Alumni Spotlight: Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor is from Newcastle, England and studied Fine Art at the University of Sunderland. He enjoys reading, Paul Gauguin art and trying spicy foods.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Love Volunteers in Ghana?

Matt: Love Volunteers was my choice of agency to volunteer with because with them being a not-for-profit organisation I knew my program fees were going to good use. Because they aren't out to make a profit, it is a very affordable way to volunteer abroad.

A volunteer helping through Love Volunteers

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Matt: A typical morning for me in Ghana would usually begin with being woken up at dawn by the cockerels crowing just outside my window! This would be followed by porridge or a cup of milo. Despite locals in villages seemingly looking at life from a 'no rush' point of view, everybody seemed to be out and about very early in the day!

Children would arrive at school early, eager to meet their friends and play; a disgarded plastic bottle is a perfect substitute for a football. While some children don't care to pay attention to what is being written on the blackboard in class, all are excited to see me and want me to be teaching their class.

Teaching in the school would usually take place from 8.00am - 2.30pm. The laid-back approach to doing school often meant that the length of breaks and teaching sessions would vary. When teaching a class I found the use of visuals and storytelling to be most effective to convey information, as there was often a language barrier (some children spoke English better than others). One example of a successful teaching session being when I read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a mixed class of three to eleven year olds, which the children loved. They then created paper butterflies, learning about the process of metamorphosis and the names of colours. This session was one of the many highlights of my trip!

A volunteer with local child in Ghana

What made this experience unique and special?

Matt: What made the Ghana program so special was the homestay provided. Staying with a host family in the local area means you live and breathe the culture there and gain an authentic experience of local life, something that you miss if you were to stay in a hostel.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Matt: I have come to know that I find no work more rewarding than helping those in need, especially young children; those that I know are unable to repay me. Seeing the real expressions of happiness and smiles on their faces in spite of the lack and the poverty that they were living in was more than enough!