Volunteer stories : Victoria M., General Care Projects in Ghana
I had always dreamt of taking a gap year in Africa so the 6 months I spent in Ghana are definitely my best yet! When I arrived in Ghana I was welcomed by a very cheerful Nyame! After spending the night in Accra at the office, Henry came to take me to the Akuapem Hills at 5am. I found my first day very overwhelming: lots of emotions, hectic Accra, the heat, bumpy tro rides and the completely different culture. But once I arrived in the Hills my supervisor Emmanuel welcomed me with open arms and took me to my host family.
I lived with Diana in a small town called Akropong. I felt very much at home here and enjoyed spending time with her daughter Hannah who kindly taught me how to wash my clothes by hand! I surprisingly didn’t mind the bucket showers which were actually quite refreshing, brushing my teeth in the back garden and sharing my bedroom with geckos! Every day on my way to work I would hear Ghanaians calling me “Obruni” (meaning white person in Twi) . . . and this never got old with the children!
The 6 months I spent in Ghana I split my time between Adom Day care and Trinity Orphanage. Working at Adom was a lot of fun. Every morning I would collect children on the way to “school” and be greeted by very excited children when I walked through the gates! Here I became Aunty Victoria! It did not take long to settle into the routine of changing their clothes, organising their lunches and bags first thing every morning and dancing to Bumbaleega! Assembly is filled with songs, prayers and marching which is very enjoyable to watch :)
Throughout the day I would help Diana teach her class the alphabet and how to write small words. I found this very rewarding because as soon as Kelsey (fellow volunteer) and I used encouragement and stickers as a reward, all the children worked so much harder. At break times we could play with the children, help feed the younger ones and comfort those who were upset. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Adom Day care and working there has made me realise that I definitely want to be a Primary Teacher.
Working at Trinity Orphanage was a very different experience because it was a lot poorer than anywhere else I had been in Ghana. This made it harder emotionally but even more rewarding when I could bring a smile to their faces. As the children were in class during the day, I would help wash the dishes and clothes. A few of us repainted the bedrooms and repaired mosquito nets. One day we took all the children to the Botanical Gardens nearby. It was a great day as they all really enjoyed it and I won’t forget having about 10 children in each taxi! It was very sad leaving both placements as I grew quite attached to some of the children.
Whilst I was in Ghana I turned 19 the same time as two other girls so we had a tribal themed party! This was one of the best birthdays I’ve had, as all the volunteers came and some of the local Ghanaians.
I spent most of my weekends travelling with other volunteers. In Cape Coast I visited the castles and learnt about the slave trade which was quite shocking. This was a great way to learn more about Ghana and its history. In the north I was lucky enough to see elephants up close in the wild and learn to ride a motorbike! I also travelled to Togo and Benin (neighbouring countries of Ghana) which gave me an insight into voodoo . . . creepy!
Looking back, I can’t believe how much I did in 6 months. So here’s some advice when you go to Ghana: do everything you can think off! Bring fun and games for the children, learn the local language, try the Ghanaian food, go to church and travel if you can. Make the most of your time in this strange but wonderful country and you will have the time of your life. I would not have changed this once in a lifetime experience for the world because before long, Ghana became my home and Ghanaians became my family.
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