So I wrote this for the magazine I work with a while a go sharing my volunteer adventure from last year and now i thought I'd share (majorly edited but I saved the pics for you :) )
After many weeks of preparing documentation, having second thoughts and panic attacks about this trip, I was finally on my way to Ghana to volunteer my time. I had been wanting to do something a little more than ordinary for a while. Something like going to Spain to learn Spanish, going on a safari cruise in Kenya, going to China to intern or anything worthy of being ticked of a ‘things to do before you turn 30’ list. I started the process on my own initially but chickened out. And so, when a friend of mine asked if I was interested in going to volunteer in Ghana through an organisation called Original Volunteers, I knew this was my chance to finally do this. Two months and a bumpy one hour flight later, I was in Accra looking for Yao, the taxi driver who would be driving me 5 hours away to Mpraeso. Despite the Lagos-like traffic, what felt like extreme hunger and Yao’s bad taste in music, I was excited! This was an amazing opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, and immerse myself in a value giving experience.
The next day, I finally got to go to Sunrise school, one of the most deprived schools in the area, which was almost entirely built with the help of volunteers. As we got down from the bus walking to the school, the kids came and without thinking held the hand of the volunteer they thought was the best looking (lol. i dunno what t the criteria was o). The girl by my side was Selina, a 5/6 year old who ended up being my companion most of the day (had to force her to go to her class).
|walking down to sunrise--see each volunter has a student|
|selina-my walking partner|
In class, the students mobbed me, shouting “what is your name? What is your name?!” I admit I had preconceived ideas of what they would be like but in fact, they were normal kids ...albeit with mismatched uniforms. In an exercise where I asked for volunteers to come out and tell us what they wanted to be in future, they all wanted to be doctors, footballers and “Madams”. It doesn't get realer than that..who doesn't want to become a Madam?!
The villages and communities I visited might as well have been in Nigeria for their similarities. I wondered to myself why I had to come all the way to a neighbouring country to volunteer. The answer was simple; there was an international organisation that made the link between community schools, hospitals, libraries and the outside world full of people ready to help. Why can't we have that same opportunity for willing volunteers to do something to help Nigerian schools, hospitals, communities? ( I now realise that there are but it takes you being proactive, in Nigeria everything is DIY)