Moving to Ghana

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Moving to Ghana with a Toddler

May 2004

I was wondering if anyone has experience with living in West Africa with a child, especially a young child. My son Gabriel, 13 months, is Ghanaian-American. I would like to bring him to Ghana to meet that side of his family (his father is from Ghana), and introduce him to the culture, language, and music. I am thinking of starting a business there (in Accra) and living there long-term. I lived there for 6 months in 2001 when I was working there as a technology volunteer. My main concerns are malaria (I worry about side effects of anti-malarials too) and infectious disease. Any insight into life with children in Ghana would be appreciated.

My mother went to Africa with my brother when he was 9 months old. But he was young to take the Lariam (name of the drug to prevent malaria). So she had to be careful where she went with him; avoid the area were there is a lot of mosquito, she bought mosquito net (to protect him when he was a sleep) and lot of insecticide (there is also a lotion which you put on skin to prevent mosquito bite). Good luck, Myriam

I didn't see the original posting, so forgive me if the advice isn't on the mark. I have a friend who just moved to Tanzania, which is in E. Africa, but she could have some helpful advice for you. She and her son (5 yrs old) were on the latest malaria medication prescribed in the US when they first arrived in Africa, but they both had to stop taking it due to side effects (she became depressed and couldn't stop crying and her son developed nightmares and started grinding his teeth). She feels that US medical doctors are not the ones to consult about malaria in Africa. She mentioned that there is medication you can take once you get malaria that clears it up right away. It only costs about $8 per dose -- a full day's pay for many of the people where she is living -- which is why many Africans can't get treatment. She and her son haven't gotten malaria yet, and she lives at a higher elevation where there aren't as many mosquitoes, so I imagine the risks depend on where you are in Africa.

I would move to Ghana right now if I could. My parents take a two week trip to Ghana every year and I have been there for that and for other reasons. My husband is from Nigeria and we have taken our three children to Nigera and Ghana and stayed for some time. In fact, my 2 and 4 years old daughters lived in Nigeria for 6 months with my husband while I ''supposedly'' was working towards getting this doctorate completed. Anyway, regarding Malaria... there is a pill called Mefloquine that we are supposed to take weekly... many people call it the ''sunday sunday tab''. Kaiser reduced it into a powder for my youngest to take but I discovered it was easier to give to her in pill form and with COKE or FANTA!! They looked forward to drinking the soda... not taking the Mefloquine... on a side note, both of my daughters contracted Malaria and were treated easliy and quickly while in NIgeria and are wonderfully healthy now.

Furthermore, the schools in Nigeria and in Ghana are very strong academically. Many do not however have all of the financial resources that we take for granted over here ( computers, science equipment etc.)but the students are sharp as can be and able to compete and even surpass the students educated in the US public school system.

I find the children in that area to be extremely articulate, incredibly respectful and bi-lingual. In fact,my daughters came home speaking Yoruba and English with a NIgerian accent. Ghana to me is a very warm friendly place. It is a bit more laid back than Nigeria. In Ghana as well as Nigeria, you can find practically anything you would find in the US. I often found myself a bit disturbed by the over infatuation of America and all things American... But that can be relative to your locale as well. Accra is a very metropolitan place... great food, nightclubs(if you are so inclined)etc. The area is very safe and children are loved. I wish that I could raise my children in such a child friendly, human centered environment. Enjoy Africa