Akash Dey - Care & Community in Ghana
This summer I embarked on a humanitarian journey to Ghana, Africa through Projects Abroad. This trip was the experience of a lifetime for me because I was able to serve the less fortunate. I was able to immerse myself as a volunteer because of the support and guidance of the Projects Abroad team who gave us the opportunity to participate in valuable service projects.
In the beginning I was apprehensive to travel to Africa, even though I have travelled in the past to other third world countries. This was because I knew that life there would come with many new challenges, and other threats like malaria. I mustered courage to go on the trip and I’m thankful I did, because today as I write this I have to admit that this was a momentous decision, and one I don’t regret for a single minute. Our job as volunteers is to selflessly give to others.
I was one of many students from all over the globe embarking on a great adventure. This world has a resource imbalance and our help in cash, kind, or just time can help improve this. As students, we started volunteering there at a grass -root level. Just our enthusiasm and eagerness helped promote sustainable development. After landing in Accra, we spent some time adjusting to our new environment. We were embraced warmly by our Ghanaian hosts, and soon became a family, networking with one another and coming to each other’s aid.
In groups, we performed many tasks from helping out at orphanages, painting and restructuring work, to socialising with the locals. The best part for me was being able to bond with the children who are orphaned, and who yearn for our love and affection. It was amazing that we could touch their lives just through interacting with them. We experienced the local culture and customs by living with African host families. These families are less affluent, but they gave us a lot through their love and affection. We also participated in game nights which the local staff organised. That was our moment to relax and unwind at the end of the day, and was coupled with opportunities for drum and dance lessons.
My roommate Bill and I had a great time together right from the start. Although I experienced a bit of culture shock when I arrived in Ghana, the reverse culture shock when I came back to America was greater. I still miss Africa, because there was something mesmerising about being there that still haunts me today. I would like to again go back there to continue to aid in the pressing problems around the world. Imagine what we could do if we could just provide bed nets for the people in Ghana. Millions die from hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and disease around the world. Our mission should be to try and help them.
We belong to a country that is blessed and bountiful, but the biggest blessing can be if we can transcend these boundaries to help reach out to other human beings. I’m doing my best through my effort of service, donation, and time. One individual can only do so much, but if we work in unison we can make the world a better place to live. Our mission should be to stand up for the basic human rights of other individuals. As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we can give.”
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.