My experience volunteering in Ghana African I can say was truly an eye opening and inspirational experience. I went to volunteer my services at Countryside Orphanage expecting to make some sort of change in some children's lives but what happened was the opposite. The children of Ghana, including, the students & orphans at Countryside, the young ladies Mary, Christie, Josephine and Elizabeth, whom all took care of our daily needs and the children in the markets, all had an overwhelming effect on my life.
They were positive, strong and extremely intelligent and impressed and motivated me more than any experience so far in my life. The strength of the Ghanaian people as a whole, is next to none. I found that Ghanaian people have a connection between them that is missing from Western civilization. I truly believe Western civilization could learn a lot from the Ghanaian culture.
I chose Global Crossroads because of the positive ratings I read about them...there were a couple of experiences that I read about that really inspired me i also chose Africa because I am "African Canadian" myself and decided that the first place I would like to go and provide service to would be my "homeland". I also decided that this experience would be a "once in a life time" experience for my youngest daughter, not only culturally but emotionally.
The application process was painless and I received my package in a timely manner. Once introduced to my project coordinator in Ghana, Franklin, every question and concern I had inquired about was answered promptly. When we landed in Ghana, Franklin and a few others were there to greet us the moment we stepped out of the airport and about 1 hr later we were in Kasoa at the home base. You feel safe at the home base and you lock yourselves in the base every night. Franklin is also in the same building so you feel comfortable knowing someone is close by who has your safety in mind.
Upon arrival to homebase everything was going well and then within the first 20 minutes I experienced what I'm guessing was culture shock (or maybe the beginning of a panic attack)...I felt like I was going to pass out but after laying down for 2 hours I felt a lot better and did not experience this feeling again over the next 2 weeks.
The young ladies at the home base were absolutely amazing and took care of our every need. Our food was always prepared, the base was always swept and mopped everyday and where ever we needed to go they would ensure we knew our way on our own or they would travel with us until we were comfortable on our own.
At the Countryside Orphanage we met Ms Emma each day in the morning then we were left to find things to do. Since this was my first experience as a volunteer I expected more guidance on daily things to do but unfortunately did not get this. We basically walked around and played with the kids when we were not standing in a classroom supervising the students as they wrote their exams or marking test. Countryside Orphanage is not just an Orphanage it is also a school where 80% of the children there are students not orphans and it wasn't until near the end of the 2 weeks were we able to distinguish the orphans and the students where there were only about 30 orphans. We took with us 3 large bags of donations that were for the orphans but they ended up getting divided between orphans and students. If the donations were only divided between the 30 orphans the Orphans would have had enough school supplies, toothpaste and toothbrushes for an entire school year. The other issue was that the donations were also expected to be shared with the teachers where there ended up creating a conflict between a few of them thinking one got more then the other.
Regardless of whom ended up with the donations "all" the children with their positive attitudes, smiling faces and the genuine feeling that they were happy and content individuals left a long lasting positive impression on me and made me realize and respect the things I have and not to take my western life for granted.
The hydro is not constant, the plumbing is minimal in most places we went to and water had to be bought to drink. Franklin ensured that our water level for the toilet, shower, washing of clothes and dishes was always available.
The village of Kasoa seemed very safe we did not come across any volence during our stay. However I was comfortable with traveling with one or more people outside the home base as we were always confronted by people yelling at us to get our attention either just to say hi or to entice us to buy something from them which could be overwhelming at times...there were a couple incidences where some over zealous individuals grabbed our arms and wouldn't let go until we got angry. But overall 98% of the interaction with the locals was positive and helpful. You honestly get the feeling that almost every Ghanaian would go out of his or her way to help you with whatever you needed.My recommendations to those planning to volunteer (and for my next experience ) would be to bring plenty to do on your "off time" including researching the area for places to buy food, toilet paper water etc, local markets and entertainment places like beaches, local malls etc. Research the actual needs of the place you are going to volunteer including the structural needs as well as the needs of your home base - (example I would have love to have put a coat of fresh paint on the walls of the home base during my stay.)
Bring a medium sized mirror, a radio and maybe a DVD player, tablet or ipad to play movies or play games etc. Bring along slippers and a robe. And if you love sweets and chocolate bring it along too but remember that the climate is hot and that refrigeration isn't always an option.
I would definitely do this again and I would use Global Crossroads. I did not have any negative issues with their company.