El Nahual Community Center
|Cross Cultural Solution Review (Ghana)|
The following review was written excusively for VolunteeringInfo by a previous Cross Cultural Solutions volunteer. For more information about CCS, please see their organisation entry.
I had undertaken a lot of research on which programme would be best for me on my first volunteering experience in Africa, CCS seemed perfect as it combined volunteer teaching with cultural learning activities and was structured. There was support before leaving if you wanted any extra advice, you could speak to your programme manager whenever you needed to and a detailed info pack was sent to us. I found speaking to previous volunteers was most helpful though as they had been through the experience and could give a personal account.
My experience met and exceeded all of my expectations, everything was organised for us, our chef Joe made Ghanaian food, house maids Georgina and Esther were always around to chat to and even invited me to Church for a real Ghanaian service, and the programme manager for our house George was a really amazing person and could sort out any problem you had at any time. We also had security guards at the house 24/7 and felt completely safe. The programme director also met us for weekly feedback sessions where we could talk about how we were feeling about our placements or any problems we have.
I was placed in Suzy Mother Care, a primary school with children ranging from 1½ - 11 with two other volunteers. I ended up in the baby class with about 15 kids from 1½ - 3yrs. Having had no teaching experience the first day was pretty daunting but as soon as I had met the children I knew everything would be more than ok. I did do simple learning like counting, the alphabet, colours, shapes etc but found what was most important was for them to feel loved and just to learn through playing. Suzy, the school founder was a lovely Ghanaian woman and greeted us each morning with a massive hug after which we were surrounded by the kids which has to be the most amazing feeling.
Along with the volunteering which was from around 8am to 12pm we had various cultural activities in the afternoons, these included things such as visits to the market, Wli waterfalls, Likpe slave caves and monkey sanctuary. Then in the evenings we had Ewe language lessons, traditional drumming and dancing and guest speakers on issues such as marriage in Ghana. For volunteers that had been there longer there were opportunities to do more volunteering at the same or different schools/orphanages in the afternoons.
I felt extremely safe walking around the town alone because the Ghanaian people are so helpful and kind and wont let you walk by without shouting hello or stopping to chat, everyone works on Ghana time so are very laid back and making the most of life! There is always the issue of illness or malaria when travelling to Africa but if you take your malaria medication properly and have all the required jabs you should be fine and even if you do get ill while out in Ghana the programme manager makes sure you get treated right away. Insect repellent is a must and just becomes part of the daily routine but I was only bitten a couple of times.
I loved my experience so much I have decided to go back out again this year for much longer and again with CCS as I now get alumni discount and couldn’t fault my time with them
Everyday I wrote a journal and ended it with: You know you are in Ghana when… So thought I would leave you with some of my favourites.
You know you are in Ghana when…
- Dust gets everywhere and turns you orange, even your teeth feel dusty
- Strangers in the market invite you to a wedding
- People chat to you and are actually interested in who you are and what you say
- Children constantly surround you, holding your hands, singing and dancing and shouting Yevu (white person) happily from across the street
Best wishes on the journey ahead, be open minded and embrace everything,