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Atlas Volunteers

About

Atlas Volunteers is a fairly small volunteering group based in Abetifi, Ghana. We are ran by a mixture of British and Ghanaian staff who have all volunteered previously in the local area before meeting each other and creating a new group to focus on social impact and bringing a change to the people of our community.

Our low cost placements include accommodation in modern, clean housing with all utility bills covered and on site support staff.

We work with the local government and organisations to ensure that your visit is meaningful to both you and the local area with the highest social impact possible.

Founded
2017

Reviews

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Florentine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A wonderful experience!

I had a wonderful time in Ghana and I wish I could've stayed longer. The Atlas staff members are super nice and supportive all the time. If you have any issues before the arrival, they answer your e-mails super fast and on site they will help you with arranging your weekend trips, planning the lessons and everything else you may need assistance with.
Working with the kids was so much fun, they are passionate to learn, especially when you show them new teaching methods such as quizzes to repeat what they learned in the lesson. Especially during the vacation classes you are very flexible in what you teach and how, so that you feel comfortable with what you do. Also it helps a lot that you just observe and support other volunteers on your first days, that way you can settle in, see how the placement works, how the school situation is (it's very different to western school systems) and get some input on how you could organize your classes.
The tree planting placement includes growing seedlings and then planting them in public space such as schools. You work together with other volunteers and support staff so that it gets a fun way to do something good for our climate.
The volunteer houses are located really nice in the rural area, you have a big garden and a wonderful nature view. The villages and small towns around are not too overwhelming and after a few days you will get more and more comfortable with shopping, grabbing delicious local food and going out in the evening. The people are super friendly and welcoming.
In your free time you can explore the region around Pepease, spend time with your fellow volunteers or take part in other volunteering programs such as ecobricking. During the weekends you can always go on trips to see more of the country, it has so much to offer. The landscapes are beautiful and this way you will learn more about the culture.
All in all it was a precious experience and I was more than happy to work with Atlas Volunteers.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would most definitely stay there at least 2 or 3 months and I would try to work more with the kindergarten kids, they are just too lovely.
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Angela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An unmatched, authentic experience

Atlas Volunteers provides you the resources and opportunities to create an experience of a lifetime! I cannot stop telling all my friends and family about how truly amazing this experience has been. It offers full immersion into the local culture with the opportunity to create an impact in whichever way you would like. As a volunteer at the school placement sites, I was able to teach independently and implement my own lesson plans to engage students in new learning strategies.

Not only that, but I had the opportunity to collaborate and teach side-by-side with the wonderful Ghanaian teachers at the school site. As a school teacher in the United States, I was able to implement my own teaching strategies AND learn so much from the Ghanaian teachers and students.

I think the BEST part about Atlas is that they offer you the flexibility to pursue whichever project/program you would like. There is plenty of flexibility and NUMEROUS ways to achieve impact here. The staff within Atlas, as well as the local staff at schools, is very supportive of allowing volunteers to implement special projects/programs during and after school. For those who may not have a clear vision of what they would want to do, there are still many ongoing projects to choose from! Sam, Frank, Gem, and the rest of the Atlas staff are extremely helpful and supportive in making sure each volunteer is comfortable at their placement site. The staff goes above and beyond to ensure you are able to create an impact in the way you would like! I can only sing praises of how wonderful, meaningful, and authentic my overall experience in Ghana with Atlas Volunteers has been. You will not regret the decision to join Atlas Volunteers!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make the most of your time at the school sites! There are plenty of opportunities to join other volunteers in after-school club activities or start your own activity for the students.
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Jo
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience- could not recommend it enough

I simply could not recommend going to Ghana with Atlas Volunteers enough. I had one of the greatest experiences of my life. I really felt looked after and that Sam, Frank and Libby cared about me. The support and kind words that they would offer me was always appreciated. I loved living in the small town of Pepease. I definitely recommend staying a minimum of two months. It is Ghana and things take a bit of a while to get the ball rolling so it takes about a month to get into a routine. I initially booked to be in Ghana for only 5 weeks but after being there for a week I immediately extended my stay to two months. I wish that I could have stayed even longer but I had to return home to begin my studies. It was an experience that changed my life and I left Ghana with new life long friends.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Spend a minimum of 5 weeks there to get the full experience!
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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING time as a Volunteer

My time in Ghana was simply incredible and I am very glad that I chose the Atlas organisation.
Everything is very familiar and I felt right at home.

Through the observation in the first few days, you are really integrated into the place and can slowly let Ghana take effect on you.
You were free to work on all kinds of projects in the schools and the Atlas coordinators were happy about every idea and helped you organise them. They also have very progressive projects that you can do as a volunteer, helping local people and also showing them recycled examples, like a mural made from recycled glass bottles for schools.

They were always very open and helpful with travel tips and made our trips wonderful and memorable.

In Pepease, the place where we lived, and the surrounding area, I always felt very safe and the local people were very friendly and welcomed us immediately.
There you could also taste the incredible Ghanaian food or take a taxi to the next town to end the evening in a bar.
This gave us many opportunities to get to know the Ghanaian culture, to taste the delicious food or to listen to the amazing Ghanaian music in the local bars.

The volunteer house had a beautiful view of the tropical nature of Ghana and in the big garden you could just pick a mango or play football or volleyball with the other volunteers.
Meeting volunteers from all over the world gave me the opportunity to experience different cultures and meet incredible people.
By cooking together and being together in the house, everything was very familiar and you got to know each other. We also had amazing barbecues, games and film evenings together.

I can only recommend the Atlas organisation, as I had an amazing time in Ghana, they always offered help no matter what was needed, I have gained incredible experience, made amazing memories and always felt at home.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
On my first day in Ghana we went to an incredibly hospitable family who prepared fufu, a Ghanaian specialty, for us.
Fufu is made from cassava and fried plantain, which are pounded together in a wooden vat. The stomping together is quite time consuming, because the cassava and fried plantain are very hard. In the end, the result is a sticky and mushy mass, which impulse eat together with a delicious peanut soup or a meat soup.
The unusual thing about fufu, however, is that you can't chew it because of the sticky and mushy mass, you have to swallow it straight down. At first, it was very wired, because you always had the desire to chew. But you quickly got used to swallowing, because chewing fufu was simply not possible, because everything got stuck in your teeth.
However, once you get used to swallow it tastes just incredible. You can also eat it with meat or fish, which is also very delicious.
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Pippelijn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable experience!

I have been lucky enough to spend almost five weeks with atlas volunteers and I absolutely had an incredible time! I loved every minute of my stay in Ghana and I would recommend going there to everyone! I have been taken under the wing of atlas volunteers from the moment of my arrival until the end of my stay. The combination of teaching during the day and exploring the area in the afternoon or in the weekends with the other volunteers is perfect. The house where the volunteers are staying is located in a truly beautiful environment. Therefore, going for a little walk to get some bananas, eggs or avocados is always a fun activity to do during the afternoons. In other words I loved living in the volunteer house in Pepease! Concerning the teaching program; working at the school was a challenge in the beginning since the children’s level of English was not as good as I expected it to be. However after a week I found myself getting more comfortable teaching and together with one of the other volunteers I started focussing on stimulating the creative side of the kids. So we started giving music lessons, creative arts classes and PE lessons. Doing this was heart-warming and really fun to do. I loved how the children and even the teachers got excited when for example making music with a cup. The freedom that the organisation offers you makes the volunteering special and unique and gave me the idea I actually made an impact. The support given by atlas volunteers proved itself again when I asked them to help me purchase new uniforms for the school with money I fundraised at home. They guided me throughout the whole process making sure everything was taken care of. So once again thank you atlas volunteers! Hopefully I will be able to come back in the future because I am missing life I Ghana already!

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Frank Ofori

Job Title
Volunteer Support
Frank Ofori is a volunteer support staff at Atlas volunteers with 5 years experience working within the intricacies of people and project management for a number of charities and volunteering companies. Outside of work, he likes to read and play football.

What is your favorite travel memory?

A 7 day trip to the western part of Ghana, a country in the West Africa region. I enjoyed the beautiful, quiet and clean Busua beach in Axim which had activities such as surfing, hiking through a nearby forest and a night party organized by the Busua beach resort on weekends. A visit to the Kakum canopy walkway, the Cape Coast slave castle was an eye opener about some of the activities and the barbaric treatment suffered by the slaves during the slave trade period. The most striking moment of the trip was to witness the local festival with all the colorful and beautiful sense of fashion and the great hospitality I experienced from the local people. All the above mentioned experiences coupled with the calm nature of the people, makes it my favorite travel so far.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Yes because I have been handed a bigger and a more challenging role by my current employer and that has enabled me to grow and improve upon all my professional qualities associated with my job as a volunteer support staff. Moreover, the focus and ambitions of my current company aligns very well with my thoughts and vision and hence has helped me to be able to bring forth and incorporate my ideas into that of the company which in turn has given me great confidence because of the recognition given me by the company.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

A return student was able to write her own story about Africa and most importantly about Ghana as one of the most peaceful countries she had visited with the best hospitality after her trip to Ghana. Before coming to Ghana, she was made to believe that it was a poor, rough and a violent country based on news she read on prominent news sites and the internet. Based on the projects she took part in whiles volunteering with my company, she decided to start her own blog to paint the real and beautiful picture of Ghana.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Reforestation and Tree Planting Activist. This is because the issue of climate change activism in Ghana is close to non-existent. So leading the charge of the fight against climate change through reforestation, tree planting and educating the locals on the importance of forest conservation create awareness about the threat of climate change to the environment.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The ability to design and execute projects which reflects the real needs of the beneficiaries whiles at the same time engaging volunteers to bring forth and shape their ideas and plans to align with that of the company to give them desired voice. I was especially proud of the team during the launch of our reading club and school support project because of the readiness, eagerness and the commitment shown to make the project a success.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Having a clear vision and focus. Making the needs of the staff and all other necessary partners a priority as I believe that brings out the best in them and encourages the team to work with great commitment and enthusiam to propel the vision and target of the company to the desired and appropriate level. Also, implementing necessary instruments to ensure a successful information flow throughout the entire company structure.