Volta Aid Foundation - Low Cost Volunteer Programs in Ghana

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Volta Aid Foundation.

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About

Volta Aid Foundation (VAF) is a dynamic organization based in the Volta Region of Ghana. VAF is built around the fundamental belief that each and every person, in each and every corner of the globe, has the right to social advancement through education, knowledge and empowerment and believes this is a service owed to humanity.

At VAF we do not believe in volunteers paying exorbitant fees and ‘administrative costs’ when all you want to do is come and make a difference. VAF is a real, practical organization and, started by a former volunteer, we know exactly what volunteers need and want. Our program fees include food, accommodation and airport pick up and transfer.

Our programs include teaching, orphanage positions, hospital placements, diabetes awareness, microfinance and first aid workshops. There is the possibility of combining programs together and there are no fixed dates.

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Reviews

8.4 Rating
based on 15 reviews
  • Impact 8.4
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 8.3
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 15
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Danielle
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Deceiving and an overall terrible experience

I planned to go to Ghana almost a year ago and I worked at part time jobs whilst studying my masters to afford the flights and pay the program fee. I love travelling and was so excited however after just two weeks I flew home (I was supposed to stay for a month). As I was lied to and left two weeks early I did request a part refund however this was refused. I was told that the money which I gave for my food for the last two weeks had already been spent despite not buying it.

I was told I was going to be with a host family however I was put in an orphanage which I felt should have been explained before. The room also had mice and bed bugs. The children urinated everywhere and I was constantly worried about things going missing from my room. When I was teaching the children would take my room key and then sleep in my room whilst I wasn't there.

The teachers at the school regularly slept at the desk and didnt really care and the children were also regularly canned to the point where they cried. The teacher which canned the children also did so with a huge smirk on his face and seemed to enjoy the authority. Volunteers are also expected to give huge donations despite the majority being students themselves. Essentially it is not volunteers that are wanted it is just money.

Volunteers were left to teach what they like although I was again told a curriculum would be provided. I was told nothing and I had to work out what the children could and couldn't do myself which wasted precious time when I was there to trying to make a difference.

The area is not safe so every time I left the orphanage I would have to take someone (mainly the older children) with me which I was also expected to pay for (taxis, food and entrance fees).

I also discovered that the people at the orphanage owned five cars and I found this difficult to understand considering that some of the older children did not have food to eat every night. When I realised this is did share my food with the children however I also got to the point where I felt hungry myself.

Overall avoid this company as I do not feel that the money is invested appropriately and volunteer else where.

What would you improve about this program?
Things need to be truthful from the beginning. The volunteering should be appreciated because essentially only four figure donations was the only thing that brought a smile to anyone's face.

Future volunteers need to be more emotionally prepared.

Although the fee is low compared to others it was my worst experience abroad I really wanted to help in every way possible but I would not be paid to return. Do not volunteer here look elsewhere!
Default avatar
Max
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An awesome summer break

I went to Ghana with VAF in the summer and had an amazing two months. I got to participate in a whole range of activities and outreaches that were running as well as my main program. Volta Aid does lots of little things in the region and while they are very small scale, they are making a difference to those people who benefit. The plans they have for the workshop sound amazing.

The heat knocked me around at first but my host family helped me adjust to the heat and also the very different culture. They were great people. Everyone I met connected to Volta Aid were warm and welcoming and I made great friends and lifelong memories that won't be forgotten in a hurry. I plan to return to Ghana once I graduate and I would encourage anyone thinking about going to Ghana to contact VAF. You won't regret it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't come to Ghana with high expectations. Take everything as it comes and you will fit right in to this slow-paced life!
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Julie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic local organisation doing some great things

I spent three months in Ho in 2015 with Volta Aid Foundation. The three months went by far too quickly and I could have stayed longer if I didn't have uni to come home to.

The Coordinator of the program, Eric, is a great guy who went out of his way to help me and the other volunteers who in the area. My placement was helping out at a local school and I knew that as I am not a teacher in Australia I couldn't expect to teach in Ghana. I worked around the school in auxiliary positions and spent a lot of time helping kids with their reading.

The whole mantra of VAF about volunteers not changing the world is spot on. I met a volunteer with another organisation who was promised this and that but nothing was delivered. Eric on the other hand was very honest and told me what I could and what I couldn't do.

I highly recommend VAF to anyone thinking about heading to Ghana. Also, Ho is a magical part of the country with some of the friendliest people in Ghana!

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Hannah
2/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Glad I went to Ghana but regret going with Volta Aid Foundation

I had always wanted to go to Ghana to volunteer teach and after researching lots of different organisations, I decided to go with the Volta Aid Foundation. The cost was very reasonable, the website informative, I had read great reviews, and all contact I had with the Volta Aid Foundation volunteer coordinator to organise the placement was very efficient and helpful. I booked to go for the month of July 2014, leaving late June and returning early August.

When I landed in Accra, the Volta Aid Foundation volunteer coordinator picked me up, took me to a hotel, and we left the next day for Ho. He brought me to my host family, and the following day took me to school to start teaching. This is where I began to encounter problems.

As I was arriving at the school for the first time, the VAF volunteer coordinator informed me that there was actually only 1.5 weeks of teaching left. After that there would be 2 weeks of exams when there would be little need for volunteers, and school would finish completely on 24th July, leaving me with the last week of July with no volunteering. I was very unhappy about this, as I had been told I could teach for the whole month of July. Another problem was that it turned out I only had 8 hours of teaching to do a week, often only one hour a day. I had been led to believe I would be doing full days at school from Monday to Friday, so again, I was disappointed as I felt I was contributing very little to the project.

The other major problem was the host family. The accommodation and food was fine, but the family made almost no effort to communicate with me at any point and I felt invisible to them. They barely spoke to me or acknowledged my presence - they would just set my food on the table and disappear. During my first weekend in Ho, I explained to the host parents that I was going to a bar in town to watch a World Cup match and would be back that night. When I returned "home" I found they had locked me out of the house. I had to ask for help from strangers to get me into the garden and then bang on the door before they would let me in. This was a very distressing incident as it showed how little they cared about me as a guest in their home, and I felt very unwelcome and unwanted.

Due to the lack of actual volunteering for me to do, and the uncomfortable and lonely living conditions, I decided to end my placement after just two weeks. I stayed to finish the teaching at the school, as that was the reason I had gone, but after that I could see no need for me to be there. There were no other volunteers from VAF in Ho at that time, and I felt very lonely and miserable. When I agreed to speak to the VAF volunteer coordinator about my reasons for leaving, he took me in his car to the middle of nowhere at night time, and parked up on a deserted street to ask me what my problem was. As a lone female, I felt very uncomfortable and quite scared in that situation, and it is another example of VAF's lack of professionalism and ethics.

It cost me a lot of money to go to Ghana, and even more money to get home earlier than planned. I had travelled to Africa before and had a fair idea of what to expect, but I feel severely let down by VAF. Since returning home, I have contacted the VAF volunteer coordinator to ask for some of my programme fee to be refunded, as I feel VAF was dishonest and misleading about the conditions of the volunteer placement. The VAF volunteer coordinator has replied, but refused to consider my request. Unfortunately, I am not the only one to have been deceived by this organisation. For the first two days in Ho, there was another volunteer at my host home, who told me she had also been misled about what she would be doing in Ho and was extremely angry about the way she had been treated.

The Volta Aid Foundation is unethical, badly organised, and dishonest and I would avoid them completely in future. I am glad I went to Ghana as it was important for me to try, but I wish I had chosen a different organisation to go with. By choosing VAF, I believed I would be contributing to a worthwhile cause and would be well looked after and kept safe by the organisation. This was not the case and it turned out to be quite a traumatic experience.

I hope this review encourages potential volunteers to avoid VAF and commit their time, skills, and money to a more worthwhile organisation.

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Rose
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Ghana

I have recently returned from a two week trip volunteering in a hospital in Ghana with VAF. I can honestly say that this was the best experience I have ever had! VAF place volunteers with host families, meaning that you get to truly immerse yourself in the Ghanaian way of life! Not only did I learn a lot about the Ghanaian health care system, but also about their culture. My host family in Ghana were so lovely and accomodating, and I really grew to love them like a family! While there I also met other volunteers, who we travelled with at weekends, and spent spare time with during the evenings. VAF HQ is situated close to some popular tourist attractions, and I enjoyed visiting Wli waterfalls and Tafi Atome monkey sanctuary on days off. Also, Ghanaian people are among the most friendliest people you will ever meet! I made a lot of friends during my short stay in Ghana, and my only regret is that I didn't visit for longer than two weeks! The work VAF do to help the people of the Volta region is brilliant, and a VAF is an organisation worth supporting! Also our volunteer co-ordinator Eric was very helpful before and during our stay, and was always available to help us with anything we needed during our time in Ghana. Thank you VAF! Xxx

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't change a thing!
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Amie
5/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Some positive experiences but a really disappointing performance from VAF I'm afraid!

When looking for a volunteering placement in Ghana, I read some VAF reviews on here, looked at the prices and thought I'd found a really good deal for myself and my brother. My ten weeks in Ho, however, have left me with mixed feelings - we had some fantastic times but there were lots of negatives too and as I re-read the glowing feedback from previous volunteers now, it's as if their reviews are of a different organization altogether!

We were sent to the Remar orphanage where, for the vast majority of the time, only one resident was a young child and the rest were teenage boys who didn't really need volunteers to be there at all. Apparently lots of younger boys had recently been moved to a different Remar centre, but we hadn't been told about this in advance and for six weeks, there were three volunteers (myself, my brother and another girl) trying to play with/teach one child! I had nothing against the older boys themselves, of course, but the reality of the 'orphanage program' we'd signed up for unfortunately fell a long way short of my expectations as there was no 'program' whatsoever and nobody even seemed to care whether we were trying to make ourselves useful or not. In addition, we found Olivier, who is in charge of the orphanage, extremely uncomfortable to be around. He behaved completely unprofessionally and inappropriately throughout, and we even considered moving but weren't offered a satisfactory alternative.

Eric seemed nice and was helpful before we arrived, but became rather illusive during our stay. Even after we'd made a few complaints, he didn't seem too bothered whether we were happy with how things were going or not. He was apologetic at first and partially solved our problems, but he always claimed to be rushed off his feet and we felt like our criticisms were a nuisance to him. He didn't communicate very well either and wasn't always contactable, which is understandable but not really acceptable when we didn't really have any other point of contact at VAF (we were never even introduced to Alex).

Our teaching experiences whilst in Ho were varied. The first school we were placed at was fairly priviliged with plenty of properly trained teachers (by Ghanaian standards anyway!), so we didn't see much point in volunteers being there at all. We then requested to be moved and had a much more positive time at our second placement. At this school, lots of the children couldn't read so we took them for private tutoring to improve their literacy, which proved to be very rewarding. The school was disorganized and the teachers were mostly terrible at both teaching and telling us what to do, but we used our own intiatives and I think this was why we felt we were more needed there.

All in all, I'm glad I went to Ghana but sadly I think VAF have a lot of issues to iron out. Their price was very reasonable compared to other organizations and, I must admit, I spoke to several volunteers from different NGOs who were experiencing similar problems to us relating to not feeling useful enough, but I still wouldn't rush to recommend the program. There wasn't a huge amount of support and I can't say I felt like I was part of a team or community striving to do great things, which was disappointing. Had we not made a bit of noise about what we wanted/expected from the trip, I don't think it would have been very rewarding at all. I wish I could leave a more positive review, but I don't think my expectations were unreasonably high and yet I'm afraid I found VAF to be mediocre at best!

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Tanya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip to Ghana July 2013

In July 2013, I travelled with 4 others to Ho in the Volta Region for just under a month. As qualified primary school teachers we had asked to experience the education system in Ghana and as a result were placed in two different schools. Although we really enjoyed the experience in the schools the best part of the trip for me personally was the Remar orphanage where we lived with Papa Olivier and twenty of our brothers :)

During the time in the orphanage we took part in daily activities like cooking, going to the market etc. We also did some little projects with the children like painting the walls with murals.I really felt like part of the Remar family and will always feel like a part of it. The boys and Olivier took such good care of us every minute of our trip and leaving was very emotional.

Volta Aid were an amazing organisation to travel with and every step of the way they were there to help us with questions or worries. Eric was always just a phone call away and even before we arrived he reassured us about any worries we had and answered endless emails which probably repeated the same questions again and again! When we were in Ghana they were on hand to collect us from the airport, show us around, come with us to the schools on the first day of our placement and help us to organise trips or anything else that we needed. Volta Aid do great work in the community of Ho and really make a difference to the people in the Volta region.

What would you improve about this program?
There is honestly nothing that I could think of that I would change about the Volta Aid programme. We were so well supported every step of the way by the staff of the organisation. I would recommend it to anyone interested in travelling to Ghana.
Lindsay Denny
Lindsay
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Choice I Could Have Made!!

I originally chose this program because it was the cheapest volunteer organization I could find (which could have screwed me over). It was without question the best decision I made. As one of the first volunteers, Oct-Nov 2010, I was able to see the program grow even as I was there and am so impressed with what they have achieved in the years since!

I stayed with Sena, an amazing 70-year-old active, interesting Ghanaian who introduced me to the culture as did his son and wife. I worked at the municipal hospital in the diabetes ward 3-4 days a week. Other days I would join another local NGO, helping with child welfare clinics or wound bandaging at a cured lepers clinic. Some days at the hospital I would go to the maternal theatre and watch the female surgeries.

On weekends I would either visit the local orphanage we sponsored or take trips to nearby sites, like Cape Coast.

My only regret is that I only stayed for two months. Just once I was getting really accustomed to Ho and the culture I had to leave!

What would you improve about this program?
At one point I was the only volunteer in town, with three others about half an hour away by car. I wish there had been a few more volunteers there to share the experience with/help with the transition. However given that it's been three years and the numbers have increased, I doubt this is an issue any longer.