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Ethical volunteering and work placements in Ghana, West Africa

Trends and Voluntourism, is it Good or Bad?

Date Posted: 06/06/2018

According to a survey of over 40 Travel Bloggers, NGO Directors, and World Influencers, Voluntourism can be positive if done right. Here we discuss their top anticipated trends in volunteering in 2018 and how they might inform and influence Partner West Africa’s work. 

Trends and Voluntourism, is it Good or Bad?

According to a survey of over 40 Travel Bloggers, NGO Directors, and World Influencers, Voluntourism can be positive if done right. Here we discuss their top anticipated trends in volunteering in 2018 and how they might inform and influence Partner West Africa’s (PWA) work.


What are the Top 6 Travel Trends that will Influence Volunteering?

Top of that list was “sustainable tourism making a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy when you travel”.

Volunteering with PWA, an NGO who’s part of the community year round, employs local staff and offers projects based on specific skills and knowledge relevant to issues identified by the communities themselves hits many of the above. As well as this we encourage you to spend money at local bars and restaurants, with artists, seamstresses and tailors, buy food from local fruit and vegetable sellers - all of which contributes to the local economy. Because our home, as well as our work, is in the heart of community, we’re personally invested in helping our neighbours and community as a whole succeed.


What Causes Need the Most Help?

“Teaching – 17%”

We don’t offer direct teaching volunteer placements as we think it’s better for the children to have a stable presence in the classroom who speaks their language, understands their culture and is a consistent person to rely on as well as being able to plan lessons that cover the Ghanaian curriculum without repetition of the same topics as well as providing jobs for local people, however we do encourage volunteers who have knowledge and skills in areas of early childhood learning and development to pass on these skills to our staff. Rather than simply teaching a class of children for a couple of weeks you can engage in work that keeps on giving after you’ve left us – training the teachers how to build in creativity into their lessons, perhaps adding ideas of sports and physical activity or reinforcing the theory by adding arts and crafts and practical/hands on ideas will have far more impact than you simply teaching the children yourselves…though of course you’ll have to teach a lesson to the children to show our teachers how your ideas can be carried out.

“Women empowerment – 14%”

2018 has seen the launch of PWA’s Gender programme and we’re expecting it to be a focal point of 2018 and beyond. So far, we’ve visited the local communities we work with and carefully researched their views in the area of gender in relation to health, education and relationships. We’ve analysed the data and drawn conclusions from it and are now starting to design projects that address some of the issues identified. Soon we’ll be looking for funding and (wo)man-power to pilot some of the project ideas. Check out our Gender volunteer programme and blogs to find out more.


How Can We Make Volunteering Abroad More Affordable?

“37.5% believe that connecting volunteers with non-profits directly instead of placement agencies is the Number 1 Way to make Volunteering Abroad More Affordable in 2018”

Well, this describes us exactly. We’re not an agency, we’re a fully operational NGO. Since we first began in 2012 we’ve accepted volunteers who want to work with us to help us achieve our aims. Because you volunteer directly with us you skip out the middle man fee’s and know that everything you do pay goes towards your direct costs of volunteering here in Ghana.

“34% state that by making it easier for volunteers to network, volunteering can become more affordable. It is important for volunteers to have an opportunity to connect directly with the non-profits in order to see if the placement is the right fit. This way the volunteer can ask any questions they have and will have the choice to accept or decline the position before paying any fees.”

Because of our bespoke nature of volunteer placements almost all our volunteers make contact with us before applying for their placement. During this initial contact we seek to understand your motivation, interests, knowledge, skills and future aims to enable us to put forward potential project ideas and discuss ways in which you can have the most impact in your work. Often there are multiple email exchanges and occasionally phone calls to get this information so the you are able to make an informed decision on whether PWA is the right NGO for you, and the projects offered meet your needs and expectations before you start the application process and part with any cash. This process is vital to us as an NGO as it helps us select the best volunteers who have the skills needed to help our team complete the work that’s required at the time of their arrival, the priority of all work is that it meets the needs of the NGO and the communities not simply to give the volunteers a feel-good holiday for a few weeks…though obviously we’re sure you’ll have a good time while you work with us!


What are the Most Useful Skills for Volunteers?

“Fundraising and Grant-writing and social media”

Volunteers have many skills which are useful to our work; from the one’s identified in the article ‘fundraising & grant writing’ and ‘social media’ are particularly important to us, so important in fact, that we have a specific volunteer programme for them. Because we’re a non-profit we rely on traditional fundraising e.g. sponsored events, general donations, monthly nursery sponsorship, and external bid funding for bigger or very specific projects. Having supporters and volunteers with the skills and time to be able to dedicate themselves to these areas is invaluable. Social media is built in as a core element of all volunteer’s work, depending on your interests we’ll ask you to write news stories or articles, make video diaries or project intro’s, add your voice to our Facebook page and other social media, write a testimony at the end of your stay and much more. Bid funding is more specific and is based on a need identified through our research and general day-to-day projects but, depending on the stage of the programme, you might be involved in identifying potential sources of funding or resource donation which allows us to pilot, expand or continue our work.


What are the Top 3 Challenges?

“finances; finding a good match [of NGO]; not having the right skills”

PWA is a not-for-profit NGO who don’t have fancy offices or staff on £££ salaries, this means that we can keep our costs low and only change volunteers fees that cover the cost of them being in Ghana. Discussing potential projects prior to volunteers applying helps with the challenge of ensuring volunteers are happy with us as an NGO and that both they and us understand the skills they have and how they can best be utilised. Many volunteers voice the concern that they won’t be useful here, our answer is that they’ll be surprised how useful they can be; working in a vacuum of skills and resources means that, as long as we’ve understood your current knowledge and experience, we’re confident you’ve got something that’s needed. Most volunteers acknowledge that they are likely to benefit just as much, if not more, than what they contribute.


PWA offer placements in a variety of disciplines, for example childcare, education, malaria prevention, health and gender. See our programmes here.

Author: GivingWay

Donation Payment Methods


Charity Checkout accepts all major debit and credit cards and allows you to make one-off or monthly donations that will be used to support our charity in general, so if you would like to donate to a specific appeal, or become a sponsor of our Daycare & Nursery Centre, please follow the donation information provided within those specific appeals. All donations to PWA are regulated by the UK Charities Commission and in line with our Terms & Conditions. Thank you.


JustGiving is a great fundraising site for friends of our charity who would like to set up their own fundraising pages, alllowing your friends and family to donate towards your specific project, aims or objectives with PWA. If you set up a JustGiving fundraising page, you describe your story and reasons for supporting PWA & your donors can link through to PWA's JustGiving page to learn about our charity & its work. All donations are regulated by the UK Charities Commission and made in line with our Terms & Conditions. Thank you.

Direct Bank-to-Bank Transfers

PWA banks with the Co-operative Bank, UK, the leading bank for charitable organisations. If you are a UK or international bank account holder, donations can be made quickly & simply online. You can also use this method to make one-off donations or to set up monthly donations to our charity. Please contact us to request our bank account details to set up a bank transfer. All donations made to PWA are regulated by the UK Charities Commission & made in-line with our Terms & Conditions. Thank you.

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