Although Ghana has progressed rapidly in recent years, there is still a deep economic divide between the wealthy and poor and a huge need for volunteers. Northern Ghanaians are particularly vulnerable to poverty, as more economic opportunities exist in southern Ghana. Poorly constructed roads make it even more difficult to access health care and drinkable water. Women are particularly affected by poverty as they have the double responsibility of child-rearing and growing crops. This is represented in the infrastructure, women’s empowerment, farming, and other volunteer opportunities available in Ghana. Volunteers here will work with Ghanaian communities towards improving access to basic social services and closing the gap between the rich and the poor that is key in determining the fate of rural Ghanaians.
Volunteers in Ghana are also situated in the heart of West Africa's "Gold Coast." Visitors will experience the welcoming and friendly Ghanaian people, a warm climate, and rich history that stretches back to the Bronze Age. Colonized by various European countries, Ghana marks a key point in the Middle Passage as a center in the trade of gold, ivory and slaves. In 1957 Ghana gained its independence from the U.K. and has since become one of the least-conflicted countries in Africa. This relative stability and poignant need make it an ideal place to volunteer.Photo Credits: chadskeers.
Ghana’s youth are utterly obsessed with football. As such, there are now public and grass root schools that use sport as an incentive to successfully keep kids in school. These schools are always in need of volunteers to coach and teach English. If you do this, remember to bring out as much sports kit and school supplies as you can fit in your suitcase.
Youth Development and Education
Ghana takes education very seriously and in my experience the students are fantastic to work with. Volunteers with expertise in ICT, Science, Math or English would be a valued addition to many public school projects.
Problems affecting health in Ghana include malaria, water sanitation, HIV/AIDS and a poor doctor to patient ratio. Volunteers with a career in the health professions are highly sought after in rural areas in particular.
Ghana’s ecosystem is one of the best in Africa and there are many environmental agencies and NGO’s doing important work to keep it that way.
Health and Safety
Visitors to Ghana are advised to take vaccinations for yellow fever, Hepatitis A/B, Typhoid, Polio, Rabies, Tetanus and Measles (a scary list but you should have had most of these anyway). Given the high rate of Malaria, it is also important to take Malarone, Doxycycline or Lariam. A mosquito net for your bed and anti-mosquito spray are also highly advised. Check out MD Travel Health for more information.
Ghana is relatively speaking very safe but like anywhere, theft of electronics is fairly common but not a problem if you travel light and keep track of your belongings. Anything beyond theft is highly uncommon but make sure to ask your volunteer project coordinator for advice when you arrive.
Volunteers will require a tourist visa for their stay. Apply for your visa well in advance to be sure. More information on visas can be found at VISA HQ.
Contributed by Sam Bruce