December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009...and thank you


With the sun-setting on 2009, I couldn’t help but post this stunning photograph taken by a friend, Tina on the beach in front of Oasis Beach Resort in Cape Coast.


Thank you once again to everyone for reading, contributing and staying in touch.

Stay safe tonight wherever you may be. And “Afehyia pa”: May a Good Year Come to Meet Us.
And join us at our new blog G-lish.org.

December 30, 2009

Christmas in Bolgatanga, Ghana

I did a guest post over at Ever The Nomad about Christmas here, in Bolgatanga. And we just posted it to our new blog site G-lish.org here: Christmas in Ghana.

You can read the whole post at Ever the Nomad by clicking on this link Guest Post Ghana.

Here is a short excerpt:

There are no gifts. There is no roast turkey or goose. There are no chocolates or puddings or trees or tinsel. The aroma of mulled wine floating from the stove top is absent too. It seems like any other day.

I only notice that something is different when I cross the fallow maize fields to the highway to buy some eggs.

The sun is already high in the sky. I look along the highway. A faint haze blurs the baobabs in the distance. This is the Harmattan season, a two-month period during which dust from the Sahara Desert settles across West Africa producing foggy scenes and intense lava-red sunrises and sunsets.

December 23, 2009

Insider's Guide to Volunteering

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.

We have posted the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering at our new site: G-lish Please visit the "Volunteering Guide" page/tab to click and quickly download a copy of the guide. No sign up or anything necessary. If you do like what you see, then you’re welcome to sign up on the right-hand side of the page to receive our posts in your inbox in future.

Also, you can read our first new post at the site: Welcome to G-lish.

Please feel free to email the volunteer guide to friends, colleagues, associates and anyone you think might be interested. It’s free. No strings. No sign-ups, unless you want to. We’d love feedback, though. So, if you want to comment please go to G-lish and click on the Volunteering Guide page tab. There is plenty of space for comments. We’re also on twitter at @glishnews.

Finally, a happy and safe Christmas to everyone! Be careful. Stay safe. No drinking Akpetushie and driving, OK! But do eat fufu. Life is good with fufu.

December 21, 2009

Insider's Guide: Two More Warning Signs

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.

Two More Key Warning Signs to look out for:

Warning sign: To “qualify” you must send some expensive item first, such as a lap top, camera, or a huge sum of money unrelated to the program.
Solution: Don’t even reply to this and find another program.

Warning sign: The organisation has posted project reports on their site, but when you ask about them, they don’t answer the question.
Solution: Scan their reports and names of people who worked on them. Guess what? Sometimes they post fake reports. If it’s something for the UN, for example, find the contact at the UN (it should be listed in a report) and email them. Ask if the project really happened.



We're just about there. Ready to go on the download.

These and many other tips—22 pages actually—are included in the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering. We’re releasing it next week—just in time for Christmas. Sign up by email in the top right hand corner (it takes 3 minutes) if you’d like to be informed the moment it’s available to download and be truly empowered before making a decision. In January, we’ll be starting a series of how you can make a difference in lives of people less fortunate, at home in your own country, or anywhere in the world, from home. Look out for the too.


December 20, 2009

More On Making A Difference in Ghana

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.

In the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering we explain that you can’t make a difference in 2 weeks or 2 months (and even 2 years is pushing it—poverty is a complex problem), but we explain that what you can and will do is contribute your skills and experience to a group of people who collectively, over time, make a huge difference.

If you view your contribution in isolation, you may think it was negligible. But you’re not volunteering in isolation (in most cases), you’re part of a group and it’s the combined efforts of many hands that make a difference.

It’s like the proverbial first step in a journey. If you don’t take one, two or ten steps, you won’t take a thousand steps—you won’t go anywhere. Each volunteer is taking a few steps to advance the cause. Maybe you take 353 steps instead of the 790 you could have taken during the same time at home. But, as a group of people who come and go over time, you’re taking thousands of steps together, that otherwise could not have been taken. Together, you’re leaving a positive footprint for those whose lives will slowly change over time. That’s the difference you will make. And you may make some of the best friendships of your life too. They don’t tell you that about volunteering, but the people I met are now some of my best friends—that was an unexpected bonus.

These and many other tips—22 pages actually—are included in the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering. We’re releasing it next week—just in time for Christmas. Sign up by email in the top right hand corner (it takes 3 minutes) if you’d like to be informed the moment it’s available to download and be truly empowered before making a decision. In January, we’ll be starting a series of how you can make a difference in lives of people less fortunate, at home in your own country, or anywhere in the world, from home. Look out for the too.


December 19, 2009

Journalism volunteer projects in Ghana: A tip

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.


We offer this tip in the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering: If you want to do something specific, like journalism (one of the most common emails we receive), you can almost guarantee finding an organisation on the ground in Ghana that would welcome your presence, informally, even if they don’t run a volunteer programme as such. The media is free and open and there are numerous small and large radio stations, newspapers, and television stations in Ghana. Try writing to them directly and see if you can set something up. GTV is part of GBC (Ghana Broadcasting Corporation). Joy FM is one of the most respected radio stations in the country. Keep in mind the reasonable fee scales above, if you are asked to contribute anything material. We recommend this as the formal volunteer programmes online relating to journalism often charge $3000 a month and the like.

These and many other tips—22 pages actually—are included in the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering. We’re releasing it next week, just in time for Christmas. Sign up by email in the top right hand corner (it takes 3 minutes) if you’d like to be informed the moment it’s available to download and be truly empowered before making a decision. In January, we’ll be starting a series of how you can make a difference in lives of people less fortunate, in your own country or anywhere in the world.

December 18, 2009

Update: Volunteering Guide

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.

We're in the final stages of completing the Insider's Guide to Volunteering. We'll post the link to download it early next week, just in time for Christmas. Oh, and here is one of my favourite world-changing organisations: Room to Read. Check them out if you want to see how you can help make a difference. We'll post a few more excerpts from the guide over the coming days until we're ready to unleash it on the world. Until then, keep shaking things up in your part of the world.

When to Volunteer in Ghana?

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering in Ghana.

Trustworthy Programmes

Writing this, I realised that the programmes I know as most trustworthy, with a few exceptions, are all run by women. Not saying that men are incapable of running a good volunteer programme, there are a few, but the real life ones from which our warnings are derived were all operated by men.


When to volunteer

Keeping in mind the climatic and weather conditions mentioned earlier in the guide, for a quieter experience, September—May, when most of the northern hemisphere is in school, is best. The months between June—August are the busiest and some programmes become crowded due to students from the northern hemisphere undertaking internships during their summer break.


These and many other—22 pages actually—of tips are included in the Insider’s Guide to Volunteering. Sign up by email in the top right hand corner (it takes 3 minutes) if you’d like to be truly empowered before making a decision.

December 17, 2009

Bad Volunteer Programs: Warning Signs and Solutions

We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.


Warning sign: You’re a woman and there are no local or foreign females involved in the management (not just other volunteers) of the project.

Solution: Find a project that has at least one female involved in managing you at your project site, foreign or Ghanaian. Ask to speak directly with that woman on the phone before you leave home. Ask about the project and the programme set up when you arrive.

Warning sign: You cannot get three positive referrals from other foreign volunteers (they must be foreign to avoid potentially corrupted local—Ghana or whichever country you’re looking at—individuals paid to make false statements) who volunteered with them.

Solution: First, you’re spending your time and money in a foreign country where you may have no support network at all. If you asked for references and they said no, take that as the biggest warning of all. If they gave you references, contact those people for first-hand accounts so you can make an empowered decision. If they won’t give them to you, find another project. FIND ANOTHER PROJECT!


We have listed 8 more key warning signs and solutions to help you avoid signing up the wrong programme. Sign up by email in the top right hand corner (it takes 3 minutes) if you’d like to get the full PDF and be truly empowered before making a decision.

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