Kari Todd - Care & Community in Ghana
Three years ago, after my junior year in high school, I had the opportunity to volunteer and work in Accra, Ghana through the Projects Abroad 2 Week Special programme. I was nervous about being away from home and living in a foreign country for two weeks, but I was also really excited at the opportunity to travel to a new place where I knew I would meet many new people and be exposed to a completely new culture.
This blissful happy feeling lasted all the way until I got to my new temporary home, a house about an hour outside the city. As I walked through the door to my new room I realised “I’m really doing this. No turning back now”. The thought both terrified and excited me. I spent the rest of the night talking with my roommate about what our first day of work would be like.
The following morning, my roommate and I met with the other people we would be working with and headed to the primary school where we would be doing our first project. The school we went to was made out of brick, had a number of small classrooms, and even a small courtyard, but the building needed a lot of maintenance.
We spent that week painting the exterior and part of the interior of the building. Though the work was more difficult than I anticipated, it was rewarding to know that we had left a lasting positive impact on the school and got the chance to meet a lot of awesome kids.
After the weekend of my first week, during which we went to visit the slave castle at Cape Coast, the other volunteers and I gathered our things; we were moving into the city of Accra to work for the second week.
My second week in Accra was by far the best. Every day the other volunteers, who had become my good friends, and I commuted to a local orphanage. The first few hours there, we did similar work to what we had done at the primary school the week before. Our projects included mostly painting and decorating the exterior of the building.
The best part of the day was in the late afternoon when all of the children returned from school. At the end of the day my friends and I got the opportunity to play games and hang out with all of the amazing children who lived there at the orphanage. We drew chalk figures, taught them how to blow bubbles, and had drumming lessons. My favourite evenings in Ghana were the ones when we were there sitting around playing with all of the kids.
Though short, my time in Ghana left a permanent impact on my life and personal perspective. From the moment I got off the plane I noticed that everyone around me was so friendly and open even if they were not living in favourable conditions. Witnessing this and experiencing the kindness of the people in Accra inspired me to pursue a career where I can help better the living standards of those around me.
As a result of my experience in Ghana, I am now pursuing a career in Global Human Rights and Development. My dream is to be able to positively impact the communities around me. Hopefully when I return to Ghana in the future I will be able to repay the citizens of those communities for contributing to an experience that changed my life.
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.