Knowing and Seeing: Hands-On Medical in Ghana
Partnering with the nonprofit Nurturing Nations, Maia Bingham (BIO ’24) had the opportunity to join biology professor Mark Belk’s travel group to Ghana to treat children for malaria and parasites in medical clinics and schools. Some of the children Bingham helped were abandoned for disabilities, rescued from sex trafficking, or otherwise severely disadvantaged. Bingham also spent time playing with the kids while Nurturing Nations distributed hygiene supplies and took measurements for clothing and shoes.
Helping in the clinics was an eye-opening experience for Bingham: “Knowing it is one thing, but going there and seeing so many of them with malaria. . . It's just so sad that they don't have the resources to prevent or treat it.”
In addition to treating and playing with the children, Bingham and her peers visited with the local Ga tribe. After meeting the tribe’s king, they were invited to dinner with the queen mother where they ate the traditional regional dish fufu. Since the king had previously attended General Conference, the group of students were able to discuss the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU.
Bingham and the other students lived in the homes of local Nurturing Nations volunteers, which fully immersed the students in the Ghanaian community. To Bingham, the people in the community were some of the most loving she has ever met: “People are just so kind and so open and so willing to have you be a part of their community, their family.”
Bingham and her peers also participated in wildlife conservation and animal protection. They researched aquaponics as a way to boost the local community’s food supply. Combining fish ponds with gardens allows the fish to fertilize the plants while the plants provide oxygen for the fish.
While attending church in one of the Ghanaian wards, the congregation sang “I Stand All Amazed” (193) for the sacrament hymn. The pace of the singing was slower than Bingham expected, but she realized that she was better able to appreciate the hymn itself. She pondered deeply on the love that God has for both herself and the saints in Ghana. The love of God was prevalent and all-pervasive throughout the experience.
Bingham is beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve the people in Ghana and for those who provided the enabling grant money. “I only have gratitude for the people who don't even know who I was," she says. "They don't know who I am but were willing to help me go and see the world.”
Bingham’s experiences in Ghana inspired her to continue helping in her local community. Because of Ghana, Bingham is more determined to provide healthcare to immigrants and underserved communities in her future career.