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Postcard to Home: Making a difference in Ghana

Story by Akalya Atputharajah (BA'14)

Shortly after graduating with a master’s degree in December 2016, I packed my bags and came to Wa, located in the northern part of Ghana, Africa to work on a Global Affairs Canada-funded project. Through this project, my organization empowers women, helping them develop the capacity to grow their farms, their incomes and, consequently, their food security. 

Since coming to this rural region, I have been in awe of the hard work that goes into the everyday lives of the women who live here. I have seen women carry impossible weights on their heads and walk for miles with babies on their backs. I have seen the immeasurable passions in these women to take care of their families and provide better futures for their children. Bearing witness to the lives and hopes of these women is an indescribable experience, one of many that further my motivation to work in the field of development.

Akalya Atputharajah

This is not the first time I have been to Ghana. I came to this country once before, with Laurier. Through an internship provided by the Human Rights and Human Diversity program, I had the privilege of travelling to Ghana in 2013 to work at the Ark Foundation, a women’s rights advocacy centre in the capital city of Accra, located in the southern part of Ghana.

It was my trip in 2013 that motivated me to start thinking about international development as a field in which I could cultivate a career. It was also this trip that allowed me to see my innate desire to help people work in a productive, organized fashion that allowed for maximum aid. There are many difficulties that accompany living in a rural area in Ghana. For example, getting sick is nothing like getting sick in Canada. In Canada, I would have access to doctors and facilities, but in rural areas here, resources and personnel can be limited.

"Each difficulty I experience is a lesson that people experience hardships every day and a lesson to appreciate everything more."

Each difficulty I experience is a lesson that people experience hardships every day and a lesson to appreciate everything more.

I am also confident about my own capabilities in adapting to my environment and making the best of different situations. Living abroad is not easy, particularly in a rural area, but it can be a truly rewarding experience. It feels incredible to be immersed in different cultures, philosophies and languages. It is also humbling to receive from those who are willing to share so much with you, despite what little they may have. 

Living abroad shouldn’t just be a short tour. I can’t stress this enough, how some of the most cherished memories I have made have been of the simple everyday life I have here. 

There is a whole world out there. When opportunity gives you the ability to bask in the vibrancy of another culture and land, take it. I will be in Ghana for a few more months and, in all probability, another spot on the globe soon enough.

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