Gone to Ghana
Thanks to SLP Alyssa Drevniak for sharing about her experience about working in Ghana!
It's a small world moment: So, back in 2017, Alyssa sent me an e-mail after reading the guest blog post I did about working in Australia for Julia [The Traveling Traveler] to ask me a few questions. But, she had already heard my name from a friend that had went to the same grad school and was a year in between us. We had both come from out of state to attend the University of Redlands in California for grad school, but missed each other by a year. She ended up moving out to Australia to work in Melbourne. When I roadtripped from Sydney to Perth, I stopped in Melbourne and met up with her - I already felt like I knew her as we had similar SLP stories. Later, I saw that she was going to be doing some SLP work in Ghana [how cool!] so asked if she'd write a guest blog for me - thanks Alyssa for sharing your experience!
My SLP Gig in Ghana
Written by: Alyssa Drevniak
Hello! I’m Alyssa. I’m a speech language pathologist from the US, based in Australia, but currently working in Ghana. I have 7 years of experience working as a paediatric SLP. Up to this point, I have worked in the schools, in-home early intervention, and private practice settings. I’ve also done a couple of volunteer trips to Mexico working as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
I wish I had a better story as to how I made my way to Ghana, but to be honest, my love of travel and slightly adventurous, free spirit is what has led me to most of my international escapades personally and professionally over the last 7 years. That being said, I think I was also in a space of feeling a bit stuck and craving something more in the field when I began seeking out new SLP opportunities abroad. With a quick google search for international outreach programs, I stumbled across MultiKids Africa. I sent an email to express my interest and the next thing I knew (literally 20 minutes later) I was in contact and shortly thereafter I was officially planning my visit to MultiKids Inclusive Academy in Accra…exciting!
MultiKids Africa (MKA) is a Human Rights Non-Governmental Organisation working to enable and promote inclusive education for children with special needs in Ghana. The school, MultiKids Inclusive Academy, was first established in 2010 and celebrated their 10th year anniversary of inclusive education this month! The school has created a warm and accepting culture for children of all levels and abilities in primary and secondary school and you truly feel that the moment you walk onto any of the campuses. Within the school, the therapy teams (PT, OT, SP, ABA) work closely with teachers to provide individual, small group, and classroom services.
MKA also offers a free community clinic twice a month which provides free therapy services to children with Cerebral Palsy from across the region who would otherwise not have any therapy input. Many families who attend the clinic travel over two hours to attend these sessions each fortnight! The free community clinic has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me since arriving in Ghana, as I’ve loved being able to build relationships with the children and their families, while also being challenged to stretch my clinical thinking and reasoning in new ways.
As for my current role at MKA, I am helping to provide therapy services, as well as support and supervision to the local therapists who recently graduated from the University of Ghana. Speech pathology is still a very new and growing profession here in Ghana. There are only a handful of speech pathologists in the country, which makes it a busy and exciting time to be involved! The caseload is primarily within the two MKA campuses, however focus is being shifted a bit to support the local team with capacity building across the various community outreach programs to bring awareness and access to speech therapy services in Accra.
Overall, my trip to Ghana has been a wonderfully challenging and rewarding journey so far. On top of significantly shifting my perspectives and practice as an SLP, I have had so many unique experiences and made memories I will cherish for years to come. I think everyone could benefit from taking the leap to try something new within the field and if you’re considering it, you should…you certainly won’t regret it! There are several international work and volunteer opportunities around the world that are desperately seeking qualified SLPs to deliver much needed services to local community. Not only will you be involved in providing meaningful work, you’ll meet some truly amazing people, while learning about yourself and new cultures in the process…it’s a win, win!