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Volunteer Overseas

Christine Martin - General Care Projects in Ghana

Child with drawing

It has been three weeks since I returned from my journey to Ghana. I’m still retelling the stories of the most inspiring experience of my life so far, as well as finishing my final year of secondary school. It took me months of planning and fundraising but the trip was definitely worth it.

On February 20, 2011 I arrived at Accra, Ghana with another American girl, Ylva. After going through baggage claim, we walked outside and were welcomed by the humidity of Accra and a man came running up to us, Nyame, to welcome us to Ghana. Nyame is from Projects Abroad. He welcomed us not just to the country but to the style of the people. After quick introductions, and having my first experience of drinking water from a “bag”, we were taken to our house to meet our host family.

My Ghanaian host family

Ghanaians make you feel very much at home, always. Everyone is friendly. I was nervous when I first arrived at my new house, but the way that my host brothers and sister interacted with me made me feel safe, and not like a visitor. Mama Mercy arrived later that night when she got home from work. We continued to talk with the family for a while before having our first Ghanaian meal of rice. When you are in Ghana you get used to eating rice. I ate rice usually at least once a day. After a few more hours of talking, we were ready for bed and ready for our induction the next day.

The next day came quickly. Prince from Projects Abroad picked us up in the morning after we finished breakfast and we went for our induction. The induction went quickly, and before we knew it we were in bed and sleeping before our first day of work.

My care placement

At my placement

I worked at Bethel Day Care in Akropong. The day care centre was only a three minute taxi ride from the house, which was nice. The kids were so amazing. It was such an amazing experience to see the children so happy when they don’t have that much. Many kids didn’t have the money to afford their uniforms so many were falling apart. It was a hard thing to see.

When I got to work every morning, I would hear “obruni, obruni.” This simply means white person, or foreigner. No one in Ghana says it to be offensive, but more as a welcome. After I arrived at work I would change the kids into their red uniforms from the green ones. The children wore their green uniforms around town to represent the school. Many mornings I found myself sewing buttons back on shirts and hemming trousers. Such a simple job made the children and their families so happy; it was amazing.

After the children were changed, it was time to sing. ALL the children love to sing, especially about Jesus. It was so cute to see them all singing and happy at the ages of 3 and 4. After singing the children would call or learn the alphabet for the rest of the day. Around 11am was when I got the chance to really play with the kids. I would play with all of the kids, not just the kids in my classroom. The very little kids would come out of their classrooms just to see the obruni.

With local children

This one little girl’s shoes kept falling off, so I had to keep putting them back on. This continued for the whole day, so after school I went and bought her a new pair of shoes. When I gave her the new pair of shoes the next day, she was so excited. Later that day when her parents came to pick her up from school, the little girl showed them her new shoes. They were so happy and gave me a huge hug.

Working at Bethel Day Care was definitely the best part of volunteering in Ghana. The children made the experience so worth it. It was great just to put a smile on a little kids face that doesn’t have much. These kids don’t know what it is like to be held when they are crying, at least not as school. So, to just pick them up and tell them that it is okay, even if they don’t know what I’m saying, it’s amazing.

Beautiful sights to see in Ghana

While in Ghana I did other things as well as work; one day I went to a waterfall in Akropong. Our host sister took us there and it was really cool to see. I wasn’t really expecting to see a waterfall, but it was amazing. Another fact about Ghanaians is they walk...slow. A walk that should have taken an hour, took three and a half hours! Another day we went to a beach in Accra. It was so cool to see the ocean from the opposite side I normally do in the states. I live on the coast of the U.S. so seeing the ocean is important to me. The last big trip that we made was going to Koforidua to the bead market. The market was nothing like we were expecting but it was amazing. So many different people were there selling their beads. It was a nice place to get souvenirs to bring home.

In a few months I am heading off to university to major in Nursing. This experience has definitely influenced my future in the best way. During university I would really like to be able to work as a nurse in a hospital in Ghana. I really want to give back to the friendly, caring people that made me feel at home from the first day of entering their country. Ghana is such a beautiful country and one that I will never forget.

Christine Martin

This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Programme Advisors.

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