A Partner West Africa Testimonial
Testimonial 37 of 102
Ethical volunteering and work placements with vulnerable children in Ghana, West Africa
Ethical volunteering and work placements with vulnerable children in Ghana, West Africa
Volunteer with young people on the Internation Schools Partnerships Programme in Ghana

Jackie - UK

Programme Completed: International Schools Partnership Programme

Date Posted: 16/01/2017

Never have I felt so welcome somewhere as I have in Ghana. From the smiling children’s faces that greet you first thing at the Partner West Africa Nursery and Daycare Centre for Vulnerable Children, to the daily hello’s when you walk (or run!) through the community, to the fun I have had with new friends in the house; these all meant I quickly felt at ease and at home here.

Never have I felt so welcome somewhere as I have in Ghana. From the smiling children’s faces that greet you first thing at the Partner West Africa (PWA) Nursery and Daycare Centre for Vulnerable Children, to the daily hello’s when you walk (or run!) through the community, to the fun I have had with new friends in the house; these all meant I quickly felt at ease and at home here.

Having such a wonderful group of people in the house has certainly made the challenging days easier. Meal times are such a sociable part of the day, where we share stories of our days, but also of our lives at home. It really contributes to the PWA Volunteer Guest House feeling like a home, not just a place to stay. Personally, I loved having the beach on our door step for runs and as a place to go have a quiet drink when you need to wind down.

I certainly will not miss hand washing clothes, and would urge anyone coming out to bring hard wearing quick drying clothes! It’s certainly been a work out wringing out the clothes!

My main project was with the International Schools Partnership Programme. St. Peters, a school in a village called Opeikuma, has a committee of 22 children that are linked with a school back in Scotland, who have their own committee. They participate in cultural exchange projects. This term they chose food. For my project, I helped them plan and execute a day cooking a local dish, Banku and Okro Stew, which definitely is not a taste I have had before! The children then created a recipe book to send to the students in the U.K.

Being involved with Child Craft, a local private school in the village of Oshieye near where PWA are based, from the beginning has been incredibly rewarding. It has allowed me to develop a relationship with the teachers, and the children, whilst running weekly sessions to create a craft book about themselves to send back to their U.K. school. To thank us for our time they put on a performance on my last day.

The welcomes at the schools were heart warming with children hanging out the windows smiling and waving to greet you! I loved learning the game ‘ampe’ with some of the girls, although I did continually lose so I am not sure I quite understand all the rules just yet!!

Simply walking the children from the PWA Nursery and Daycare Centre home, and being reminded how they live, was incredibly humbling. They have a real instinct to help each other and their families, there is a sense of community I have not experienced before. Watching the older children of 4 and 5, with the younger (some as young as 2 years) holding hands and tottering off up the track on their own to go to their homes for dinner is an image I will remember forever.

A particular highlight for me was at the PWA Nursery and Daycare Centre where I had a chance to stand up in front of the class and run a supplement activity. I chose a number game, where the children each had flashcards and had to count either items, or my movements (i.e. jumps!) and hold up the correct number. This was to help number recognition and relate physical objects to numbers. They were really engaged and had a lot of fun. Being able to add something to their learning, and show the teacher a new activity, was fantastic.

One day, as part of the Malaria Prevention Programme which other volunteers were working on, I went to assist with a health and malaria screening in a community living in a large shanty town known as Agbogbloshie, in Accra. Here I experienced one of my most touching moments. Most people in the community earn very little and many live hand to mouth. A local man sat with me and offered me half his lunch because he thought I might be hungry. It took me aback and I was really touched by the offer. I have heard people here in the communities tell me ‘you share what you have when you can, as you do not know when it will be you who needs help’. It is a sentiment that will stay with me.

It feels impossible to put into words what I will take away from this experience, but Ghana will certainly have a piece of my heart.

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