Pagus Africa Center for Achievement Ghana

Pagus Africa


Pagus:Africa is an education focused not-for-profit organization that strives to create young leaders in Ghana, W. Africa. Through our programs, we improve and create more opportunities for young people in the Volta region whilst assisting in education and health-related community development projects. We empower youth so they are equipped to intelligently face life’s challenges and be a positive force in the world. Through 12+ years of on-the-ground experience, we have honed our approach to one that is proving powerful and worthy of further investment.



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Yes, I recommend this program

We (Shifra and Benny) spent five months in Ghana, volunteering for Pagus:Africa.
In Kpandu we helped in school administration and teaching. We were living in the home of the School Director who is also the pastor of the community.
In Ho Ghana, Benny supervised the construction of 8 classroom school, and Shifra assisted in the classrooms.
We had an ongoing communication with Ellen Berenholz and her volunteers.
Pagus:Africa is highly respected in Ghana,so we were able to get the officials on board to support the project.
I will be glad to speak to any volunteer directly, and you can contact us via Pagus:Africa

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Yes, I recommend this program

We travel junkies love a good adrenaline filled adventure to write home about, (or to post about on our blog as the case may be). We love to climb a mountain or go to the top of a building and take breathtaking pictures to post online and email to friends. But after we go home, tell our stories, and give out the souvenirs we brought back, the most precious takeaways are the relationships we’ve built across cultural and geographic divides, and the knowledge that we made a difference in someone’s life.
My mission while working with Pagus:Africa was to evaluate the quality of education students were receiving in the new Airfield school building, and to learn more about the population of students we are serving there. The task was not an easy one. Before I could observe classes, I had to win over the teachers and headmaster. Once I was in the classroom, I witnessed things that made me feel disheartened and sometimes uncomfortable. From my Western perspective, I often found the teaching style and discipline tactics frustrating and ineffective. I surveyed approximately 80% of the student population, overcoming a language barrier with the help of two student translators who became my research assistants. We surveyed as many students as we could each day until my computer battery died. I walked to the villages where the students lived and interviewed family members, often waiting an hour for transportation home afterwards.
Through this process I formed close relationships with the Ghanaians who saw the value in what I, as a part of Pagus:Africa, was trying to do. The family I lived with became my family. I would share my concerns with them as I would with my own. They were encouraging and supportive in any way that they could be. Likewise, a woman from the government who works with the school system became our biggest advocate. She would come to our house to talk, and then go to the school and fight for the necessary changes. I formed a very close relationship with the two students who were my research assistants, especially once they became comfortable around me. In Ghana there is much reverence given to elders, so relationships with those in different age groups can have a formality to it unlike what I am used to in the United States. It took a while for my research assistants to let down their guard with me, but once they did, we formed a close bond. Outside of my work, I formed relationships with many others. A boy who lived near our house would go on long Sunday runs with me, sometimes running five miles in flip-flops as we shared my Ipod, one ear-bud for each of us. The people we saw regularly around town became friendly with us- the attendant at the internet café, our favorite sellers at the market, the woman at the fruit stand, and the cashier at the grocery store, all knew us and extended warm greetings.
As a volunteer of Pagus: Africa, I felt I had a lot of independence and autonomy, but at the same time I benefited from the support of an existing network that has been built around the organization. As a Pagus volunteer I felt welcomed and valued, even as I confronted challenges. In the end, I worked closely with the Executive Director to figure out how best to move forward given the findings of my research. She was very receptive and appreciative of my work, and in the end, many changes were made. I feel very proud of the contributions I made to the Airfield school, although there is still a lot to be done.
This is a perfect volunteer opportunity for someone who is not afraid to live outside of their comfort zone, someone who is strong-willed and yet culturally sensitive, and someone who is motivated to truly make a difference. There is no cookie-cutter experience here. You bring to the table your own skills and ambitions, and make of this experience what you want. You have to be ready to engage and connect with people inside and outside of the Pagus network, and not get discouraged when change doesn’t come as quickly as you hope. This is a great opportunity to make a huge impact on the education of eager Ghanaian youth, and a chance to make unique and meaningful relationships as well. And of course there will be no shortage of adventure, breathtaking photos, and souvenirs for your loved ones.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered for Pagus for 3 months in Ghana last year and I really could not have imagined it going any better. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I have stayed very active with the organization and plan to go back this upcoming summer. Pagus is a small non-profit which is great because it allows you to personally have a say in what is going on. You work side by side with Ellen Berenholz (the director) to personally design your ideal trip so that you can focus on areas that you are most interested in. Pretty much if it will benefit children in Ghana in anyway, Ellen will be more than happy to work with you on it and make your ideas a reality. From experience I can say that few other organizations working out there are truly geared towards making a different. Many of the larger programs are more geared towards creating the "volunteer experience" and tend not to have a sustainable impact on the community. This is not the case with Pagus. Working with them you will personally be able to change the lives of many and, at the end of the day, that's what the trip is all about. I highly recommend working with Pagus Africa.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Shifra Raz

Shifra Raz is 65 and is a retired teacher. Originally from Israel, she resides in Santa Monica, California with her husband Benny who is 67 and is a retired engineer.

Volunteers building in Ghana

Morning: We volunteered at two cities: Kpandu and Ho. At Kpandu we stayed at the home of Bishop Forson who is a spiritual leader, the School Principle and a farmer. We shared the life of his family.

In Ho, we had the option of staying with one of the community leaders. Most volunteers stay with him. His name is Mr. Prosper. We preferred to stay in a hotel in the center of town, close to the market, internet and bus stop, at $10.00 per night. We would get breakfast on the street or make something simple at the room. At Kpandu we walked to school or took a local transportation and help in the school. At Ho we took a local Van to the school site, about 5km.

Afternoon: In the afternoons we walked to the market for fresh veggies, fruits, eggs, rice, peanut butter etc. We talked to people, sewed, and read a lot.

Evening: I was there with my husband, so we enjoyed an evening stroll, reading, and spending a quiet evening in the room. The young volunteers went out for a drink or just got together. Not much night life or entertainment in Ho...

Highlights: At the end of five month, my husband completed the construction of a school in Airfield Community, about 5 km outside of Ho. It has eight classrooms, a library, and an office. We were able to bring in new principle and change all the staff. The construction was done with the help of the community and brought a lot of pride to the people.