In search of a new challenge I went to Ghana in August to volunteer in a small village. The first challenge was dealing with the fact this this very poor village didn’t have running water or electricity!
What made me want to go in the first place was that I wanted to see for myself what life was really like in an under privileged country, to learn about another culture and to hopefully make one small difference to a child; but as it turns out the children taught me more than I taught them.
Whilst I was out there I attempted (!) to teach English and Maths to young children during Summer school. This was no mean feat as the children were all at different levels and loved to tell each other the answers! They were always happy and wanted to dance around despite living in a one bedroomed “house” and wearing holey, threadbare and often too small clothes. My proudest moment was when one of the girls (who had a very short attention span) learnt how to spell a new word.
As part of the project I had to donate a minimum of £600 which went towards materials for a new junior high school, amongst other things. With the help of volunteers the school was completed in three months, just in time for the new school year. The charity, Village by Village, is very small but they have very clear core beliefs, which is why they have achieved so much.
When I told my family and friends about what I was going to do many were shocked there would be no electricity or running water but it was surprisingly very easy to adapt to. I’m not going to lie, using a long drop toilet (basically a hole) wasn’t pleasant but you got used to it. It was also surprisingly refreshing showering with a bucket of rainwater outside in the sun, truly at one with nature!
The lifestyle is so laid back, it was hard to get used to not living your life by time and rushing from one place to the next. However, I’ve been home for four weeks and I am still struggling to get my time-keeping back in order! Our working day ended around 4pm and then we spent time with all the children playing games such as volleyball, table tennis and hugging the little ones (in Ghana adults don’t show affection to their children so this was really welcomed).
After we had eaten, we made a campfire which we all sat around and had deep and meaningful chats! There were also some hammocks and there was nothing more relaxing than staring at the stars with a cold drink in your hand. This experience was occasionally accompanied by a passing pig or chicken as they wandered around the village all day and night!
It’s hard to fully describe everything I learnt from my experience. I learnt to appreciate what I have got, that I can definitely ‘rough it’, you don’t need lots of money to be happy and I would not be a good teacher!
Assistant Account Executive, 10 Associates