Volunteering in Ghana

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

Volunteering in Ghana

Name: Dominic Toman (Dom)
Age: 19
School: St Benet Biscop High School, Bedlington

I chose to do a gap year before going to university mainly because I was sick of studying and I didn’t really know what I wanted to study at university, but also because I wanted to build my C.V up with different events and experiences to make me stand out when applying for jobs.

I chose volunteering abroad for several reasons; to learn and develop skills, to experience a new culture, to enhance my C.V being quite a significant and unique activity and to help those less fortunate. All these reasons had me considering volunteering but the big push for me to go was when I came across a government funded organisation called Platform2.

Platform2 pays for people between the ages of 18 – 25 to work abroad for ten weeks; this includes flights, accommodation, food, vaccinations, medication, and training along with providing local project supervisors. Volunteers have the chance to work in Peru, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, India or Nepal.

I was chosen to work in Ghana, Western Africa, in a group of twenty volunteers. We were to work and live in a small town of 5000 inhabitants called Kasapin in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana.

School in Kasapin, Ghana

The work we were to do was construction of a second junior high school in the town, teaching – where each volunteer was placed with a different class in one of the six schools in Kasapin and also helping in the local health centre.
On a personal note my students aged 14 to 15 numbered over 50 in a small classroom and even though they did get rowdy, I never resorted to using the cane which is still widely used.

My first day in the local health centre included me taking a blood sample from a young boy, without any medical training. Whilst there, volunteers were assigned to a host family. One day a week we would spend the whole day with them, working, cooking and socialising. My host family was the local “Assemblies of God” Pastor, his wife and their children. Weekends were our free time to either relax or travel around Ghana.

I loved exploring their culture, whether it was:
•Eating new foods such as “fufu” a doughy dumpling to be swallowed without chewing, “plantain” a savoury large banana, “yam” a hard potato-ike vegetable, “grass cutter” a ferret-like animal, fish stew with heads tail and all, groundnut soup, all accompanied with rice, rice and more rice!

•Experiencing life in a Ghanaian town with its “long drop” toilets, four hour church services, scorpions, bustling market days, joining the local football team and being constantly surrounded by smiling Ghanaian children.

Volunteering has significantly improved my team work, leadership, confidence and communication skills whilst also learning about a new culture. At the moment I am working to save some money up for next year when I will be studying Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies at Leeds University.

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