Last August I was lucky enough to be chosen by Career Destinations to go abroad for a three week volunteering placement. My chosen destination: Ghana. I stayed in the capital, Accra and, whilst I wasn’t naïve enough to expect deserted plains, lions and tribes, I still wasn’t prepared for what I experienced. Arriving late in the evening, I was thrust into the hustle and bustle of the airport hoping to find my Ghanaian coordinators. Even when I’d arrived at the compound where all the volunteers were housed, it still felt completely surreal. I was in Ghana.
I stayed in Teshie, a suburb of Accra, which was nothing like any place I’d visited before. But, in comparison to other areas of Ghana, Teshie was very developed and luxurious. At the beginning of my trip, I was in awe at the differences between England and Ghana. Street stalls were everywhere, selling all manner of items, from exotic fish, fruit and veg to clothing. Chickens and goats roamed freely along the roads.
My main reason for going to Ghana was to complete a teaching placement. I had never taught before, but on my third day I was put in front of a class of 5 year olds, with no lesson plan. If you want a lesson in thinking on your feet, this would be it! The Underprivileged Children’s Centre was running its summer school, meaning that the children didn’t have to come in. But every day the same children would arrive and their eagerness to learn was truly touching.
We also had the opportunity to explore the rest of the country. We visited the Volta region, climbing the Afadjato mountain (the tallest mountain in Ghana) and the mountain to Wli falls in one day. The pristine waters of Wli made the steep trek so worthwhile! We also visited the Tafi Atome monkey sanctuary, a crocodile sanctuary and Cape Coast. Whilst at Cape Coast we visited the slave castles and learnt about their history. Seeing the despicable conditions in which the Ghanaian slaves were kept was shocking and highlighted Ghana’s rich history.
Amongst all these activities, I also learnt a few things from the Ghanaian people. For instance, the Ghanaian people are unbelievably friendly. As with any foreign country, I was a little wary of strangers but all the Ghanaians were welcoming, helpful and smiley. They definitely have a far more positive outlook on life than a lot of people I have met at home. I’d go so far as to say I felt safer walking around Ghana than I do in Southampton!
My three weeks in Ghana were unforgettable. Whether it was salsa dancing with strangers, climbing mountains, teaching children to tell the time, or haggling at the market, each day provided a new and unique Ghana experience.
My volunteer program was kindly sponsored by the University of Southampton Career Destinations department. If you are interested in overseas volunteering then visit http://www.southampton.ac.uk/careers/students/volunteering/howto.html. Applications close on Monday 19th May.