Will, our Volunteer Recruitment Manager, visited both Ghana and Kenya this year both as a volunteer and as a member of the African Adventures team. In part one of this month’s Travel Tale, he talks about his time as a volunteer in Ghana, and everything he got up to whilst he was there…
Prior to my employment with African Adventures, I got the chance to visit Ghana as part of my job as NCS Co-ordinator for Tranmere Rovers, along with a group of NCS graduates. I went into the experience without knowing what to expect, but I am the type of person to jump into new challenges without looking back – and that’s exactly what I did!
Upon landing in Accra, Ghana’s capital, and being greeted by the in-country team, all my fears were eradicated. During the long journey to the Volta region, where our partner projects are based, I had my first taste of Ghanaian culture. I didn’t realise that local women actually carry items on their heads, just like the images you see at home! I was also blown away by the brightly coloured fabrics, the never-ending roadside fruit stands, and, sadly, the poverty that some of the families live in. The experience was surreal, but all these sights reinforced the reasons for my trip – to make a difference to the children at our partner projects, and to give the young people who had travelled with me from the UK an experience they would remember forever.
The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, we made the short journey to the school we would be volunteering at – Woe E.P. Here, we were warmly welcomed by the students and teachers, after which we settled into our volunteering work. We were tasked with moulding bricks and helping to build a security wall, as well as teaching maths, English, art, and sports lessons. Over the course of the week, we moulded over 200 bricks by hand, so when the weekend rolled around, we were ready to enjoy a well-earned break!
I had arranged with African Adventures for my group to experience the Cape Coast Adventure Weekend, which began with a drive to the city of Cape Coast and a tour of Cape Coast Castle. This was a great way to experience a different side of Ghana and learn about its rich history – something I think is vital for any volunteer. I won’t ruin it for any future volunteers, but be prepared to feel quite emotional. We had time to reflect on what we’d seen as we ate a delicious meal and watched the sunset. The next day, we embarked on a hike through the jungle of Kakum National Park (don’t worry, it’s not that hard!), and enjoyed a canopy walk amongst the treetops. I was absolutely – for lack of a better term – ripped to shreds by my group, who found my quaking knees hilarious as they photographed the surroundings. Having survived the canopy walk, we visited a local shop, which had some beautiful Ghanaian crafts for sale. This sparked my new-found love for Ghanaian fabrics, which has resulted in a collection of 10 shirts, and my very own Ghanaian “fashion designer” who sews the fabrics into clothes for me!
Having enjoyed a well-earned break over the weekend, we returned to the school for our final two days of volunteering. We spent these last two days completing our construction tasks and continuing to support with teaching. The last day was very emotional, to say the least, and a few tears were shed (mine included!). Before we left the UK to travel to Ghana and volunteer, we had managed to gather around £700 worth of donations, including pens, pencils, educational posters, and sports equipment. The teachers at the school gave an emotional speech in response, and the children showed their appreciation with a dance – something you’ll become very accustomed to whilst in Ghana!
As we boarded the plane to fly home, I felt incredibly proud of what my group of young people had achieved, and I knew that this wouldn’t be my last visit to Africa.
Sure enough, a month later, I embarked on a complete career change when I joined the African Adventures UK team as Volunteer Recruitment Manager for the north of the UK. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return to Africa, so, despite my new job at African Adventures, I agreed to take another group of Tranmere Rovers NCS grads to Kenya earlier this summer – but that’s another story!
Read part two of Will’s Travel Tale, documenting his adventure in Kenya, on the blog next week.