This months travel tales sees a throwback to Antonia Howell’s 2016 trip to Ghana with Poole High School. This first hand account of what it is like to volunteer in Ghana at the age of 16 provides an insightful overview of the life-changing experience African Adventures has to offer.
The opportunity to go to Ghana with Poole High School came around just after finishing my GCSE’s, so I was beyond excited to do something completely out of my comfort zone. Despite, my enthusiasm for trying new things, I was still nervous about the challenges that lie ahead – but there’s nothing like having a positive mindset when you are putting yourself out there!
Once we arrived in Accra, the capital of Ghana, we were introduced to the Ghanaian team that would stay with us throughout the trip. They were beyond welcoming and happy to help with any initial questions or queries we had since arriving into the country, while we drove through the city to Volta, where we would spend most of our trip. While driving to our first destination, we were already about to see snippets of culture that was different to ours, such as busy roadside stalls, fruit piled high on both adults and children’s heads, as well as some of villages that people were living in.
Upon arrival, to a temporary hotel where we would stay for the night as we arrived very late in the evening, we were met with some wonderful Ghanaian food to replenish us from the long journey. It also gave us some time for us to all get to know one another, as we were all in different years within the school that we had come from.
The following morning, we were welcomed with a wonderful dance and music ceremony at the first school that we would be volunteering at. The school was run by the government, which meant that there were certain rules, some of which were unfamiliar to us – such as haircuts, where both the boys and girls were expected to have short hair. We decided amongst our group, that some of us would focus on teaching, the others on building and together we would all run sports lessons. I focused on teaching as I am hoping to become a teacher. This gave me the opportunity to experience the way that the Ghanaians teach, and see the vast differences in resources and teaching styles that they have. The teachers allowed us to run some lessons of our choice, which was an invaluable experience, and we obviously included fun games wherever we could, such as brining a huge frisbee to play with! Despite mainly being involved with the teaching, there was always the chance to get stuck in with the final construction and painting of the fantastically newly built classroom, which was great to see as it showed the collective hard work from many volunteers before us!
We had arranged to go to Wli Falls and the Monkey Sanctuary over the weekend. Wli Falls is a large waterfall near the region in which we were staying, the trip was great as it allowed us all to spend some time together, relaxing and embracing the beauty of this hidden part of the city. The next day, we went to the Monkey Sanctuary, where we were able to get up close with some adorable monkeys that absolutely loved bananas! At the end of the day, we went into the main town and found a clothes maker who made us all fabulous outfits out of traditional Ghanaian fabric, which is most definitely the best souvenir I have ever been given!
After spending time in this school, we were lucky that we were able to attend another school at the end of the week, that was run by the community, which was amazing to see a place that was formed through the efforts of everyone around them. Unfortunately, the resources here were even more sparse than the government run school. Our experiences in both schools and the town, made us see the real impact we would have, as well seeing how our contributions, such as pens, pencils, colouring books, activities and sport games that we had all brought with us would benefit the community. At the end of the day, we had an emotional yet joyful goodbye dance that was filled with music and singing, a part of the culture that was my absolute favourite!
When it came time to board the plane, I felt incredibly grateful for being able to meet such wonderful people in Ghana and for what we had been able to achieve in the short time that we had been there. Most of all, I hoped that I would be able to go back there again to do even more!
Roll on my next African Adventure!