VOLUNTEERING IN GHANA WITH IVHQ
There are many divided opinions regarding volunteering, and especially in the context of the white-saviour, however in this post I want to share my experience volunteering two times (almost six months in total) with IVHQ in Ghana.
Ghana feels like a second home to me and I would encourage everyone to visit, travel around the country and, if you feel called for the right reasons, to volunteer.
IVHQ has a vast variety of programmes you can choose from, such as child care, teaching, environment & conservation and medicine. You cannot choose a specific in-country location to do the programme. You will find out the location after you were accepted for the programme. I volunteered in Dodowa, a small city close to Medina and Accra. The location was ideal, as the house was close to the local market and shops, and also only 1 hour away from Accra.
The daily schedule depends on the person in charge at your local destination. I had quite a flexible schedule, as I went during summer time and the children were off school. This implies I didn’t have to get them ready for school in the mornings, so I could go a little bit later, around 9/10 am. Myself and the other volunteers would usually organise activities for the children, play with them, help around. We had the freedom to be as creative as we wanted. While I was there I organised general knowledge classes and using powerpoint presentations I would teach the children about different cultures, foods, languages, music, art, etc. We organised personal development classes, Spanish classes and many other activities.
Some days are filled with activities, while others are very relaxing and we would only help around cleaning, playing with the kids, helping bathing them.
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
Do not expect luxury. All basic needs are covered, but other than that everything is very modest. Depending on your luck you may have running water and in-door toilets, but there are many locations that do not have them. I had a really beautiful time at the place I stayed at. It wasn’t fancy, the water would run only from time to time, we had to use buckets at times, the rooms were not big, but that didn’t really matter. I enjoyed spending time in the front yard, laying on the hammock while the breeze with caress my skin. I enjoyed spending time with other volunteers, even hearing the goats at night becomes white noise.
There is food in abundance and if you ever fancy something else you can always go to the local markets and buy some street food. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF STREET FOOD. It is delicious and at a very affordable.You can find everything from boiled eggs with green pepper, fried yam, fried chicken and many other delicious food. At the accommodation we had a food timetable so we would always know what food we got each day. My personal favourites are peanut soup, jollof rice and chicken, egg stew with yam, red red and roasted/fried plantain.
IN COUNTRY TRAVEL
With its welcoming beaches, gorgeous landscape, rich culture, vibrant cities, diverse wildlife, easy transportation and welcoming people, Ghana is the ideal place to visit. During the weekend we were free to do whatever we wanted so I would usually travel, and if you spoke with management they might even let you go away for more than just 2 days.
If you travel in a group, you can consider renting a Tro tro, so this way you don’t waste any time in public transportation. With that being said I only rented once, the rest of the time we hopped on local tro tros. Prices for accommodation range depending on what you want, but if you are looking for something basic like Oasis resort in Cape Coast, you should aim at 50 Ghanaian Cedi per night.
THINGS TO KNOW
Come prepared – Regardless of the programme you choose, come prepared. If you choose childcare maybe bring some balloons, colouring books, if you bring your laptop maybe prepare some powerpoint presentations before hand, and bring some DVDs with movies.
PACK ACCORDINGLY – Pack breathable, lightweight clothes, when available go for cotton, linen and natural fabrics that will allow your skin to breathe. If you will stay in a rural place make sure to dress respectfully (not really short shorts or mini skirts for the day)
DRINK ONLY BOTTLED WATER – Tap water is not safe in Ghana, so make sure to avoid fresh salads, iced drinks or anything that might have tap water. You can either buy bottled water or bags of water. You can find them everywhere (and I mean everywhere, you are stuck in traffic? Just pop you head outside the window and you will have someone sell you water in no time)
PUBLIC TRANSPORT – You can get around in Ghana in tro tros, motorbikes, busses and taxis. All these methods are cheap and convenient.