this challenging public health issue.
This will be the first of two back to back women’s health missions – the next is from February 24 – March 8, 2018. On our 2018 Women’s Health Mission, we’ll be distributing 500 kits of washable and reusable sanitary pads to schoolgirls in the Volta Region, as well as providing medical care for these young girls and other girls and women in the villages. If you’re interested in joining this, or any of our other healthcare missions in 2018, please go to the Health Missions page of our website and click on any of the dates to read all about the mission, and get information on pricing and travel.
Oh, and you read that right in the first paragraph! The teenage daughter of our NP will be our photographer, videographer, and publicist, as well as assisting the team in other ways. It’s sure to be a life-changing experience for everyone, but especially for this brave young lady.
Stay tuned for trip updates!
Interested in joining us for a mission in 2018? Your knowledge and expertise is needed! Please go to this link for information on the mission, travel, and costs:
Support the work of Healthy Villages, Inc. by purchasing one of these awesome scrubs tops, made in Ghana from Ghanaian batik fabric! Profits go to Healthy Villages, Inc., to buy medications for our missions.
10 great reasons why coming on a healthcare mission to Ghana in 2018 should be at the top of your to-do list:
1. Use your skills and professional expertise to improve the lives of those less fortunate. We treat around 1000 people during a mission – you will make a huge impact!
2. Share your knowledge with your colleagues here in Ghana – it’s a continuing education event for our Ghana-based staff!
3. Learn to recognize and treat tropical diseases you never encountered in your training. One day, you may get a patient from a tropical part of the world and know just what to do!
4. Experience life in a developing country – an eye-opening experience for everyone who volunteers with us. We will do our best to make your time with us comfortable and safe, and we’ll advise you on immunizations and medications to stay healthy while you’re here.
5. Learn about a different culture, try new foods, even learn a few words in the local language! Co-director Godfried loves to share the history of Ghana and West Africa, and will happily explain anything you wonder about cultural practices.
6. Support the work of Healthy Villages, Inc. and take a tax deduction – your payment is a donation to our organization from which we pay your travel costs, lodging, food, our staff, and medications for patients, and is fully tax deductible in countries recognizing U.S. registered non-profits.
7. Volunteer tourism options – we also lead short missions with most of your trip devoted to sightseeing in different areas of the country. Ghana is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage, and we will show you the best of it! These trips are fundraisers for Healthy Villages, Inc. and are also tax deductible.
8. Come as a volunteer, leave as family! – you’ll make friendships that will last a lifetime, having shared an amazing experience.
9. Share your experience with friends and family back home – you’ll be amazed how many people will support you, both financially and emotionally. They’ll look forward to your trip report when you return. Your volunteering will give them the chance to do some armchair travel, while knowing they supported a worthy cause. We’ll give you tips from successful fundraisers, too.
10. And finally, HAVE FUN! Even on our longer missions, we’ll take you to local sites of interest, open air markets where you can buy lots of beautiful handicrafts and souvenirs, to the beach, and more!
Interested in joining us for a mission in 2018? Your knowledge and expertise is needed! Please go to the following link for information on the missions, travel, and costs:
Support the work of Healthy Villages, Inc. by purchasing one of these awesome scrubs tops, made in Ghana from Ghanaian batik fabric! Profits go to Healthy Villages, Inc., to buy medications for our missions!
Follow this link to order: https://nurseborn.com/product/batik-scrub-tops/
Mark your calendars! November 14, 2018 is World Diabetes Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of this debilitating and life-threatening condition. Healthy Villages, Inc. is organizing a medical mission centered around diabetes detection, treatment, and prevention, taking place from November 3-15. This will be a general medical mission for all ages, male and female. Our hope is to test all adults’ blood sugar and provide all with elevated blood sugar with enough medication to last them until they can connect with their nearest health clinic for management of their illness.
In our population of patients, high blood sugar and high blood pressure seem to go hand in hand – together they’re truly a silent killer. Most people are unaware they have these conditions. Getting regular medical care is a challenge for poor people living in rural or remote areas, and many people would rather not know the diagnosis because they believe they have no way to treat it. Our Ghana-based medical staff will help them get on Ghana’s national health care and make a referral to a clinic where they can be further assessed and treated for both of these dangerous conditions.
Another diabetes-related issue concerns nutrition awareness. The normal diet here in Ghana is centered around large amounts of carbohydrates and little protein. Additionally, heavy drinking particularly amongst men contributes to carbohydrate overload (not to mention damage to the pancreas). Meeting the patient where they’re at and encouraging small, step by step changes is so important to long-term diabetes treatment.
Interested in joining us for this mission? Your knowledge and expertise is needed! Please go to the following link for information on the mission, travel, and costs:
Support the work of Healthy Villages, Inc. by purchasing one of these awesome scrubs tops, made in Ghana from Ghanaian batik fabric! Profits go to Healthy Villages, Inc., to buy medications for our missions! (available in five beautiful colors!)
Here at Healthy Villages, Inc., our focus now turns to women’s health. Our next two missions, next month (October 22-November 3) and in February/March of next year, are devoted to women and girls. Females living in poverty throughout the world have particular life challenges, and these needs are also a factor here in the remote villages in Ghana.
One issue faced by adolescent girls and women is something that women in the ‘developed world’ don’t even consider – a lack of menstrual hygiene products. When I think about going to a supermarket or drug store in the U.S., where an entire aisle is devoted to the numerous brands and types of pads and tampons, all at a reasonable price, it makes the situation for girls and women in the villages seem quite dire indeed. What menstruating female wants to have to worry every month about how to handle her monthly flow? Some of the villages we work in are many miles from the nearest market where hygiene products would be available. The cost of the products, plus the cost of transportation to get there, plus the time to get there to buy them, is overwhelming to poor women. It’s not like most of us ‘westerners’ have experienced - a ten-minute, middle of the night run to the nearest 24-hour supermarket to pick up those needed supplies. You kinda have to be here to see what I mean. (Come on a mission with us and you’ll get it! See the HEALTH MISSIONS page for details.)
Then there’s a lack of basic education about menstruation, and other women’s health concerns. The Ghana Health Service is working to break down the taboos around openly talking about what happens at puberty, sexual health, HIV, family planning, and so many issues that directly affect women. We are looking forward to bringing that conversation to our female patients in the villages in the months ahead.
To address menstrual hygiene, one of our board members in the U.S. has organized a project to sew 500 kits of washable, re-usable pads. Each kit will contain 10 pads, and other necessities needed during ‘that time of the month.’ The pads are really beautiful, and how exciting that the groups putting the kits together have stepped forward so readily to help girls here in Ghana. Their rallying cry is “THIS IS FOR THE GIRLS!” How awesome is that!
Three of our women nursing staff here in Ghana are organizing educational events for the schoolgirls who will receive the kits. We’re focusing on girls of adolescent age, and our nurses all feel a special desire to be friends and mentors to these young girls as they move into womanhood, with the hopes that they will be empowered to continue their schooling, and reach their highest potential. Too often, the simple need for menstrual hygiene products prevents girls from attending class, causing them to miss up to a week of instruction each month.
Both in October and February, we’ll be conducting medical missions devoted to women. Some of the major health concerns we’ve noted in past missions are diabetes, high blood pressure, malaria, respiratory and urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), and general body pain. We can’t solve all these problems during a short mission, but we can diagnose the issue, get the patient started on medication, and refer them to the nearest clinic where they can receive ongoing care, if needed. As we continue to develop as an organization, we plan to make a more sustainable impact on health management in the villages where we work.
This brings me to our continuing quest for funding. It’s challenging, as a new organization, to get the needed funding to continue and improve on our efforts in the villages. However, the more missions we complete, and the more of a track record we develop, the higher the likelihood that we will receive funding from a major foundation that will allow us to grow. In the meantime, private contributions are both welcome and needed. Here are several ways you can support our work:
AMAZON SMILE – Make your Amazon purchases through Amazon Smile, and designate Healthy Villages, Inc. as the charitable organization you’re supporting. Amazon donates a percentage of your purchase amount to us.
EBAY FOR CHARITY – Follow this link to designate Healthy Villages, Inc. as the charitable organization to receive a percentage of your transaction from eBay: https://charity.ebay.com/search/healthy-villages-inc
FACEBOOK – Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/healthyvillagesghana/ - click on the ‘Donate’ button on the page, and make your donation directly through Facebook.
WEBSITE – Any of the ‘Donate’ buttons on our website will allow you to make a donation through PayPal.
BY CHECK – Of course, you’re more than welcome to just simply send a check! Please contact me for an address to send it to. We do request that checks be sent by registered mail to our U.S. address. Sadly, even the U.S. postal service is not immune to theft.
IN KIND DONATIONS – We are always in need of empty medicine bottles (with the labels removed and no sticky residue remaining). There is also a long list of over the counter medications we need on each mission trip: ibuprofen, acetaminophen, multivitamins, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, antacid tablets, pink bismuth tablets. Children’s summer-weight clothing (sizes newborn to six years) is donated to the health clinics we work out of, and used as an incentive to get moms to bring their little ones in for well-child checks and immunizations. These items can be sent to our U.S. address and we will hand-carry it in luggage to Ghana. Please contact me for the address.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN OUR WORK IN GHANA, AND YOUR SUPPORT!
From August 5 through 17, 2017, Healthy Villages, Inc. (in conjunction with Show Me Your Stethoscope – SMYS) carried out a healthcare mission in the lower Volta Region of Ghana, devoted to the care and treatment of children. We had four healthcare practitioners from the U.S. on this mission – three registered nurses, and one dental hygienist. Our Ghana-based staff consisted of seven people – a pharmacist, a physician’s assistant, and five community health specialists, who were partnered with our volunteers for language interpreting and mutual education and learning.
We did outreach in six different remote communities during this mission, seeing and treating a total of 1259 children. The youngest child we saw was a newborn of one-week old, and the eldest was 15 years old. This was the largest number of patients who have come to us during the six clinic days of our missions. We were surprised and gratified at the number of children to whom we offered care. It was also surprising how many children were quite ill, received multiple diagnoses, and went home with several different medications to treat those illnesses. We expected about half the number of children, and expected to be focusing more on well-child exams and distribution of vitamins and de-wormer. Part of the reason for this is that during general health missions, caregivers bring very few children to be seen. We felt we had performed a great service to the young by focusing solely on age 15 and under, because we now realize that children’s healthcare needs may go unaddressed.
It’s hard to believe that our fourth healthcare mission is over, and our four volunteers (one dental hygienist, and three registered nurses) have just arrived back home in the U.S. All of us – organizers, volunteers, and Ghana-based staff – are feeling a real sense of accomplishment. It always happens that despite our best efforts at organizing everything down to the last detail, something happens to change our plans. We’ve learned to roll with it and expect the best, and that’s what happened this time too.
In our last mission, we tried doing things a little differently and focusing on three villages, for two days each, to be able to see everyone who wanted to be seen and not have to turn anyone away. It also gave us the flexibility to leave our boxes of medications at the clinic where we were working for that two days and have less time spent setting up and organizing ourselves. We intended to go to three villages for the pediatric mission too, but due to various circumstances, we ended up moving from one village to the next each day we worked – for a total of six different villages. Over the course of the six days, we saw and treated a total of 1258 children, the most patients we’ve had for a mission so far!