December 29, 2008

Volunteering in Ghana - from a volunteer's perspective

Having volunteered and worked in Ghana for the past 2.5 years, and having met many volunteers burnt by corrupt and inept NGOs, I felt it was about time to acknowledge those that are genuine, don’t use volunteer funds for dishonest means, are doing a great service in the field in which they work, and give volunteers the best opportunities to make a difference.

G-lish Foundation in Ghana

G-lish Foundation was founded by myself and my Ghanaian partner in 2010 and welcomes you to volunteer in Africa.

A little bit more about us:

G-lish Foundation is a registered NGO in Ghana, West Africa, that works to create lasting social, economic and environmental change in impoverished rural communities in Ghana. The three “e”s underpin our approach: environment, economics, and equity—a sustainable approach for current and future generations. 
We are governed by an accomplished board and managed by our Ghanaian and Australian co-founders. We won a SEED Initiative Award in 2010 in recognition for our efforts in social entrepreneurship. The Award included a rigorous application process explained in ourvolunteer in Africa brochure.


Hand in Hand – Nkoranza

Hand in Hand is a Dutch-run NGO based in Nkoranza in the Brong Ahafo region. It is primarily an orphanage for children and young people with mental and physical handicaps.

Hand in Hand provides a rare opportunity for orphans and those ostracized young people with mental disabilities to live and grow up in a safe, caring and open-minded environment. It is envisaged that those living at the site will live their for their entire lives, unless their village agrees to take them back.

Volunteers work with the managers to take care of the children, educate the public, and are involved in the day-to-day running of the project. An income generating workshop was set up when I visited. Many of the Downs Syndrome teenagers participate in the workshop and produced some of the most impressive beaded necklaces I have seen anywhere in Ghana.
I visited this site a couple of years ago when I was a volunteer with Global Mamas and was overwhelmed by the genuine compassion and kindness that staff and volunteers displayed. Most carers in orphanages physically abuse their charges or, at best, have no physical contact with them. Hand in Hand is, thankfully, a model that could be emulated at other institutions in Ghana.
3 hours north of Kumasi on a trotro. The closest large town is Techiman, a stopover on the journey between Kumasi and Tamale. If you go to Kumasi, don’t miss Kejetia market, the largest (and scariest – but be brave) open air market in West Africa.

Village Exchange International - Ho
VEI is based in Ho, the capital of the Volta Region. I first heard of VEG last year when they began discussions to partner with Global Mamas (the organisation that I work for) in 2007.
Established by a French national living in Ghana, it is one of the most well-organised, open, and inspiring NGOs I have come across.

VEI'sprojects are focused in three different areas:
Poverty alleviation strategies including microcredit schemes and small-entreprise development
Reproductive and sexual health programs
Research including quantitative and qualitative research methods applied to women's and health issues

The staff are great and they attract a high quality caliber of volunteer.

If you do choose to volunteer here, you’re blessed with some of Ghana’s most beautiful landscapes and cultural heritage a short bus ride away. Wli waterfalls, the largest waterfall in West Africa (according to the Bradt Guide) sits on the border between Ghana and Togo in the stunning village of Wli. Best time to visit is May – September during the rainy season when the Volta is lush and green. You’re also close to Kpetwe, an Ewe weaving village about 10 minutes outside of Ho.

Prices are average - lower than I-to-I and other volunteer "factories".

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