Ghana

Global Crossroad

From the very beginning I felt comfortable and part of the family. The house is filled with joy and laughter. The rooms are spacious and had a fan and the bathrooms had running water. The place was kept clean every day and the food was amazing. Mary Ann who was in charge of our accommodations ensured that I was comfortable, enjoyed the food and had everything I needed. Franklin (the head of the house) made sure that our safety was a priority although I never felt unsafe in Ghana as the people are amazing. I never felt homesick because the people in the house became my family from the start. The girls were my sisters and helped with anything I needed and always had a smile. From washing clothes, going to the market, translating…anything I needed they were there. And when I had to extend my trip franklin went above and beyond to help me take the proper steps. One of the hardest part of leaving Ghana is leaving this family. They changed me so much personally and spiritually and for that I’, forever grateful. I will never forget what I have learned with my interactions with them. Because of this family, I’m sure to visit Ghana year after year.
Wow what can I say? My experience was truly life changing. One thing I learned for sure is that I didn’t find my purpose here…My purpose FOUND ME!!!
Initially, I was assigned to countryside orphanage. I was there for about a week until I helped a former volunteer take a little girl to the hospital that was at an orphanage in Bentum. There were 18 orphans in that school and from the start those kids stole my heart. To make a very long story short after battling with the owner of the orphanage to take little Ophelia to the hospital, we started realizing that the children were malnourished. Myself along with other volunteers began to care for these children by bringing them balanced meals, medical attention and education…nevertheless we saw little effort from the caretaker to improve the health of these children and started to notice that his heart was not at the right place. Any way it turned out that Ophelia had burulli ulcer;a very painful condition. Anyone who saw her wound saw how much the little girl suffered which made us question why the care taker wasn’t on top of it. After sometime, the truth started to come to the surface of what the children in Bentum were experiencing. The children were completely neglected. They were purposely starved, beaten if they mentioned they were hungry, beaten for any reason actually. They never bathed with soap, so sanitation was terrible. The food we bought for the children were never given to them and the medication from the hospital was thrown out.
Thankfully, with the work of a handful of volunteers, franklin, Mary Ann and myself we saved those children. It turned out that the children weren’t actual orphans. They instead had parents that loved them so much… Mary Ann which is one of my sisters in the house helped us every step of the way. She translated to the family what was going on and was part of the process from the beginning to the end…
Franklin opened up our home to the children for us to feed them and bath them while we got them together with their parents. The family at our house was so supportive and became part of a great cause. The children are now in good hands. They live in the village of Oklu-Nkwanta with their parents…
These 18 children touched our hearts so much (especially after finding out what they went through) that we decided to do a fund raiser to raise enough money for school… the reason they ended up in the wrong hands in the first place was because the man went to their village saying he had a boarding school because he didn’t require a lot of money, yet he told volunteers they were orphans and that they didn’t have anybody.
But now the children are now enrolled at St. Nicholas Mission School. With the help of Mary Ann, Franklin and the volunteers involved, the people who donated, the children now have uniforms, new shoes,books school and more importantly safety. After 3 months of Ophelia being admitted to the hospital, she no longer has the ulcer in her arm and has full function of her hands and fingers. Before, she wasn’t able to move them.
All praise goes to God as he placed the right people at the right time to save these children. I’m not saying all orphanages are run this way and that all people are evil in Ghana because it is quite contrary…majority of the people are heaven sent. It’s just like anywhere in the world, there are evil people and most of the time, the children become the victim. So as you are here in Ghana and you hear the call to serve, know that it is not by chance. It is a bigger purpose than you can imagine and with God your purpose will be clearly revealed. Therefore you do not find your purpose, your purpose finds you. Also aside your project, open your eyes to serve others that may cross your path. Whether it be walking throught the market or in the “trotro”. Serving can be a simple smile, help with a bag or help a child cross the street. Your presence here is more than enough if you are like me, you are not rich but love is something money cannot buy so give abundantly and selflessly and the rewards will be endless.
I will blog the entire story from the beginning to the end with all details. I will also include pictures. I will do this once I get home. Follow me on face book at: Health Epiphany.
I found this organization through the internet and felt that the communication and follow through was consistent. Any email that I sent with questions prior to my trip was responded to in a timely manner. This was my first time doing any volunteer work so naturally I was skeptical but the representatives quickly made me feel secure about my decisions with their friendliness and professionalism.
TIPS
1. Do not find your destiny, let it find you.
2. The world is a reflection of who you are… if you smile, it will smile back
3. You are here for a purpose, make every day count.
4. Everywhere you look, you will find an opportunity to serve. Give it all you’ve got.
5. Yes this trip is what you make of it…make it memorable or miserable… you choose!
6. Leave your mark, leave your stamp. It will be as unique as your finger print
7. Let the love of God flow through you and from you and you will attract beauty all around you.
8. Remember we typically see things as they we are not as they are… how does your world look?
9. Out of all the places in the world, you are here and not there and it’s for a reason

Contact info:
IRIS DIANEDSY FIGUEROA
dianedsy@ymail.com(facebook)
healthepiphany@gmail.com(working email)
www.health-epiphany.com

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Feb 13, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

The host family has been amazing in every possible way. Although facilities here are a lot different than what I’m used to, this is an excellent experience and would do it all over again. Everyone has been very welcoming and accommodating… safety here hasn’t really been an issue here. The neighborhood is nice and host ensures that doors are locked at a certain time. The meals have been really good- especially love the local stew! It’s also nice to have the neighborhood kids dropping by and mixing with them you learn so much about the local culture.
Every single person in the household has been very welcoming… I definitely feel part of the family which is how such programmes should be. Never once felt apprehensive or felt like I can’t voice my thoughts. Everyone also frequently ensures that I’m comfortable with the situation- frequently asking if I was ok or if the food suits my taste bud. On day one of meeting the family, I instantly felt at ease and at home.  Thank you.
Volunteering in Magro maternity clinic… the clinic not only deals with expecting mothers but also sees pediatric cases and other general medical problems including male patients. The extent of knowledge gained from this place is extremely broad and you will only benefit from it if you show your enthusiasm in getting involved with labor cases, helping with general medical clinics, circumcision sessions and even simple wound treatments. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating as patients aren’t treated holistically as they should be but every case there is an unforgettable experience. You will see certain conditions that are extremely rare in the developed world or even different methods of delivering, patients’ management ( I was surprised by their circumcision method and their analgesia and episiotomy free deliveries). Everyone in the clinic is also very welcoming and helpful especially the head midwife mama Lu!
I really appreciate how quickly global crossroads was able to process my application as this was a last minute project for me… if not I wouldn’t have met such amazing Ghanaians with such a big, warm and open heart, a country that has so much to offer in terms of life experiences and knowledge and most of all this life time opportunity to be here in Ghana/ Kasoa to reflect upon my own life in appreciating the simplest things that life has to offer. Thank you very much for everything you have done. I really appreciate it… I will definitely be back again!  lots of love.
Email: Francesca_is@hotmail.com

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Feb 13, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I just recently returned home from volunteering with IVHQ in Ghana doing childcare work. If I had to describe my entire experience in one word, that word would be amazing. I had no idea what kind of program IVHQ was going to offer me but they were terrific. The local staff at the main volunteer house in Accra were always so helpful, friendly, and nice to volunteers. The volunteer coordinator for my childcare program, Evans, was great and always made sure we were doing well at our placement. By the end of my trip the local staff felt more like friends than staff members. At my placement program I always felt welcomed and well taken care of. The food was excellent and if there was something we did not care for on our menu, our cook was always willing to change it and make something we did enjoy. We had two cooks while I was there, Ike and Mina, and both were really great. Volunteering is truly what you make it, and if you are someone who travels to another country with an open mind and put in the effort, you will definitely have a wonderful time. IVHQ is extremely affordable and definitely worthwhile. If I volunteer abroad again I know that I will go through IVHQ. I have only been home for a few days but I am already missing the beautiful children and friends that I made in Ghana. Ghana itself is a beautiful country with great beaches, landscapes, and people. I would recommend IVHQ and volunteering abroad to anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jan 12, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
8

Comments

Hi Melinda, It’s great to hear that you had such an amazing time. Thank you for sharing your experiences from volunteering in Ghana with IVHQ. We look forward to see you on another of our programs soon.

uVolunteer

My experiences with uVolunteer were great. From the first minute I was in Africa I enjoyed it. I was teaching at a school. The children were really nice and I loved to teach there.
My arrival and pick up was good. All the things I did here were so amazing. My family here were so great and I would love to see them again. The house where I stayed is really good and the people are so nice and took really good care of me. The project had just started so they don't have yet a lot of material. I did what I can and hopefully the children enjoyed it. I also hope that in the future there will be more material for them and a good organized schedule. I enjoyed it there so much.

On one Tuesday they had: our day. I didn't know what the meaning of it was, but it was a nice day. The children brought food with them and the children were really happy. I experienced so many different things here! And all the people there are nice. I was very quickly used to the way of living there, and I liked it so much. Kokrobite is a real nice place. It's a so different than the Netherlands but now I'm used to the way of living there.
I have seen a lot in Ghana. I traveled to Cape Coast and Kumasi and other places. I had a great time.

It is definitely a life time experience. When somebody is hesitating to come to Africa for holiday or better for volunteering, the only thing I can say: just do it! You will never feel regret, I'm sure.

Charlotte

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 18, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad provided a tremendous amount of support before I left which was very helpful. This was my first time travelling to Africa so the extensive pre-departure guide book provided reduced any potential for stress.

The family that Projects Abroad placed me with was amazing. They cooked my meals, taught me about their culture, and treated me like a son. I still talk to them regularly via Facebook and I know that when I go back to Ghana I'll have a place to stay.

I was on a Microfinance internship, which was a new project for Projects Abroad in Ghana. I helped shaped the program which was a cool experience. By the end we started two businesses: a soap manufacturer and a chicken farm, both of which were set up to operate independently after I left.

I would recommend Projects Abroad to anyone looking to volunteer internationally!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 16, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
7

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

When I first touched down in Accra and walked out of the airport I did not know what to expect or what the next 2 weeks would hold for me. I can honestly say in the short period of time I was able to get to spend time with a large amount of the children from the home, go out and really observe yet experience what the Ghanaian culture had to offer in Kpando and Accra. I went on this mission trip with the intentions on touching those I met but in reality they touched me in ways I could never describe. The experience was extremely humbling and it was amazing to compare a country that had very little but were the happiest in comparison to mine that is quite fortunate yet unappreciative and stressful. I enjoyed being careless and living life day by day. They taught me to appreciate all of my blessings and look at my glass as half full and never empty.
The host family was great. Mary did the best she could to accommodate our meals that were always very much on time (ironically) for 12pm lunch and 6pm dinner. I personally brought bars which I brought for breakfast and snacking. I felt very safe in my environment even when walking along at night I never feared for my safety in Kpando walking from the children's home to the host home.
The local ABV Coordinator was great as far as a volunteer and I enjoyed their company. The coordinator is a very passionate man and I admire how he puts his heart and soul into what he does. He is usually busy running around trying to keep all of their projects running as well with helping the locals in his community.
I was surprised the most with how approachable the people in the community were. Coming from Boston where people go about their day without greeting strangers which was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the kids in the neighborhood most. They were so happy to see new faces and would randomly go up to me to hug me or greet me while I was walking and I love it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 14, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

uVolunteer

It was a great month working with a local football team and local college sporting teams such as track and field, basketball, badminton, table tennis and volleyball. Since the West African Poly games are coming up, I was very busy volunteering with various teams.

At the college, it was track and field qualifications for the West African Poly games. Most of the athletes competed in bare feet, socks, and a few pairs of shoes. Kofi, the 20 year old man who represented the IT students, won the 1,600 meter race by running it bare foot and still managed to break the school record held for 15 years.

As a volunteer, it took long days to help prepare the field for the event. We had to measure, chalk the lanes for the runners, pick up and move large rocks, dig a large hole for the long and triple jump. The best part about getting the long and triple jump pit ready was going to a local saw mill with other Ghanaians and bringing the saw dust back on our bicycles. The day of the event was filled with hundreds of people from the local community, and the local college. The telecom company MTN, sponsored the event by giving the winners of each event shirts, trophies, and hats. A very memorable event that I will never forget!

I really appreciate UVolunteer for being organized and providing the volunteers with such a nice environment to live in. Great showers, kitchen, food, staff and a clean house with comfortable beds. Koforidua is surrounded by mountains, so it's a great place to have weekends off. It's close to waterfalls, hiking in the mountains, bicycle riding, local villages,and easy access to festivals in the Eastern Region. Only a quick ride to Accra to see any major attractions in Ghana's capital city.

I really enjoyed the Ghana experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 10, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

uVolunteer

Ghana was the most eye opening experience I have ever encountered in my life. Upon arriving, I was not quite sure what to expect, but I knew I would not be living a posh life. I was not prepared to have everything I had grown accustomed too in the states taken away from me, but I settled in quickly. I often times found myself looking around in awe that I was in Ghana and how the people lived.

The little things added up in Ghana and they were always a result of someone wanting to help in one way or another, and that is what I will remember about my experience, the people.

Despite the amount of poverty here, I can say with confidence that Ghanians are the most genuinely nice people I have ever been around in my life. I almost wanted to ask the first few people I spoke to what they wanted because they acted like a salesman, but they were just truly being friendly. After going to the crazy market, experiencing the upbeat style of church, and eating some Ghaninan food it was time for me to start my project.

My project involved teaching 15-18 year old girls how to play basketball. The game of basketball is rare in Ghana, and most do not have access to a court or ball. The first day I started teaching the girls I thought I was starting from the basics, but I did not realize they had never even seen a basketball before. Names such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were completely foreign and the concept of dribbling had not previously been taught.
My goal was to keep it fun. As soon as the girls started to show any signs of being bored, I just let them play even if it meant breaking a few rules. The first week was very entertaining and I enjoyed watching the girls' progress in their knowledge and ability of the game. In order to help my teaching process, I taught the girls in a classroom setting in the mornings to help explain how to play the game and show them a few skills. In the afternoon we would walk about 15 minutes away to play at a local court. I had a lot of fun teaching the girls and made some good friends along the way.

Outside of teaching at the local school, I got to know a lot of people in Ghana. uVolunteer got me plugged into the community with some great people and I was able to branch out from there. The hearts of Ghanians are genuine and everybody wanted to know my story. uVolunteer did a great job making sure I experienced the culture here and setting me up with people to take me around town. I got to go to a local church, experience the food market, walk around the clothes market, eat all kinds of Ghanian food, go to local night life spots, experience the national park, walk with elephants, see monkeys steal people's breakfast, wash clothes by hand, and be chased by 50 Ghanian kids hoping to take a basketball from me.

Every day on the way to class I would walk by the kids school and hear the word 'obrony' (white man!) about 50 times. At first I did not know what to do, but all I had to do was smile and wave as if I was some sort of celebrity. The kids' faces light up and some just want wave at you. The little things added up in Ghana and they were always a result of someone wanting to help in one way or another, and that is what I will remember about my experience, the people.

I would recommend the uVolunteer program to anybody and suggest you join because it will be one of the most important experiences you will ever encounter. Be thankful for your current life, but know that you can never be truly thankful unless you live in a poor town.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 4, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

A girl I used to go to school with randomly messaged me about halfway through my trip; she said shed seen my Facebook posts and always wanted to do something similar, she was asking for advice.. So I told her what I tell everyone, and weirdly I even said it to myself before I left: "I don't totally regret going through a company first time, but I will never do it again".

I was placed at GREEN from June - October 2014. I was at scarlet a couple if weeks but it was badly run and when Eddie offered I could switch back to my original colour I jumped.

"Yes the food is fine" "the lightbulb is broken" "we're putting up mosquito nets" ~ oh the memories of "meetings"... Respect the staff, they're epic people with that true Ghana-heart to help .. But my biggest tip? DON'T BE AFRAID TO DO LIFE YOURSELF

IVHQ is mostly what you make it, which is good.. That's a good life lesson. & i used it to get me to Ghana- a country I am now completely in love with.. The staff (to me at least) were good, lovely people and I'm very grateful for the things they did for me and the laughs we had.. But if nothing else travelling with a company taught me how I can travel without them.. Which is also a good thing. I learned I'm a traveller, not a thrown-into-a-house-of-people-not-native & just replacing another face before someone replaces mine.

Don't get me wrong; the kids are great kids and there's a few that truly touched my heart and their fingerprints will stay there forever, but I mean honestly give it a year and it's nobodies single fault but you're just another obroni. & you can be amazing or average, it is up to you.. Which is good.

Before I got my program, I read sometimes you get put with a local family and sometimes in a "volunteer house" .. I remember thinking how I so wanted the latter. I met some great people, but I wouldn't do it again in a hurry.. (I don't need to be surrounded by people in a country for six weeks constantly dragging the "group" to the expensive western style restaurants cus they totally craved pasta.... Example; 40cedi on their pasta, 1.50 on my banku & peanut soup... Uhhh.. I know what id buy first given the choice again!)

I've actually got 6 weeks left that I paid for.. (Btw once you live in country you will feel you overpaid but I knew that going in) so I am hoping to use them.. But I'm just gonna use it as my base in all honesty.. I made some amazing friends the times I did wander off, and I'm desperate to proper-travel north (you're always near the capital which is nice cus I love Accra but not as helpful for travelling)

Evans, Eddie & Mina (greens cook) were all great helps and friends during my 18 weeks.. & for every "fault" of Ghana (as with ALL countries !!) I fell in love with something else ten times more.

If you want to go to Ghana, go. If you want to go via IVHQ - do. For what it is, it works.. Just know that once you find your feet and balls you can do it a lot cheaper & for me at least, you'll get a much more "truly-traveller" experience !

Get connected, get involved, don't watch the clock ever & have the patience of an azonto-dancing-saint... You're gonna love it :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 3, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
6

Comments

Thanks for sharing your feedback from your time volunteering in Ghana. It is great to hear that through volunteering with IVHQ you have now gained the confidence to travel abroad independently.

uVolunteer

Arriving in Ghana for my volunteer trip to work in an orphanage, I learned one thing right away, never expect things to go the way you had intended. This is an important lesson in life, and has always been very hard for me. So on the first day right away I was challenged with things not going the way I had imagined them to go.
Give the children all the love I can, teach them as much as I can, communicate in the best way that I can and show up and be there for the children in the time I had dedicated to them. By the third day volunteering at the orphanage I really started to see the small difference I was making and the bonding that was occurring between the children and me. Many of the children yearned to be held and loved and sometimes that was the best thing I could do for them, was just to hold them. As each day passed the children really began to attach to me and were calling me by name and always swarming around me like a school of fish.
One memorable moment I remember is when I was trying to teach the children about gentle touch, and patting or rubbing the shoulder to get my attention, instead of hitting or pulling aggressively. This was a hard lesson for them, as in their culture they are used to rough handling and gentle touch does not really exist. As I explained to them how to do it, and that I like it better than being pulled on very hardly, they really understood and started helping each other out by reminding each other and demonstrating it on me. It was really sweet to see how one girl showed another one what a " gentle touch" was and how quickly she responded and started doing it that way.
Overall my experience at the orphanage was truly wonderful, and I would not trade it for anything, despite its challenges and obstacles. It was an experience I put myself into and I think it has made me a stronger, more adaptable person because of it. I am glad to have been able to share something with the children and hope that the time I spent with them will leave some kind of impression or memory in there minds to carry with them for the rest of there lives. Ghana is an amazing country, rich with culture, flavor and excitement. There was never a dull moment in Ghana and my time here has enriched my life in a very positive way.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Dec 1, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

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