BGSU Magazine Summer 2008
Changing the World … One Village at a Time
Martina Hanulova worked last fall in Ghana’s teeming Buduburam Refugee Settlement
Seen from a distance, the camp looks like an African village. But inside, it is a place where people who have experienced the most tragic and wrenching events are trying to make a new life, often side by side with those who have terrorized them or against whom they themselves have been brutal.
That is the scene in Ghana’s teeming Buduburam Refugee Settlement, where recent BGSU graduate Martina Hanulova worked last fall. The recipient of a Givens Fellowship from Bowling Green, the international studies and French major from Slovakia was able to continue her avocation of working with African people.
Affectionately nicknamed Decontee, or “everything has time,” by the residents for her intense desire to “meet everybody, talk to everybody and see everything,” Hanulova says “living in the camp was a life-changing experience for me. … it was like a focused light that gave me a clearer idea of what I want to do in international development.
“Living in the poverty of refugees who have had to go through so much and have so little yet want to share, was inspiring. I’ve never seen more energy and even happiness in such a small space. There is so much music and dancing and the colorful nature of Africa itself. They have had a cruel life and yet they are able to hope and dream. They say, ‘There is a way out and we will survive and we will go back home.’”
Hanulova chose to work through the Global Volunteer Network because of its emphasis on reconciliation, peace and education. Of the three jobs she did while in the camp, two were directly related to helping people work through their traumas and difficulties together. Liberia has 16 tribes, and tribal rivalries are still strong, in addition to the country’s political differences.
After graduating in May, she enrolled in graduate school in the U.S. She hopes to return to Burkina Faso and Liberia and to secure an internship or research position.
For more details on Martina Hanulova: