A Partner West Africa Testimonial
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PWA Volunteer Lucy teaching music to one of the children from the PWA Nursery and Daycare Centre for Vulnerable Children in Ghana
PWA Volunteer Lucy teaching music to one of the children from the PWA Nursery and Daycare Centre for Vulnerable Children in Ghana
PWA Volunteer Lucy getting creative in music education using everyday objects to make music
PWA Volunteer Lucy teaching music to West African Children
PWA Volunteer Lucy with children from a school involved in the International Schools Partnership Programme
PWA Volunteer Lucy teaching a class at a partner school in Ghana, West Africa

Lucy - UK

Programme Completed: Creative Early-Years Education & Child Rights

Date Posted: 08/12/2016

Volunteering in Ghana has been an experience that is hard to sum up. It was often challenging, but immensely rewarding from both a work and personal perspective.  Partner West Africa has a great variety of projects, so there were so many different things that happened in the NGO in my 3 months, which made it a very exciting place to be.

"After researching countless volunteering organisations and charities to plan a gap year, I stumbled across Partner West Africa (PWA), and after several helpful and enthusiastic emails from Matt, PWA Director, I couldn't say no to the variety of opportunities that PWA offered and the ethical long-term aims the NGO stands for.
 
Volunteering in Ghana [through PWA's internal Internalional Volunteering Department: Volunteer West Africa] has been an experience that is hard to sum up. It was often challenging, but immensely rewarding from both a work and personal perspective.  PWA has a great variety of projects; there were so many different things that happened in the NGO in my 3 months, which made it a very exciting place to be.
 
I was warmly welcomed at the airport by Inusah, PWA Project Manager, and to the volunteer guest house by Sophie, PWA Volunteer Coordinator, who is great for helping new volunteers settle in and know what's what. The team are so approachable and welcoming so I felt at ease quickly.
 
My first week or two were mainly observing and taking everything in. At the time this can be hard as you want to jump straight in, but in hindsight this was time very well-spent and gave me an overview of the NGO, the country, and how things work. Don't underestimate how much there is to take in and acclimatise to! I think especially if you are here for a fairly long placement, give yourself time to observe, keep an open mind, and take everything in. I noticed that the teaching style here is very different from the UK, so those couple of weeks really helped me to plan how I would go about teaching here. I'm now very glad I spent that time learning, observing and taking a step back from it all.
 
In terms of your actual project, it really helps to go with a plan and possibly some resources you want to use, if necessary, for your work. I went with the idea of teaching music [Lucy is due to start a degree in Music next year], and brought recorders with me, sorry to the future volunteers who have to listen to squeaking recorders! This idea was well received by the PWA team so I went ahead with it. Having said that, a well as a provisional plan, do keep an open mind too as far as projects are concerned. I also got involved helping another volunteer with the PWA International Schools Partnership Programme, which I didn't know I would be doing and really enjoyed. I ended up carrying it on after she left. Getting involved with other projects is very interesting and it really helps you make the most of your time. It's always nice when there's another volunteer working with you too - while I was at PWA there was a great sense of team effort.
 
There was a lot of scope to choose exactly what work we wanted to do and shape it the way we wanted, which is very satisfying when you see the end result of your work and ideas. For example, a highlight for me was when the school I was working with for the International Schools Partnership Programme performed 'Jingle Bells' on the recorder (after only 5 lessons!) to video for their UK partner school. This had been an idea I had after helping with the partnership programme once I was here, and to see it all happen and come to life a few weeks later was great. So, my advice would be don't be afraid to have your own ideas and visions and to suggest new things; providing that it is feasible, and clearly beneficial for the people we work with, PWA will eagerly accept your ideas and let you take control of what you do.
 
A striking moment for me was walking around the nearby village of Oshieye for the first time and seeing where the children who attend the PWA Nursery and Daycare for Vulnerable Children and their families live. It's shocking to see, but really highlights how much this charity is dong for the community. I also remember seeing some of the children were ill and asleep on the desk in my first week and finding out they had malaria. Luckily, they were given treatment and help by PWA - it's hard to think about what the children's health might be like without PWA. That moment definitely put into perspective how vital this charity is for them.
 
Thinking back to my first week, when I was slightly overwhelmed and pretty exhausted, to now and all that has happened and been achieved in between is so satisfying. If you want to feel that your work has a long-term and real benefit, I would definitely recommend PWA. It's hard work, as it should be, (though there's loads of fun to be had too!) but you can leave knowing that what you've done was worthwhile and not just a quick tourist visit.
 
The food is amazing. make sure you request yam and garden egg stew for your first meal! (You'll thank me later haha) I'll have to hold myself back now because I could probably write another 20 pages just on the food. Just be assured that you'll be well fed. Meal times are also a great sociable part of the day where we can all catch up with what we've been up to and spend the evening chatting about anything and everything!
 
Relax and be light-hearted about things: there is no doubt you will be called 'obruni' by all the local people, you will also probably have several marriage proposals, you will find out that sometimes there is no limit to how many people drivers can squeeze into a taxi, you'll have some bumpy rides in tro-tros, and you will probably have to eat a few meals in the dark due to power cuts! It's all part of the Ghana experience and I wouldn't change any of that - they're the things we can all laugh about around the dinner table together!
 
Rather than goodbye, this is 'see you later'... I'll be back for the second half of my 6 month work placement around Easter time in 2017! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and carrying on my work."
 
 
How can you help?
  • If you would like to also volunteer at the PWA Daycare and Nursery Centre on the Early Years Education & Child Rights 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.

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