Ghana

Original Volunteers

Are you sitting comfortably? This is my experience of Ghana with Original Volunteers. I hope you enjoy reading it and it inspires you to choose Ghana as your volunteer destination.

Last January (17), I finally decided to fulfill a dream that I'd had since the age of 18. I was now 52 and not sure if I was perhaps a bit old. I'd searched many websites over the years and was always put off by how expensive it was. I then came across the Original Volunteers website; I'd finally found what I had been looking for and which I could afford so I registered with them. The next decision of where to go was a bit harder but, having trawled through all the destinations, Ghana stood out the most. As a first time volunteer, it came across as being one of the 'safest' options and for someone with a lack of confidence, I found it more and more reassuring the more I read through the website. I booked my flights and there was no turning back. I was off to Ghana for two weeks. The paperwork was completed without any problems and any questions I had were answered quickly. I did try to join the Buddy List, but a technical problem prevented me from doing so. I contacted OV and they said they would pass it onto their IT person to look into, but they didn't manage to sort it out. However, they did pass my details onto a few other volunteers via e-mail and I did get to befriend a lovely, young lady who was going out a week before me and leaving a week after me.

Unfortunately, I was travelling to Ghana the day after BA has it's worldwide computer crash and to say it was manic and stressful is an understatement! With 15 minutes to board the plane and still not through security, it was thanks to a young American lady that we bypassed the queues and got to the gate with a minute to spare. I've never run through Heathrow Airport so fast!! We then took off 1.5 hours late which caused me to panic a little as OV's driver was waiting at the other end. Kotoka International Airport was a little intimidating and everything was going OK until my name was called over the tannoy. Finding the Lost and Found Desk, I was informed that my luggage was still in London! Thank goodness, I'd taken OV's advice and packed a cabin bag with a few days of clothes and some essentials. I was given a reference and a telephone number and told I'd have to return to collect my luggage....a 6 hour round trip!. Coming out of the airport was exactly as described on the website and after numerous 'no, thank yous' as advised, I saw the familiar Airport Pick-Up sign I'd seen in pictures and all was good, although I do think that the company's name could have been a bit more prominent. It was now 10pm and, despite a long wait, my driver was welcoming, polite and helpful and I immediately felt at ease with him. The sights, sounds and smells were like nothing I'd experienced before and I was excited at what the next two weeks were going to bring. Driving along with the wind in my hair and the music playing made me feel free from the stressful life of the UK. We finally arrived at the volunteer house at 1am and greeted by an OV staff member who quickly got me settled into my room....I was shattered by this point.

Given the time of year and only 6 volunteers there, I was lucky enough to have a room to myself with a double bed at that. The facilities were as expected...basic, but more than adequate and that first cold shower took your breath away. The kitchen was, um, useable, although looked as though it could have done with a bit of tlc. The fridge was small and I can't imagine how volunteers cope when the house is full. I do have to say that the cooker needed replacing as it was a hazard when lighting it. Of course, this may have now been done.

The next morning, I met my fellow volunteers and all were very welcoming and delightful, despite the age range, as well as the other OV staff. They were informed of my luggage problem and I was reassured that it would be sorted. Everyone then left to go to their projects so I was on my own for a bit awaiting my orientation with Rebeca. Being of a similar age, we had a nice chat and a little drive into Mpraeso where she showed me the places to buy things (even Tesco baked beans!) and also the 'do's and 'don'ts' of Ghanaian culture. Unfortunately, getting the Ghanaian SIM card wasn't as easy as expected, but with Rebeca's knowledge and patience we got there in the end. By the end of the first day, I was settled in and looking forward to what came next.

I didn't have any specific experience, e.g. teaching so I decided to do one week on a building project and the next week in the school. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way and being that much older and not as fit as the youngsters, I was in agony with my back after two days of making concrete blocks for new classrooms, but I gave it my best shot and contributed to making around 200 in that time. Next time, I'd find out if there was any painting to do...far more up my street. The following day, I joined another volunteer who was teaching in the school. Within an hour, I was in another class with 7/8 year olds. Not having had any teaching experience, I was thrown in at the deep end which was quite daunting at first, but after a few days it got a little easier. I'm not sure I should have been asked to undertake some tasks given to me by the teacher although, in the absence of a photocopier, it did require a bit of ingenuity and improvisation. Thank goodness for the paper I took out there and my fellow volunteers help. Tracing and colouring the handouts certainly kept us busy in the evening and doing it by torchlight was quite an achievement.

I finally got my luggage on the Thursday thanks to the OV staff arranging it's collection by taxi and had quite got used to the fact that I didn't have it. Normally I would have been fretting, but by then the relaxed Ghanaian way had obviously worked it's magic. That first weekend, two of us decided to go to Cape Coast and the OV staff arranged our transport and accommodation. We had the same taxi driver so I knew we were in good hands and he remained with us the whole weekend which was very reassuring. We stayed at Hans Cottage, touched crocodiles...thank you Samson for making an appearance just for us!, did the canopy walk (which was scarier than my skydive!), visited the slave fort (a must do) and rounded off with a trip to West Mall. A great weekend with great company.

The second week came and things didn't quite go as expected. The Outreach Day changed several times, opening the library for the kids didn't happen even though there were several requests to do so and the numerous changes meant that my arts and crafts activity at the school couldn't go ahead....all things I was really looking forward to doing. This was quite frustrating and I found it upsetting at letting the teacher/kids down by not turning up without any warning, even asking the OV staff to let them know to which I was told not to worry about it. I do have to say that the Outreach Day did go ahead eventually and was a great experience. On the last weekend, I wasn't able to go to Mole National Park with all the other volunteers due to my flight home on the Sunday which was a shame, but I did manage to find something to do so I wasn't on my own all weekend.

This is just a fraction of what I could say....there's so much more! All in all, it was the most amazing experience and I'm very glad I chose to go Ghana with Original Volunteers. I felt completely safe and well looked after at all times. I followed the advice on their website and had no problems. There were things that I took that I found I didn't need or use, but that's a minor point. Two weeks went by so quickly. I made some wonderful new friends, have some fantastic photos/memories and was very sad to leave, especially the kids. The OV staff did a great job and I hear they cook a mean meal, not that I got to experience it...haha. Despite it's obvious problems, I love Ghana and it's people. To me, it's like stepping back in time where chivalry still exists, the strong family unit is so evident, elder members are treated with great respect and the kids are disciplined. Everyone is so welcoming, they appreciate everything you do for them and the kids are just adorable. Once you've overcome the constant attention as an 'obruni', requests for things and the numerous marriage proposals, you'll come to see it's beauty, heart and soul. You'll need to keep an open mind and be prepared for things to be done in 'Ghana time'. I cannot begin to describe the effect it has had on me, how it captures you and makes you want to keep going back. It's the best decision I ever made.

Program:
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jan 26, 2018
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Original Volunteers

It was our first time doing anything like this so were a bit unsure when we first booked the trip. Me and my boyfriend stayed for two weeks doing building and sport coaching and me building and teaching with other volunteers at Sunrise school which we were told volunteers other years had built. The local team help you all the way during your stay, you’re never on your own, there were fifteen of us in the house for our first week and the housekeeper was so friendly and cooked us some meals. It is such an emotional experience and you want to cry at times because you can’t take the children home but it was never so upsetting that you couldn’t do your work as you are only there for a short time you need to do everything you can.
We could only do one weekend of tours because our last weekend we wanted to keep free to visit the coast on our own. The Mole safari trip and the rainforest were the two top trips nearly everyone did.
We were told to budget £5 - £12 a day, we spent about £10 - £12 a day but some volunteers spent less if they weren’t volunteering at the lake schools as most of this was just to get to the poor schools which were further away.
If we had known what a great trip it was going to be we would have definitely stayed longer. We made some great friends who we’re still in touch with. I definitely recommend anyone thinking about it to do it!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jan 24, 2018
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Original Volunteers

When I made the decision to volunteer in Ghana it felt like one of the biggest challenges of my life, especially at the age of 64. Supportive with their advice, the original volunteer home team encouraged me all the way and once I booked the flight there was no going back.

Right from the beginning it was a total cultural explosion, with sights, sounds and smells so different I was mesmerised from the outset. In particular I was struck by the elegance of the women, their straight backs, fantastic hair styles and the vibrancy of the dress designs and fabric. Being older I wasn’t sure how I would cope with interacting with the rest of the much younger (in some cases three times) group of volunteers. As much as age is a state of mind and attitude it still takes considerable resilience and a need to keep up momentum to thrive and survive, which to a degree I suppose is necessary for everyone. In the warm climate all of my general aches and pains disappeared which certainly helped me to be much more agile. Rather than worry about my personal feelings I tried to stay goal focused and concentrate on the purpose of why I was in Ghana, which was mainly to work on building projects – and the rest gradually fell into place.

Like everyone else I dipped in and out of conversations and through relaxing in the open air area each day, made some lovely young friends. Whenever they decided to play a game I always joined in and found that was one of the easier ways of breaking the ice and getting to know people. There were always trips out and one afternoon a group of us went to lake Volta for a boat ride and swim. I initially had no intention of going in the water and had not taken a swimming costume. With a bit of encouragement I ended up diving into the lake fully clothed, which I think surprised a few of the younger people. One evening everyone decided to visit the Premier Inn bar in MPraeso. With some trepidation I went along and wondered how I might survive the social scene. One of the locals invited me to copy his dance steps and that was it, I was up!!!

The building work was quite arduous, especially hand mixing the concrete in tropical conditions, but with lots of water breaks I was usually left feeling I had made a significant contribution each day. I had a go at actual plastering but usually managed to drop more on the floor than on the walls, though I am sure I would have improved with practice. On one particular day the project lead, aware that I was labouring asked if any of the villagers might be able to help. The next day I turned up for work to find a dozen buckets of already collected water, at least sixteen men and two masons. They worked vigorously and had an amazingly productive day. The camaraderie was hilarious and I was very humbled by that experience. Building was interspersed with a couple of days teaching. The children loved the volunteers and I usually found myself surrounded by enthusiastic affection, playing games and singing action songs. The volunteer groups fell into a daily routine of shopping for street food each day which provided an opportunity to try out different dishes, in particular my favourite, noodles and dried fish.

Six of us travelled to Cape Coast one weekend where we experienced the canopy walk and visited the slave castle. Even though it was a seven hour taxi drive, the whole weekend was completely relaxed and included two good meals and nights out at the Oasis beach bar.

An important part of the scheme was visiting remote jungle villages, a different one each week to engage with the residents, offer support, deliver supplies and hold a wound clinic. I was extremely nervous the night before my first visit, and had to talk myself up and tell myself I would be able to make a significant and confident contribution. Villagers however were very welcoming right from the start, especially the children and that usually broke the ice for me. My part in visits would be to distribute clothing to the women; quite stressful as it was difficult to achieve an even distribution but also deeply satisfying. I sometimes made a real connection with some of the women, despite the language barriers and would have liked to talk to them on a deeper level.

My volunteering experience started as a massive life challenge. Each day when faced with doing something new I carried out affirmations, telling myself I was going to be fine and could do it. Eventually the challenge peaked and there I was doing everything like it was every day and commonplace. So my message to anyone considering a visit to Ghana is ‘go ahead and do it’, especially if you are older. I am pretty sure you would not regret it and would find the experience both rewarding and life changing.

I am determined to stay connected in a number of ways to the project. For me this makes life more purposeful back at home and having visited I know that the resources, both materially and financially go direct to source and where they are most needed. It felt really good making a big decision later on in life. I hope to make a few more in the future, especially now I can look back and realise there was absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jan 24, 2018
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
10

Original Volunteers

This was my first time volunteering abroad and I would definitely recommend it. Everyone was very friendly and supportive thus ensuring you feel safe throughout the stay. I worked with some of the most amazing people who were so grateful for everything we could offer. The boys in the house with us would always offer support and became friends that we could rely on for help. The only fault is the lack of information given in England before you go over as more money is needed compared to the suggested amount on the website. I loved my time in Ghana and still have links. I plan to go back and complete further projects.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jan 23, 2018
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
6

Original Volunteers

My trip to Ghana with OV was honestly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have travelled, worked and volunteered in Africa before but the experiences in Ghana are my most memorable. Every step of the booking process with OV was extremely professional and supportive and they patiently answered all of my multiple questions. The travel and transfer from the airport were well organised. The accommodation was far nicer than I had expected, with my own room bigger than my first flat, with a huge double bed. Water was limited, of course, but we all managed perfectly well. The staff at the volunteer accommodation were exceptionally kind and helpful and always available if we needed anything. The few issues that did arise, as is to be expected, were swiftly and expertly dealt with. The staff cooked for us one night which was a really nice treat and a great way to bring the group together. The staff managed to maintain exactly the right balance of support without crowding us, always making sure they were available if we needed anything at all. They could not have been more accommodating and helpful. I was worried that I would be older than most of the other volunteers but the group was very mixed and everyone got on really well.
The volunteering work was the most rewarding that I have done and, although it was tiring and emotionally exhausting at times, every member of our group felt that they had been useful somehow. We helped with building an extension to a school, painted educational material onto school walls and taught the children. In the evenings we held a ‘book group’, which was the genius idea of one of the volunteers. We read to the local children and helped the older children read to the younger ones. This was my favourite activity as the children were all so enthusiastic and were working together.
I was so impressed with OV that, since travelling with them to Ghana, I have also been with them to Morocco and am planning next years’ trips with them to Bulgaria and South America. I would thoroughly recommend them to everyone of any age who would like to give something back and really engage with local culture. Thank you OV!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 21, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I took part in one of the projects abroad care and community Christmas programs volunteering in Ghana. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I got the chance to work at an orphanage teaching English, organizing activities, fundraising, and just spending time with the kids. I made some really good friends from around the world and got to really submerge myself in Ghanaian culture. My host family was so great and the projects abroad staff were very helpful and kind. Overall an unforgettable 2 weeks.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Sep 15, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Projects Abroad

My journey with Projects Abroad was definitely one to remember! I decided to travel to Ghana to volunteer in the medicine field, and I definitely have no regrets doing so. At first, I was a little hesitant to travel across the country from the United States to Ghana being only 15 years old, but that changed quickly upon my first day in Ghana. I arrived in at the Accra airport in Ghana and was warmly greeted by the Projects Abroad drive, Nyame. He was extremely welcoming and friendly, making small talk with us along the way. My placement, however, was in Cape Coast, Ghana, which is 3 hours away from Accra. However, Projects Abroad was very helpful in sending along a staff member with me to taking the bus to Cape Coast.
Once I had arrived at my host family's house, I was met by my host mother, brothers, and sister. My host family truly felt like family to me by the end of the trip. During my 2 weeks in Cape Coast, Ghana, my schedule had filled with interesting volunteering works and activities. We were able to bandage wounds in leprosy camps, observe in the teaching hospital, as well as blood tests, checking vitals, and blood pressure at community outreaches. I enjoyed the community outreaches very much because it seemed like I could directly help the people in Ghana and get to know the culture of the people of Ghana more. The Project Abroad supervisors that took care of our groups played a huge role in making this journey even more memorable. The supervisors helped to guide us along our ways, but I saw them as more of friend than anything else. They were easy to talk to and even joke around with. Not only were my 2 weeks in Ghana very productive, but also filled with a lot of smiles and laughter.
Moreover, this trip brought me many new friends from all over the world, whom I would never meet unless I joined this trip. Everyday working with my new friends from different parts of world, as well as my new friends in Ghana was very enjoyable and we made many memories together that I will forever remember. I will also never forget my host family. Every evening after our volunteer work, we would gather in the dining room and just hang out with the host brothers and sister as if we were one big family. This trip has brought me so many teachings, friends, and new experiences. I definitely recommend Projects Abroad as a program to join!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Sep 10, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

From the time when I started thinking about volunteering abroad, over a year ago, and speaking to so many people who have done this type of work, I can now say what many of them said to me – that I received so much from this experience and am so happy that I did this, especially in Ghana. I was very thankful that I had a friend to join me, a very special experience we shared together. This experience, with the orphanage/refugee camp and with the host local family, made this time one that I hope many other people try. It will be with me for life.
I taught the kids stand-up yoga for their first time. They loved it and asked to do it just about every day. This was so special that I could introduce something new that they liked. Doing yoga with all of them, outside the school, and with the smaller group on the beach, was a memory I’ll always cherish.
It was wonderful to take two trips to visit five different different places in the Eastern Region and Cape Coast region. We also took a wonderful trip to Accra Arts & Crafts center. Such a diverse and amazing country. The driving and road conditions are like the best roller coaster ride you’ll ever have! I love that there was music everywhere you went, from morning until night!
The US staff were very helpful with all of my questions and needs preparing for this journey. I appreciated their timeliness in responding electronically. I felt very positive and prepared for this trip due to ABV’s support. I did a great deal of research with many similar organizations like them and I felt that I made the best decision. Thank you! After being in Ghana, I highly recommend that ABV advertise that more volunteers are very much needed in this country. They need much more help.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Sep 3, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

"In terms of my internship, it’s been an incredible experience. There isn’t much speech therapy going on in the school, so this is why volunteers like myself are necessary! The students I worked with were amazing. Joe* is an 8 year old boy I worked one-on-one with. He has autism and severe ADHD. He is nonverbal and clearly not much has been established for him in terms of speech services because other than pointing and gestures, he cannot communicate at all. There are no communication boards, PECS systems, or any other alternative forms of communication for him. Behavior is a big issue as well. Although they reprimand the kids, there is a lack of corrective feedback and DRI. The kids get yelled at but behave more out of fear than because they know right from wrong. So corrective feedback is essential in therapy but culture differences and lack of training in the field contribute to that.

The other children are Jake* (16) who has autism, Jesse* (16) who has Down Syndrome, Isa* (11) who I has cerebral palsy, seizures and feeding difficulties, Andy* (7) who has autism and Griffin* (8) who has autism as well. All of the children in my classroom were nonverbal except for Isa* who speaks very little, and mainly repeats echolalia. The kids are awesome though and so sweet. The teachers definitely do their best given the circumstances and genuinely care about the kids. Each day is very routine, and they even adopted the visual schedule system which is great for children with autism"

This is an excerpt from my blog that I kept over the course of my internship in Ghana. The Projects Abroad staff was unbelievably supportive through my transition into African life, and are some of the most friendly people I have ever met. I am currently a senior studying Speech Language Hearing Sciences at Loyola University Maryland in the USA, and felt that this internship was the perfect opportunity to gain some real life work experience before applying to graduate school. I thoroughly enjoyed going to work every day and the children and staff at the school are all incredible.

I highly recommend going through Projects Abroad if you want this type of immersion experience. They help book flights, provide information such as how to obtain a visa, what to pack, and what to expect once in Ghana. When I arrived, a staff member picked me up directly at the airport, sporting his green Projects Abroad shirt for identification, and brought me directly to my home stay to help me settle in. I never once felt unsafe or nervous, and felt very comfortable in the care of Projects Abroad. My housing accommodation was awesome, the friends I made through volunteering were amazing, and one of the staff members is even willing to write my letter of recommendation for graduate school. Regardless of how much experience you have in the field, or how comfortable you are with traveling, I am here to tell you that I managed just fine and I traveled this journey alone. Luckily, I had the supportive Projects Abroad staff to help me navigate through it.

Thank you Projects Abroad! Volunteer with them, you'll be glad you did!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Aug 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

RCDP Nepal

I really enjoyed Ghana. People are really nice and welcoming, sometimes a bit too much. I genuinely really enjoyed the people and the country. My host Franklin was extremely welcoming. I felt at home from the moment i arrived. the whole family was very nice. the room in which i slept was perfect, it was spacious, the bed was comfortable and i wasn't hot. The house was very convenient too. the food was good but a little bit repetitive and we had too much food to eat for breakfast sometimes. We taught kids in Countryside orphanage. We gave them French, Maths, Science, English and Art lessons We also taught songs to the children in Kindergarten. Outside of school hours we played with the kids and they followed us everywhere. The weekends we went on excursions to canopy walk and slave castle in Cape Coast, went to the beach and also rested at home. We were constantly supported at home. We were never left on our own and the same thing in the orphanage. However if we wanted to go somewhere on our own during the day we were free to do so. I would recommend this experience a million times. It was such a wonderful out of the ordinary and enriching experience. it also gives the opportunity to discover a whole different culture and country in a total immersion due to staying with local people

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jul 19, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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