Starting a Project

Over the years, BCS has made incredible improvements for the campus, teachers and students. Much of this progress is made with the help of ZIS students but more support is always welcome at BCS.

For students visiting Ghana soon or alumni returning to BCS, it is encouraged to consider starting an independent or group project to improve aspects at the Bosomtwe Community School.

Below is a list of examples to inspire students interested in starting a project:

  • Communication for BCS is vital, but the campus often has trouble with good connection. Bringing Wi-Fi to BCS, where Vodaphone would be their provider, could be a tremendous improvement for their communication and learning facilities. The Vodaphone office in Accra has already been consulted and offers three plans with different Wi-Fi sizes and speeds for the school. However, preparations to scout the Bosomtwe area would have to be organized in order for Vodaphone to decide whether Bosomtwe is fit for Wi-Fi service. If so, enough funds should be raised to bring connectivity to the school
  • School laptops would be extremely beneficial to BCS. Even without Wi-Fi or enough laptops for all students, a few laptops could provide learning programs and games teachers could prepare. These laptops could either be donated by ZIS or newly bought.
  • Hygiene certainly needs to be addressed at BCS, especially washing hands before lunch. BCS students have one bucket of water, which they all clean their hands in before they eat. Students often ignore the soap ZIS has brought as they have not been educated about this. An effective system for washing hands before lunch or an educational workshop on hygience for students would be a great project when visiting BCS.
  • The BCS Physical Education program is very minimal. Even though BCS students get time to play football outside, the teachers need to be educated on the importance of physical sport. Also sex education is a priority.
  • The space in front of BCS is very barren and overgrown with weeds. Efforts to build a playground or sports field (basketball, football, etc.) would help the students stay stimulated and active, while learning new sports.
  • The whiteboards in classrooms are constantly running out of or losing dry-erase markers. Lessons are therefore very difficult for teachers to give. The possibility of a supply of markers would be very helpful.
  • A nurse is supposed to visit the school once a month and do routine check-ups on all the BCS students. However, the nurse often does not show up. This means that the children are not diagnosed with simple illnesses, such as a loss of sight (this has occurred to a BCS student before). Finding a solution to the problem of the nurse-visits would be incredible.
  • ZIS would like to raise awareness at BCS on environmental issues and sustainability at school. Bringing solar panels to BCS would be an enormous leap forward. In addition to providing energy, it is free to use. It would be the first installation of solar panels in Kumasi. Also educating the children on sustainability would be a great improvement.

Feel free to use any of the ideas listed above. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or contact one of the Ghana trip supervisors on your ideas.

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Health and Immunization Advice

Before visiting Ghana, it is important that your child gets a number of vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases your child might be at risk for. It is the responsibility of each student, respectively the parents, to ensure up-to-date and complete immunization coverage.

The following information is offered to students and parents as a guideline to immunization requirements and health issues regarding the travel to Ghana. This information cannot replace a visit to your health care provider. Thus, it is highly recommended you first arrange a meeting with a tropic doctor (two doctors in the Zurich canton are given below).

Immunization recommendations when travelling to Ghana:

Disease or vaccine Recommendation or requirements Additional advice
Hepatitis A Incubation period approx. 4 weeks. Symptoms vary in severity, from nausea to vomiting, weakness, lasting up to a few months. Lifelong immunity afterwards.
Hepatitis B If a person is not immunized, a base immunization is required: two immunization four weeks apart, the third immunization is six months after the first. Two to four weeks after the second dose, protection is reasonable, but long term protection at 96% protection is achieved after the third immunization.There is an accelerated immunization schedule but it does not offer the same protection.
Combined Hepatitis A + B Recommended instead of separate Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B immunizations It is not necessary to keep a chronological interval to other immunizations
Typhoid Recommended. NOTE that the combined vaccine against Hepatitis A and Typhus is not recommended for children under 16 years. May not be administered within 4 weeks of another live immunization such as yellow fever, MMR, BCG, or varicella.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Recommended if immunization is not up-to-date May not be administered within 4 weeks of another live immunization such as yellow fever, MMR, BCG, or varicella.
Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus (DPT) Recommended if immunization is not up-to-date If the student has not had a tetanus booster in the last 5 years, it is strongly recommended before the trip
Polio Recommended if immunization is not up-to-date. Students should have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). For students who received an all-IPV or all-oral poliovirus (OPV) series, a fourth dose is not necessary if the third dose was administered at age 4 years or older.
Rabies Recommended by the CDC for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, hiking, or work. Students should not play with or pet any animals and MUST report any bites to the chaperones IMMEDIATELY.

Malaria is a serious disease and a great risk in all areas of Ghana. Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. You can prevent this disease by taking an antimalarial drug (prescription from doctor, highly recommended) and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites (recommended to bring mosquito net). Malarone is a combination product of Atovaquone and Proguanil and should serve chemical prevention for malaria. Discuss with your tropic doctor about this or a similar product. 1 Malarone tablet has to be taken daily from the day BEFORE departure, during the entire trip and up to 7 days after returning to Switzerland. Tablets should be taken during dinner to help with absorption. NOTE that Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Ghana and should not be taken to prevent malaria.

Repellent sprays should be used for protection against mosquito bites. It is recommended to spray the repellent AFTER you have applied sun protection. Two sprays are recommended:

i.            Anti-Brumm Forte (lasts up to 12 hours and contains DEET protection against insect bites)

ii.            Autan Active (lasts up to 8 hours)

Both are available in pharmacies or Swiss Drogerien. If you complain of fever above 38 degrees, headache, shivering and other flu-like symptoms during AND after the trip, seek medical advice within 24 hours.

Other important medicines and items you need:

  1. Prescription medicines you take every day. Make sure you have enough to last during your trip. Keep them in their original prescription bottles and always in your carry-on luggage.
  2. Medicine for diarrhea
  3. Sunblock and sun glasses
  4. Antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  5. To prevent insect/mosquito bites, bring:
    1. Lightweight long-sleeved cotton shirts, long pants, and a hat to wear outside, whenever possible
    2. Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of mosquitoes

Be careful about food and water. Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness when travelling. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Remember to follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating, or use an alcohol-based hand gel
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water
  • Do NOT drink tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes
  • Do NOT use tap water to brush your teeth
  • Unless told so by a chaperone, do NOT eat salad, unpeeled raw fruit or vegetables, mayonnaise, etc. raw food may have been washed with contaminated water
  • Do not eat food bought from street vendors
  • Make sure food is fully cooked
  • Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized

After you return home continue taking your antimalarial drug for 7 days. If you are not feeling well, you should get medical attention within 24 hours and mention your recent travel.

Yellow fever is common in Ghana and can be transmitted through mosquito bites in the Bosomtwe area. You MUST get your child vaccinated before visiting Ghana, it is even required in order to get your visa. Contact a yellow fever doctor (see below) in the area to discuss what to do against yellow fever, as each doctor gives their own advice.

Travel Clinic Dr. med. Danielle Gyurech, PD Dr. Med. Julian SchillingForchstrasse 92, 8008 ZurichTel. No. 044 380 36 36

 

 

Schweizerisches Tropen Institut Hirschgraben 84, 8008 ZurichTel. No. 044 634 51 51
This is a doctor in the area who is certified to administer yellow fever immunizations and others if they are required: 
Dr. Fritz Akert, Eintrachtstrasse 16, 8820 WaedenswilTel. No. 044 783 96 99

A special thanks to Lui Holzleg, MD Healthy and Safe Away from Home, for her contributions to the health and immunization advice for students traveling to Ghana.

Applying for Visa

When applying for a Ghanaian visa, the Ghana Embassy in Bern asks for required documents, fees, and permits  (www.ghanaembassy.ch). To acquire an entry visa to Ghana, you must attach a letter seeking permission to enter Ghana’s borders. The letter asking permission for this application must be sent within 3 months before your planned travel to Ghana. A sample letter of application may look as follows:

To: Ghana Embassy, Belpstrasse 11, Postfach 5277, 3001 Bern, Switzerland

Re: School trip of student to Ghana

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you in order to apply for a visa for my child, CHILD’S NAME, a GRADE LEVEL grade student at the Zurich International School. We give our permission for him/her to travel with Ibrahim Oubda as part of a group of ZIS students. The group will spend the week doing service work at the Bosomtwe Community School near Kumasi and spent days visiting tourist locations around the Ghanaian coast. The Zurich International School is in a partnership with the Bosomtwe Community School and supports the educational program at BCS. My child will be travelling to Ghana from START DATE – END DATE (give flight details too). He/she will be with the group of students and help build new classrooms, teach the children, and play sports activities at BCS. I hope this information gives a satisfactory explanation about the activities my child will be doing during her/his stay in Ghana.

Our hosts are:

Ibrahim Oubda, Bosomtwe Community School, Lake Rd, Abidjan Junction

Phone: 00233 50 950 7791

Precevid/Rosewood Cottage
P.O. Box ST 74
Stadium – Kumasi

Phone: 00233 50 647 6490

 

Attached you will find:

1. Application forms (including pictures)

2. Permission to travel letter with list of participants (this letter)

3. Valid passport

4. Copy of Swiss residency permit

5. Copy of Yellow Fever vaccination

6. Stamped self addressed envelope

7. Cash payment of 100 CHF for the visa

8. Flight itinerary

 

If you require any additional information please do not hesitate in contacting me.

Yours sincerely,

Sign your name here

Before you send this letter out to the Ghanaian Embassy, make sure you have gone through the following procedures and attached the required documents to the letter:

  1. You must fill out the Visa Application Form for your child and make 4 copies. Click here to find the form.
  2. Include 4 passport-sized (3.5 x 4.5) photographs of your child attached to each application form.
  3. Your child’s original passport, which should have at least one empty double page in the visa section and should be valid for at least 6 months longer than the intended stay in Ghana.
  4. A visa fee of CHF 100. Account payment details can be found on the Ghana Embassy website.
  5. Include a self addressed envelope with CHF 6 for registered mail.
  6. An attestation of the Travel Agent/Airline stating the expected dates of arrival in and departure from Ghana or a copy of the ticket (please ask the trip’s supervisor for this information).
  7. If your child is non-Swiss, attach to their application evidence of his/her residence permit in Switzerland.
  8. Please state your name, street, house number and telephone number in your letter.
  9. Photocopy of Yellow Fever Vaccination

Please ensure that all of the above requirements are fulfilled before sending out your Ghana visa application. For any further questions, please contact your supervisor of the service trip or the Embassy of Ghana.

CWW TRIP 2014: To use a ready-made letter with the CWW trip’s details, click here: Visa Application Letter CWW 2014

Ghana Country Information

Ghanaian FlagGhana was the first country in Africa to gain independence in 1957. Colonized by the Dutch, British, and Portuguese, Ghana still maintains the roots of authentic African culture. Christianity is the most practiced religion in Ghana, while most Northern areas are Islamic.

Map of Ghana

Accra is not only the capital of Ghana but also the largest city in the country with elegant 19th century colonial buildings, skyscrapers and apartment blocks.  More than 50 languages and dialects are spoken in Ghana differing per region.  The most widely spoken language in Ghana is Akan, especially the dialects Twi (Spoken at BCS) and Fante.  English is the official language and  taught in all Ghanaian schools. The current republic government of Ghana is led by John Mahama, who became president in 2012.

Ghana is among the most economically prosperous and politically stable countries in Africa. Its climate is tropical. Notwithstanding the challenges faced by all developing countries, Ghana has a rapidly modernizing infrastructure for sanitation, health care, telecommunications, transportation, food, and accommodation. There is a market economy, a free press, an independent judiciary, and an elected constitutional democracy. Ghana has a rich natural resource base and is well known for its gold and diamonds. The country is a significant exporter in cocoa, electricity, silver, salt and timber, with recent discoveries in oil. Tourism is growing because of Ghana’s political and economic stability, beautiful nature, and wide use of English. The Ghanaian currency is called the Cedi. For more information about Ghana, click here.

 

What To Pack

The following list provides a guideline for students planning to visit Ghana and the Bosomtwe Community School:

  • Antimalarial drugs and other required medicine. Please click here for more information on health advice and packing tips.
  • A pair of gloves to prevent blisters when using a shovel at the school work site
  • A pair of shoes/trainers/sneakers that are allowed to get dirty
  • Flip flops and sandals are allowed, but protect your feet when working around mud, cement, shovels and bricks
  • Flashlight
  • Clothing sufficient for 1 week. Don’t overload on clothing, it is advisable to prepare an outfit for each day. For girls, make sure to bring appropriate shorts and shirts that cover and respect other Ghanaian culture so don’t wear any clothes too revealing. Long sleeve shirts are recommended for evenings when mosquitoes are likely to come out.
  • Gadgets and valuables are expected to stay at home. Even for bus rides it is encouraged to socialize or look out the window. You can bring your phones but we will have a school phone if you need to reach your family and we will send periodic updates to all parents.
  • An Adapter. Ghana has English plugs for chargers.
  • A camera if you are one of the photographers. It is advisable to discuss among students who will take photographs, instead of having everybody constantly take pictures on their phones.
  • A small soccer ball to play outside with (Optional)
  • A bathing suit in case we spend time at the Bosomtwe lake. The lake does not contain the schistosomiasis worm and ZIS students swam in the lake before.
  • Feel free to bring granola/cereal bars or any kind of snack with you when feeling hungry. Peanut butter jars and nutella jars are also great, as we often eat bread for breakfast. (Optional)
  • Sunblock, sunglasses and a hat
  • A towel
  • Don’t worry about bringing water bottles, we will bring enough for all students throughout the week
  • Hand sanitation that contains alcohol
  • Deodorant, you will get tired and hot when working at the school
  • A pen or pencil and notebook for those who would like to keep a journal during their stay (Optional)
  • Any old clothes, toys, books, or other educational materials you may have can be donated to the students at BCS (Optional)
  • A mosquito net is highly recommended, make sure you know how to set up the net before you go to Ghana (Optional)
  • Toilet bag with toothbrush and toothpaste

For any questions regarding what else to pack, please contact your trip’s supervisor or leave a comment below.