I’ve always wanted to help others, and I have loved horses since before I can remember so when I found out about Akwaaba Volunteers horse riding volunteering placement I knew I had to go for it. The booking process was easy, and from the get go Jordan was so helpful in choosing the right dates and helping with flights and before I knew it, flights were booked and myself and my best friend were ready to go. Unfortunately our outbound journey was riddled with issues from missing transfers to lost luggage but Jordan and King were so helpful throughout the process, lending us essential clothes and organising transport too and from the airport on numerous occasions which definitely helped with the stress. Even with the rocky start, I wouldn’t change my time in Ghana for anything.

Once all luggage had been found, I spent the mornings and evenings at the stables completing a variety of tasks such as mucking out, washing the horses down and riding them every day. I was even allocated a young horse, Star, to work with for my whole time which was really special. Everyone at the stables were beyond helpful, giving advice and support whenever I needed it and provided a lot of laughs and jokes along the way. It was such an eye opening experience seeing the differences between stable work in the UK compared to Ghana, I even think I prefer the brooms Ghanaian’s use (a bunch of dried grass tied together, much more effective than a standard broom!). I love all the hard work that comes with horses, but seeing the baby foals every day was a highlight! My favourite part of being at the stables though was working with a young stallion named Star. Although I was only there for a few weeks we created a bond and I hope he’ll be ready for the army to ride soon.

During the time I wasn’t at the stables I was fortunate to be able to help teach the kids, both at Jordan and King’s home and then at the Future Leaders school. Helping young children with English and Maths was so heart warming, seeing how much the kids want to learn and how happy they are when they get the answers right. I’ve never taught before, so this was a new experience for me and it was one of my favourite parts of my whole trip. I just wish I could have been there for longer to really see these amazing kids shine.

Alongside the time we spend at placements, Jordan organises weekend trips to travel the beautiful country of Ghana. In the short time I was in the country, I was blessed to experience the beautiful Cape Coast and Volta Region with the other volunteers. We climbed Mount Afadjato, saw the beautiful waterfalls and visited a monkey sanctuary where monkeys ate bananas out of our hands. In Cape Coast we walked the canopy walk and explored Ghanaian history at the castle museum. The trips were planned perfectly by Jordan and I enjoyed every second, even the 6 hour car journey to the Volta Region.

Spending every day with the horses and then the kids was incredibly life changing and I was very fortunate to experience all of this with an amazing group of volunteers. Not only is Jordan, King and everyone else at Akwaaba Volunteers amazing hosts, the other volunteers I lived with were fabulous. The house feels like a home away from home full of laughter and love. I cannot thank the Ghanian Army, Future Leaders School and of course, Akwaaba Volunteers for the best experience I could ask for. I was treated like one of the family from day one and I can’t wait to be back out there as soon as I can. Thank you for the experience of a life time and I would recommend everyone to support Akwaaba Volunteers for the amazing work that they do, they really are changing lives every day.

Hayleigh Ward – Horse Riding Placement – UK.