A Partner West Africa Testimonial
Testimonial 87 of 102
PWA Volunteer Shallum working in education with vulnerable young children

Shallum - UK

Programme Completed: Multidisciplinary Volunteering Programmes

Date Posted: 01/10/2014

I have always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate than myself; and I believe that by providing someone with the provision of education, this will give them the opportunity to escape the poverty cycle. I had experienced poverty in India before and wanted to see how it differed on another continent. Thus, choosing to volunteer with Partner West Africa (PWA) was the perfect opportunity to use my engineering skills to help people who are less fortunate than myself. 

"I have always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate than myself; and I believe that by providing someone with the provision of education, this will give them the opportunity to escape the poverty cycle. I had experienced poverty in India before and wanted to see how it differed on another continent. Thus, choosing to volunteer with Partner West Africa (PWA) was the perfect opportunity to use my engineering skills to help people who are less fortunate than myself. 

I am a Rehabilitation (Medical) Engineer and provide provision for the disabled; such as artificial limbs, orthotics, wheelchairs, and special seating. I work for Consolor - a company who specialise in orthotic seating for people who have deformed spines. After working with disabled people for several years, I was hungry for more, as I felt that there is a greater demographic that can be reached out to.   

I am working towards my goal to be a chartered engineer and being at the forefront of innovation in my career but I felt that I needed to take a step back; and above providing provision for the disabled, help those who are less fortunate than myself to gain education and help themselves. After returning from Ghana, I felt that I need to combine this passion of helping the poor and the disabled; as there is a stigma attached with disability in Africa. 

I volunteered with PWA with my partner Alice, who helped me to process and talk through the needs of the local community. It was valuable to have prior knowledge and awareness of poverty in a developing country and I felt it put me in good stead as to what to expect and be there to support Alice, emotionally and physically.  

Myself and Alice decided with Matt, PWA Director, that we would conduct a baseline study and a needs assessment of the community of Oshieye in order to support PWA's plan to develop a permanent structure for a charitable children's Daycare and Nursery Centre, and to form a basic design and present it to key stakeholders, elders, and community leaders. We are both engineers from different backgrounds and this helped us generate ideas from different angles about the development of the project.

Matt gave us detailed information and guidance prior to commencing the placement and answered all the questions I had; and adapted to my hectic schedule at work to arrange Skype meetings regarding the project. I was aware that developing countries are relaxed on time and Matt reassured me that this was the case in Ghana and so guided me in being realistic about my expectations for us to achieve our aims in the time we were there. 

On the first few days, Chris, the PWA Security & Safety Officer, was brilliant, with getting us acquainted with local life and culture. It really gave me an insight into the culture and the way of life in Ghana. I felt it was similar to Indian culture and I felt I would really enjoy my stay in Ghana. Further, Chris enrolled me as his gym partner which helped me complete the whole 'African experience'.

Throughout the placement, I felt that having medical and engineering knowledge enabled us to achieve so much; especially in the physical assessment of the children enrolled. I felt so privileged to have had an opportunity to attain such education in the UK and felt a greater burden to act as a catalyst in providing a means for education for the community. We managed to assess and enrol 70 of the most vulnerable children in the local community so as they could attend PWA Daycare and Nursery Centre. We spoke to the families when we visited their homes and engaged in conversations which helped us delve deeper into their lives. After enrolling 70 of the most vulnerable children, we conducted a study into the families who had young children that did not attend school or nursery and we looked into their educational needs; which highlighted that the community required a permanent local structure which would provide basic education to put the children in good stead for further education. While the team and I were conducting the study, the local community were very welcoming and very supportive of the project and wished us well.  

We were given serious responsibilities: Carrying out meetings with the Ghana Education Service, local government officials, and key stakeholders allowed us to gain further understanding of the future work planned for the community. Looking at examples of plans for government schools helped towards devising a basic design for the school.

All of the staff at PWA were very welcoming and helped us in any queries that we had. Inusah, the Project Manager, was terrific throughout the stay and helped us in organising meetings with key parties, taking us into the local community, and providing guidance in the project - which helped us delve deeper into the Ghanaian culture and formalise a plan to help vulnerable children through free education. 

One piece of advice I can give to future volunteers is to embrace the culture and the way things are done in Africa, it will challenge you and open your mind! I would strongly recommend a placement with PWA as it allows you to make a connection with individuals and personally change their life."

 

 

How can you help?
  • If you would like to also volunteer on the Multidisciplinary volunteer programme, please click here.
  • If you would like to volunteer or partner with PWA on any of our other projects or programmes, please click here.
  • If you would like to make a donation, of any amount, on a one-off or monthly basis, to the PWA Daycare and Nursery Centre, 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.

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © Partner West Africa 2018                           Partner West Africa is an officially registered UK-charity - UK Charities Commission Registration No: 1152479