Volunteer/Intern in Ghana, Africa
Since 2004, The Sankofa Center, a 501(c)(3) U.S. operated charity, has educated village youths and adults about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and prevented, while changing perceptions using culturally comprehensive methods– African dance-dramas–in Ghana, West Africa. The Sankofa Center also conducts free counseling and testing and provides links to treatment and support services for thousands of women, men, and children in Ghana. Our Fair Trade style line offers those interested in Fair Trade fashion, craft, and production a hands-on experience working with our Women’s Coop. Programs consisting of a local crew and cohorts of international interns from around the world run throughout the year.
According to the Ghanaian AIDS Commission (GAC),Ghana has an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of nearly 4 percent. However this relatively low rate (compared to other African countries) does not correlate to changes in behavior. In other words: there are many approaches to health education but many fail in their efforts to change behavior leading to the continual spread of HIV/AIDS.
- HIV/AIDS Dance-Drama-The Sankofa Center incorporates dance, drama, music, and photography performed by the troupe and interns into the pre-choreographed HIV/AIDS dance-drama vignettes. Interns will also be trained to educate classrooms of youths and adults about HIV/AIDS, risk reduction, and anti-stigmatization during both school and village outreach tours. If desired, appropriate interns will be trained for public health internship duties as well. Dance-dramas provide a great way to open up dialogue about HIV/AIDS, portraying issues such as safer-sex practices, ways of transmitting HIV/AIDS, tolerance of persons living with HIV/AIDS, enhancement of women’s role in sexual health, and exposing the social and economic factors involved in daily Ghanaian life. Performances take place primarily in pre-designated village squares and community gathering places. Junior and senior secondary schools also host performances and an after-school program to encourage student participation.
- Volunteers also conduct educational seminars (“HIV/AIDS 101″) discussing proper condom use, the importance of HIV testing, and involve students in open discussions about HIV/AIDS. There is no language requirement for volunteers since local Sankofa Center staff will translate information accordingly. Accurate health information is important. However, access to health services is key to creating lasting behavior change, which is a challenge for the predominately poor, rural, communities we serve.
- Visit our online boutique to purchase items made by our HIV Cooperative to benefit our clients continued access health services to empower healthy living.
- Medical Internship Program-Our Medical Internship Program is aimed at volunteers with clinical backgrounds or those interested in gaining first-hand experience in various medical fields for placement in our HIV/AIDS education, counseling, testing, and treatment protocols. Interns interested in conducting field placement attachments for pre-med, nursing, social work or related fields will be trained to conduct various relevant duties. Duties may include conducting and analyzing rapid HIV/AIDS tests on patients during outreach, counseling, and record-keeping; conducting surveys on our outreach population; and acting as liaison to partnering clinics for individuals in our outreach.
- Volunteers opting to participate in this program may also be integrated into various roles in the HIV/AIDS Dance-Drama & Teaching/Orphanage Programs alternating during their stay. However, their primary duties will be with the medical Internship aspect of our program.
- Successful volunteers will receive an official Certificate of Completion by our organization to illustrate the scope and magnitude of participation for future recommendation. Providing health information without referrals and access to health services is incomplete. Therefore, Sankofa Center partners with local area hospitals in our field outreach communities to link our clients to support services. Our partners provide confirmation blood testing of HIV/AIDS, personal and family counseling, prescription medicines to fight opportunistic infections and anti-retroviral drugs.
- Sankofa Center relies on the premise that the combination of education and access to health services is essential for behavior change. However, this is a growing challenge for both our rural lower income clients and stakeholders in resource strapped Ghana. Visit our online boutique where you can purchase items made by our cooperative to directly support our efforts.
- Social Work/Public Health Program-Sankofa Center has partnered with several universities and colleges to offer credit hours for field volunteering in our Social Work/Public Health program. Volunteers may also participate in this program independently, without any school affiliation. The Social Work/Public Health program is an essential part of our outreach in which interns provide HIV/AIDS information during both our school and village outreach tours.
- Trained by Sankofa Center and working with our local interpreters, interns help our audience understand the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS as well as complex social implications that provide challenges to prevention, care, treatment, and stigma reduction. Using guidelines set by Sankofa Center, interns spearhead discussion groups during our school outreach to help students retain facts about HIV/AIDS and dispel myths and misconceptions.
- During village outreach interns are important members of our pre- and post-counseling and rapid HIV testing process. They assist in record keeping, test preparation and delivery of results to our local counselors. Interns also aid our counselors in identifying areas for improving client retention of HIV/AIDS knowledge, risk reduction, and access to support services. Interns are liasons for clients, introducing them to our health care partners to ensure a better transition of care. Interns may choose to participate in our other programs but are not required to.
- Other instrumental intern duties include local recruiting and training of new interns to prepare them for their tenure in Ghana; capacity building; networking; and fund-raising.
- Business/PR & Marketing Internship Program-Our office in Ghana is host to a variety of initiatives that require Business/PR & Marketing Interns. Interns in Ghana work with Sankofa staff at our Ghana office assisting with promotions, marketing our Volunteer/Intern Programs (both in Ghana and abroad), sourcing retail partners for the Fair Trade Product line, interviewing, writing press releases and blogs, as well as building exposure of our HIV/AIDS prevention efforts with Ghanaian press are primary duties of Interns.
- Photography & Multimedia Program-The Photography & Multimedia Program calls for interns desiring to hone their photography and multimedia skills by chronicling the organization’s mobile HIV/AIDS education program in schools and villages throughout Ghana. Interns also maintain photojournalism pictorials of our Women’s Artisanal Co-op, creating visual content and campaigns for our marketing departments (both in Ghana and California).
- Fashion/Fair Trade Merchandising Internship (with Women’s Artisanal Co-op in Ghana)-Sankofa’s Fair Trade product line has grown into the organization’s primary fundraising venture. The product line, made by women in our outreach communities, supports fair trade employment, empowers women, and funds our free HIV/AIDS programs. This program is for Interns interested in learning about sourcing, production, and merchandising of Fair Trade product lines while working directly with women in our Co-op.
- “Hi Ronnie! I miss Dome so much already. The time flew by, especially the last few days. I couldn’t have asked for a better or more rewarding experience. I would do it all over again if I could. I catch myself trying to relive the days and recognizing how much I’ve learned in areas I didn’t even think were possible. Being a part of The Sankofa Center makes me so proud and I admire the work you do so much. I’m so grateful to have learned from you as both a director and a person. I hope to hear from you and that your transition to California is well and full of lots of coffee! Wishing all the very best 🙂 thank you for the best experience of my life.” Kayla Witkowski, Nursing Student Intern, Summer
- “Volunteering with the Sankofa Center has been a very rewarding, life-changing experience. Every aspect of the program, including the homestay, school programs and village performances, was enjoyable and impacted me deeply. The friends and memories I made will definitely stay with me always.”Uyen-Minh Dinh
- “I know I have told you this a thousand times but you can never here it too much – especially now: you are one of the most incredible, driven, empowering, focused, determined people I have ever met and I was so motivated by you and the work you are doing. Some people in this world just cannot and will not ever open their minds to what they don’t want to see. I am so thankful that I met you and cannot wait to start working with you and doing everything I can to help you and The Sankofa Center. I miss you guys so much” -Morgan Stedman, 2013 Dalhousie Intern in Ghana
- “Truly was an experience that was life-changing. I admire what you do and am thankful that I was able to be a part of it. ” -Sabrina Samsudeen, 2007 Ryerson Intern in Ghana
- “Ronnie, you are one-of-a kind – brave, ambitions, REAL, persistent, humble & so much more! Thank you for doing what you do and for giving me & so many others the opportunity to expand our hearts & our minds.” -Jessica Wigg, 2007 Ghana Field Intern
- “I’m still learning from that experience” -Juan- Carlos Perez, 2007 Ghana Field Intern
- “This was a life-changing experience. Ronnie, what you do is amazing. I will always support you and your mission.” -Shea Kerkoff Vessa, 2007 Ghana Field Intern
- “This was the best experience of my life!!! Thank you so much for the opportunity!!! Your kindness has truly made the world a better place!” -Kere Blair, 2006 Ghana Field Intern
“Participation can span from 2 weeks + during any period within our cohort sessions” Program dates are the same every year, and are as follows:
- January 3rd – February 28th
- March 1st – April 26th
- May 3rd – June 28th
- July 5th – August 30th
- September 2nd – October 28th
- November 2nd – December 28th
- $300 non-refundable administrative fee
- $900 for up to 2 weeks
- $250 each additional week or partial week
Please see Funding Your Program, below Program Fee Covers:
- Airport pickup/drop off in Ghana
- Room and Board at The Sankofa Center Compound in Dome-Accra, for the duration of your tenure
- Breakfast and Dinner Daily
- All Logistic Costs of running the mobile outreach program
- HIV/AIDS testing kits, medical and other program supplies
- Dance/Drumming , Twi Language and cultural immersion
- Transportation to all program field sites and schools
- Services of local and international staff
- Tuition-Certificate of Completion
- Plane Ticket
Retail Fundraising “People love the products, the cause, and the fact they are helping make a difference” Interns can become representatives of Sankofa Center prior to one’s tenure to raise funds to finance program costs. Ambassadors are provided a video, reports, outreach statistics, and presentation guidelines to either use social media or host live gatherings of friends, family, and community to educate people about Sankofa’s work in Africa – while selling the organization’s “Products for A Purpose.” These are exclusive handmade home, fashion, and style products, featured in Vogue, made under fair-trade practices by our HIV/AIDS Cooperative in Ghana to benefit Sankofa’s efforts. As a great fundraising tool, the proceeds from the retail sale of these products will go towards your program fee. This is a great supplement to traditional fundraising through creative style while providing empowering information about HIV/AIDS and our impact in Ghana. Future programs are continually being formed, please contact us if you’d like to be put on a waitlist for future programs!