Volunteer Review: Jessie D., Care & Community in Ghana
Before we went
It was almost exactly a year before going to Ghana that the challenge was sprung upon 10 of us (8 Girl Guides and 2 Leaders) to fundraise for a trip which would be an experience beyond all our expectations. Fundraising was an extremely difficult and at times a very stressful task.
Arriving in Ghana
All of this was forgotten when we stepped into a beautifully, diverse, extravagant, busy country called Ghana. We arrived in the evening time, but Accra seemed no less lively than any other daytime. From day one we were fully submerged in a different culture. We were hosted by a lovely and caring Ghanaian family, who cooked for us delicious Ghanaian dishes three times a day and who let us experience bucket showers and self-flushing toilets (which were all part of the experience!!)
What we did
Our main reason to come to Ghana was to do a service project. We left for the orphanage at eight o’clock every morning, being thrown out of our seats along the pot holed road, but the discomfort was definitely worth it! Our placement was at a home called Marcoff Foundation, which was full of beautiful smiling children, who were enthusiastic about everything. On our arrival they ran up to the van and wanted to carry our rucksacks in for us. What touched me was their sense of care and affection towards each other, some of them didn’t have much or any family, but together they acted as one big one. The older ones seemed to take such a caring role in the younger ones’ lives. They bathed, clothed and fed them. They had so little of their own, but still had a lot to give.
In the mornings on the placement, we re-painted their home, which made a huge difference and seemed even more worthwhile knowing it would now last another 6 years. We then painted some bright murals to make the place more warming. In the afternoons we ran activities with the children, including sports, craft activities and games all of which they seemed to thoroughly enjoy. No matter what age they were they wanted to join in: one of the 16 year olds wanted to make pirate hats, get a stick on tattoo and make a bookmark! It was so nice to see such enthusiasm and a carefree way of life, it made it all seem worthwhile.
At the weekends, Projects Abroad took us on some amazing trips including Kakum Forest which was rope pathways in the trees (and completely torrential rain) which was something I will never forget; and the Shai Hills Forest Reserve which had breath taking views at the top. We also saw a cultural display of African dancing and drumming and had a go ourselves. These things made the trip even better than it already was.
We saw how the people in all the villages found a way to make money: selling fruit, coffin making, poster printing. It showed us all how determination pays off. Despite living in mud huts or small concrete houses surrounded by dirt and animals it did not stop them from smiling, dancing in the streets and being so welcoming to all of us. There was such a sense of community there, which was heart-warming, and made me realise how materialistic we all are.
All of us bonded with the children which made the last day very hard. Knowing we were going back to our own more luxurious homes left a feeling of guilt inside of me, but those children have given inspiration to me. I now know that I want to make something worthwhile out of my very fortunate life. I would like to help more people in the future, and I hope to one day go back to a very beautiful country.
Thank you to all the children at Marcoff Foundation and to Sampson our amazing guide, and to Prince, the region’s Projects Abroad organiser for making our trip to Ghana completely unforgettable.
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.