Zoe Tucker Ghana

Names of staff involved in your programme: 

Rebecca, Fred, Dominic, Jennifer

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?
I remember the housekeepers, Dominic and Rebecca the most as we had a lot of contact with them on a day to day basis. They were both exceptionally helpful, friendly and a pleasure to spend time with. A big comfort to have someone in the house to help you/sort out placements/give you information whenever you need it – especially Dominic who was a great help!

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
At first my natural reaction was a load of tears!! This was simply culture shock and emotions were high as I had travelled for the first time on my own. After settling in I began to enjoy the way of life and I realised, the house we had, for some, was luxury so I really appreciated the flushing toilet! Looking back the accommodation was fine as it was all we needed. The beds were fine (a bit squeaky) but nothing unbearable. Its good to experience such a difference in accommodation as it allows you to feel like a Ghanaian yourself!

Why did you want to volunteer?
Since I was little I always had this dream of going to Africa to help the poor out there. As I am going to university this year I felt it was time to book it and finally tick it off my ‘to do list’ and I am so glad I did. I have always wanted to help the less-fortunate and this trip allowed me to do just that and more.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Just from seeing the children smile gave me a wonderful sensation inside – I could see I was helping them as they were so happy and eager to get involved. Also, when I went onto building the second week my previous teaching partner told me the children had asked after ‘Madame Zoë’ which was enough to prove I had given them a good time 🙂 also through my lessons on the planets, the 5 senses and numbers which I feel some, if not all took something away from it!

What did you do for fun?
Visited waterfalls, Cape coast on the weekend, played football with local children, church on Sunday (recommended), walks, chilled out with other volunteers, had a few drinks at a local bar, meals out!!

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
I cannot point out a specific one as I had so many, one was definitely Cape coast which was amazing and I recommend it to other volunteers – while in cape coast we stayed in ‘Han’s cottage’ where you can touch a crocodile (or two) – adrenaline rush but well worth it. Canopy walk, swimming in the sea – so many! Also Butase Waterfalls – best shower experience ever!!! Lake Volta just came to mind – the first day we went on a tour of a village and had a boat ride on Lake Volta – They will ask if you want to swim and I recommend you jump in! Such good fun!!

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
All of the volunteers were amazing people and we all got on perfectly, one big friendship group. Main friends were my roommates who were lovely and really helped me through being there when I needed them 🙂

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
Freds café (not sure what the actual name is) – lovely atmosphere, good music, good food and drinks. Also Oasis bar at capecoast was good fun (but be prepared for a long wait for food!!)

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
I will be going again in the future when funds allow it and I have time off university. Id like to try another place in order to see a different culture and see how it differs with Ghana. I would also readily go with Original volunteers as Rebecca and Fred (coordinators) were very supportive. Also there was a wide range of projects to suit everyone, from teaching, painting and building – also there was opportunity to start a new project yourself if enough people wanted to do it! And of course because it is so cheap!!

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Go for it – it’s the best, life changing experience ever and it makes you really see how extremely lucky we are.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
RAINCOAT!!! (if going April – September) No need to bring pasta, rice or bread, tuna, tinned tomato – plenty of that. I would recommend lots of snacks, dried fruit, possibly your own plates and cutlery. Most things can be bought in Ghana. Walking boots, bather, pegs.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
If you don’t like rain or humid weather I would avoid April-September (rainy season) but most Ghanians prefer this season as it gets so hot for the rest of the year. If you are bringing things for the children at schools, I wouldn’t just hand it to them – be warned, as they have so little, it gets quite aggressive and they do try and grab things off you. Either hand it to the head teacher (who may be sleeping!!) or give it out as rewards – never just give it for no reason as they will take it for granted and take advantage. Not to sound harsh but its just how it is. If teaching PLAN YOUR LESSONS and make them a very easy to understand level. I was teaching in a class of 11 yrs – 16 yrs and their level is about 3 years younger than they are so make it simple and active. Lots of educational arts and crafts. I planned my lessons and had I not, it could have gone terribly wrong. The children can be very hard to handle so be prepared to shout! Also bring a mosquito net and bite cream. Don’t let the house or the culture scare you – embrace it, accept it and you will have an amazing time, no doubt about it 🙂 Be prepared to be called ‘Obruni’ constantly. It is not offensive, it means ‘pale skin’ as we are a rarity over there