Monday, 23 July 2012 2:14 PM
The African continent is a good place to start when narrowing down where you would like to volunteer abroad. Home to some of the poorest countries in the world, there are certainly plenty of opportunities for you to lend a much-needed helping hand.
A nation that might not automatically pop into your head for volunteer work is Ghana. Known as being one of the most welcoming in Africa, the country enjoys diverse wildlife, beautiful landscapes and a colourful culture. If you are thinking about volunteering in Ghana, our below guide will help you master the basics of what you need to know. More detailed information can also be found here.
Where is Ghana?
You already know that Ghana is on the continent of Africa, but the country is, more specifically, nestled in between Togo, the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. There are around 20 million people living in Ghana, with many centred in and around the capital of Accra. If you are not sure about the religions and customs here, the majority of residents are Christian, while Islam and traditional beliefs are also practiced. Getting here is easy, as most major airlines and airports service Accra.
Is it safe?
When you think of African nations' political systems, civil war and instability might pop into your head. However, just because some of the countries often make the headlines does not mean all should be tarnished with the same brush. At the start of July there were no travel restrictions in place by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the current government is a constitutional democracy. If you book through a tour operator and travel as a group, this might provide you with further peace of mind. In addition, English is the first language, which may also make you feel more comfortable about travelling here.
What volunteering opportunities are there?
The main things you can help with during your volunteering break in Ghana are teaching and childcare. Choose to look after children and you will more than likely be based in Accra. Here, there are hundreds of kids who have been neglected, abandoned or orphaned. Orphanages are growing in number, but so too are little ones who need help, so your time will really be appreciated. Many youngsters need one-on-one assistance and special care and attention, and despite the best efforts of staff, this is not always possible. Some of the tasks you can help with include simply playing with the children, organising meal times and even teaching much-needed skills, such as English.
You might even find your role at an orphanage crosses over with the teaching volunteering opportunities that are available. Many childcare centres have adjacent schools, so if you decide to work in one of these you will support local teachers and eventually head up a class of your own. As you may have already guessed, you will be needed throughout the week for around six to eight hours a day, but it is hardly a chore when you see how eager the little ones are to learn.
Of course, you can spend your spare time and weekends visiting the nearby beautiful beach for a spot of sunbathing, pick up some bargains at the crafts markets and organise your finances in the banks. This is especially handy if your Ghana volunteer trip is part of a wider gap year.