“Akwaaba” Ghana 2019

‘Akwaaba’, a word when translated into the simplest of terms means ‘welcome’, but as an expression it signifies so much more. Throughout the month of July, I was fortunate to work as a volunteer in the Lake Volta region of eastern Ghana. During my time as a volunteer, I had the opportunity to teach in schools, to work alongside nurses and doctors on medical outreaches, and I completed conservation and construction projects. Before applying to work as a volunteer through an organisation called Original Volunteers, I had never thought that I would be able to travel by myself to Africa. It has always been a dream of mine to experience the many different cultures that exist all over the world. Upon returning from my trip to Ghana, I now believe that the best way to fully experience other cultures is through the act of volunteering. Prior to applying to volunteer in the Lake Volta region, I did not have much knowledge about the area, or about the country more generally. Along with a lack of knowledge on my behalf, I was also apprehensive about the various risks involved with traveling to a developing country such as the lack of advancement in medicine. Moreover, Ghana is a country at high risk of Malaria. Before I departed for my trip, I completed all the medical steps that were required of me in order to be able to travel to Ghana. I also spent some time researching more about the country, in addition to completing the necessary stages before I travelled. This helped me feel less apprehensive and anxious about travelling to and spending time in Ghana. During my trip, I was lucky to learn a number of important lessons that I feel I can continue to pass on since returning home. One particular lesson I learnt as a volunteer was how little you need to make a difference. Whilst spending time in the community of Obo, I was delighted to be able to partake in a mini project. When we first visited Obo library, we saw the unused space downstairs and felt as though we could use this as an opportunity to renovate the room. Over a six-day period, five volunteers including myself completed renovations which consisted of construction, conservation and decoration. Personally, when I saw one wall, I envisioned how a sensory wall could be made. I created the sensory wall from basic items which I was able to find, such as rubber gloves, different types of materials, with the hope that this sensory wall would be a way for both children and adults to enjoy a sensory experience. I also wished for the people of Obo community to see the youth centre as a place for learning, but also as a safe space. I am immensely proud that I am able to say that I was a part of this project. This project was designed to benefit the community of Obo in every way possible. I am so excited to see what the future holds for our youth club. In addition to this I learnt how important knowledge is, in any form. During my volunteering experience, myself and other volunteers also had the opportunity to impart knowledge upon the children in schools and communities, where for instance, there is a lack of understanding about basic medical needs. These experiences demonstrated how vital it is that people from countries where there is advanced medical knowledge share their knowledge with the rest of the world. I was extremely grateful for the funding I received through the Go Abroad project: thanks to this project I was able to use the necessary funds to support children’s school fees, pay for healthcare and donations, and complete a conservation and construction project.

Categories: Africa, Ghana, Go Abroad Fund

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