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A Guide to Volunteering in Ghana

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This guidebook contains brief insights on Volunteering in Ghana. Some of the topics covered are;
- Why you should volunteer in Ghana?
- What are some popular volunteer projects available in Ghana?
- How you can select the best organization to volunteer with?
- Which organizations offer the best volunteer opportunities in Ghana?
- What to expect when volunteering in Ghana?
- How to make your volunteer in Ghana experience rewarding
- Most frequently asked questions from volunteers

This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general reference or source
of information.

Published in: Travel
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A Guide to Volunteering in Ghana

  1. 1. Travellers Quest Volunteer in Ghana An Advanced Step by Step Guide to Volunteering in Ghana
  2. 2. Table of Contents Chapter 1: Getting started - volunteer in Ghana Welcome to Ghana Why you should volunteer in Ghana What are some popular volunteer projects available in Ghana? Where are some popular places to volunteer in Ghana? Which is the best season to volunteer in Ghana? 3 4 5 6 7 Chapter 2: Choosing your Ghana volunteer program How you can select the best organization to volunteer with Which organizations offer the best volunteer opportunities in Ghana? 8 9 Chapter 3: Getting ready to volunteer in Ghana Visa, passport Vaccinations Air ticket Raising funds Suggested books to read Packing advice and tips Gifts for projects 13 13 14 14 14 14 15 Chapter 4: Information you must know about the project Project details What to expect when volunteering in Ghana Learn about your host family Local support Make the final call 16 17 17 17 17 Chapter 5: Arriving and Volunteering in Ghana How to make your volunteer in Ghana experience rewarding Safety while volunteering in Ghana Do’s and don’t in Ghana Culture shock Things to do in Ghana 18 19 20 20 21 Chapter 6: Completion of project & follow up 22 Chapter 7: Most frequently asked questions from volunteers 23
  3. 3. www.travellersquest.com 3 CHAPTER 1: Getting Started – Volunteer in Ghana Welcome to Ghana Akwaaba (welcome) to Ghana and to a land of rich and colorful cultural and historical herit- age, sunshine, idyllic beaches, thriving cities, rainforests, the savannah desert, national parks and wildlife, and some of the friendliest people in all of Africa. The diverse cultures, religions and ethnic groups which exist throughout the country create a unique energy and atmosphere the runs through the heart and soul of the people, their festivals become alive with their music and dance and you will feel the sounds of the African drums awaken you. When you volunteer in Ghana you will witness the true nature and spirit of the country and the Ghanaian people. Although Ghana has a relatively stable democ- racy, unfortunately there is still a large gap between the wealthy and the poor, and many residents of rural communities and villages live below the poverty line, with little or no access Photo Credit: Globalcrossroad.com
  4. 4. www.travellersquest.com 4 to adequate healthcare or education. There are lots of volunteer opportunities in Ghana, especially for those willing to offer their skills and time in the fields of: construction, education, medicine, conservation and commu- nity /social development. Volunteering in Ghana is a great opportunity to help improve the quality of life of those who re- ally need it, while giving you a greater apprecia- tion and outlook on life. Why you should volunteer in Ghana Friendly and hospitable people They have the reputation of being the friendli- est people in Africa or a good reason - you will always be made to feel at home by the welcom- ing, warm-hearted and hospitable nature of the Ghanaian people. Cultures and cultural immersion Each region of Ghana has its own unique cul- ture, reflecting the influences of a particular ethnic group. Volunteers can enjoy travelling around the country and experience the foods, religions, languages and lifestyles which mark each area as unique. Safe to Travel Ghana is a relatively economically stable county, which has an impact on the nature of the people of the country. The Ghanaian people are wel- coming and create a safe and peaceful environ- ment for tourists visiting their country. Natural Surroundings From coastlines, and picturesque beaches, mountain peaks, and valleys, desert plains of the Savannah desert, rivers and rainforests: Ghana is blessed with diverse yet beautiful landscapes, and a drive through the country will unlock the beauty and secrets of the country. Make a positive impact A volunteer experience in Ghana will give you the opportunity to use your skills and pass on your knowledge to help create positive impacts on people and communities in need of assis- tance and support. Your assistance in Ghana will be much appreciated. Experience personal growth With the warm hearts of the Ghanaian people you will feel a greater desire to immerse your- self into their culture and learn all that you can. This experience along with working in devel- oping areas will be an experience of personal growth where you will learn about yourself, open your mind and gain confidence. Give something back You probably have many opportunities to indulge yourself in your regular daily life. Whether that involves eating out when you don’t want to cook, buying a book for study or pleasure, or just relaxing with the TV and a bucket of pop- corn at home. As a volunteer in Ghana you have the unique opportunity to use your time more productively, to give something back to the world by sharing your time, skills and abilities in a worthwhile way. Experience a new culture from the inside Living and volunteering in Ghana will give you the opportunity to live like a local and get to know the country from a locals perspective. The Ghanaian people will welcome you as one of their own, and be proud to share their cultures,
  5. 5. www.travellersquest.com 5 customs and country with you. What are some popular volunteer projects available in Ghana? There are many volunteer opportunities throughout Ghana, which between them require a vast range of different skills and knowledge base. Here is a list of some of the popular pro- jects that you can join in Ghana. Work in an Orphanage Unfortunately there are many abandoned chil- dren in Ghana. Orphanage projects aim to pro- vide shelter, education and above all genuine love and care to these children. As a volunteer you will be able to help out with all aspects of orphanage work, which include: furthering the children’s education and emo- tional development, health and hygiene and of course providing a positive and nurturing envi- ronment for the children. Teaching In Ghana education is greatly valued; however access to quality teaching and resources is lim- ited. Volunteer teaching programs have been set up to enhance and improve the quality of learn- ing and development for children. Your role as a volunteer teacher usually involves teaching English language skills - along with other subject areas, educational play, arts and crafts activities, outdoor activities and educa- tional games. Health Health volunteer programs in Ghana promote and provide quality health, hygiene and medical assistance to communities in need of develop- ment. Volunteers on these projects usually provide as- sistance to medical professionals, provide sup- port and care to the patients and deliver health education on topics such as HIV/AIDS. Sports Teaching Sports projects in Ghana have been set up to increase children’s participation in physical activity and sport, which leads to longer term health benefits. These projects build children’s skill base not only in sports, but also in social interactions and life skills, as they learn how to work as a team, encourage others and build self-confidence. Volunteers in these projects work with Ghanaian children to develop their interest and skills in a range of sports and physical activities. Construction Photo Credit: ubelong.org
  6. 6. www.travellersquest.com 6 These projects focus on constructing and restor- ing facilities such as orphanages, clinics, schools and community centers. Volunteers on construc- tion projects in Ghana will undertake a range of physical labor tasks, such as laying bricks, paint- ing, carpentry, digging foundations and so on. Where are some popular places to volun- teer in Ghana? Volunteer projects are available in both cities and rural areas throughout Ghana. However, there are some locations which are more popu- lar than others, due to the number of projects offered, the safety of the region and the de- mand for volunteers. Here is a list of some of the most popular desti- nations for volunteers in Ghana. Volta Region: The Volta Region is located to the east of the Volta Lake and shares a border with Togo. This area features many tourist at- tractions, including: Mt Afadjado, the highest mountain in Ghana, Volta Lake, Atlantic coast- lines and beaches, the Keta basin, and stunning waterfalls, along with an abundance of national parks and reserves which are a great place for spotting wildlife. The Volta region hosts a vast range of adven- ture activities, and is rich in history and cultural heritage. When volunteering in the Volta Region you will have the opportunity to experience all that it has to offer. Some popular volunteer projects in the Volta Region are: teaching, health, orphanage work, plus women’s’ empowerment, disabilities sup- port and child development programs. Accra: Located on the Atlantic Coast, Ghana’s thriving capital city blends 19th century public buildings with modern day designs. Full of color, bustling markets, excellent eating establish- ments and a vibrant nightlife, when you volun- teer in Accra take the time to explore its many hidden wonders. Some popular volunteer projects in Accra are in the fields of: orphanage work, childcare, gen- eral care, health, construction, education and agriculture Kumasi: Located in the Ashanti Region and an important historic center for Ghana, Kumasi offers visitors an abundance of culture, history and nature. It is home to one of the biggest natural lakes in Ghana, (Lake Bosumtwi), the Manhyia Palace and the national cultural center - where you can experience traditional dancing and drumming. Kumasi is surrounded by rolling hills and villages where you can find traditional artisans making and selling their crafts. Volunteering in Kumasi is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the city and its surroundings. Some popular volunteer projects in Kumasi are: HIV/AIDS projects, veterinary and animal care, orphanage work and teaching.
  7. 7. www.travellersquest.com 7 Which is the best season to volunteer in Ghana? Any time of the year is good to visit Ghana, however if you want to combine pleasant weather and some of the best cultural events in the country, then July - August or December - April should be your months of choice. Check which region your volunteer placement is in, as climates vary across the country. In southern Ghana along the coast you are likely to experience higher humidity than in the north. The best season for the south is the dry season, which runs from November to March and July to August and offers cooler temperatures. Bear in mind that some programs only accept volunteers during certain times of the year, so make sure you check this with your organiza- tion.
  8. 8. www.travellersquest.com 8 CHAPTER 2 : Choosing Your Ghana Volunteer Program Photo Credit: abroaderview.org There are many organizations offering a vari- ety of volunteer programs in Ghana, which can leave your head spinning as you try to choose the right one from so many options. However with a bit or research you will be able to iden- tify which organizations are professional, repu- table and ethical. How you can select the best organization Below are a few things you should consider when looking at the various organizations offer- ing volunteer placements in Ghana. Industry Experience A good indicator of a professional and reputable company is their experience in the volunteer industry. Check out their years of experience, the number of volunteers and projects they have worked with, and any recognitions they may have received for their service and work in the industry. Program Fees When volunteering you should look for a place- ment which offers value for money. Find out what your program fee includes, and what pro- portion of your fee goes towards supporting your project and host family. It is important to know that you are booking through an ethical organization, who which is committed to genuinely supporting their pro- jects, and to creating a better quality of life for
  9. 9. www.travellersquest.com 9 those in need. Website and Social Media Maintaining an online and social media pres- ence is very important in this digital age. Look for a website that not only looks professional but includes detailed information, photographs, mission statements, organization information, volunteer reviews, contact details and engaging content and images. Check the organization’s social media posts for quality, up to date information, engaging posts, use of video and photos, how many followers they have and how they interact with them. Quality Assistance Quality support and assistance from your or- ganization is important. You need to be sure that they will be willing to help you and answer any questions you have about volunteering with them. A good organization should respond to online chat and emails efficiently, respond in a profes- sional manner, and always be willing to help. Positive Reviews Program reviews written by project alumni are a valuable source of information for prospective volunteers looking to gain insight into the types of projects on offer, and the experiences they may have. Look for reviews on the organization’s website, but also look around on the Internet for reviews posted to volunteer discussion forums and simi- lar sites. Who are some of the best volunteer or- ganizations in Ghana? There are many volunteer organizations offering placements throughout Ghana. To help you nar- row down the competition here are a few vol- unteer organizations which, from our research based on price, history, reviews, program cover- age and professionalism can be considered to be the best around. IFRE Volunteers – USA http://www.ifrevolunteers.org/ Established 2006 With 200 projects offering much needed as- sistance and care in 18 countries around the world, IFRE Volunteers have organized invalu- able volunteer experiences for 17000 people so far. They are committed to providing value for money programs and facilitating positive devel- opment on all projects they work with Volunteer projects offered by IFRE in Ghana are based in either Accra, Kumasi, Abor, Hohoe or Vakpo, in the fields of: orphanage work, teach- ing, HIV/AIDS project and health projects. A one week volunteer placement starts from $435. Photo Credit: ifrevolunteers.org
  10. 10. www.travellersquest.com 10 Global Crossroad - USA http://www.globalcrossroad.com/ Established: 2003 Since 2003 Global Crossroads have provided invaluable volunteer experiences to over 18,000 people. They offer a range of different grass roots and cultural immersion projects in 18 developing countries, all of which are in need of development and support. Global Crossroads offer volunteer project in Ghana in the areas of: health projects (Kumasi), HIV/AIDS projects (Kumasi, Accra, Kasoa), medi- cal volunteering (Accra, Kasoa), teaching Eng- lish (Accra, Kasoa) and orphanage work (Accra, Kasoa). Program fees for a one week project start from $435. Ubelong - USA http://ubelong.org/volunteer-abroad Established: 2004 Since launching in 2004 Ubelong has been pas- sionate about bringing cultures together to help create positive change in the world. They work closely with local communities to create unique projects, which means they can focus on im- proving the situations of concern identified by the community, while providing hands-on and personal growth experiences for their volun- teers. Ubelong offer Ghana volunteer projects in the city of Accra in the areas of: health, education, construction and infrastructure, law, and human rights. Program fees for a one week volunteer placement start from $525. International Volunteer HQ - New Zealand https://www.volunteerhq.org/ Established: 2007 Supporting projects in developing communities in 30 countries around the world, International Volunteer HQ have placed 42,000 people on safe, affordable and responsible volunteer pro- grams so far. With their quality programs and dedication to changing the lives of those in need, Volunteer HQ have become one of the leading internation- al volunteer organizations around. International Volunteer HQ offer Ghana volun- teer projects in the city of Accra, in the areas of: sports, medical projects, childcare, con- struction, teaching and agriculture. Program fees for a one week volunteer placement start from $550, with additional fees of around $35 per week apply to construction projects. Agape Volunteers - UK http://www.agape-volunteers.com/ Established: 2009 Agape are passionate about improving the qual- ity of life in communities across Africa. They offer a range of humanitarian based volunteer opportunities, all designed to foster positive change in the lives of those most in need. The projects in Ghana offered by Agape Vol- unteers are based in Takoradi, and include: orphanage work, teaching, medical and music projects. Program fees for a two week volunteer placement start from $741. Photo Credit: volunteerhq.org
  11. 11. www.travellersquest.com 11 uVolunteer - USA https://www.uvolunteer.net/ Established: 2006 uVolunteer is an organization passionate about providing the best cultural immersion volunteer experiences to their participants, while making a genuine difference to the communities they work with. This organization specializes in only three coun- tries, to ensure that they provide high quality personal services to all participants. All projects in Ghana offered by uVolunteer are based in Koforidua. One week programs are of- fered in the areas of: teaching English or sports, and orphanage work, and the fees for these projects start from $670. A three week health project ($995), and a four week placement vol- unteering in national parks and reserves ($1155) are also offered. Photo Credit: uvolunteer.net A Broader View - USA https://www.abroaderview.org/ Established: 2007 A Broader View is a volunteer organization with a passion for helping others. Currently support- ing projects in 24 countries around the world, they have provided over 10,000 volunteers with the invaluable experiences of living and working alongside local communities, while helping to support and improve the lives of those in need. A broader view offer volunteer projects in Gha- na, based in either the Volta Region or Kasoa, in the fields of: orphanage work, health and teach- ing missions, Two week volunteer placements start from $820. Madventurer - UK http://www.madventurer.com Established: 1998 Committed to empowering, supporting and im- proving opportunities for local communities in developing countries, Madventurer offer volun- teer projects which provide their participants with a genuine culturally immersive volunteer experience. Madventure offer Ghana volunteer projects in Accra, in the areas of: construction and educa- tion, and the Volta Region, in the areas of: sport and health. Program fees for a two week project start from $1300. Kaya – UK http://www.kayavolunteer.com/ Established: 2008 Dedicated to providing responsible travel vol- unteer opportunities for their participants, and helping improve the quality of life of communi- ties in 27 developing countries, Kaya have op- portunities for both skilled and unskilled volun- teers on a variety of sustainable projects. Kaya offer Ghana volunteer placements in the city of Accra, in the fields of: laboratory work, healthcare, agriculture, economic empower- ment and literacy development. Program fees
  12. 12. www.travellersquest.com 12 for a two week volunteer placement start from $1480. Projects Abroad- UK http://www.projects-abroad.org/ Established: 1992 With over 20 years’ experience in the volunteer industry, Projects Abroad are one of the largest volunteer organizations around. This organiza- tion has provided quality, safe and rewarding volunteer experiences to over 60,000 partici- pants, on a wide variety of projects in 28 coun- tries around the world. Projects Abroad offer a variety of volunteer programs across Ghana including: healthcare and general care (Accra, Cape Coast, Akuapem), HIV/AIDS (Accra, Kumasi), sports (Cape Coast), veterinary and animal care (Kumasi), and teach- ing, agriculture and construction programs (Ak- uapem). Program fees for a two week project start from $2315. Cross Cultural Solutions - USA http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/ Established: 1994 Cross Cultural Solutions work closely with local communities to identify issues and create mean- ingful projects which reflect their needs, foster positive change and help development their liv- ing conditions and environment. Ghana volunteer projects offered by Cross Cul- tural Solutions are based in the Volta Region, in the areas of: education, child development, support for the disabled, HIV/AIDS projects, women’s empowerment and healthcare pro- jects. One week volunteer placements start from $2625. Volunteer Partnership for West Africa (VPWA) http://www.vpwa.org/Home Volunteer Partnership for West Africa are com- mitted to working with underprivileged commu- nities. In order to improve living conditions and standards VPWA volunteers provide assistance and support in education, health and hygiene and community and sustainable development. Volunteer Partnership for West Africa offer Ghana volunteer projects in: NGO management, education, special needs, health and nutrition, conservation/environment, orphanage/child- care, construction, waste management, women empowerment, sports and youth development. One week program fees start from $590. Photo Credit: projects-abroad.org
  13. 13. www.travellersquest.com 13 CHAPTER 3 : Getting Ready to Volunteer in Ghana Once you have been accepted onto your chosen volunteer placement in Ghana the next step is to start on your pre-travel planning. Getting everything organized now will avoid any major hiccups further down the line. Here is a useful guide of things to prepare at this point. Visa All foreign nationals entering Ghana for volun- teer purposes must have a special ‘volunteer visa’, which you can get from your closest Gha- naian Embassy, Consulate or High Commissions. Apply at least one month before your departure date to leave time for any delays. Passport For entry into Ghana all foreign nationals must hold a valid passport, with more than six months validity (dated from the date you are due to leave Ghana). As a single entry visa stamp al- lows a stay of 3 months do take this into ac- count. Vaccinations Make sure you are protected against any un- wanted illnesses, disease or health concerns while in Ghana by visiting a doctor or clinic doc- tor and checking that all your routine vaccina- tions, such as Tetanus, diphtheria, polio, mumps measles and rubella are up to date, and that you have any booster shots or other vaccinations as required. Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid shots are highly Photo Credit: uvolunteer.net
  14. 14. www.travellersquest.com 14 recommended, along with the yellow fever vac- cination. Many other countries require proof of the latter from travelers who have previously spent time in Ghana before granting you entry. For more information on vaccinations and health precautions for travel to Ghana consult your doctor, or check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://wwwnc.cdc. gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ghana Airfares Airfares to African countries can often be quite expensive, so here are a few handy tips to help you source the best deal available. ▪▪ Do plenty of research and obtain multiple quotes ▪▪ Find out which international airports you can fly in and out of ▪▪ Compare online booking search engines ▪▪ Clear your cache before returning to a search engine ▪▪ Check different routings ▪▪ Volunteer in the low season ▪▪ Sign up to newsletters from airlines and booking sites to get alerts on the best deals ▪▪ Check the fine print for extra costs, such as fees for cancellations/changes, baggage and refreshments Raising funds Volunteer Programs in Ghana can be quite ex- pensive and airfares from most international countries are quite pricey too. If you think you are going to break the bank by embarking on a volunteering placement, rest assured that there are many ways in which you can raise some money to help pay for your volunteering experi- ence. One way is by asking friends and family to sup- port your venture: hold a charity event, such as a dinner party, picnic in the park, film night, fashion show. Or you could sell some unwanted items and goods at a local flea market or online. There are also many online sites where you can create a campaign for your project. They are easy to set up and can be viewed worldwide. You can then promote the project that you will be volunteering on and receive donations online. A good site for online campaigns is Go- fundme, an online crowdfunding site http://www.gofundme.com/ Check out the site below for more tips on fund- raising ideas. https://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/blog/ category/118/saving-for-your-big-adventure Suggested Reading Gaining some insight and knowledge about the country you are travelling to is always a good idea. Grab a good guide book or a novel based in Ghana, and get started on that all important research. Here are some suggestions on what to read: ▪▪ Ghana (Brandt Travel Guide) by Philip Briggs ▪▪ Ghana – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture by Ian Utley ▪▪ No Worries! The Indispensable Guide to Ghana & Accra by North American Women’s Association (NAWA) ▪▪ I Speak of Ghana by Nana Awere Damoah ▪▪ Once Upon a Time in Ghana. Traditional Ewe Stories Retold in English by Anna Cottrell and Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah Packing advice and tips Before you start packing for your volunteer adventure in Ghana it is a good idea to sit down and create a list of all the things you will need to take with you. Here is a list to help you get started: ▪▪ Travel documentation (visa, passport, travel confirmations, travel insurance policy)
  15. 15. www.travellersquest.com 15 ▪▪ Credit card (Visa debit is recommended to easily access funds from an ATM) ▪▪ Ghana travel guide book ▪▪ Torch or headlamp and spare batteries ▪▪ Comfortable walking shoes ▪▪ Light overnight bad or day pack for short trips ▪▪ Sarong or cotton wrap ▪▪ Travel towel ▪▪ Tissues of wet-wipes ▪▪ Camera and accessories (charger, batteries, memory card) ▪▪ Cables and cords for electrical devices ▪▪ Travel adaptor ▪▪ Toiletries ▪▪ Any required medications ▪▪ Light weight rain jacket ▪▪ Light weight, easy to dry clothing, (try to avoid packing any white clothing as it can get quite dusty) ▪▪ At least one smart casual outfit if you plan on dining/going out Gift for projects To show appreciation to your project in Ghana it is a nice gesture to give a small gift. Gifts do not have to be big or expensive, just small to- kens or memorabilia such as t-shirts, photobooks or souvenir type gifts from your home town or country. If you are working with children then gifts such as stationery supplies, educational resources, books and toys will bring a smile to their faces and will be greatly appreciated.
  16. 16. www.travellersquest.com 16 CHAPTER 4 : Information you must know about the project Before you head off to start your volunteer in Ghana adventure you will probably feel a mix- ture of emotions, including excitement, nerv- ousness, fear or anxiety. However, finding out all that you can about your project, host family and local support will help to calm some of those nerves, and prepare you for your volunteering endeavour. Here are a few handy tips on what to check or ask about before you leave: Get all the details about your project in Ghana: It is important that before leave for your vol- unteer placement in Ghana you have all the details of your project, including their expecta- tions of you. Contact your organization if you have any questions that are still unanswered, or there is anything you are still unsure about. Here are some important things to ask for: • Name, address and contact details for your volunteer project - • Expectations, rules and guidelines • Duties and responsibilities • Hours of work per week and per day; includ- ing starting, finishing and break times • What you are required to wear for your pro- ject • If transport to and from your project is included or whether you need to make your own arrangements • Who is your supervisor and who you will need to report to • Who you will working with Photo Credit: haidfoundation.org
  17. 17. www.travellersquest.com 17 Learn about your host family If you are placed with a host family during your volunteer placement, try and connect with them before you arrive, then when you get there you’ll have some sense of familiarity. Your host family will help you integrate into the Ghanaian community as you learn about their customs, cultures, traditions, beliefs and way of life firsthand. Find out • Where they live and how far away from your project it is • How many members of the family you will be living with, and their names, ages and gen- ders • What their occupation is • What are some of their interests • If you will have a private or shared room • What access you will have to areas, such as the living room, kitchen and laundry • If you are allowed to invite friends over • Whether they offer any cultural immersion opportunities • If they have hosted any volunteers in the past • If they have any rules that you need to re- spect and abide by Get connected with local support: It is important the before you leave that you ob- tain all the necessary details for your local sup- port team in Ghana. Find out who your point of call will be, and the ways you can contact them. If they have a walk in office find out where they are located. They are who you will need to speak to if you have any concerns or any issues arise, but they can also offer information and advice on living and travelling in Ghana. Before you leave your home country get in touch and introduce your- self, kicking off your working relationship with them. Make the final call: Before you leave for Ghana It is recommended that you call your volunteer organization and ask any last minute questions, and check that all the details you have are correct and confirmed. • Check that your flight details have been received and all details are correct, (airline, flight number, date and arrival time) • Check to see if arrangements have been made for airport pick up, and if so how you will identify the nominated person on arrival • Make sure that they have your own current contact details and those you’re your emer- gency contact too • Double check there have been no changes to your project or planned host family
  18. 18. www.travellersquest.com 18 CHAPTER 5 : Arriving and Volunteering in Ghana Photo Credit: travels.kilroy.net How to make your volunteer experience rewarding Volunteering in a developing country like Ghana is sure to be an experience filled with engaging discoveries, special moments and of course lots of learning opportunities. When you offer your skills, knowledge and time to help others you inevitably gain a new ap- preciation of your regular world and lifestyle. Your Ghana volunteer experience will be both a rewarding and life changing undertaking. Research Choosing to volunteer in Ghana means immers- ing yourself into life in a developing country, where the environment and standard of living will be quite different from what you are used to. Before you go take the time to do some research about the country’s religion, culture, politics, economic stability, health care and education system, as this will be prepared for life in Gha- na. Know what is expected of you: Before you embark on your volunteering ex- perience in Ghana it is important to find out everything that will be expected of you as a volunteer. What duties and responsibilities you will have, who you will be working with, and any specific rules or guidelines which you need to follow.
  19. 19. www.travellersquest.com 19 This should minimize any issues or problems which could occur if you are ill informed of what is expected of you. Get to know your host family and locals Making friends with locals can be so rewarding. You get to gain a greater understanding of the country, the way of life and the location where you are living or volunteering. Plus you get to know the country from a local’s perspective as opposed to the tourist perspective. Make the most of your time with your host fam- ily, and the locals at your project and in the community. They will be valuable resources to help you to integrate into the community. Remember why you are volunteering If you are passionate about your project and its mission you will find great rewards in everything that you do throughout your volunteer place- ment. Seeing the smiles of appreciation for your time and support, will have a great impact on your overall experience. Do not expect to see changes immediately Your time, effort, dedication, skills and knowl- edge are all valuable when working to improve the quality of life to individuals, communities or the environment. However, it is important to remember that what you do is part of a bigger picture with long term goals. So even though you may not see major changes or improvements straightaway it is important to remember that the volunteer work you under- take is valuable, and appreciated by those in great need. Raise any issues or concerns Your volunteering experience in Ghana should be a positive one, so if you have any issues or concerns regarding your project, host family or volunteering experience you should let your lo- cal support team know as soon as possible. Safety while volunteering in Ghana When you volunteer in Ghana it is important to be aware of any potential risks to your safety. The primary thing to be cautious of are petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse snatch- ing. There are also occasional reports of some violent crimes involving foreign tourists, and political situations can be a risk, especially in Northern Ghana. Some recommendations for your safety when in Ghana include; • Always carry a copy of your passport rather than the original document, unless it is needed for a specific purpose. • Purchase a good travel insurance policy with maximum coverage from a reputable com- pany offering 24 hour support • Check for any safety or travel warning advice for the country before you leave. (See links below) • http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/ view/Advice/Ghana • http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/ghana • Ensure that the location you are volunteering in is a safe area • Make sure you have all the necessary vacci- nations and medications required for Ghana • Send a copy of all your important docu- ments and itinerary details to family or close friends • Advise your bank of your international travel to Ghana in-case your card is lost/stolen or subject to credit card fraud, or you have any issues using it abroad • Register your travel details with your em- bassy. Some embassies allow you to do this online, for example: • Australians - https://orao.dfat.gov.au/pag- es/default.aspx • New Zealanders - https://register.safetravel. govt.nz/login • US Citizens - https://step.state.gov/step/
  20. 20. www.travellersquest.com 20 • Obtain all contact details for your organiza- tion, local support, embassy and emergency services in Ghana • Avoid’ falling victim to petty theft or pick- pocketing by leaving any valuables at home. If you need to take them outside make sure they are well concealed so you don’t bring unwanted attention to yourself. • Always catch a registered taxi and be aware of taxi scams. • Always try to travel in a group, especially in the evenings • Always be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to landmarks or street names in-case you do get lost. • Write down the address of your project or accommodation in-case you need help find- ing either of them • Use common sense, if it doesn’t feel right leave or don’t do it • Be aware of your belongings at all times, and be cautious of pickpockets, frauds and scam artists Do’s or don’ts in Ghana Do’s • Respect the local people, their cultures, tra- ditions and beliefs • Get to know the culture of the country • Never enter a room silently, people expect a greeting of some sorts • Only use your right hand to make payments or greet people • Be respectful to all people especially the elders • Be prepared to share food and stories • Dress conservatively and appropriately • Visit the local chief when you are in small villages or rural areas • Visit the indigenous tribes and learn a few of the basic greeting words Don’t • Forget to exchange pleasantries with the seller before buying anything • Do not disagree openly about their cultures, religions or beliefs • Do not make rude or derogatory remarks about politics, religion or ethnicity • Do not disrespect any rules or guidelines • Waste anything. Ghanaian culture values us- ing everything to its fullest extent. • Do not lose passion for your volunteer pro- ject Culture Shock Cultural Shock can present itself in many ways when you are living and working in a foreign place, and perhaps especially when in a de- veloping county, where cultures, traditions, beliefs, living environments, hygiene standards and daily living are completely different from what you are familiar and comfortable with. At times you may find these differences over- whelming, but accepting them as part of the experience will help you to understand, accept and appreciate their way of living. Here are a few tips that will help you to deal with culture shock while volunteering in Ghana. Learn from previous volunteers You will not be the first volunteer to struggle with the lifestyle differences you may experi- ence when you live and work in Ghana. Reading reviews and blogs entries written by previous volunteers in Ghana is a good way to learn more about what to expect, and how they overcame culture shock. Even though you will be learning about life in Ghana from their perspective, and your jour- ney may be quite different, it will still help to prepare you a little for what you may see and experience. The website mentioned below is also worth checking out for insights into others people’s experiences in Ghana.
  21. 21. www.travellersquest.com 21 http://culture-shock.me/country/GH Learn about the culture customs and tradition of Ghana The culture, customs and traditions of Ghana are unique and may be very different from anything you have experienced before. Learning about another culture is a rewarding experi- ence, and a great way to understand why these traditions, customs, cultures and beliefs still exist. Immerse yourself in the Ghanaian lifestyle, and make the most of all the opportunities you get to try local food, attend cooking classes, learn about medicinal plants, attend a religious cer- emony, visit indigenous communities, and gener- ally learn as much as you can about the Ghana- ian people and their cultures. Embrace the experience Another way to beat culture shock is to be open minded, and embrace every experience that you have. Being in a foreign place can get tough at times, but it is important to remember why you decided to volunteer in Ghana. Focusing on your volunteer project helps you to remember that the work you are doing will benefit individuals, communities or the environ- ment, and help to provide a better quality of life. Embrace even the smallest achievements that you make day to day, confident that they really do make a difference in the long term. Network and make friends Being away from home and your family and friends can be difficult, especially when your usual comforts from home are not present. Take the time at the start of your project to make friends with fellow volunteers and local staff. Local staff can help you integrate into the com- munity, and fellow volunteers will probably have been through the culture shock blues so can of- fer advice and support. Things to do in Ghana • Explore and discover the natural beauty of the country • Get up close with a variety of species at Bo- abeng- Fiema Monkey Sanctuary • Be mesmerized by the impressive forts and castles of Cape Coast and Elmina • Visit the ancient city of Kumasi, the cultural hub of Ghana • Spot wildlife at the Mole National Park, the largest game reserve in the country • Visit some rural villages and communities • Visit the stilted village of Nzulezu, which lies in the Amansuri wetlands • Enjoy the adventure and natural beauty of the Volta region • Learn the art of African drumming and dance • Visit Wli Falls, the largest waterfall in West Africa • Catch one of Ghana’s many festivals, cel- ebrations, or ceremonies • Explore one the many national parks or re- serves • Get to know the friendly locals, who will embrace you as one of their own • Shop ‘till you drop in Accra • Take a break and relax at one of the Atlantic coast beaches • Visit one of the witches’ settlements which are sanctuaries for those who have been ac- cused of using witchcraft.
  22. 22. www.travellersquest.com 22 CHAPTER 6 : Completion of project & follow up Photo Credit: rusticvolunteers.org Whether you volunteer for one week or a couple of months your volunteering experience in Ghana is likely to be one of the most invaluable and life changing experiences you ever have. When you return you will want to share your ex- periences and stories with the world, and a good way to do this is to start a blog. You can use it to tell your story and highlight your experiences, or share tales of unexpected moments and even difficult times. Adding some photographs will help attract people to your site. A blog is a great way to raise awareness of the need for volunteers in Ghana, and share the amaz- ing things the project in which you were involved in achieves. It will also be a valuable resource for future volunteers who are contemplating under- taking the same, or a similar project in Ghana. Take the time to provide constructive feedback to your volunteer organization’s staff. They will appreciate hearing how you found the experience, from the booking process, to the support and guid- ance given, your project, accommodation. This information helps them to continue to de- velop projects or enhance and improve existing volunteer placements. Providing continual support for your project, once you return from volunteering is possible. If you are passionate about truly supporting them you can create campaigns to raise awareness for the project and to encourage prospective volun- teers. You can host charity events, fun runs, talent shows, film nights, fashion parades. You can create competitions or raffles, find potential sponsors for the project, or create online fund- ing campaigns where proceeds raised go towards supporting the program you worked on. Maintain contact with all the local people and other volunteers that you met along the way. These people can be great support networks for the future either when you are developing your campaign or looking at future volunteer oppor- tunities.
  23. 23. www.travellersquest.com 23 CHAPTER 7 : Most Frequently Asked Questions From Volunteers How will I get from the airport to my host family/volunteer house? When you arrive in Ghana there will be an airport pick up service available for an extra fee. Con- tact your organization for further details. Will there be any support from staff in country? Yes, once in Ghana there will be a local support team available to assist you with any questions or concerns. Ask your organization for the contact details of your local support team. How many other volunteers will be participating with me? The number of other volunteers that you will be working with is usually dependent on the time of year that you choose to volunteer, and the number of applicants that your project accepts at any one time. Check with your organization for more details. If I volunteer with my friend can we be placed in the project and housed together? In most circumstances this should not be a problem, but please be sure to talk to your organization well in advance, so appropriate arrangements can be made. Are meals and housing provided? Yes. In Ghana you will either be allocated accommodation with a host family, or at a house for vol- unteers. Three meals a day at either place are included in your program fee costs. Will my host family be able to speak English? Yes, the official language in Ghana is actually English, so you should have no problems communi- cating with them. However, do remember that English may not actually be their native tongue as there are many other languages spoken throughout the country. Can I travel to other cities during my days off? During your time off from volunteering in Ghana you are actively encouraged to discover more of the country. You will need to organize your own travel arrangements, however your local support team will help you, and also be able to recommend things to see, do and experience. Do I have to bring my own bedding and mosquito nets? Bedding is provided, but if you plan to travel before or after your placement you may wish to bring a sleeping sheet/bag and a mosquito net. What if I don’t speak the native language?
  24. 24. www.travellersquest.com 24 This will not be an issue for you in Ghana as the official language is English. How will I get to my project every day? Many of the projects in Ghana are located around 1-20 kilometers from the home base, therefore most volunteers will be within walking distance, or just a short trip away via public transportation Can I speak with a volunteer who has worked on my project in the past? Your organization may have an online volunteer community or forum where you can connect with previous volunteers, or a database of volunteers who are willing to be contacted. Check with your organization to see if they have either of these. What kind of food will I eat while I’m there? In Ghana the meals included in your program fee will be based on local cuisine. Typical Ghanaian food consists of starchy staple foods, (sweet potatoes, rice, yams, beans and maize), accompanied by a soup or sauce. How many hours per day will I be volunteering? Most volunteers will be required to work around 4-6 hours a day. This will however depend on your project, and the hours may be split between morning and afternoon. Check with your organization for the full details relating to your specific project. How much money do I need to bring? This will really depend on how you plan to experience Ghana. If you plan on doing a lot of shop- ping, domestic travel, going out and visiting attractions than you will need to budget a lot more, however with 3 meals a day and accommodation included, around $50 a week should be sufficient for any personal expenses. This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general reference or source of information. We cannot guarantee the validity of information as changes in the field can be sudden. As it is impossible to provide a definite or authoritative guide it is vital you verify information directly with a relevant and up to date source. We cannot be held liable in any way for damages caused should you choose to overlook this advice.

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