Josie Scragg – Ghana
Names of staff involved in your programme:
Fred, Rebeca, Richard, Dominic, Appiah, Rebecca, Sam
What members of staff do you remember the most and why?
Richard was our resident staff member, who was really friendly and helpful. He made us breakfast on our first day and made Red Red (a delicious Ghanaian dish) for everyone in the house! Dominic and Rebecca came to our school with us and were full of useful ideas and helped to explain to the children when they weren’t as fluent at English. Fred and Rebeca were really friendly and helped us feel at ease (particularly with the scares of mosquitos and eating local food!)
What were your impressions of the accommodation?
First impressions were a bit grim as we arrived at 3 o’clock in the morning after travelling all day, to a huge bug flying around our room and news that there is no running water, but by the time we got up the next morning we were already used to it and settling in was easy. Being so close to town was great too as we didn’t have to walk far for water, snacks and the bar!
Why did you want to volunteer?
I am training to be a primary teacher and wanted to experience this in a different way, particularly after being in a very well-to-do area on my last placement. I also wanted a challenge and a rewarding experience which this certainly has been. It was humbling to be in school without interactive whiteboards and resources readily available.
Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I was only there for 2 weeks, and coming to the end of my trip I wished I had booked to stay longer, as the more you get to know the children the more you feel like you are getting through to them. I felt even the smallest difference was appreciated, such as brightening up the classroom with displays. There was one particular child who was not very confident with English so was hard to get through to, but when I did a lesson on the three wishes, I felt that he really understood and excelled at the task
What did you do for fun?
I had such fun with the children in school that each break time I spent the time playing with them, dancing and talking even when other volunteers walked down to the local shop. In the evenings we frequented the local bars, and at the weekend we travelled to the different lakes and markets
When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
My last day in school was a mixture of emotions as I knew I was going home but would miss the children. This was enjoyable though, because the children played drums and danced, and I was dressed in a tribal robe and presented with a certificate from the headteacher. An experience which I wouldn’t call enjoyable but was certainly interesting was one of our tro-tro trips, where on the way to school the boot flung open, covering us all in the red dust from the road, and on the way back the back seat fell backwards, causing 3 of us to be lying down until the driver decided to stop and sort it out!
Who did you make friends with and for what reasons? Everyone in our house was really friendly and we all got on really well, despite having such a range of ages. Everyone was also really supportive when I was ill one day. We travelled together at weekends or just sat and chatted in the house or the bar.
What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
We often wandered up to Vibes, a bar and internet cafe in Mpraeso which was affectionately known as ‘Fred’s’ as he owns it. We often met up with the other houses here as well. It was really chilled out and had some good music and friendly staff.
Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
I think I would consider going somewhere different as I have had the travel experience now. I loved Ghana and a little longer would have been nice, but I think I would like to experience different places. Having previously booked through Original Volunteers and had a great experience (particularly impressed with the organisation!) I would definitely come to them again to look for another project!
What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering? Go for it! I had ups and downs but it was definitely worth it and I feel like a much stronger person for doing it.
What items would you suggest future volunteers pack? Definitely a torch as we had a few blackouts. And little things which you think you won’t miss like your favourite flavour of Pringles, Ritz crackers, chocolate and cereal! Also be prepared for going out to bars or restaurants. I took all my scruffy clothes for volunteering, not even thinking about evenings! Packs of cards and plenty of books or puzzles are useful for the afternoons and evenings when you want to relax after projects. A small hand sanitizer is useful to take on projects- I had a bumbag with me all the time which was very useful for the little everyday things.
Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Go for 3 weeks, 2 didn’t feel long enough by the end!