Volunteer stories : Margot L., Care & Community in Ghana
My trip to Ghana this past summer was a life-changing experience. Travelling out of North America for the first time, I was anxious about my journey to Africa. I travelled alone, however I met several other young volunteers on my flight, and there was a Projects Abroad Staff member waiting for us as soon as we arrived in Accra. “Culture shock” is a term commonly used to describe the food, atmosphere, and people in an unfamiliar place, and arriving in Accra was truly shocking. I loved how different it was from back home in the United States. There were so many people in the city, something I was not used to. When I moved into my first placement, with a family in the Akuapem Hills, I felt very welcome. Although I was sixteen, the youngest of all the volunteers I met, I never felt intimidated or left out. The family I stayed with cooked all my meals, and helped me settle into the Ghanaian lifestyle.
Working at the orphanage was my favourite part of my trip to Ghana. The wood market and bead market were nice to visit, however I really loved playing with all the children at the orphanage. Every day a Project Abroad staff member brought us to and from work. We never got lost, and the staff were always there to answer all of our questions. In the mornings, we worked to build a bathroom for the children at the orphanage. I really felt as though I was making a difference. We carried rocks, sand, and cement blocks to the back of the orphanage where men helped us build the foundation for the new bathroom. We could see the structure forming before our eyes. After lunch, we played with the children in the orphanage, which was my favourite part of the day. The women running the orphanage were always kind and welcoming to us, and we were allowed to stay as long as we would like.
At night, after a day of hard work, the volunteers would go into the centre of town or meet at a Project Abroad “quiz night”. Through these drumming and dancing lessons and quiz nights organised by Projects Abroad, I met people from countries around the world. On the weekend between my two weeks in Ghana, all the two-week volunteers travelled down to the coast to visit a slave castle and to do a canopy walk in the jungle. This gave me a great opportunity to get to know people on other volunteer projects.
In my second week in Ghana, I moved from the Hills down to the city of Accra. I actually lived with another family outside of the city in a region called Kasoa. Mr. Kontor was always very flexible and accommodating, and I loved the food the family made for us, especially the pineapple at breakfast. Water pouches were always available. The Christ Outreach Orphanage is where we worked during our second week in Ghana. Although it was only a five-minute walk, a Projects Abroad staff member escorted us to and from work every day. Working at this orphanage was also memorable. We were building school classrooms and playing with the children. We also painted inside and outside the orphanage, and the little children were always trying to help us paint.
Working in Ghana was a great experience. Everyone was friendly, especially all the people taking care of the volunteers. I made many lasting friendships, and I think about my time spent in Ghana almost every day. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to Africa last summer, and I hope to travel back there again soon.
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