Mayborn graduate student finds focus in Ghana
Krystal Maestas has been to Africa four times, but her trip to Ghana this summer impacted her the most. "The people, the culture, the heart of Ghana are remarkable."
Her trip was organized through Lake Pointe Church of Rockwall and focused on providing medical care to Ghanians; the team set up free clinics and offered dental care, physicians visits and a pharmacy, providing mostly de-worming and malaria prevention and treatment medication. In five days, the team served 2500 people.
“So often what is depicted of Africa is the depressing side or the problems,” she said. “It is actually a country very rich in joy and a people full of pride, not focused on their hardships. I’d never felt a place of investment like I did in Ghana with the people there.”
While in Ghana, Maestas had the opportunity to shadow two photographers, and she said they shared surprisingly detailed photography and videography tips and instructions throughout the week. Joseph Pelegreen, a cinematography student at John Brown University, and Apag Annankra, a Ghanian photographer, both offered to support her in her studies in any way they can.
“It was really cool to see someone like Apag who really worked hard for his knowledge—just completely self-taught—who didn’t give up on that, and then was willing to share what he knows. It was encouraging. In my opinion there’s tons of stories that need to be told and not enough journalists and photojournalists to tell them, so why not share the skills to benefit that!”
Maestas began her academic career in nursing and then decided to complete her undergraduate degree in photography. She chose the Mayborn because she wanted a solid foundation in communication skills.
“My dream is to work with people from different nationalities and cultures, whether here locally at a resettlement agency or abroad working in refugee camps,” she said. “I always wanted to work in international communications, but the idea was never so real as it is now.”
She said she is thankful that she was blessed with the summer opportunity and that the Mayborn faculty and staff have been supportive of her plans.
“The Mayborn is filled with people who care about their students and want to see them grow past their own expectations. It's not any easy program, but it's a program that is worth it 100%.”
Maestas uses a free text app called WhatApp to keep in touch with her Ghanian network, including a non-profit that is seeking to adopt-through-support the village of Mamakrom. She hopes to return to Ghana next summer for an extended trip.
“I couldn’t do any of this without the help, encouragement, and support of others. I am excited that the Lord has put a passion for international in my heart,” she said. “I’m hoping and praying that this next year I could find the networking that I need to get there. If given the opportunity, I wouldn’t think twice about moving to Ghana to work.”
Maestas is a Mayborn Scholar in the Mayborn Graduate Institute. On two previous trips to Africa, she interned as a technician for The Jesus Film, a group that records and produces audio tracks of the film in local languages, allowing residents to view a film in their language—a first for many of them. Two weeks after returning from Ghana this summer, Maestas went to Portland, Washington to minister with a group that spent five days at shelters and on the streets with the homeless.
Photographs by Apag Annankra