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Volunteerism with NGOs on refugee camps as a means of improving access to health information: A survival method for Liberian refugees in Ghana, West Africa

Osato F. Ogbahon, MPH, Rowan Regional Home Health and Hospice, 825A West Henderson Street, Salisbury, NC 28144, 704-267-3353, osatoogbahon@yahoo.com and Desmina A. Hamilton, MPH, Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 437 HHP Building, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-617.

This research was based on data collected at the Buduburam Liberian refugee camp in Ghana, West Africa. This protracted situation has placed many refugees in a limbo state as they have halted their educations and have had limited economic opportunities. Due to Ghanaian regulations, Liberians are not allowed to work legally within Ghana. As a means of circumventing Ghanaian law, many Liberians on camp have chosen to volunteer with one of the registered camp NGOs or CBOs. The volunteers' efforts often provide them with much desired skills and vocational training, and may also provide them with a small monetary stipend. In depth interviews were conducted with individuals who volunteered with Children Better Way (CBW), a camp NGO. Preliminary data suggests that individuals who volunteered with CBW may have improved mental states as their volunteerism provides them with a sense of purpose. Volunteerism through this organization also provides the opportunity to get health education on issues such as HIV/AIDS and sanitation. This research has numerous implications for refugee health as the results suggest that free vocational and skills training needs to be provided to individuals on camp as a means of decreasing the likelihood of engagement in negative health behaviors. The results also suggest that volunteerism provides individuals with access to pertinent health information.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Refugees, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Emerging Issues in International Health

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA