Rachel Breeden - General Care Projects in Ghana
One of the Best Experiences of My Life...
My trip to Ghana last summer was one of the best experiences of my life. Before I arrived, I was not particularly organised or prepared for what the next month would hold but was definitely pleasantly surprised. Upon landing at Accra airport I met Nyame who would take me to my host family in Akropong. Meeting Nyame was a great example of the many welcoming and friendly Ghanaians I would meet during the next month. He was really enthusiastic about his home country and assured me that when the time came I would not want to leave. He was right!
My Host Family
I stayed with a host family in a small village called Abiriw, just outside of Akropong. My host mum was a seamstress called Christiana who had a son and daughter and many other tenants also lived in the house. She made me feel very welcome in her home and was always happy to help me. She taught me a lot about her culture and treated me like her own daughter, making sure I was safe and happy.
When I first arrived I was the only volunteer living in the house which gave me a chance to get to know the family well and spend time with them. By the end of my stay however, I had three new housemates. It was lovely to get to know people from other cultures. That’s one of the great things about Projects Abroad - you get to experience not only the country you volunteer in but also learn about other countries from the volunteers you meet.
I became really good friends with my housemates and the other volunteers I met that lived close by. It was really good to be able to share our experiences of Ghana with each other and spend our time together after work, visiting local sights and the blue bar in Mamfe which became pretty popular with all the volunteers in the area! I am still in touch with the friends I made and have made plans to see them again soon!
My Placement – A Very Rewarding Experience
My placement was at Queen Esther day care and prep school in Mampong where I took a taxi each day. I was taken to the school by a Projects Abroad staff member on my induction day and all the children got up and ran over to me shouting ‘OBRONI!’ meaning white person or foreigner. They were all really excited to see me and wanted to hold my hands and for me to pick them up and play with them. The children at the school were amazing, they craved the attention of the volunteers and just wanted to play and have fun.
During my time at Queen Esther I changed the children as they arrived in the mornings, helped feed them at break times and taught English and maths to some of the older children. Teaching was quite a challenge as the children only knew very basic English and they would often fight over the resources the volunteers brought as they were not used to having many things of their own. It was also a very rewarding experience however and although the children could be quite mischievous they were always keen to learn.
The last day was very emotional and I was really sad to leave the children that I had got to know and spent so much time with over the month. The staff gave me a top and trousers that they had had made for me by a local seamstress so say thank you for helping the school which was a really lovely gift.
I had the weekends free to travel and so was able to see some amazing places in Ghana. I visited Kokrobite which is a beautiful beach in Accra with shops along the seafront selling traditional Ghanaian dress and souvenirs. My favourite weekend was spent visiting Wli falls - the tallest waterfalls in West Africa. We faced a very difficult two hour hike in the heat to reach the falls but the view was spectacular. One of the best sights I have seen and so it was all worthwhile.
The decision I made to go to Ghana was one of the best I have ever made and I will never forget my experiences there. Ghanaians are such friendly and optimistic people that it’s hard not to feel happy and relaxed in their country. It’s a culture far removed from the Western world and if you’re willing to embrace it you will learn a lot. I can’t wait to go back one day!
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.