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Is Volunteering in West Africa in 2015 Sensible and/or Safe?

Is Volunteering in West Africa in 2015 Sensible and/or Safe?

Date Posted: 22/12/2014

With risks ranging from the current Ebola outbreak to the violent atrocities committed by groups such as Boko Harem, is volunteering in West Africa in 2015 a wise decision?

With the Ebola crisis blighting much of the West African region, and with radical terrorist groups, such as Boko-Harem, instigating violent campaigns across Nigeria, Mali and several other countries, prospective volunteers might understandably doubt that 2015 is the safest or most sensible period to be taking that trip of a lifetime to visit West Africa and change the lives of people who are less privileged than themselves.

However, Volunteer West Africa would argue that West Africa needs you now more than ever. If you volunteer with VWA this coming year, you will be living and working in Ghana - which is free from Ebola and where the religious extremism and violence of some of the region's other countries simply does not occur. Ghana is renowned as one of Africa's safest, most stable, welcoming and friendly countries. 

Due to its effective safety and security record and efficient infrastructure, Ghana is currently acting as the World Health Organisation's central operational base for the response to the wider West African Ebola crisis. Ghana also offers more soldiers, technical personnel and resources to the United Nations and African Union missions - missions that combat terrorist groups like Boko-harem and respond to threats such as Ebola - than any other African Nation State. 

Although also in the midst of its own economic crisis - with a Ghanaian national currency that is rapidly deteriorating in value alongside unprecedented levels of inflation that are making every-day essentials such as rice, fuel and electricity less and less affordable each day for the average Ghanaian family - Ghana has remained extremely generous and supportive in its attempts to help protect and safe-guard the region and the people of West Africa.

Yet as the people of Ghana willingly offer their resources to support their neighbours and regional friends and allies, under already very difficult domestic economic circumstances, they are at the same time suffering from a sharp decline in the revenue, expertise and skills provided by the international volunteers who usually visit Ghana each year to engage in important capacity building, knowledge sharing and development works: more than three times as many volunteers visited Ghana between October and December in 2013 than did over the same period in 2014. 

With such an unprecedented drop in the critical support that international volunteers offer to a vast array of social, healthcare, educational, conservation, child-care and general development services and projects, the people of Ghana are being put under considerable socio-economic pressure from every angle. They are giving more of their own limited resources to help protect West Africa in these most difficult of times, families are taking home less money in real terms as inflation and currency devaluation kicks in, and the many projects and initiatives operated by NGOs and charities to help the people of Ghana have lost the support the international community usually provides through important and valuable volunteering-led projects.

Ghana is as safe today as it was in 2013, yet volunteers have cancelled their planned visits and hundreds of valuable development programmes and projects are subsequently under staffed, under financed and therefore struggling to remain sustainable and viable.

Please help West Africa through these most difficult of times. If you can, volunteer with VWA this year and you will be based in Ghana in our secure and comfortable guest house, located metres from one of the region's most popular and beautiful beaches, in a traditional and peaceful fishing village called Kokrobite. You will be closely supervised by VWA staff who have decades of experience managing volunteers and who will ensure you receive VWA's market-leading advice, guidance and volunteer training package on how to navigate West Africa and engage with Ghana's friendly and welcoming communities and peoples in the most safe and responsible manner possible.

You can work on any one of over 20 important and rewarding development programmes, to suit your individual interests, confidence and expertise, that are funded and operated by VWA with the single aim of protecting the most vulnerable West African people of all: West African children.

The people of West Africa need your help and support. VWA is therefore appealing for any volunteers who can join our team in 2015. 

Please get in touch with a member of our team to discuss the opportunities available to you as a potential VWA volunteer.

Thank you.

Author: Volunteer West Africa

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