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Community Project in Akrade

Listed under Volunteering Opportunities in Koforidua, Ghana.

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Photo by flickr user oneVillage Initiative
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People live in so many different circumstances all over the world, and though many of us try and be aware of that no one is really aware of it until they’ve experienced some of those other circumstances. This is why I wanted to spend my gap year abroad living in a different society and different kind of community to the one I know, and my experiences teaching English to school children in Ghana while helping out with tasks around the village potentially taught me more than a years worth of university - though don’t tell my tutors that as one of them recommended the experience.

You think you have a good attitude because you’re trying to give something to those people who have less than you do but that sentiment is nothing compared to the actual reality of coming into a tiny town and being welcomed by people excited about every tiny opportunity your presence may afford them. These kids were desperate to learn. Their parents have instilled in them the mantra that education means a better future that goes a lot deeper than the scars mine drove into me. I guess it’s that these people’s lives aren’t as secure if they don’t act for themselves. That has to be the all pervading lesson I learned. The highlights are harder to pick out from my notes but this all pervading message, even several years after my six week experience, I feel even more acutely.

I took part in programs around Akrade on the Volta River, an area with some natural advantages, being on a trade and transport route, but ravaged by years of disorganisation and lack of the kind of infrastructure that sees schools and medical centres, among other projects, completed, the money for them lost. The feeling was one of being part of a group lead by the needs of the local community, and though the organisation I went with are international, the people I worked with and for were either locals or had been involved with the local communities for years. I went into the experience with the attitude to use my skills in the best way other people could see fit. If the strongest need was to dig, I would dig, if the strongest need was to carry things, I would put aside my education and background and do it and if I was most useful as a teacher or carer I would do my best. I’m very proud to say that these six weeks were some of the most productive of my life. I helped build classrooms for a pre-school, we had to make even the bricks from scratch, and taught the children English by teaching them songs, which was so much fun to have been almost a guilty pleasure seeing as I was there to work. I was also involved with the medical centre in New Arkade, helping out young mothers and people with illnesses who still had family or community duties to attend to. Again it was a pleasure to be useful and the bonds I felt with some of these people whose community I had only been part of for such a short time were closer than my relationship with some people in my own community who I had grown up with. I am still grateful for their gratefulness and inspired by their experiences.

Practically I felt looked after and respected. I felt able to make suggestions to the program leaders and to the community and my education and limited life experience was appreciated and vastly expanded. I was fed and watered and I had plenty of fun as well as doing plenty of work. Though a cliché I have to say that this experience was life changing and one I draw on every day.

Written by  Allie Aniston.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Where is Akrade, Ghana located?

1 Reply

Hi Alvin - have a look at our map tab for the exact location.

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