Sarah Jones - General Care Projects in Ghana
It's a difficult task to put into words what my group and I experienced in Ghana. We had been preparing for a year, doing countless fundraising events. Through a hard selection process, we ended up with 20 pupils and 4 teachers.
Despite the year-long anticipation, nothing could have prepared us for what was fast approaching. For most of us, if we had known how fantastic the trip would be, the nerves would have subsided.
Arriving in Ghana
To say we had a 'culture shock' upon arriving would be an understatement. We were totally overwhelmed but our host for the trip, Project Abroad’s Prince, was amazing. Along with our supervisors, Kofi, Nat and Prince Jr, the settling in was made a lot easier by their presence and help. We spent one night in a hostel, all preparing for our journey to the Akuapem hills, our new home.
As we moved into our accommodation, in Kwamoso village, it finally sunk in why we were there. The kids in our village spotted us immediately and wanted to play, and right away we fell in love with them. Over the course of the two weeks, the children in the village were one of our favourite parts. They were always so bubbly and energetic, full of life.
We learned some of their stories and they stunned me. They had lost parents, couldn't get money for school or food, but they were the happiest kids I have ever met. A few of our group returned with the knowledge that they have sponsored a struggling child, that we had really gotten to know, to go to school.
Volunteering in Ghana
Our mornings were spent painting two separate schools; Akropong Methodist and Akropong Presby Primary. I was part of the group which renovated the former. Assisted by our supervisor and some of the older school kids, we managed to repaint the entire outside and classrooms of two buildings, while the other group did similar to their own placement. While the actual work was tedious at times, the sheer appreciation and happiness evident on both pupils and teachers faces made every second we spent painting worth it.
The impact of the hard work and the constant interacting with excited children was made so much easier by the wonderful Projects Abroad. They organised lots of events to help us relax while simultaneously help us adjust to Ghanaian life. We were taken to a beach where we saw some amazing views on a boat trip, we got to experience quite a few traditional African dance and drumming lessons, we took part in a sports day with the regular volunteers.
Our trip to Cape Coast on our second weekend in Ghana was especially fun. It was nice to spend some time as a group, without working, and the running shower was another good factor! The absolutely breath taking views we witnessed on top of the Kakum rainforest platforms were an experience I will not forget, as was our trip to Cape Coast castle. The sights were so interesting and it was a very well organised break. However, despite the luxury, we were all desperate to get back to the kids and stuck into work again.
For me especially, the best part of our time there was, hands down, our daily visits to Adom Day Centre. While the other group attended Ebenezer International, a school with much older kids, my half of the volunteers got the privilege to meet Auntie Tina and her nursery full of crazy, loveable young children.
Every day we did a variety of activities, including reading, painting and making paper hats, but it was the singing and dancing that won us over. I can guarantee there are a handful of Scottish teenagers at home singing African songs taught by the Adom day centre kids. They were so lively and always up for a play and a cuddle. The pictures I took there are some of my favourites ever, and a lot of my memorable moments from Ghana involved the nursery.
Finally and regrettably, the day for our departure arrived. Before we left, a lot of us gave food and clothes to the kids in the village. We could see how happy these little gestures made them, which was a perfect ending to our time there. It was a tearful day as we hugged goodbye to all the friends we had made, young and older.
We made sure to thank our supervisors profusely, for they were the ones who helped make our trip relaxing and enjoyable as well as eye opening. We were all excited to see our family, but most of us hated the idea of leaving a country we had fallen in love with.
Two weeks can be viewed as a long time to spend away from home, but in Africa, it flew by way too quickly. I know none of us will ever forget our experience, the things we seen and the difference we made to people's lives. Me, and quite a few others, are desperate to get back out there, for months instead of weeks. And there is not a doubt in my mind that I will be going through Projects Abroad to do so. The staff are amazing at their job and anyone considering a trip like mine, do it. It's life changing, exhilarating and will most likely be the best adventure of your 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.