Hospital Project Manager helps build school in Africa

While volunteering in Ghana a Project Manager for a Midlands Hospital helped to build a Classroom, install a Creche, and set up Maths, and English tests during her two week stay at a school.

Joyte Parmar, who works at the University of Birmingham Hospital, described her time spent volunteering at the Lisa Findlay school in Ghana as ‘the best thing that I have ever done, It was fantastic’.

During her time there she said that she found that the classrooms were too small, and so along with two other people they knocked down walls to turn a spare room that was not being used into another classroom.

She then went on to help create a crèche for 50 babies, structure classes into Kindergarten and Primary school levels, and set up Maths and English tests.

This was a particular concern for Joyte as she feels that ‘the kids need to learn, and they have not grasped the concept that they are there to be taught’.

She was full of praise for the Volunteer Co-ordinators, and was able to put her administration skills to good use when American Doctors visited the area. ‘A free clinic was set up and the Doctors were able to carry out Eye, Diabetes, and Blood pressure tests.

I got the children into a line, and kept a record of them all’ she said. She was concerned that the country as a whole lacked ‘planning skills, and administration’, and added that ‘I found my niche, re-audited the structure of how things were taught, filled in forms, registered children, and helped to create manuals for the next set of people who will volunteer there’.

During her time in Ghana she also visited remote Village Schools, and felt that it was a shock compared to the school that had been set up by Lisa Findlay.

She found the people of Ghana to be very friendly, adding that ‘although they have nothing they are unbelievably happy people’.

Joyte made several new friends while she was there, and hopes to meet up with some of them who are travelling after they finish volunteering in Ghana.

She said that she would like to return to Ghana, but may well go to Tanzania next as she has heard that they need Administrators.

She said that she would ‘definitely recommend volunteering in Ghana to anyone’, and added that it is a ‘fantastic way to see a different side to a country’.

She feels that along with the other volunteers they ‘contributed a lot in a short space of time’, and that it has made her realise that ‘there is more to life than work’.

We here at Original Volunteers are quite amazed by all that Joyte has achieved in such a short space of time, and look forward to hopefully arranging for her to volunteer in Tanzania in the future.

Hopefully, as a result of her efforts the school is now more spacious, organised, and structured Educationally.

Well done Joyte.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Ex-Original Volunteer Rebecca is going back to Africa

Volunteering is hard work and can be challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun. Rebecca Morgan, 20, from Kington, Herefordshire will be returning to our Ghana Project for the second time.

‘My time in Ghana was full of good experiences’

Here, she recalls the happy memories of her first visit to Ghana and her month spent in the Orphanage.

My time in Ghana was full of good experiences. We spent one month at the Children’s Home organised by Original Volunteers – the children were so beautiful and fun to be with, we created such a good bond between the children at the orphanage and ourselves.

‘The hardest part of the placement was going home’

Like the majority of the projects Original Volunteers supports, Ghana need volunteers 365 days a year. For some of us, spending Christmas away from home is a daunting prospect, but for Rebecca and other volunteers the chance to join the children’s celebrations was an opportunity not to be missed..

We were in Ghana during Christmas time, so the children were not at school. This gave us the perfect opportunity to have fun and play games for the whole month, as well as the opportunity to teach them a bit of English informally. We created things through arts and crafts, and played a whole list of games from learning and Christmas games to singing games. Every volunteer I spoke to loved it.

However, it’s not just fun and games that leave a smile on the volunteer’s faces. For Rebecca, one of the most positive aspects of volunteering was the chance to educate the children while meeting volunteers from all over the world. During her stay in the Orphanage, Rebecca worked together with other volunteers to put on a play which would raise Aids awareness. Co-ordinated by Corrine Gray, an Original Volunteer from Trinindad and Tobago, the play became an opportunity for everyone to get involved.

The volunteer placement gave me a real sense of achievement. We helped other volunteers with the Aids awareness play as well as other educational awareness lessons. After helping to make the props and attending rehearsals, it was extremely rewarding watching the play being performed. It was great to create a good bond between children and other volunteers, especially Corrine Gray-brilliant gal!!.

Being in a new country gives our volunteers an insight into their own lives, and Rebecca was no exception. Returning to the UK with a new-found confidence, she soon realised she would certainly be returning to Ghana in the future. In fact, for Rebecca the hardest part of the placement was going home!

An occurrence which happened more than once was the children (although extremely respectful), found it quite stimulating to open our suitcases and look at our potions and gadgets from the western world, giggling among themselves at the stupid things we had burdened ourselves with. To them every cream or spray was mosquito repellent, and before I could turn around they would smooth the potions over their skin and start parading around my bedroom, cracking up with laughter and falling to the ground. Some of the ‘children’ were actually older than my friend Ben who came along with me, and we met up with them after we had finished the placement. I am definitely going back out to say ‘’hello” before starting a course in International Development at University next year.

Volunteering was a really positive experience. There were tears when we left the orphanage, but we have some brilliant photos of the children at the orphanage and even better memories. Keep up the good work!

If you would like to volunteer in Ghana click here

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

A little goes a long way in Africa

New water filter systems for Ghana will help sustain healthier conditions thanks to some of our recent volunteers.

A water filter project in Ghana made by recent volunteers is going to have big results with improving health conditions.

Coral Westlake told us about the project and how she realised “we all take running clean water for granted.”

Water borne diseases are a huge problem in Ghana, with 81% of the rural population relying on untreated water. Coral and the other volunteers visited Tojomohoji Island and met the thirty inhabitants who live there and use the river water for washing, cooking and drinking. All the volunteers were affected when they learnt that most the islanders suffered from stomach and intestinal complaints due to contaminated water. Coral and Susan decided to organise a project to help the people.

The volunteers visited Accra, and purchased 25 litre free standing water filters. Coral, Susan, Sidique, Jack, Lauren and Colette contributed to the initial fund. The units with three filters cost just £29 and work by removing bacteria such as typhoid and cholera, sand, rust and any discolouration. The third filter contains mineral stones. The volunteers bought four units and enough replacement filters to last four years with boiled water, at a cost of only £6 per filter. gone through the filtration system it was perfectly clear. What a result!”

‘It was green, cloudy water…”

The consumption of unsafe water in Ghana, along with poor sanitation and hygiene practices, continue to result in diarrhoea, worm infestation and other water and sanitation-related diseases, which can lead to death and disability. Children are usually the first to get sick and die from these diseases. The chief of the island was shown how to assemble the units and then the first water was added.

Coral observed the process saying, “it was green, cloudy water with particles floating in it but after it had gone through the filtration system it was perfectly clear. What a result!”

In the future…

Coral and the other volunteers are interested in sustaining the new health conditions for the islanders and recent volunteers have already been getting involved too. Coral hopes these “volunteers in the future will help to carry on this project so that the islanders can continue to have clean, safe water for years to come.” It is wonderful to see what a difference our volunteers have made and we are very proud and happy to learn about the improved health conditions.

If you would like to do some volunteer work in Ghana click here

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Original Volunteers Lisa Goes Back to Africa

When Lisa arrived in Ghana to volunteer with Original Volunteers for the first time, she didn’t realise that a few weeks later she would be building a school…of her own!

Lisa Finlay wrote:

The school is in Bepong which is five minutes from where the volunteer coordinators live.

I decided to start the project following a visit to the village and discovering a lot of poverty and some children in far worse circumstances than those living in the orphanages. The schools were basically wooden sheds and it was terrible and I just wanted to help. Many of the schools are private and too expensive for the local children so many just work on the farms for their parents or end up getting pregnant and then that’s their education over with.

The school I am opening will have to be private so that the teacher can be paid and cover meals but it will not need to make a profit so it will be cheaper than the others.

It was very easy to start the school, Ben my project manager helped with every thing and took me to the chiefs palace to get permission to build a school, got all the equipment from machines to wheel barrows and trucks to transport the wood up and down to recruiting the joiners, plasterers and weeders.

The children really want to learn…

I would love the school to be finished by Christmas but it all depends on money. The people in this village are just so excited that this white woman is coming to help them. They think it is going to be the best school in Bepong so I have a lot to live up to!

Any help is very much appreciated by anyone whatever the contribution be it big or small. The children really want to learn but because of the costs involved in private education and the poor quality of education even in these private schools I hope this school will change things for the good and fill a much needed gap.

By the way I also want to start a youth centre which will also be able to offer English classes to the older boys and girls who have missed out.

If you would like to volunteer in Ghana click here

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Student Nurse Loved Volunteering in Ghana

FORMER STUDENT NURSE WHO ‘LOVED’ VOLUNTEERING IN GHANA LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH STREET CHILDREN IN MOMBASSA

A Former Student nurse ‘loved’ her time spent doing voluntary work abroad in Ghana so much that she returned 2 months later, and is now about to volunteer in Mombassa, Kenya.

Hannah Mcelroy from Cheshire went to Ghana in May 2008, and enjoyed the two weeks that she spent there so much that she returned seven weeks later.

During her time there she volunteered in an Orphanage, and helped to dig out the foundations for a building on a remote Island on which she camped, on Lake Volta. She also spent some time at the Lisa Findlay school, and enjoyed taking the children from the Orphanage out for the day to a park that was being built in the grounds of the school.

During her time in Ghana she made several friends who she kept in touch with, partly through Facebook, and felt that the people of Ghana were ‘very friendly’. She has already recommended the experience to other people, and enjoyed her time volunteering so much that she has decided to spend three months in Mombassa in Kenya from March working with the Street Children.

She feels that in spending a longer period of time volunteering abroad she will be able to make a greater contribution, and is really looking forward to the time she will be spending there.

We wish Hannah well, and we are pleased to hear that she had such a wonderful time in Ghana. If you feel that you would like to take part in similar projects why not get in touch by e mailing us on [email protected]

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Trainee Teacher reviews volunteering in Ghana

TRAINEE TEACHER DESCRIBES TEACHING IN GHANA AS ‘THE MOST AMAZING TIME OF MY LIFE’.

A Trainee Teacher who spent part of her summer holiday teaching at a school in Ghana described the experience as ‘the most amazing time of my life’.

Indeed, she enjoyed the experience so much that she has recommended volunteering with Original Volunteers to many of her pupils who are considering a gap year abroad.

Diana Firbank, a Trainee Teacher from Newmarket spent 4 weeks in August 2009 teaching in a school, and occasionally helping out at an Orphanage in Ghana. She described the children there as ‘lovely’ and joked that she wished that she wished that she could have brought them all home with her.

While she was there Diana also helped to decorate the school, and helped with the building of an new school as well. She described the experience of volunteering in Ghana as ‘ the most amazing time of my life’.

She has already recommended the experience to many other people, including her pupils who may be considering a Gap year before going on to University.

Diana was also full of praise for Original Volunteers, and our Coordinators.
She said that she chose Original volunteers due to the price that we charge, on the strength of a recommendation from a friend who had volunteered with us before, and the fact that we came up at the top of a search engine list.

She described the companies coordinator’s as ‘fantastic’, and added that ‘ Any questions, worries, or problems that I may have had, they sorted it out straight away’. She added that she would love to volunteer with Original Volunteers again, and that while she would love to return to Ghana, there were also projects in Peru, and Mexico that she would like to take part in.

She felt that her time spent in Ghana has given her an insight into another culture, and described the people of Ghana as ‘lovely’.

We wish Diana well with her Teacher Training course, and look forward to being able to arrange for her to volunteer abroad again in the near future.
If you are training to be a teacher, or are considering volunteering during a gap year why not call Original volunteers on 0800 345 75 82 and we can arrange for you to gain some valuable, and much appreciated teaching experience in many different locations around the world.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Stacey Reviews volunteering in Ghana

SURREY WOMAN WHO SET UP FAIR TRADE BUSINESS AFTER VOLUNTEERING HOPES TO SET UP PROJECTS IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.

Surrey woman Stacey Kerr, who spent three weeks volunteering in Ghana, decided upon her return to set up her own jewellery website to help poor people in developing countries. She hopes one day to be able to help people in those countries to do the same.

Stacey, who said that her time spent volunteering in Ghana in June 2008 ‘was brilliant’, set up her company www.daisyrox.co.uk upon her return.
She imports Fair Trade products from Ghana, and other developing countries, and one day hopes to ‘set up projects in those countries to fund, develop, and share business skills with people so that they can set up their own businesses.’
Stacey, who had never been to Africa before said that her experience in Ghana was ‘far beyond anything I’d imagined’, and it was ‘so different to anywhere else I’d ever been.’
She feels that her priorities have changed since returning to the U.K, and describes the experience as something that she will ‘treasure forever’.

She said that she went to Ghana with the intention of working with orphans, but also thoroughly enjoyed teaching English to the children, seeing how much their grasp of the language had improved, as well as playing games with them.
She felt that her ability to communicate with both adults, and children both in a teaching and friendship capacity was really important.

She said that she found the people of Ghana to be very friendly stating that the children wanted to hold her hand, and the adults wanted to invite her into their homes to eat with them. Equally, she made many new friends amongst fellow volunteers, and has kept in touch with many of them through Facebook.
Stacey discovered Original Volunteers through an internet search, and contacted a group on Facebook who had volunteered with the company before, and thoroughly recommended the experience.
She said that she would ‘jump at the chance’ to return, and that she would definitely recommend the experience to other people.
Original Volunteers are delighted to hear that Stacey had such a wonderful, and rewarding time, would be more than happy to arrange for her to volunteer Abroad again, and wish her well for the future with her jewellery business.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Volunteer in Ghana Praises Original Volunteers

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 and English to, and making Arts and Crafts with children at 3 school placements in Ghana.

She described the experience as ‘absolutely amazing’, adding that it was a ‘fantastic placement’.

Samarie was full of praise for Original volunteers saying that she had looked at other companies, but that we had the widest variety of placements, and that Original volunteers had given her lots of information, and had been ‘kind, helpful, and encouraging’.  Indeed, she enjoyed her time so much that she is hoping to volunteer abroad with us again in 2010, but this time in Brazil.

Samarie urged any volunteers going to Ghana to take a supply of pens, and paper with them for the children as they desperately need them in the schools.

She said that she had made friends with people that she hopes to keep in touch with from ‘Middlesborough to Barcelona’.

Samarie added that the experience ‘makes you realise how small your life is, and how big the world is’, and that her time spent in Ghana had put her life into perspective. She added that she was moved by how warm and loving the children of Ghana were.

It was a pleasure to arrange for Samarie to volunteer in Ghana, and we look forward to arranging for her to volunteer in Brazil in 2010.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Alex Dobbing Ghana

Names of staff involved in your programme

Rebecca, Fred, Dominic

What members of staff do you remember the most?
Dominic, who was a local and lived at the house. He was helpful and really made me feel comfortable.

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to experience a difference culture and help people at the same time

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I feel that I made a difference as I helped with the building project.

What did you do for fun?
We visited the waterfalls, bead market and the national park, which was amazing. We also went out and had drinks and meals.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
The most amazing experience was the treetop walk, it was beautiful and extremely rewarding.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
Everyone! Everyone was there for the same reason and wanted to enjoy their time and meet as many people as possible.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
Freds Café, mainly because it was the only place with internet and computers! Other than that the volunteer houses held some pretty good parties.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?.
I doubt I would go to Ghana again, simply as I would want to try something new. I probably would choose original volunteers, because they are so cheap to book with.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
TORCH IS A MUST. And probably some food to have in the morning and a blow up pillow!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
I’d say make sure you’re up for anything and everything, take a torch, a raincoat and make sure you know what YOU want to get out of it.

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Alex Goldring Ghana

Names of staff involved in your programme

Rebekah, Fred, Richard, Appiah

What members of staff do you remember the most?
My housekeeper Richard as I saw him the most and he was always friendly.

Why did you want to volunteer?
As I wanted to gain life from another perspective and so that I could help people that are less fortunate.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes as I could see the school building going up and up construction wise.

What did you do for fun?
I went to Cape Coast, Kumasi and Kokrobite on separate weekends with a group people. I also went to the local waterfalls and bars on the nights.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
At Kokrobite where you could just relax and soak the culture in.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with everybody as everybody was in the same boat together and all wanted to make a difference.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
Vibes café, internet café, premier bar, Atibie volunteer house!

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Maybe, as they are really helpful and the co- coordinators are amazing!

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Do it.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Chocolate, portable shower

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Fiona Brown Ghana

Names of staff involved in your programme

Fred, Rebeca, Apiyah, Sam

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?
Sam was excellent as the volunteer co-ordinator in Asaka house and as there was so many of us he stayed actually in the house which was really useful as we could talk to him about our concerns but he was also really fun to be around and was really knowledgeable about the Ghana itself and where we should go on weekends.
Fred was very useful to have in charge of the project out there as it seemed he controlled even the police! When some Ghanaens tried to stop us passing down a road one phonecall from Fred was all it took and we were away!

Why did you want to volunteer?
I had a long summer and I wanted to do something productive with it and as I have worked with children before I thought I could use my skills to help disadvantaged children and discover a different culture and see (some of )the world

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
I really enjoyed going to do the outreach project where we took a water filter, food, clothes, stationary and other resources to a remote village. It was like something you see on children in need and it was amazing knowing that families were fed for the next few nights and that these people were thankful for the gifts you were giving.

What did you do for fun?
On the weekends we travelled with people from our house which I really enjoyed. All the people in our house got on really well, so that helped! Kokorobite and Lake Bosomtwe were my favourites, athough the canopy walk at cape coast was something not to miss too. During the week going out to Kaabs was a social event or going to Fred’s bar and meeting with the other houses which was fun.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
All of our house got on really well while I was there and as we were all there for a similar amount of time we didn’t have any new people for 2 weeks so we all had time to bond. I have made some proper friends who I am going to meet now we’re back and there’s lots of people I’d like to keep in contact with.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
Kokorobite was a fantastic weekend as the food and drinks were amazing (and cheap) and it was full of white people! It was a nice change from being the only obrune about! The music and bonfires were good and sunbathing on the beach and looking round the stalls were great.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
Yes. I’d love to travel somewhere different but go with a purpose (eg, helping street kids/teaching) Original volunteers placements are more affordable than some others and if you have any problems there is a good network of people who are there to help.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
I would recommend that they go and experience it

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Torch – powercuts are frequent
British food – eg, tins of tuna, cereal, peanut butter, nutella, chocolate, crisps (you will really miss what you caan’t have) DVDs- if we had been told that there was a dvd player I would have brought some…instead there were only 3 in the house which we had to watch over and over again!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
It is great to go in the summer as there are plenty of other volunteers to socialise with and it isn’t too. Keep an open mind, take every opportunity as it comes and enjoy yourself. It is a once in a lifetime experience!

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Emmanuelle Lipski – Ghana

Names of staff involved in your programme:

Frederic, Richard and Rebecca

What members of staff do you remember the most and why? Fred took us around on our first day and was always available to answer our questions.

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
The house was very nice!

Why did you want to volunteer?
I have always wanted to visit a country “differently”, not as a tourist. Working with the local people helped me to feel like one of them and taught me a lot.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Everyone makes a difference. I was teaching in a school that had been built by previous volunteers. If they hadn’t been there to make the difference, the school wouldn’t have been there

What did you do for fun?
We used to travel at weekends, and on week days go to the market and the nearest towns.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
Mainly the people I was sharing my house with because we were together all the time, but people I was working with as well. Teamwork strengthens friendship

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
Other than the project places, we used to go to Vibe’s café, Sam’s café to have a drink or a meal

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?Please explain why.
Maybe go to a different place, to experience something new. For a first time it was great but I would hope to do something a bit more “active” next time

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
You don’t need to have any experience to go volunteering, for a first time Original Volunteers is very relaxed

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack? Mosquito nets, snacks, sun cream and a camera!

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies