After several years of COVID restrictions, we were finally able to return to sending volunteers abroad to work with out charity partners. This first trip after the break was an exciting one! Read on for part one of our Ghana diary.
Over the past 15 years we've taken volunteers on numerous trips abroad. Our volunteers have been to Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, and Georgia where they have worked with our charity partners. Due to COVID-19 we've been unable to make these trips abroad. This finally changed in early May when we took a group of five newly trained peer mentors to Ghana - the furthest abroad we've been yet!
STAND has had a long-term partnership with Bernard Bediako-Nayo of B Youthaid Foundation in Ghana, but this is the first time we had taken a team of volunteer learners; expectations were high, and we knew we would also need to be flexible to respond to local circumstances.
Read on for part one of our Ghanaian volunteering diary report.
On Thursday 5th May, five newly trained volunteers, supported by Megan and with Ella the team leader, landed in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
After spending the first night in Accra one day one, the group started the long journey to Jasikan, an area that lies in the northern region of the country. It is a good 6-hour journey over roads that are everything from good tarmac to dust track with huge potholes. It’s an interesting way to build team rapport to be bundled together across the rural terrain of Africa.
After a long journey, the team arrived and checked into their accommodation for the night, a local hotel. The hotel was adequate (there is some variety in the types of facilities you can expect!) but it had two of the most important amenities covered - air conditioning and a very warm welcome from the staff team.
After dinner and unpacking the team went for a walk through the town to stretch their legs and see the sights. They were reminded to always wave with our right hand (it is bad manners to use your left hand to wave, eat, or exchange money with - it can even be quite offensive to some Ghanaians!) and that everyone would want to say hello to the new arrivals. This is the Ghanaian way, but this custom is was coupled with genuine interest in why the team were there and how long they would stay for.
We were invited into the family home of the local Queen Mother by chance as we bumped into another member of her family whilst greeting locals in the community. The Queen Mother has a very clear role within Jasikan. This is a role bestowed on someone of good character, who has proven commitment to the community, will represent the community to the authorities and who will particularly champion the needs of women within the community. Below are two brilliant women who supported us during our time in Jasikan - Patricia and Afi, alongside the team and a local pastor.
We will release the second part of the diary next week - and if you'd like to be involved with STAND and volunteer with us, get started today - we'll be in touch with you soon after!