A Partner West Africa Testimonial
Testimonial 42 of 102
PWA Volunteer Erica in discussion with a Ghana Health Service Nurse
PWA Volunteer Erica in discussion with a Ghana Health Service Nurse
PWA Volunteer Erica meeting with key stakeholders about health and sanitation issues
PWA Volunteer Erica consulting community members on their views on local health services
PWA Volunteer Erica leading a commuinty focus group in Ghana, West Africa
PWA Volunteer Erica talking with a child in the village of Oshieye, Ghana

Erica - Myanmar

Programme Completed: Multidisciplinary Volunteering Programmes

Date Posted: 11/11/2016

I landed in Ghana on the 2nd of August not knowing what to expect from the next 6 weeks of my life. I would say this has been one of the most eye-opening volunteering experiences I have ever had. The local village of Oshieye near to where PWA is based, is a community I am still trying to figure out. Despite being a peri-urban community, I don't think I have seen so much love, appreciation and acceptance in such impoverished conditions; the sense of community and togetherness is overwhelming.

"I landed in Ghana on the 2nd of August not knowing what to expect from the next 6 weeks of my life. I added Africa on my BBC news app to get regular updates and had Google mapped the location of Partner West Africa (PWA), knowing that no amount research on the culture or the people would prepare me for what I was going to experience.

I would say this has been one of the most eye-opening volunteering experiences I have ever had. In the past 6 weeks I have seen happiness, frustration, poverty, ambition, work, struggle, liveliness, depression, dance, festivities, mugging, and death; I can't remember the last time I had experienced so much in such a short period of time. And to be honest, I am really glad I saw the darker side of society as well as the bright side because it helped me learn more about myself and the people around me.

[Erica volunteered as part of a small team of engineers from UK charity 'Engineers Without Borders UK', a PWA partner. The Engineers Without Borders project was centred on healthcare infrastructure: they designed a plan for the re-development of the PWA Nursery and Daycare Centre and delivered a report and presentation to selected local healthcare stakeholders about the health situation in the local village of Oshieye with the aim of knowledge sharing and networking to present some solutions].

As for my work, the local village of Oshieye near to where PWA is based, is a community I am still trying to figure out. Despite being a peri-urban community, I don't think I have seen so much love, appreciation and acceptance in such impoverished conditions; the sense of community and togetherness is overwhelming. But at the same time, this contentedness with their current lifestyle has resulted in very little want to improve their financial, social, healthcare, and sanitation situation. That is something, I personally, wish I could change; incite a need to improving their living standards while maintaining their happy and loving attitude. With our project healthcare presentation initiating talks between important stakeholders, such as the Development Action Association and local Ghana Health Service nurses as well as Mr. Otabel, a local community health volunteer, and representatives from the district health directorate, I feel like we have planted the seed for that change.

Even though my work didn't involve me with the children of the PWA Daycare and Nursery Centre for Vulnerable Children very much, I thank them for making my weekday mornings a blessing. Hearing them chat, sing, whine and cry from the bathroom window while brushing my teeth brought out a frothy smile every morning. It upsets me to think that I won't seem them grow into young adults because it feels like I already know them so well. Charles with his dancing skills, Nina with her teaching skills, Princess with her constant giggles, and Mica with his big curious head had become a very big part of my day. I really appreciate the work PWA is doing with the kids and really hope it can find enough funding to re-design the site based on our design and proposal.

Even though I am not a very experienced engineer, having just completed my first year of university, I have learned a lot from my team mates; from the meaning of a spec all the way to what goes into constructing a new building. One of the most valuable skills I am taking back is writing and organising reports as it is a crucial part of my degree. In addition, using transport phenomena lessons to help with the water installation aspect of the design allowed me to apply some of my knowledge in practical situations.

As Matt, the Executive Director of PWA, addressed in the health and safety orientation at the beginning of my placement, sharing so much space with complete strangers in a completely new environment is difficult; but fortunately, everyone in the house was so like-minded that I had more fun than anything. The volunteers were motivated and passionate, making it very easy for me to enjoy my work no matter how much there was. The management of PWA was very good at informing us of all the activities we could do during the weekend and encouraging us to explore Ghana while giving us all the information to ensure we were safe.
 
In addition, the house is very work friendly with proper tables and chairs as well as couches for more relaxed work. The staff seemed to understand their job and made sure their work was done on time. They were also very friendly and hospitable, making it very easy for me to feel at home from day 1. There wasn't a single dinner in the house that I didn't enjoy; and the occasional pudding nights just made the meals that much better."
 
 
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Thank you

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