3 Weeks Volunteering in Ghana
Hello, my name is Daniela and I’d like to provide an insight into my volunteer project in Ghana where I’ve been for three weeks.
First of all: how did it come to my mind to do such a trip?
Well, Africa as a travel destination has been in my mind ever since – it can be quiet a big challenge to visit a new continent and I wanted to get over the obstacle as soon as possible. I decided to do my trip after having finished school and because of travelling alone I decided just to go on a three-weeks-trip. I started to catch up on Africa, its different countries and all the religions, political situations, languages. After having read a lot about it and having talked to friends I finally decided to go to Ghana.
From the beginning on I knew that I wanted to work in a social facility, so I checked the various offers and decided to work with children. Studentsgoabroad helped me lots, always available via mail or phone. They mediated me to my contact person in Ghana, so I could always ask for information; sometimes it took a few days but in the end I always received an answer.
Because of a misunderstanding (it wasn’t really clear when I’d arrive exactly) everything was kind of stressful in the end (booking the flight, getting the visa etc.) but thank god I already looked for the important immunization in advance, so I could start my trip in time and without any further troubles.
My flight and the whole journey to Ghana was alright, but anyway you are getting through a real emotional rollercoaster: on the one hand you’re looking forward to the new continent, a new culture – on the other hand, you know that you are on your own from now on, so there are a lot of fears in your mind as well: will I get sick? Will everything will be like I wish it to be, harmonious and well-planned? I felt kind of puzzled.
When I arrived on the airport of Accra, my contact person was already waiting for me. Because of me arriving pretty late and the journey to Ho taking 3h we spent the night in Accra. Right after my arrival I could already see the “Ghanaian standard of living” – the taxi drive to our hotel, the area I saw, the room in the hotel. The taxi driver told me that Ghanaians don’t set a high value on driving safety: Nobody is using the seat-belts, the cars are really old and sometimes severely damaged. But they are just declared as useless when the horn doesn’t work anymore and the car’s beyond repair. But maybe that sounds more alarming than it actually is; I’ve never had an accident during my time in Ghana.
Everywhere you can find these little stores, selling everything you can imagine: I just fell in love with them; they probably have the most delicious fruits in the world – even for a small amount of money! That was an awesome experience that I really miss now, back in Germany.
My hotel room was furnished pretty well: I even had a small TV and air-condition; also the toilet and the shower corresponded to our imagination of a bath – although there was no basin, so that I therefore had to use the shower.
The next day, we started our travel to Ho and hopped on a bus where had to wait for a whole hour because the bus driver was waiting for the very last place to be occupied – then our 3h-journey began. I remember it as a long, exhausting drive where people tried to sell their goods through the windows of our bus; there were goats, hens or monkeys everywhere, I also saw a lot of dead animals lying on the street.
Finally arrived in Ho I directly got to know my new flatmates, our cook and our neighbor family. Although I didn’t actually have a host family, our neighbors replaced them really good!! I also got along with my flatmates really well: they were from the United States and Columbia, but the communication had never been a problem. Thanks to Facebook, we’re still in contact – a really close friendship has been born. In Ho I got along really fast and after some days I could already orient myself pretty good.
But now I want to tell something about my work in Ghana/ Ho: The daycare I was working for was located in Ho as well, so I just had a 10-minutes-walk from my home to my work place. The first to days, my person in charge accompanied me – just to get sure I’ll find my way. In the daycare, there were two more volunteers from Switzerland; I also made friends with them pretty soon. My daycare consisted of a crèche and a kindergarten with kids aged from 1-5. The communication with the other educators worked really well. With the kids it was a little bit harder because most of them were shy and didn’t dare to speak English; but after a while I managed to create confidence! My daily schedule: at 8 a.m. I started to change the kids’ clothes (because they have to wear a uniform), afterwards I watched them praying and singing. After they had their breakfast and some more time to play, every child went to his class and school started. They didn’t have a lot of material like pens or paper, so the children used blackboards to write on it with their chalks. My tasks mainly consisted of supporting the teacher. At lunchtime I finished my work, so I didn’t actually have a lot of hours to work per day. But so I had a lot of free time where we organized a lot of trips to experience the area, some lakes, waterfalls and things like that. We also went to Accra a few times (overnight-trip) or enjoyed a drink in a bar. We had to pay the trips by ourselves but I can tell: everything is quiet cheap there – I even bought myself some tailored clothes. The cloths in Ghana are so gorgeous – and so is the country! Now Germany seems to be so pale. I really enjoyed my journey and I honestly can tell that it changed me in a positive way: it has really broadened my mind and changed my way of thinking.
To eliminate any other doubts or fears, I’d like to make some more notes:
- You can brush your teeth with the tap water; and you can buy some water to drink in almost every place
- All sanitary facilities correspond to a European standard, so don’t worry about that; there’s electricity as well, but you’ll need an adapter for using it.
- I didn’t have any disorders with the food there – nevertheless I wouldn’t recommend to buy fish from anyone selling his goods on the street.
- The temperature was really comfortable (between 25 and 35°C, rain season)
- If you want to bring some presents with you, go for any kind of toys – they’ll love it. (something like pens, papers, balloons, skipping ropes etc.) I also brought some barrettes with me, but they weren’t useful as most of the women have shaven hair.
Finally, I’d like to say that I always felt safe there. Naturally, I didn’t go anywhere alone at night or left my bag out of sight – anyway: I never had the feeling that anyone wanted to harm me. All people have been really nice and welcoming. The only thing that might be a little bit confusing in the beginning is the fact that you – as a white person – are something different (not in a bad way). White skin is sensed as beautiful in Ghana, so don’t worry about that. Ghanaians are friendly people, just willing to show you the beauty of their country, so that you can show it with them.