Liam Goulding - Care & Community in Ghana
Well where do I start?! I have always wanted to volunteer my own time abroad after volunteering a lot here in England and then I came across the Projects Abroad website on the Internet. I decided to take part in the 2-Week Special Care & Community project in Ghana in July 2009 and it surpassed everything I was expecting. At the age of 16 my main concern (well my parents main concern) was how long to stay for and this project was a great way to put that worry to bed. However, I now know that the 2 weeks I spent in Ghana could have easily become a month, even a year as I just felt so at home!
Even before reaching Ghana, the flight itself gave me a great insight into the Ghanaian life after chatting to a local woman from Ghana for the majority of the flight, about everything Ghana has to offer. This made me feel more relaxed and less apprehensive as I now knew that the stories about the friendliness of the Ghanaians were true. After meeting the Projects Abroad staff at the airport and two other volunteers on my project, my 2-week adventure had officially begun!
As I was in Cape Coast I stayed in the head office for the first night before travelling the following day to meet my host family. That night the “culture shock” had finally hit but it was laid to rest whilst I got to know the other volunteers who were to be with me for the next 2 weeks. We all got on so well as we had that common goal of wanting to help!
So after that first night, the rest of the volunteers finally arrived and they came from all over the world; America, Canada, Italy, France and the Netherlands but at this point I didn’t know that I would come to class these people as life long friends. Finally, three hours later and feeling more relaxed after getting to know the other volunteers, I met my host family. My host mum Gifty became so close to me and the two other volunteers that we still keep in touch! The two other volunteers; Henry and Rebecca who where also staying in the same house, made my time with our host family that extra special as we all got on so well. The family where so friendly, answered any questions we had and gave us tips on where to go!
I really enjoyed all the projects we had to do in Ghana as it encompassed everything! In the mornings our group made bricks from scratch, yes from scratch, at Molly’s Library to create an outer wall for the Library. This was hard work but Molly kept us fed and watered and we all pulled together as a team. After a short break we made our way down to Abura Literacy School where we played with the children for a couple of hours and for many of us this was the best part of the day! The kids where so playful and just wanted us to get involved in everything they did. The teachers were pleased to see everyone having fun and we even got a visit from the Chief of Abura himself!
We then moved on to a newly built school further down, this was to be the new school for the children at Abura and so this was a great inspiration for us to get all are work done. Here we had to paint the school both inside and out but we got it all done over the 2 weeks. However, I think we managed to get more paint on ourselves than on the walls due to numerous paint fights all involving one volunteer who kept slacking! Nevertheless, he made up for it by cooking an Italian dish from where he came from, for both his host family and the rest of the volunteers.
As volunteers we all organised to meet up in Cape Coast town most nights, here we got the real experience of Ghana and got to meet other host families. Throughout the 2 weeks the Projects Abroad staff put on a number of activities such as a quiz night, drumming sessions, a canopy walk and a tour around a former slave castle. All these added to our time in Ghana.
Whilst in Ghana it was also my birthday and the children at Abura Literacy School all made me birthday cards and during the monthly party in Accra, which all volunteers currently in Ghana can attend, they all sang and wished me Happy Birthday. It was certainly a Birthday that I won’t forget!
My experiences in Ghana will stay with me for the rest of my life! I felt so relaxed and at home due to the Projects Abroad staff, and most importantly the hospitality of the Ghanaians. The friends that I have made on this trip still frequently keep in touch and we all talk about returning to Ghana! There are just so many memories that I will take away from Ghana but I encourage anyone and everyone to make their own memories and visit this great country!
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.