a Social Work and Public Health Practicums in Ghana | IE3 Global
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Social Work and Public Health Practicums in Ghana | Accra, Ghana

Since 2013, this program has offered a variety of field work practicums with a focus on social work and public health. This internship program is offered through the Palm Institute of Strategic Learning, a private liberal arts college with a goal of facilitating the training and development of the next generation of ethical and values-based African leaders. Palm Institute is an independent private non-profit organization registered in Ghana. So far about 50 American students have gained valuable field-work experience through this program. The American Program Director, holds a Masters of Social Work and has over 15 years of relevant hands-on experience working in the US and abroad.

Internship Start Dates:

  • Internship is available all terms

Duration of Internship:

  • 10 – 12 weeks
  • Longer internships may be possible, and any such requests will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Since 2013, this program has offered a variety of hands-on field work practicums with a focus on social work and public health. This internship program is offered through the Palm Institute of Strategic Learning, a private liberal arts college with a goal of facilitating the training and development of the next generation of ethical and values-based African leaders. Palm Institute is an independent private non-profit organization registered in Ghana. So far, about 50 American students have gained valuable field-work experience through this program.

The American Program Director, Beth Okantey,  has 12 years US-based direct practice working with homeless adults, chronically mentally ill adults, low income pregnant women, in child welfare and in community development; 9.5 years international-based practice working in community development, health education, child welfare and supervising students and 6 years teaching at the university level) to address concerns or challenges, establish learning goals and objectives and assist with learning agreements.

The following are examples of the organizations you may be placed with through this internship. A clearly-written, detailed cover letter and well written applicant essays will enable us to place you in a suitable organization. All internship sites offer good learning opportunities. If a particular organization interests you, feel free to mention this in your application, but please note that placement with a certain organization cannot be guaranteed. Final placement decisions are made by the Program Director and based first and foremost on the needs of the worksite, and also take into consideration position availability and the skills and interest of the intern.

  • Save Them Young Orphanage: Save Them Young is Ghanaian-founded and Ghanaian-run. It houses about 70 children. A majority of the children are placed through the Ministry of Child Welfare due to abandonment, abuse or parents who are unable to provide care to their children. Interns placed here will have the opportunity to engage in both one-on-one and group work.  Activities include and are not limited to:  provide assessment and counseling, teach and model basic social and living skills, work with children with special needs, assist in the on-site school to provide structure and appropriate teaching methods, provide training to the staff on appropriate rewards and disciplining techniques and assist in obtaining health care services for the children.


  • City of Refuge Ministries: This Christian-based children’s home houses 40+ children.   The home is American/Nigerian run and rescues children who have been sold into child slavery to fish on Lake Volta.  There is also a school on-site for the children at the home and for the community.  The campus also houses a group of single mothers who are engaged in an empowerment program.  This placement offers both individual and group work with the possibility of some community level engagement.  Potential activities include: work with students to provide tutoring; teach basic social and living skills; engage children and the single mother’s group towards empowerment, self-esteem building and anger management; assist in positive parenting techniques to the house parents; offer various trainings to the staff and aid in the development of various policies and procedures.


  • Remar Rehabilitation Center: Remar International is a Christian non-governmental organization that has many programs assisting homeless children, orphans, prostitutes, incarcerated individuals and individuals struggling with addiction.  Remar Rehabilitation Center is a children’s home that houses boys.  This placement provides opportunity for both individual and group work.  Activities include and are not limited to:  providing individual and group counseling; observing, delivering feedback and implementing ideas with regards to discipline and parenting and offering training on health education, empowerment and self-esteem building.


  • Don Bosco Child Protection Center: Don Bosco is an international Catholic organization located in various countries throughout the world that advocates for the rights of children and the empowerment of young people.  The Child Protection Center can house 120+ children with a focus on those who have been engaged in child labor.   The child protection center provides an education and prioritizes reunification with family.   The center has several social workers on site to work with the children along with their family members.  This placement accommodates both individual and group work with children at the home.  There is also the opportunity to assess, evaluate and reunify children with family members, relatives and community members.


  • Hope Setters Autism Center: Hope Setters Autism Center is a school in Tema that focuses on reaching out to children with disabilities with a proportion of children who are on the autism spectrum.  Interns can participate in one-on-one and/or group work.  Interns can assist with training staff members and assisting with curriculum development.  They can also engage in outreach with community members and organizations to assist in decreasing the stigma against children with disabilities.


  • SOS Children’s Village Family Strengthening Program: The Family Strengthening Program is a Ghana-based organization that focuses primarily on community intervention with children and families in need through training, employment opportunities through a micro-loan program and supporting local non-profit organizations.  This opportunity will provide minimal individual work, but experience with groups and the community level.  Activities include:  providing skills training and education around initiating and strengthening small businesses, assisting in recruiting youth interested in learning various trades, providing care-giving/parenting trainings, supporting health education in local schools, helping to initiate various school clubs and engaging in proposal and grant writing.


  • Joncaring Foundation: This is a local community-based organization that does work at a grassroots level trying to empower individuals through poverty alleviation and education.  The organization completes HIV/AIDS testing and counseling and also work in governance to ensure the government is held accountable and funding is appropriated well in terms of its community members and organizations.  The Joncaring Foundation also provides HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention education.  The organization works in a high-need community that is similar to an inner-city area.


  • Vince de Paul Day Care for the Aged: St. Vincent de Paul is a Ghana-based and run day care center for the elderly.  There are usually less than 10 individuals who attend the program on a daily basis.  An intern will have the opportunity to engage in both individual and group work.  Activities include:  organizing various group activities, providing one-on-one support within the center and to those home-bound in need of extra support, assisting with community awareness and advertising and aiding in policy and procedure development.


  • Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Association of Ghana: ARDAG is a Ghana-based non-governmental organization that works to increase awareness and education around Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia and other related diseases.   There are opportunities for an intern to engage at the individual, group, organizational and community level.  Activities include:  one-on-one or group work with individuals and families who are experiencing such diseases, work around management and other organizational needs and aiding in the creation of awareness, education and ending stigma.


  • House of St. Francis:  The House of St. Francis is an American-founded in-patient treatment facility for men and out-patient facility for women struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.  There are on average about 15 residents.  The facility is staffed and run by Ghanaian peer counselors who focus on Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step Program and Recovery Dynamics.  An intern will have the opportunity to engage at the individual, group and community level.  Activities include:  engaging in individual and group work focusing on sobriety, recovery and relapse prevention; outreach within the community to address drug and alcohol issues, recruitment and education and assist with the development of agency policies and procedures.  The House of St. Francis is interested in a student who is in recovery and/or has considerable knowledge of the Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step Program.


  • Psychiatric Unit at Tema General Hospital: Tema General Hospital is a government-run and funded hospital.  The psychiatric unit is an outpatient unit and is staffed with a psychiatrist who maintains patient medication and several nurses.  An intern will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the patients as well as engage in community outreach and education around mental health.


  • HIV/AIDS Testing and Counseling at Tema General Hospital: An intern will be based at the HIV/AIDS Testing and Counseling Center.  The Center provides testing, counseling, health education and minimal support.  The intern will have the opportunity to engage at the individual, group and community level.  Activities include:  providing support and counseling for in-patient individuals and those residing within the community, assisting with and implementing community support groups and engaging in community education.


  • HIV/AIDS Testing and Counseling at Ashaiman Polyclinic: The activities would be similar to what is stated above although the clinic only serves individuals on an outpatient basis.  In addition, an intern would be working with a peer mentor who counsels other individuals living with HIV/AIDS.


  • Institute for Youth Leadership and Development: This is a government-run trade school.  There are 250+ students who attend the school.  Some live on the school campus and others are day students.  The institute provides training in masonry, carpentry, welding, dress making, cooking, electrical installation, plumbing, secretarial work and general agriculture.  This placement supports both individual and group work.  Activities include:  providing guidance and counseling on leadership, motivation and entrepreneurship; engaging in teaching various topics; assisting with peer group formation and providing computer skills and social media education.


  • The Hunger Project: The Hunger Project is a US-based, Ghanaian-run non-governmental organization that specializes in community development and micro-loan programs.  The organization uses a model of ‘epi-centers’ that are hubs designed to serve multiple communities.  The Matsekope ‘epi-center’ is about 36 miles away and serves 9 communities.  The ‘epi-center’ has a community bank, community room, health center, food bank and will be opening a library.  This opportunity will provide an intern with experience at the individual, group and community level.  Activities include, but are not limited to:  facilitating community development and mobilization work; assisting with the community bank that provides micro-financing; providing support with agriculture and horticulture; developing and implementing community needs assessments and helping to empower individuals through tutoring, forming various groups and providing various health and environmental education and activities. Housing will be within the community that houses the ‘epi-center’.


  • The Department of Community Development: This is a Ghana-run government organization that works towards development within poverty-stricken populations and areas at the community level.  Interns will have the opportunity to primarily engage with groups and at the community level.  Activities include:  developing and implementing community needs assessments to mobilize a community;  providing health education, skills training and empowerment to women and youth; initiating various community-level activities and assisting with income generating activities.


  • The Ministry of Social Welfare: This Ministry of Social Welfare is a government organization that oversees services provided for families, community care and justice administration.  An intern will have the opportunity to work within the area of child welfare to assist in protecting children who are abused or neglected, are involved in custody disputes and involved in paternity issues.  The ministry also monitors childcare centers, children’s homes, non-profit organizations, hospital welfare, rehabilitation and juvenile probation.  An intern will have the opportunity to engage at the individual, group and community level.  Activities include:  assisting in monitoring and licensing various care homes and organizations, meeingt with families engaged in the child welfare system, aiding in seeking placement options and referrals to resources, engaging in and observing the role of a social worker at a local hospital and within the judicial system in Ghana and participating in report writing.


  • The Health Directorate: This is a government body that oversees and coordinates all health activities in the Tema area.  This placement opportunity will provide an intern with a predominant macro view of health activities in the area with some limited participation at the individual and group level.  Activities include:  observing health activities in the Tema area; engaging in community outreach and development within maternal and child health and family planning; providing health education and assisting with disease prevention, disease control and mass immunization schemes

Job responsibilities will vary depending on placement and may include direct client service provision, research, advocacy, grant-writing, teaching, etc.

Academic Background:

Social Work, Public Health, Psychology, Education, International Studies, Women and Gender Studies, African Studies,  International Development, Non-Profit Management, other relevant majors

Language Requirements:

English is widely spoken in professional and social settings. Interns are not expected to speak a foreign language. That said, interns are encouraged to learn some basic local terms related to greetings and simple conversation to demonstrate cultural interest.

Other Requirements:

  • Interns should be self-motivated, mature, and professional.
  • Interns are expected to demonstrate a good attitude, an open mind, cultural sensitivity and a willingness to learn and work through challenges.
  • Interns will abide by industry best practices and organizational requirements and be respectful of and sensitive to realities of working closely with clients/youth/marginalized populations, etc.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3 Global Program Fee: $3,450
  • Host Site Fees:
    • 10 weeks: $2,800
    • 11 weeks: $3,080
    • 12 weeks: $3,360
  • International Travel: $1,700
  • Recommended Immunizations: $400*

* Fees vary based on medical history and insurance coverage

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Food: $140
  • Local Transportation: $100
  • Recreation: $120
  • Personal Expenses: $100

Additional Expense Information

The Host Site Fees Includes:

  • Personalized Placement
  • Homestay with local family
  • Two meals per day (breakfast and dinner)
  • Airport transfers
  • Two-day In-country orientation
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Weekly one-on-one (1/1+ hour) supervision meetings/debriefs with Program Director, Beth Okantey, MSW
  • Monthly integrative group seminar to include monthly field trips.
    • Example Fieldtrips: Pantang Psychiatric Hospital, Global Mamas, Osu School of Social Work, Dept. of Social Welfare, International Justice Mission
  • Weekly report to university field education director or university liaison and additional follow-up via email, phone and/or Skype (as needed)
  • Complete mid-term evaluation (if applicable) and final evaluation
  • Post-departure support via email, phone and/or Skype (as needed)

Budgeting Note: Estimated costs are based on typical internship-related costs and a modest standard of living. Each intern’s costs will vary based on lifestyle choices (eating out vs. cooking, taking public transportation vs. taxis) and recreational spending (travelling on days off, hobbies, etc).

Interns live with seasoned homestay families within a couple gated neighborhoods, in the suburbs of Accra. Homestays are located between 30 minutes to 1 hour from Accra, with traffic. Interns are provided with 2 meals per day, breakfast and dinner. Depending in the number of interns, bedrooms may be shared with 2-3 same-sex interns. Water can be heated for bathing.  Students can purchase a Ghana sim card (for less than $1) for internet capability on a smart phone and to be used as a hotspot for a laptop.  Internet service is pay as you go.  Students can pay for laundry services or hand wash or machine wash (depending on the host family).  Student bedrooms have ceiling fans.

Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated, but should be discussed with the IE3 Global Program Coordinator.

“Ultimately, doing my internship in Ghana was the best decision I have ever made; it was also the most challenging experience I have ever had. Learning about and practicing international social work in a developing nation was a challenge itself; as well as adjusting to a world that lacks a lot of the modern amenities that we take for granted here in the US.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to live, learn, work and love in a world very different from my own; something that has taught me a lifetime of lessons and irreplaceable knowledge.  Ghanaian culture is vibrant and welcoming and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have had this life-changing experience. I highly recommend doing your internship in Ghana; you will not regret it!”

-Jenna, Program Alumni

“I spent the summer in Ghana during my field experience for my BSW.  I went back to visit last summer during my MSW.  I can’t say enough positive things about my experience in Ghana.  It changed me as a person and as a social worker and I truly can’t imagine practicing as a social worker without that experience.”

-Bailey, Program Alumni


Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Fall: April 15
Winter: September 15
Spring: November 15

  • Priority Deadline - January 15
  • Standard Deadline - February 15