Volunteer Review: Felicia V., Care in Ghana
Hello! My name is Felicia V. I am 20 years old, and I have always loved traveling and volunteering. Because of Projects Abroad, I was able to do both with one trip! My specific passion is working with children. I have been passionate about working with children since I was a young child. In addition, I am currently studying early childhood education at university.
My passion for traveling and volunteering were first combined when I went on a mission trip to Cambodia when I was 15. I went back to Cambodia three years later. I enjoyed these experiences; however, during these trips, I worked with young adults. I still had a desire to go on a volunteer trip where I could work with young children. I was not sure on how or when I was going to do this. So I started looking on the Internet for different organizations I could volunteer through. I found a couple I liked, but none beat Projects Abroad and what they had to offer. So I decided to volunteer with Projects Abroad!
Living in Ghana over spring break
I went on the Care Alternative Spring Break Trip to Akuapem Hills, Ghana. I decided on this type of project, because I am still in school and am not able to spend multiple weeks or months overseas (even though I would really like to!) However, I did not want this to limit me, so this trip was perfect for me as it fit nicely with my school’s spring break week. I was not nervous about flying or meeting new people, since I have done it previously. I was nervous about understanding my role and responsibilities for the week. Since I only had a week, I wanted to make every minute count, and I was worried that I would spend all week getting acquainted to my project. Once I got into Ghana, I realized I had no reason to be nervous. The staff helped me understand what my role and responsibilities were for the week, showed me how to get to my placement, and answered every question I had.
My host family was amazing! My host mom fed us delicious Ghanaian cuisine and told us about the culture of Ghana. My host mom’s daughter and cousin also lived with her, so I was able to meet and have good conversations with them. I shared a room with two other female volunteers, both of whom are from different countries than I am. So not only did I learn more about Ghana’s culture, but I learned more about England and Japan’s culture from great conversations with the other volunteers.
Once I met my host family and dropped my luggage off in my room, a staff member picked me up with three other volunteers and showed us around. He showed us how to navigate the city, what transportation to use, and how to change our money into cedi (the local currency). After running the errands, we found a small restaurant to grab lunch.
My Care Project in the Akuapem Hills
I was able to be at my placement Tuesday through Friday. My placement was at Marcoff Foundation, so I volunteered at an orphanage and a school. The staff at both the orphanage and school showed me around the grounds and explained how the day-to-day activities run. They introduced me to all the teachers, students, showed me what resources are for me to use, explained what my role and responsibilities were for the week, and answered all my questions (and I had a lot!).
I spent the mornings helping the children whom live at the orphanage get their breakfast. We talked and played games together before we all walked over to the school together. Once at the school, I worked one-on-one with students in about 30 minute increments. We would do educational assignments such as read books, work on numbers, and go over sight words. We also talked about Ghana and the United States (where I am from). I began to build relationships with individual students by learning their names, hobbies, interests, and I answered any questions they had about me and where I am from.
My last day in Ghana came way too quickly. I was enjoying my placement, working with the children, getting to know the other volunteers better, and exploring Ghana greatly! I was not ready to get on a plane to fly home. I wished I could have extended the project longer and gained more experience.
However, I am still glad I went for that week. I believe that even a little experience is better than no experience.
Reflecting on my experience
Even though I was only in Ghana for a week, I now have a better understanding of the culture and lifestyle of the people living in Ghana. I have seen their cities, countryside, and markets. I have seen children running around barefoot and seen children using their fingers as spoons to eat their breakfast, because they did not have enough materials. I learned different techniques for working with children. They loved playing with the Frisbee I brought, coloring, and reading books with me.
I am grateful that I had this experience to travel to Africa and work with the children living in the orphanage and attending the school. My eyes have been further opened about what developing countries are like and how I can help. I recommend that anyone looking to travel and volunteer check out Projects Abroad. They are a genuine organization who care about the volunteers and the people they are helping.
At the end of the week, one of the staff members asked me some questions about my project and how the week went. I loved this! They wanted to hear my opinion about my accommodation, project, and any suggestions I had for the program. If it was not for being in school still, I would have definitely gone for longer than a week. I hope to return to Africa to work with children again!
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.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.