Isobel Towse - General Care Projects in Ghana
It was quite an experience. As we were staying in a small village, there was no host family house as such, just lone standing huts for bedrooms dotted around the village. Our family was more the other volunteers and village kids who came and sat outside with us each day. I actually preferred this as we were much more independent and got to know all the volunteers like they were our own family.
We weren’t the only Irish people there! We met a volunteer from Cork within a few hours of arriving in Ghana! And a girl from Dundalk on a beach one weekend. The other volunteers were from all over the place: Sydney, Amsterdam, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Johannesburg, all over Canada, Florida, Miami, Chicago…..and everywhere in between. They were all around 19-22 years old with a few exceptions so we were the babies! We met up at the Projects Abroad head office every Wednesday for an organised quiz night but other than that we just hung out with the volunteers in our own villages.
It got dark at around 5 each evening so we often had candlelit dinners and early nights! Mornings were a completely different story… Ghanaians get up at 4am because it is nice and bright. The cockerel also starts to crow around half 4...followed by our neighbours crying and coughing baby, goats yelping. There would be people shouting to each other and Ghanaian radio on full volume. I wouldn’t mind only we didn’t have to get up till 7!
My initial placement was Care, in the Mount Zion Foster Home, Tin Kong (15 minutes away from our own village, Kwamoso). However on the first day we (Chloe, Siun and I) also visited the primary school that had recently been sort of built for the older orphans. It was only four uncompleted brick walls and a tin roof. There were 3 classes with only 2 teachers, one classroom, and 2 blackboards.
When we got there we decided to buy a white board and enough copies and pencils and essentials to last them a few years….almost.
The headmaster gave us our own class of 7-9 year olds who we taught English and Maths to almost every day. Odd days we would go to the orphanage instead. The orphanage is owned by the Reverend of my village who was my host father. One day we decided to plan 3 meals for the childen, buy the food and help the chef cook it one day. This meant staying overnight in the orphanage because we had to get up at 4.30 to start cooking the porridge on their outside stove! It was also Siuns 18th birthday that day and it ended up being a really enjoyable, worthwhile day.
Weekends we went to Cape Coast, Kokrobite and Accra (to the Irish pub which was a little piece of heaven!) Cool things we did: Hitched a ride in a lorry, went in the back of many a pick up truck, went to the Kakum rain forest and walked across a rickety canopy walk 40metres off the ground, saw a praying mantis, fire flies, survived a huge thunder storm where some of our houses were struck, drove through the capital city with a German paramedic in the back of his ambulance car thing, danced with a Ghanaian dwarf in a club … plenty of new and strange experiences anyway!
One thing you have to remember about Ghana is that the way of life is so easy and relaxed that you could never ever get stressed. Secondly some people do things in the easiest and often slowest, most unconventional way that you just want to help! It isn’t possible for us to return to Ghana quite yet so we have planned a fundraiser back home and are going to give some money to help finish the building of the school we worked in. It only costs 2000 Euros to build and furnish the school of 6 class rooms!
Siun Chloe and I are also sponsoring the education of the four pupils we taught, 15 Euros per term per child. While we were there I said to Kofi the Reverends son who is soon to take over the orphanage, that they should make a vegetable garden at the orphanage so the kids could get fed good proper food and often. I’m currently looking into helping Kofi get one going as it’s something they really need.
Ghana was utterly AMAZING and I had some crazy experiences which I’ll never forget. There was a lot of hard times but the good bits were so good, like helping another volunteer dress the village kids wounds by candle light each night, or when the kids started singing a song you taught them, or sleeping on a roof with nothing but a mosquito net and some new friends for shelter, that made up for the bad 10000 times over and I would go back to Ghana in a heart beat! I’m certain I’ve left out 95 percent of the trip but I hope you got a small insight into it at least.
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.