Since 2004, WAAF/IHCC have provided opportunities for experiential learning. This has enabled a diverse group of individuals to work with WAAF/IHCC in various capacities such as, as a volunteer, an intern, working on a Capstone Project, in the capacity of an externship program and for civic engagement. Although these opportunities all exist, internships are the most popular with WAAF/IHCC and the organizations have continued to be amongst the preferred sites for individuals interested in careers related to (Global) public health, Social work, Medicine, Nursing, and International Development. A diverse group of individuals have and continue to intern with WAAF/IHCC such as High school leavers, undergraduates, Graduates, Career changers, both local and international interns. The site is also a great place for groups of students (especially those studying public health and other medical-related fields) visiting Ghana to visit and interact with staff, clients, and other beneficiaries of the WAAF/IHCC projects.
Location: The location of the internship is in various regions within Ghana. Soon, there will be an opportunity to intern in other West African countries.
Travel: Once one decides to intern with WAAF/IHCC and will be coming on your own, you will be met at Kotoka international airport by a project representative and taken to the Project HQ in central Accra. You will be provided a 1-day orientation. You will then be taken directly to your project location to begin your placement.
Daily Life: You will be working hand in hand with various WAAF staff as well as with various community members and smaller community-based organizations. You will have the opportunity to work on various aspects of projects which allow for you to gain invaluable knowledge pertaining to HIV and related conditions in Ghana. You could immerse yourself in the vibrant Ghanaian culture. Learning the local language, enjoying the home-cooked food of villages and towns around Ghana, taking part in various African cultural performances like African dancing, drumming, pottery or weaving is possible which will all add up to a unique and memorable volunteer experience. Various activities, tours, and expeditions around Ghana can easily be arranged, either by WAAF or by yourself, before or after your placement. These things will be discussed in more detail when you arrive.
Accommodation: Accommodation is with a host family or in a guesthouse, where at both locations,starburt slots you will have your own room. When placed with a host family your will eat your meals (prepared by host family) with the host family. If placed in a guesthouse, you will prepare your own meals, or you can arrange for someone to do the cooking and mostly the washing for you. This person will be paid by you for providing these services. Guesthouses and host family residences have been carefully inspected and selected by WAAF management to ensure your safety and comfort.
WAAF/IHCC’s internship opportunity is overall led by two supervisors, namely, Dr. Vera Opata and Dr. Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye – Donton.
Since the early 1990s when she joined the Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Services, Dr. Opata has moved through the ranks, holding senior officers’ positions at various government hospitals and finally making it to management level in the early 2000s.
She has been the director of health services for different municipalities of the Greater Accra region of Ghana. In addition, she has been the HIV coordinator of the Greater Accra Region where she was responsible for the implementation of HIV policies at facility level, training and supervision of medical staff at facility level in HIV and TB and the development of regional HIV specific plans.
She has years of experience in the supervision of students in the field of public health of various levels including MPH and PhD students.
Since 2019, she is the Board Chair of the West Africa AIDS Foundation and has directly been involved in the supervision of students at the WAAF/IHCC site.
She continues to be a strong advocate for the provision of accessible healthcare services delivered at the community level and has been involved in the capacity building of many Key groups, championing them to make informed choices regarding health and wellbeing.
She is currently the Medical Director of the International Health Care Center and the Technical Advisor to the West Africa AIDS Foundation, two registered companies in Ghana working together to enhance the health of Ghanaians especially in the field of communicable diseases.
Her efforts have included overseeing the clinical care of over 1500 PLHIV a number that continues to grow as well as leading the use of robust innovative evidence-based strategies to ensure the health and wellbeing of especially the marginalized and hard to reach in society.
Dr. Vanderpuye - Donton's efforts go beyond the direct work at WAAF and IHCC and involve her active participation on various platforms ensuring she continues to be the voice of many marginalized. She has been a member of various platforms which have included the Greater Accra Regional committee of the Ghana AIDS Commission, she served as the executive secretary for the Non-State Actors for Health and Development – Ghana for 3 years where she led a team using advocacy for change, she represented the Ghana Tuberculosis constituency on the Ghana Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund for years amongst others. She has been a lecturer for the University of California Abroad Exchange Program in Ghana since 2017 and has supervised many students of public health programs including masters level students and a few PhD students since 2004.
She is the author of a book entitled – Hardship and Hope, Dr. Naa’s love affair with Persons Living with HIV.
Dr. Opata and Dr. Vanderpuye – Donton each have almost 30 years of experience in the field of medicine, public health, and research and are therefore experts in the type of work most interns will be engaged in. They are therefore equipped to provide the needed guidance for the intern’s assignments. These include:
- Taking part in an intern’s application, screening, and interview process
- Conducting intern orientation
- Developing learning goals
- Meeting with an intern regularly to evaluate performance and if needs/goals are being met; and assessing the internship program’s success
For each intern, a mentor is assigned by the supervisors to ensure the student adjusts easier to the new work environment and has a focal point on a day to day basis.