Coordinators regularly organise guided tours for the volunteer group to Cape Coast which include the beaches, slave castles and the canopy walks at Kakum (see below). Approximate cost per volunteer £75 if travelling in medium sized group. Going with the volunteer group is a great way to see everything quicker and cheaper than on public transport. Coordinators can usually get volunteers into parks on reduced entry fees too!
Ghana placement details
Volunteer in Ghana in health, building, teaching, playwork and sport where you can combine experiences on the same trip. Perfect for first-time volunteers of all ages, young and mature looking to help the poorest children through play work and teaching, sport or repairing crumbling schools.
Health students and qualified health professionals are also in need in hospitals and the communities we work in. Not sure what you would like to do or when you need to decide? Choose after arrival when you have met the local team and chatted to other volunteers who arrived before you.
Below you will everything you need to know the programme, including how it works, daily schedules, costs, health and safety and popular free-time trips available. Got a question big or small? Ask us!
If you need help with funding and are lucky enough to be under 25 years old we have prepared a useful guide on potential sources for travel awards. If you are self-funding your trip, no need to panic, our Ghana programme costs are kept as low as practically possible and are £95 per week including accommodation, housekeepers and a great support team to help you during your stay. From week 3, programme fees, which include accommodation, drop to £50 per week to help you stay and help that bit longer if you can.
What can I do in Ghana?
Our Ghana volunteer programme offers an unrivalled variety of projects to get involved with. Volunteer choose one or more of the following areas to work in: playwork, sport, teaching, health, building, repair work. Fill in a call back form to talk to a Ghana projects advisor today who will be happy to guide and advise on all aspects of our Ghana programme. All ages are welcome and no experience is required for non-health volunteer options.
Can I volunteer with infants and young children?
Yes. Some of the nurseries have even been built by previous volunteers! From nursery songs, colouring and playing with toys to washing dirty hands, cuddles and care work; nursery work can be exhilarating. Working with young children can be very rewarding as you watch them grow and know you have been involved with their development.
Bring some durable toys and play equipment which can be reused as things can get worn out quickly. You may want to bring a larger holdall or trolley case to transport resources each day in case you are at a poorer nursery where there is no secure overnight storage for equipment.
What is it like to be a volunteer teacher?
Volunteers choose between primary and secondary schools. The preferred choice is for primary teaching at one of the schools our volunteers built in remote locations where the very poorest children live. Volunteers often share classes or divide the class up into smaller groups of ability as preferred.
When schools are closed for the holidays, summer schools are opened up and classes operate in other locations. The children receive very little education even during term times that it is in their best interests to gain as much as they can throughout the rest of the year. No experience is necessary for teaching and it is very relaxed.
Often there are few local teachers (if any sometimes) so you will not feel you are being judged and have more freedom to explore ideas. In the summer volunteers often share classes with two or three volunteers together at the front of the class. Mostly the children just need help with writing, spelling and some very basic adding and subtraction.
Basic number skills will be important for the poorest children, many of whom may work later in a shop or will start their own business buying and selling goods. Without basic maths they will struggle. You may like to introduce them to their own Ghanian currency and set up a shop where they can practise.
For older age groups at some schools there may be some set books to follow but there is always an opportunity to introduce new activities. Art and craft activities are always popular. Some children will not have a pencil or paper at home so do provide everything you can.
For some children art will be therapeutic. Some of the children you work with are orphaned in the sense they do not have their biological parents looking after them. There is always time to take the children outside for fun or organised games although they can be a bit shy of the midday sun so if it is too hot, you may want to adapt activities and use the classroom or shade from the trees if possible.
Fun sports days are popular, do include clean water (or juice) and some snacks, some children may be malnourished or may have walked a distance in the heat to get to class and may not be so enthusiastic to run an egg and spoon race. Find out more with a call back from one of our expert advisors on how we can make use of your skills even if you have never taught more.
Can I volunteer with orphaned children?
Many of the orphanages in the Kwahu region of Ghana have closed because the children have been successfully homed or relatives found which is great news. However there are many thousands of children in the region still living with their families who are living in desperate situations.
The children in most urgent need are often those living at home in remote locations at or close to Lake Volta, where their carers live a hand to mouth existence. Living in inadequate houses without a bed, clean water, schooling, essential food and without clothes they can call their own, this is where the majority of our volunteers prefer to work during the week.
It is not uncommon for parents to leave children with extended family or neighbours whilst they work elsewhere. Some children are effectively unpaid housekeepers for their new families and will be missing out on the essential development stages. In order to access the very poorest children, our volunteers built schools where there were none already existing, and now through these schools, our volunteers provide essential assistance.
If you would like to work with the most vulnerable children give us a call and we will be happy to advise you on how to get involved and what to expect. Or complete our form for a call back.
Can I volunteer in a hospital without experience?
Yes. If you are new to healthcare, join one of the outreach visits to some of the poorest communities to dress wounds, weigh babies, promote health through education, distribute health resources and make general assessments alongside your coordinator or outreach medical staff.
Volunteers combine these visits with the regular community programme as visits can be only weekly or bi-weekly due to lack of funds and resources. For volunteers wanting more health-related opportunities, we recommend a longer stay of 4 weeks+ to provide the maximum number of outreach opportunities.
In addition to outreach visits there are plenty of opportunities to offer basic first aid at schools and nurseries. Wounds on the arms, feet and legs are the main daily annoyance for local people who can benefit from extra help. Basic equipment can be bought from local chemists. Volunteers, together with the local support team can also escort children needing professional advice to hospital, often paying for treatment which may cost as little as £2.
Can I volunteer in a hospital in Ghana?
For medicine, nursing, biomedicine, pharmacy, radiography and physiotherapy students and qualified professionals there are opportunities to work at one of the local hospitals. Clinical volunteers have worked in outpatients, on the wards, midwifery or in surgery depending on your experience, interest and qualifications.
Other students have volunteered in the pharmacy and laboratories. It is extremely rewarding and there is high demand for all help. If you can bring some everyday equipment it will be most appreciated as the hospital is short on many of the basics.
For example, in 2015, there was only one pair of scissors in the midwifery department to cut an umbilical cord – and they were rusty. Update January 2017: A new physiotherapy clinic, the first one in the area, has just opened close to the hospital. The owner is an experienced and certified physiotherapist and is welcoming both physiotherapy volunteers who are currently on physiotherapy courses and qualified professionals.
Most hospital volunteers combine health work with community work, spending their first week at the hospital before moving onto other areas of the programme with the rest of the volunteer group. This is entirely optional can be discussed after settling in and chatting with your volunteer coordinator.
We do not require any volunteer to stay with one particular placement throughout a stay on our Ghana programme. If your background does not fit the above it is still worth contacting us as we often have health opportunities which can be tailored to specific skills and interests.
The focus for medical placements is currently Atibie hospital which has the following departments: maternity, laboratory, pharmacy, ultra sound, X-ray, dental. Atibie hospital caters to a local population of 200,000 and has 4 doctors. They can only support five volunteers at any one time due to supervision requirements so please book early.
Can I volunteer at the hospital if I am studying bio-medicine or other non-patient focused courses?
Yes, if spaces are available. Every year bio-medicine volunteers start work in the laboratory testing blood samples followed by time spent shadowing elsewhere in the hospital. Fill in a call back form if you would like to discuss further.
Can I do building work?
Yes! Nearly everyone has a go at something during their stay whether mixing cement or painting the walls of a new classroom. It can be great fun to work as part of a team whether you choose to build throughout your stay or just for a day to help the others out with an extra pair of hands.
Recent projects have varied from repairs to existing classrooms, toilet blocks, installing water boreholes and repairing homes to laying sewage pipes. Most of the schools that our volunteers work at were built by volunteers just like you from scratch without any real funding, just small donations and hard graft which added up to a whole school over time!
Bring at least £50 a week for materials if building is your thing, although for the most basic projects you might only need a few pounds a week if you only need to buy some lime wash or a bag of sand and nails. No experience or not sure how to get started? One of our team will be happy to give you a call to discuss the building programme in more detail and help with any questions you have.
What sport volunteer options are there?
Many of the children only go to school for the morning or afternoon providing plenty of opportunity to get the children together to play sport. Although football is the national sport, the children are always keen to try something new from rounders to volleyball to ‘fun’ sports day events and athletics. You might want to provide refreshments and snacks for long activity sessions to keep the children going as they may have walked a distance to get there that day!
Volunteers with sports coaching backgrounds have also worked with local teams of all ages (8 to adult) to coach and organise tournaments. For more serious coaching, it is recommended to spend at least a week on this rather than a day on and a day off. Spaces are limited to 2-3 volunteers at a time. Volunteers have also played against local teams which have been great fun and a huge success.
Free time in Ghana
All activities and excursions below can be organised for you by your volunteer coordinator. Let us know before travel on your final form or at any time if there is any trip below you are interested in.
There is no obligation or payment before arrival but it will be helpful for the coordinators to know how many are interested so they can organise a group trip around everyone’s dates and fit this in around project work. Group trips are in any case more fun when shared with others! There is a noticeboard at the volunteer houses with trips, costs and details.
Got a question about how how much time you will have, places to visit and how it’s organised over there? Fill in a call back form and we’ll be happy to help. Seeing the country helps you to get to know the Ghana better and understand the area you are volunteering in better by comparing to the other places you visit.
Here is a suggested itinerary preferred by volunteers over three weekends: Weekend 1 : Cape Coast Canopy walkway/slave castles/monkey sanctuary and beach. Weekend 2 : Mole National Park The best wildlife West Africa has to offer. Weekend 3 : The rest of the best Kokrobite beach/Kumasi region/Ada beach estuary.
Placement at a glance
|Volunteer Options||Playwork, sports, teaching, conservation, hospital, building, health work. Unlike many organisations we do not tie you in to one programme, our volunteers work as a group together in as many areas as they choose during their visit. Call us on 01603 280702 and speak to an expert projects advisor about what you can do in Ghana or by visiting the Trip Info page (box above) which contains detailed information on the programme.|
|Support||Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team from housekeepers, drivers and security and 24hr emergency support|
|Project location||Most projects located close to Lake Volta in Eastern Ghana.|
|Accommodation||Shared volunteer house in hills near Mpraeso, Lake Volta region.|
|Working hours||Variable (usually part time) depending on chosen area of work|
|Language||English is widely spoken and understood.|
|Getting to project||Daily transport organised for volunteer group. Average cost about 50 UK pence.|
|Minimum stay||1 week|
|Volunteers usually stay||2-4 weeks, longer stays possible|
|Project operates||All year round|
|When and how to apply||This is our top Africa volunteer programme for first time volunteers to Africa. Complete a Reserve Now form and we will contact you straightaway to confirm availability and advise next steps.|
|Costs||£95 per week (weeks 1-2 accommodation and support) & £125 (Registration to join OV which provides a year of volunteering without registering again) Extra weeks in Ghana are £50 per week.|
|Airport pick-up service||We'll organise your airport pick up and transfer. Cost: £40. Return trips are booked in Ghana, allow between £20 and £40 depending on arrangements.|
|Want to find out more?||Visit the Trip Info area (Tab top of page) for more on the project including daily routines and how volunteers spend their free time from safaris, beaches to secret free country clubs!|
- Shop 20 minutes
- Bars 20 minutes
- Chemist 20 minutes
- Bus nearest stop 10 minutes
- Taxi rank 20 minutes
- Cash machine 20 minutes
- Bank 20 minutes
- Pay Phone 20 minutes
- In Town Access 1 hour
Basics, what to take?
- Summer weight sleeping bag
The accommodation of one of the main volunteer houses pictured below are all large and modern compared with local standards. Volunteers can enjoy the use of a spacious lounge with TV and kitchen which you are free to use. Beds are usually single or bunk beds in rooms sleeping 2 to 4. Toilets are western style sit-on toilets, water is delivered by tanker weekly. Support: Full team for support and on hand during stay.
Meet the project team
You will be well looked after in Ghana. The senior coordinating staff (senior team pictured above) have looked after more than a thousand volunteers from Original Volunteers since the first arrived in 2007. Before 2007 the programme was only open to qualified medics to work in Ghanaian hospitals. But with a need for volunteers in the poorest areas, the programme was expanded to Lake Volta villages.
If this is your first time volunteering abroad, you do not need to worry about getting around or being on your own as the group travels door to door from the volunteer house together in a group each day.
Images and videos of Ghana
Many of our returning Ghana volunteers send us photos and videos of their positive experiences in Africa. Click on the images and films below to get an idea of what to expect volunteering at this project.
See more pictures from Ghana
Photo album by volunteer Alan Phillips
Photo album by volunteer Emily Tudor
Photo album by volunteer Charlotte Constable
Photo album by volunteer Coral Evans
Photo album by volunteer Fiona Kaye
Photo album by volunteer Matthew Ash
Photo album by volunteer Natasha Hudson
Photo album by volunteer Rebecca Hudson
Photo album by volunteer Eleanor Howe
Photo by volunteer Marie Moxley
Photo album by volunteer Nick Frost
Photo album by volunteer Kaylee Hurst
Photo album by volunteer Gemma Pilmoor
Photo by volunteer Kate Gutteridge
Photo by volunteer Adam Goodgroves
Ghana specific questions
Do I need experience? And what are the ages of volunteers?
Few if any community volunteers heading to Ghana have any experience. Everybody is welcomed to have a go and find the project which they enjoy and suits them best. Everyone volunteers together in a group so you will never be on your own. We welcome volunteers of all ages.
Between June and August the average age of our volunteers will be between 18 and 25 with a few volunteers each week in their 30s/40s etc. The rest of the year the age is more varied across the age groups. The Ghana programme has a few limited spaces for under 18s. Please contact us to check availability. June to August is also the busiest time of year when our volunteer group size can reach 30 on one day as this is the only time students can travel so early booking is essential.
When do I choose what I will be doing?
Unlike many organisations we do not tie a volunteer to a specific programme for their entire stay. This is because we know that many of our volunteers’ talents and interests and talents can be unknown until they arrive in Ghana.
All volunteers not on the hospital programme can choose the area they would like to work in after arrival. If it is not possible to get involved straightaway because volunteer numbers are low, this can usually be arranged for the following week when new volunteers arrive. An example of this would be the smaller-interest groups, such as conservation or building which require a minimal group size at some times of the year.
If you would like to try out anything other than teaching or healthcare, a longer stay is advised just to be on the safe side. All our volunteers have the opportunity to swap and change their area of work according to their interest during their stay, although it is most practical to stay in one area of work for one week at a time. We’ve seen aspiring teachers discover talents for community healthcare and midwives become builders over the course of their visit.
On arrival in Ghana all volunteers are provided with an orientation. This usually takes place the following morning unless you want to get started straightaway. Your support team will go through all the volunteering options available and help settle you in. Most new volunteers will try out something simple for the first day, perhaps assisting classes at one of the remote schools where the main group are or if you have the energy, join in with the building volunteers.
Do you offer medical placements in Ghana?
Medical and nursing placements are available at Atibie hospital for volunteers currently on courses and for qualified experienced professionals. This is usually offered as a combination of one or two weeks hospital placement followed by community volunteering.
An additional supervision fee is charged by the hospital of $100 US Dollars or approximately £70 depending on the exchange rate at the time of your visit. Limited placements are available up to maximum of 6, early registration and submission of documentation is essential as our places fill quickly.
For pre-med and pre-nursing volunteers who are not currently on health courses at home, placements with community clinics and outreach health workers can be combined with the regular volunteer programme but dates can be irregular. These placements provides some hands on experience from health checks to wound-care. Physiotherapy placements are now available at the newly opened clinic for physio students and qualified practitioners who would like to help.
Can I volunteer at the hospital if I am studying bio-medicine/pharmacy?
Bio-medicine/pharmacy placements are available for students to volunteer in the hospital laboratory working with blood samples and will have an opportunity to include work shadowing.
I need to teach a minimum number of hours for my education course?
It is recommended that volunteers which require a minimum number of hours volunteer for at least one month. It essential to find out from your course tutor exactly how many hours you will need in the classroom and whether lesson prep time is included or excluded. It is not uncommon for some course tutors to ask volunteers for 80 hours classroom teaching over two weeks which no teacher in the UK would be expected to complete in that time frame.
On closer inspection the volunteer either needs to stay longer to complete the required hours, or the 80 hours includes 30 hours of lesson prep. Sometimes playwork and outdoor games can also be included in the total number of hours required. Check the finer details with your course tutor or department head if in doubt. Please note when schools close for holidays, community classes continue to take place throughout the area and your coordinator will assist you to ensure that your teaching hours are sustained.
Will I be met on arrival?
All volunteers are met at the airport in Accra on arrival.
What do I need to take?
A full kit list is provided after booking in the Welcome Pack. As a general rule for community/teaching or playwork bring pens, pencils and art/craft resources. For building/repair work bring strong work gloves, sturdy footwear, clothes to get dirty and a good wide rimmed sun hat.
For hospital/clinic placements; examination gloves, smart casual clothes with a clean white blouse/shirt and sandals/shoes. Bring a lab coat if you already have one. Mosquito nets are not needed as all windows at the volunteer houses are screened. They can be easily bought locally and cheaply if you are travelling to remote areas in your free time.
Where will I be staying?
All volunteers are grouped together in one of three spacious modern volunteer houses near Lake Volta in the Kwahu region about 15 min taxi ride (usual local transport) from towns Mpraeso and Nkawkaw.
Is Ghana safe?
Ghana is one of the safest countries in Africa. It has been politically stable for longer than most countries on the continent. There are possibly more volunteering organisations in Ghana than anywhere else in Africa for this reason.
Are there rules about clothes?
People in Ghana are fairly relaxed about clothes – the only thing to be aware of is the stomach – this is a no no – so avoid cropped tops and keep your swimwear for the beach and waterfall only.
Do I need a visa for Ghana?
Most passport holders will require a visa for Ghana. We can provide letters of introduction if required at anytime as soon as you have flights. There is no charge for this.
Are there fixed arrival dates?
Providing we have availability for the week you are planning to arrive, there are no start dates for the Ghana programme. Volunteers can arrive on any day of the week at any time 24/7 and our regular driver will wait for any flights which are delayed. Most flights tend to arrive at 8pm if flying from Europe. Arriving between Monday and Wednesday can be a good idea giving you plenty of time to settle in, check out a project or two and make friends before the weekend.
Will I be placed with friends?
All volunteers arriving with friends on the same flight (if we are aware, let us know at anytime) will be placed in the same room wherever possible and always in the same volunteer house.
I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone?
We can Buddy you up with someone else going around the same time. Take a look at our Buddy List too or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we’ll add you to our weekly round up. But if you are travelling alone, don’t panic, the Ghana volunteer programme is always busy and it has a family-feel so you will make friends at the volunteer house as soon as you arrive. About 7 in 10 volunteers travel alone.
Will I need any jabs?
This is Africa, so sadly yes you will need to get some jabs and boosters to protect yourself. You should consult a travel health nurse at least 6 weeks before travel, although some independent travel health clinics (most large towns have one or two) can provide last minute jabs and boosters. Please remember that malaria tablets must be started before travel, not as you arrive.
I am a practising Muslim – is there a mosque?
Yes there is Mosque reachable from the volunteer houses. Taxi is the usual transport.
Are there any Muslim volunteer opportunities in Ghana?
Yes there is a small Islamic primary school which welcomes Muslim volunteers. Previous volunteers have also helped outside the classroom with the complete installation from scratch of washing facilities.
Is there wi-fi?
The volunteer houses do not currently have wi-fi but internet access is only a 10 min taxi ride away in town (taxis usual form of local transport and extremely cheap) or you can pop in on your way to and from projects each day.
How will I get back to the airport?
Your support team will organise a taxi back, or with the driver if he is picking someone else up. Alternatively the journey back to Accra can be made by taxi to town, bus to Accra and taxi back to airport. Some volunteers like to leave a couple of days earlier than their flight to spend some time at the beach or shopping in Accra and often current volunteers will join you.
Contact us for specific questions
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share (and from what our callers tell us we are currently offering more detailed pre-trip telephone advice than our competitors). So give us a call for a quick chat with one of our expert advisors on 01603 280702, complete a call back form, or email [email protected] to get the answers you need and test our knowledge!
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A woman from Yorkshire who was a volunteer in Ghana with Original volunteers said that she chose to volunteer with us because we were ‘Kind, helpful, and encouraging’, and had a wide variety of placements. Samarie Giles, who works in a midwifery department at a hospital spent almost a month teaching basic Maths ...