Katie Ladrach, Wooster native and animal science major, and her co-traveler and research partner, Tsehainish Golla, OSU pre-medicine student from Columbus, decided to attack herd health problems on their one month study abroad in Ghana this June and July. With the help of a Noble Foundation grant and other funds the group raised, they worked with a local extension worker to purchase medications and woke up at 5:30 several mornings each week to visit six villages to treat 137 chickens and 980 goats and sheep.
Raising chickens and dwarf goats offers a sustainable method of alleviating poverty in West Africa. But parasites such as intestinal worms and diseases such as Newcastle, a deadly respiratory infection in chickens that can sail through a flock, and ovine rinderpest cause the goats to lose weight or even die.
On the Ohio State-ATI ninth annual Ghana study tour, the students chose community development projects and worked together to start three new school libraries in Wegbe-Kpalime, Akrofu-Xeviwofe, and the special needs classroom (for children with physical and developmental challenges) at the Anglican School in Ho. They worked with village farmers who produced rice, corn, groundnuts, cowpeas, and vegetables to start three new microfinance revolving loan groups with donations from local individual funders. Emma Thoricht, of Doylestown, and her coworker, Natasha Caporini, both Ohio State-ATI construction management majors, built model solar dehydrators to process food crops. And the group taught science and English at a local grade school and also inaugurated a new vegetable drip irrigation project.
If that weren’t enough, they spent afternoons learning how to speak the local language, to dance the traditional dances, and to drum the rhythms that direct the dancers. Local leaders and educators visited them to teach them about Ghanaian culture, history and social issues.
Ladrach, Thoricht, and their friends made a deep impression on the Ghanaians too. They received gifts of textbooks on animal husbandry, handmade textiles, a dish of smoked wood rat stew, which Ladrach pronounced ‘delicious, tastes like jerky’, baskets of freshly picked corn, dozens of mangos, hundreds of oranges, handfuls of newly picked peanuts, and an old rooster, whom the group promptly named Bruce before he was served up for dinner that evening. “You can’t out-give a Ghanaian” became the watchwords of the trip. Ladrach was inspired by her time in Ghana. “My stress level dropped significantly. I made lots of friends. I feel homesick for Ghana. I can’t wait to go back next year.”
Published: August 9, 2012