A Partner West Africa Testimonial
Testimonial 101 of 102
Ethical volunteering and work placements in Ghana, West Africa

Greg - UK

Programme Completed: New - The PWA Daycare & Nursery Centre

Date Posted: 17/09/2013

My volunteering experience has been just that, an experience. In a lot of ways it was exactly what I was expecting, but in so many other ways, it surpassed my expectations and has left me with no choice but to come back to Africa again as soon as possible. 

"I hope this might be a very useful insight for future volunteers. Here goes...
 
I am male and 33 years old. I am British, and live in Somerset (to be more precise), you might know it; cider, farmers, tractors on the roads, all that jazz.
 
I have never travelled internationally on my own until now but the idea of going and lying on a beach for a few weeks isn't really my cup of tea as I like to keep busy. I heard about Partner West Africa from a friend and really liked the idea so I signed up! A few months later and I landed in Accra, late at night, and was collected by the Partner West Africa (PWA) team and driven to the volunteer guest house, which was very nice: secure compound, showers, running water, flushing toilets, and (I can tell you this now after some of the other guest houses and hotels I saw in Africa) - it was always nice to get back to the volunteer guest house after a hard days work! After a welcome chat the evening I arrived with Matt Craig, the Director, I had my first night's sleep in Ghana!
 
When I awoke to a bird song that I had never heard before with the sound of the Atlantic Ocean in the background I remembered I was in Africa! It was 6.00am so up I got, showered, and had a quick look around the guest house garden (which is beautiful!). Other volunteers were also getting up so we had a friendly breakfast together and then an orientation from staff about Ghana, PWA and our work. After orientation we were given a tour of Kokrobite (the village the guest house is in) and we got to know the local area and facilities. Not what I was expecting! Local people were outside cooking food to sell at the side of the road, shops were basically tin huts, there were lots of people everywhere, and taxis and tro tros (which are mini buses) kept the roads very busy. My first impression, if I'm honest: I felt out of place, like everyone was looking at me (which they might well have been). Some of the Children would shout "Obruni" so I asked a PWA team member what that meant and he explained that it meant "white person". Once I understood that it was a warm welcome, and not meant to be rude in any way, it was big smiles all round. Anyway, once I had settled in: nice people, nice place and nice weather, I concluded. 
 
I said this was the first time that I had left UK shores on my own so I want to share with you some of the feelings and emotions that I experienced as my volunteer experience got more in-depth. For those of you who have travelled you might not experience such a culture shock as me but on our first outing we went to one of the schools that PWA works with: it was truly eye opening. I've lived in London and witnessed people struggling to make a living but here, even on the journey to the school, I saw people selling everything: food, water, phone credit and electronics and these people are there all day carrying goods on their heads in the hot sun! Men, women and children working so hard and, sadly, for an amount of money I might lose from a hole in my pocket without noticing. When we arrived at the school the children were on their last day of term so it was kind of a relaxed day. Although it is in use, the school is still being built. It is dusty with fading paint but the beaming faces of the children gave a glow that overshadowed that. All the children were in uniform and clearly very, very happy to be in school. We were shown around the classrooms, we met the teachers and we played lots of games with the children. It was amazing to see people so happy with so little. I was very sad to leave. I found the whole experience very moving.
 
Right. Crunch time. After a week or so of volunteering in Africa, working hard, and meeting many, many great people, a group of us volunteers went to Church (not something I do a lot of I have to say) for the experience. The church was in Jamestown - a very poor area in Accra - and the Church also doubled as a school and shelter for street children. Everyone was singing and clapping. Adults, children, everyone. not like the last time I went to church in England! The people were singing so loudly and were so happy and proud that, watching them, I could see they were genuinely praying with a true faith that things would get better for everyone. This made me very emotional. I had to go outside. And while outside - taking deep breaths and trying not to rub my eyes - two little girls, about 8 years of age, came out of Church and stood with me. I smiled. "Why you cry?" one asked. "I don't know, I'm sorry" I said. Then they both walked closer to me, took my hands and gave me a hug! They then guided me back into the church. Truly humbling. This is what the people of Africa are all about.
 
Of all that happened to me on this trip; the work we achieved, the people I met, experiences like two little girls living in such a poor place showing such kindness to a stranger, I am left with hope that if we all try to help people that are less fortunate than we are, then we really can make a difference!
 
I don't want to spoil your experience by telling you everything about my volunteer placement but I do fully recommend Ghana and PWA: I will be returning to PWA next year (so if you are reading this I might even see you there!)"
 
 
How can you help?
  • If you would like to volunteer or partner with PWA on any of our projects or programmes, please click here.
  • If you would like to make a general donation, either on a one-off or monthly basis to our charity, please click on one of the three 'Donation Payment Methods' boxes below. 
  • If you would like to support our charity in any other way - for example by donating goods like children's clothes or materials like mosquito nets, or helping us promote our charity through social media or identifying like-minded potential partners - please download the 'How you can support  us' Brief which is located in the introduction text of our Donate Page here.
  • Or, finally, if you would like to talk to our team about any other issue regarding our charity, our projects, or our volunteering & partnership opportunities, please click here.

Thank you

Donation Payment Methods

CharityCheckout

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

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.

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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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