Deepa’s updates from Spain

A view from Plaza de Colon in Madrid, Spain. Photo courtesy of Deepa Ramadurai / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

Over the summer, the GlobeMed Grapevine will also feature updates from GlobeMed members traveling abroad. GlobeMed at Northwestern Director of Individual Giving, Deepa Ramadurai, recently returned from a six week study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain. While in Barcelona, Deepa studied Spanish language, conversation, modern culture and other political issues; Deepa also had the opportunity to briefly visit Madrid, Valencia and Milan while in Europe.

The healthcare system in Spain is really interesting. For one of the classes I was taking we had a special unit on immigration within Spain because it has a huge effect on Barcelona (since Barcelona is very much considered a commercial city and not necessarily as “Spanish” as some of the other cities in Spain). Specifically, it’s really interesting that a lot of foreigners, even from the United States, come to Spain to have big medical procedures done/have expensive treatment done because the Spanish government covers healthcare for foreigners. It was really interesting thinking about that system versus the system we have here and what it would be like if we adopted a similar system.

Other than that I couldn’t have asked to be in Spain at a better time — especially with the World Cup. It was incredible! Seeing the country unite behind their team was something I am never going to forget. I was in Madrid at the time in the Plaza de Colon, which is what they probably showed on TV a lot here in the U.S. There were thousands of people there and the atmosphere was incredible. Something even more incredible was how divided the whole country was over the win. There is a lot of separation between regions in Spain so the celebration in Barcelona (the capital of Catalonia) was practically nonexistent compared to that in Madrid because of Catalonia’s general anti-Spain sentiment at all times. It was actually really sad to see how 40-year-old sentiments of anger are still carried over today. It really makes you realize how much internal struggle a lot of other countries are going through and how they idealize the American government and American legislation. A lot of my teachers would tell us that the American policy of governing was ideal for Spain and they wished Spain would adopt our system. It just made me think how much the actions and practices of each nation affects those of another and how we might not even realize this among countries we believe are considered significant world powers.

The experience all around was something I will never forget. Experiencing the Spanish culture and lifestyle firsthand was something I have always hoped to do and I’m so lucky to have been able to do so this past summer. I’m hoping to go back to Spain sometime very soon and getting more familiar with their healthcare system and the practice of medicine there as compared with what we do here. -DEEPA RAMADURAI

Meeting with Dr. Atsu

“Ten years from now we will see this project grow out of the work of some students from the U.S. It will go beyond everyone’s dreams.” – Dr. Atsu, regional health director of Ho Municipality, in reference to the nutrition program at the H.O.P.E. Center

On Monday, the GROW Team and Margaret met with Dr. Atsu, the new regional health director of the Ho Municipality. During this meeting we discussed the role that Ghana Health Service (GHS) should play at the HOPE Center and the partnership between GHS and GlobeMed. Going into the meeting, we were all really unsure about how receptive Dr. Atsu would be to our ideas, but we were all really pleased with what he had to say. Dr. Atsu sees Ghana Health Service playing a major role in the H.O.P.E. Center and GlobeMed’s outreach programs. It was rewarding to see how well-received our work has been by GHS and the strides they are willing to make to expand this project to other communities. He stressed how important GlobeMed’s projects are, as they are one-of-a-kind projects, at least in the Volta region of Ghana. He sees the nutrition project as a model for similar projects throughout the Volta region, and thus wants to play a more active role in the research that the GROW Team and other GlobeMed students conduct. He wants all research conducted and all reports written to be validated and owned by Ghana Health Service so that our projects can be implemented in other communities.

Dr. Atsu also addressed the ideas of cultural competency and creating reports that accurately reflect the Ghanaian culture and mindset. As we all make progress on the reports of our various community surveys, it was important to keep these ideas in mind. What might seem significant and extraordinary in our eyes may be completely common place to the average Ghanaian. I was glad to be reminded of this idea that is constantly stressed in any discussion on global health projects. Even though I completely understand the idea of cultural competency and value its components, it is really easy and almost human nature to take a piece of data and place it in the context of one’s own culture. -REEMA GHATNEKAR

Work all day, sleep at night, let’s get it poppin’, we’re in Cape Coast GlobeMedders

Besides my title, the coolest thing we’ve done here is visit Cape Coast. Canopy walks, beaches, and crocodiles lining the waters of the hostel were all that awaited us and I must say it was quite an experience. First of all, I’m afraid of heights so the tour guide constantly telling us that we would be forty meters high on a rickety piece of wood for the canopy walk was enough to make me grab my backpack and banku and run back to Ho. However, accompanied by Allyson and some of her friends, I made it through the seven bridges that make up the Kakum Canopy Walk. Even though we didn’t see any monkeys (sad face), the view was amazing. We were above most of the trees and had a clear view of the rainforest around us that is apparently home to leopards, elephants, monkeys, and probably a lot of bugs.

We spent the rest of our trip at the hostel and the beach where Allyson inadvertently went swimming. Well actually, she just got hit in the face by a giant wave making her a true advocate for always carrying a change of clothes.

Oh! And our hostel had burgers. That’s right. Never has a sesame seed bun tasted so good. The trip came to a close with a wonderful bumper sticker we spotted on the back of a van. I don’t think anyone can guess what wonderful adventures we will have next! Well, except the lord. -JOEY GILL

Photo courtesy of Joey Gill / GlobeMed@Northwestern.

Photo courtesy of Joey Gill /

Photo courtesy of Joey Gill / GlobeMed@Northwestern.

The most amusing bumper sticker from the trip. Photo courtesy of Joey Gill / GlobeMed@Northwestern.

Photo courtesy of Joey Gill / GlobeMed@Northwestern.

Joey, Allyson and friends during their visit to Cape Coast. Photo courtesy of Joey Gill / GlobeMed@Northwestern.

Global Giving’s Updates from the Field: Reducing child malnutrition in Ho, Ghana

A little over a week ago, an In-the-Field Traveler from Global Giving published the review after a visit to the H.O.P.E. Center in Ho, Ghana. With Global Giving‘s permission, we have republished the report here. Thank you to author Andrew Meaux and Global Giving for supporting GlobeMed at Northwestern!

GlobeMED: HOPE Center

As most people know in development, the field is often more riddled with questions than answers. Common among these questions is how to measure an organization’s impact. Does one use fancy metrics to chart how a project develops and analyze data? Or does one rely on qualitative analysis, the actually question and survey approach of whether a person is better or worse off after a given project? Fortunately for me, GlobeMed, in partnership with the H.O.P.E Center, provided me both measurements over two days of unique site visits and insight into their remarkable work.

Day 1: Quantitative Data

As I walked into the office of Margaret Asante, the head nurse of the HOPE Center, the first question in my head was “what was on the walls?” Covering the right wall of the Center was a series of post-it notes each dated and named. Margaret explained that this was how the center was visually tracking the birth weights of babies until the age of 5. It was not difficult to extrapolate from these figures that the organization was having an incredible impact on the health of the rural communities. The center sees nearly 90 patients a day both male and female, has started a testing lab, and plans to expand its services to prenatal care. In metrics alone, under the leadership of Margaret, with support from GlobeMed, the HOPE Center certainly is high performing, but what do the communities say?

Day 2: Qualitative Data

After the details of day 1, Allyson along with three other members of the Northwestern GlobeMed summer team (Joey, Reema, Kathleen) led Alexis and I to Ando Village, one of the communities most impacted by the work of the HOPE Center. We all piled into a small taxi and weaved our way through cornfields until we reached the village and where we were greeted by a young woman named Esther. With some help from John (teacher) to rally the women, we sat down to learn about impact from the women themselves. At this point, I utilized what I call the “smile standard” (rating 0-10 on the size of a smile) to assess the project’s impact. The first impact indicator was the “10” smile of a young healthy girl sitting in the arm’s of her mother, after benefiting from an enriched diet thanks to support from the HOPE Center. The second impact indicator was the “10” smile of this girl’s mother, Cynthia, as the names of past GlobeMed volunteers were mentioned and the enthusiastic response the names elicited across the group of women. Thus, on qualitative smile standard, the project once again received high marks.

I can imagine within a short time, the names of GlobeMed’s newest in the field volunteers will bring smiles across the faces of communities such as Ando Village as they promote health through outreach. GlobeMed was instrumental in the HOPE Center’s founding and continues to aid in the Center’s expansion of services and outreach in the surrounding areas. The facilities made possible with GlobeMed’s startup support and sustained by the Ghanaian government provide the areas an essential health resource. No matter the way one measures impact, GlobeMed’s partnership with the HOPE Center is truly a success and I look forward to hearing about all the new and exciting programs as this relationship evolves. Keep an eye out for new updates from this project at and you can follow the students in the field experiences at

If you are interested in donating to GlobeMed please visit

Andrew and four other In-the-Field Travelers are currently in Ghana before they are making their way to Mali and Burkina Faso. They’ll be visiting more than 30 GlobalGiving projects in the next month. Follow their adventures at

Powerful insight

Photo courtesy of Allyson Westling / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

Nurse Beauty gives a lecture on healthy eating practices to mothers who came for the monthly child welfare clinic. Photo courtesy of Allyson Westling / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

Photo courtesy of Allyson Westling / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

A busy day at the H.O.P.E. Center. Photo courtesy of Allyson Westling / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

Last week, we had the opportunity to have a meeting with a visiting physician from Ethiopia. He has had extensive experience in public health, spending a number of years working in a refugee camp. He also has a wide knowledge of the Volta region and a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by the communities serviced by the H.O.P.E. Center.

Our time talking with him provided us with deep global health insight as well as exciting avenues to take the Center’s outreach programs. For instance, he recommended more efficient ways to train peer educators for the sexual health program. There has recently been a lot of interest among church groups in the area for nurses to give lectures at their facilities. While this is great, it adds an additional work burden on the Center’s staff. Instead, this doctor recommended that we train a few peer educators within the church, who can then train others in their organization. This makes the program more sustainable in that it reduces the work burden on the nurses (who can now become the overseers of the program instead of the ones running the entire show). It also eliminates the need to keep retraining peer educators every year (a problem currently faced in the schools where the sexual health program is running). These principles can be extended to the childhood nutrition program as well: we will need to place more emphasis on making the program sustainable in the communities through peer education and personal farming tactics.

Our discussion provided us with a lot of valuable insight and great ideas to advance this partnership moving forward. The coming weeks will keep us busy working out a concrete partner agreement with the Ghana Health Services, outlining a strategic “5-year plan” for many of the Center’s activities, and developing new ways to advance outreach programs. We all came away from the meeting encouraged, inspired and committed to making our remaining time in Ghana the best that it can be!

Photo courtesy of Allyson Westling / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

Allyson and Joey at the beach in Cape Coast (before Allyson got pushed over by a monster wave!) Photo courtesy of Allyson Westling / GlobeMed at Northwestern.

From the Bottom of the Bottom to the Top of the Top

So what do we do when we take a break from the days at the H.O.P.E. Center? Well
for starters, we boarded a packed church bus last Thursday to Mt. Gemi, the tallest mountain
in Ghana. We arrived at 8:30 am for the 9:00 bus which we boarded at 11:00 and departed at
12:00 for the village at the foot of the mountain. We got there around 2:00 pm and left for the
hike at 3:30 pm. People are in no rush here!

The breathtaking view from the top of Mt. Gemi. Photo courtesy of Joey Gill.

But like everywhere else in Ghana, the view was wonderful (the picture is for proof).
With windows open and cameras ready, we had quite the experience (complete with branches
from the bordering trees swatting us in the face) on the bus ride up the rocky dirt road. The
climb itself was no different. There were old women in dresses and sandals passing us
and other people running up the mountain. When they get moving they move quickly! Some of
us were even called “slow Indian girl” coughReemacough.

The top of the mountain is a prayer spot so we huddled around the giant iron cross for
a group picture. How nice! The view was amazing. No matter how many photos I took, the
camera could not quite capture the majesty of the landscape. GROW team next year, go to
mount Gemi!

Oh, and Allyson got her third marriage proposal on top of the mountain.


GlobeMed at Northwestern GROW trip members at the top of Mt. Gemi with Ghanaian friends. Photo courtesy of Joey Gill.

Baby Backpack!

GROW trip members (from left to right) Allyson Westling, Reema Ghatnekar, and Kathleen Leinweber carrying babies at the child welfare clinic. Photo courtesy of Reema Ghatnekar.

We just got back from a child welfare clinic, aka baby central. These clinics are held either at Ahoe Market, Miracle Life Center, or the HOPE Center. Today, we were at Ahoe Market, where we set up shop with basically just a table and a few chairs. Children between the ages of 0-5 years old can come to these clinic days and receive different vaccinations including measles, yellow fever, and PENTA, as well as polio drops and vitamin A supplements. The weights of the children are also monitored at these clinics, which is the data that I’ve been using to determine which children are underweight and should be placed in the test group for the nutrition program. Mothers also receive a little baggie filled with ground up maize and soya beans, which can be added to their meals to give their children extra protein and nutrients. Allyson, Kathleen, Joey, and I were hard at work weighing babies, recording weights, and giving vitamin A supplements.

After the commotion in the morning had died down, all of us were able to try to hold babies on our backs the way the women here do! Most women carry their children on their backs using a piece of cloth that is wrapped around both baby and mother. Women can carry their children like this when their child is as young as a 4 months all the way up until their child is 7 or 8 years old. It’s a lot easier than carrying a baby in your arms all day. It’s like a backpack, but a whole lot cuter! -REEMA GHATNEKAR

World Cup at White House

The GlobeMed at Northwestern GROW trip members and fellow American students. Photo courtesy of Reema Ghatnekar.

So far, our time here has been amazing. Last Saturday, we went to one of the local bar/restaurants, White House, to watch the Ghana versus USA soccer game. We met some fellow American students, as well as many locals. It was amazing to see how excited the entire country was about the World Cup games, especially since Ghana is the last African country left. After Ghana won, the entire city began to celebrate. An impromptu parade began around Ho and the city was completely alive: people were singing, dancing, and hugging in the middle of the street, completely ecstatic about Ghana’s victory over the US. Tonight is the Ghana versus Uruguay game, so we’ll be heading back to White House to make some new friends and watch the game. Go Ghana Blackstars! – REEMA GHATNEKAR

Photo courtesy of Reema Ghatnekar.

Celebration following the Ghana-US world cup game. Photo courtesy of Reema Ghatnekar.