In August this year I got the opportunity to spend three weeks in Ghana with Akwaaba volunteers, volunteering on the Veterinary project. Stepping off the plane into the new, humid climate I had no idea what the next 3 weeks were going to hold. I knew very little about Ghana, except that I had two weeks of working at the Veterinary practice and a week to fill travelling around this unknown country.
However any nerves were quickly dissipated as I found King, who created the charity along with Jordan, waiting outside the airport, and was offered to go straight to a local bar to meet Jordan and the other volunteers. Here I was not only introduced to the others, but to the vibrant night life and incredible atmosphere that fills the bars and restaurants in Accra, that I came to absolutely love.
There were 4 other volunteers staying in the beautiful house in Accra whilst I was there. The house is in a town called Labadi, about 20 minutes from the centre of Accra. There’s a girls’ dorm and a boys’ dorm, and a great communal area where we all bonded very quickly. We spent many evenings enjoying wonderful dinners followed by card games, and sunbathing in the courtyard outside the house.
My project at the Vet practice was a 15 minute tro-tro (the bus service in Ghana, which always allows for an interesting ride) away from the house, and King and Jordan travelled with me until I felt able to go by myself. I am a 3rd year Vet student, and I was super excited to experience Veterinary practice in such a different country. During my time at the Vet I saw owners with very little themselves willing to bring their animal in every day for treatment, and the Vets give the best care they possibly could, with their basic resources. In Veterinary in the UK machinery, diagnostics and treatments have become so complex it’s so important to be reminded that basic care and good client communication can go a long way. Plus ending every day at the beach is always a bonus!
While staying with Akwaaba I also got to visit some of Jordan and Kings other projects. We went to watch a couple of the Academy matches, which is a football team of very talented boys hoping to gain football scholarships to schools around the world, and who dream of playing professional football. The boys are from all over Ghana, and see a professional football career as the only way to change their own and their families lives. Jordan and King support the boys in so many ways, including having a volunteer project where you can coach the team. We also went to the after-school homework club in Labadi, where we got to play local games with lots of the amazing kids in the area. Finally we got the opportunity to spend some time in the School for Underprivileged children, which gives totally free education to the most disadvantaged children in Labadi, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to school. This was an eye-opening experience, and I’ll always remember the huge queue of parents trying to sign their children up for the beginning of the school year. However the small classrooms are packed full with as many children as possible, and the school is currently at full capacity, until enough money is raised to extend the school.
King and Jordan also organised loads of outings every evening and on the weekends, which allow you to really get to know the city. We had the most hilarious times at Karaoke, watching salsa dancing and going out for a meal. The city of Accra has an amazing atmosphere, and everyone is always ready to enjoy themselves. We were lucky enough to be in Accra over the Chale Wote festival, where the streets are filled with art and colour, and people dancing and performing. It’s hard not to fall in love with the lively atmosphere that fills the city. All the people I met in Ghana were just so friendly and eager to help, always ready to give you directions or help you out in any way they could. The country is also stunning, with so much variety. From the beautiful beaches, to watching elephants in the dense jungles, to the most remote and stunning mountain villages, they were some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.
One of the best parts of my trip with Akwaaba was how easy King and Jordan made the whole experience, which allowed me to enjoy the country to the full. They recommended incredible places to go and stay in my week of travelling, and allowed me to meet so many people through their projects which hugely enriched my time in Ghana. At the end of the 3 weeks, leaving all the friends I’d made, and the beautiful country behind was so difficult. I feel so honoured to have been able to spend time at Akwaaba Volunteers, and I can’t wait until I get the chance to go back.
If you are interested in joining our veterinary project just click here http://akwaabavolunteers.org.uk/index.php/placements/ or you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org