One of the most rewarding experiences I had in Ghana was teaching health education in different schools. I believe that we did indeed make a positive impact through that service. Sustainable development is development that meets present needs of a community as well as future needs. It is development and/or social projects that aid future generations. These projects don’t just provide immediate solutions. Education is a form of sustainable development because the gift of knowledge keeps giving. The idea is that once an individual learns something, they can apply it and also teach others. In this way, the idea or practice can spread and hopefully implant itself in the society.
Education is a vital tool in overcoming many of the social problems that Ghana faces. Issues such as malnutrition, sanitation, and sexually transmitted diseases can be easily addressed and alleviated if the citizens are armed with knowledge to be proactive rather than reactive. With the Health and Life Protection Foundation, our group would split off into teams that went to various schools throughout the Cape Coast region to education young minds about relevant health topics. Each day we would discuss a different topic to classes ranging in size and age group.
One of most beneficial topics we taught about was sexual health. There is a high instance of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, and it is a growing problem in Ghana. People are often sexually active at a very young age, despite being quite uninformed and unaware of the consequences of their actions. We taught about different STDs, practicing safe sex, and treatment options with the students. We designed our lectures to be very interactive and hopefully impacting. Other than sexual health, we discussed sanitation, hygiene, and drugs. Overall, teaching was a very valuable experience and I enjoyed interacting with the Ghanaian children!
We also had the opportunity to volunteer a day in constructing a library for a school. This is a form of sustainable development because the library will contain resources that can educate the children. And since children are the future of the country, helping them succeed is vital to the progress of the country.
Many foreign aid initiatives provide “band-aid” solutions. Though not negative, they are only temporary solutions and do little for the benefit of future generations. For example, volunteer groups can come into an impoverished area armed with vitamins, nutritional supplements, and food items to alleviate malnutrition. Despite this being a great immediate help, as soon as the donations are depleted and the volunteers leave, things will go back to the way they used to be. However, if those volunteers come prepared to teach the population about how to eat healthy and use the available resources to get a wholesome diet, the people will be prepared to help themselves.