Alyssa Jones - General Care Projects in Ghana
After living in Ghana for one month, I can't go one hour without reflecting back on the trip and thinking about much I benefited from it. Not only did I grow as an individual, but I feel more motivated to make the best of my life. I was placed at Adom Day Care Centre for the full month and while volunteering there I gained experience with young children and teaching.
My first day at the day care centre was somewhat what I had expected, just a lot more hectic. I was greeted with open arms and smiling faces as the day care welcomed me into their family. Throughout my month of volunteering I comforted children while they were crying, taught them how to spell Canada, and struggled to understand how they could be so happy with next to nothing. When I helped the teacher (Diana) with the simplest of things, the energy-filled response I got in return was amazing. No one in Canada had ever appreciated my help as much as that teacher did and to see the smile on her face when I did something as simple as hold a baby for her warmed my heart.
One of the things I feel quite proud of is the fact that I donated almost all the clothes I had brought to Ghana to the teachers at the day care. And the children greatly appreciated the SMLS gym uniforms and dress shirts they received. It was really eye opening to see children be so happy over clothes that were sitting in a lost and found bin in a gym change room one month ago.
The whole trip was a personal stretch for me, which is why I wanted to participate in it in the first place. Although it was hard to adapt to Ghanaian culture, I learned to embrace it and love it. Although I did have technology from home (iPod and Cell phone) and visited the internet café once a week, the more out of touch I was with various gossip and dramas happening back home, the more I began to care nothing about it.
Before traveling to Ghana I had one specific opinion/thought about Africa in general: no technology. The night we arrived, some of the volunteers asked Mel, Ally and I if we wanted to go to the Internet café with them. I couldn't believe that Internet existed in such a rural region of Ghana. Surprisingly many of the locals actually love Internet and know how to use computers.
The main focus on Africa these days is the rising number of people with HIV/AIDS, not the rising number of Africans that graduate from universities, or the technologies they know how to use. I am truly grateful for my second family, the Fiankos, who could not have made my stay more enjoyable. I am also so grateful that I attend a school that provided such a great experience not only for me, but for all future students in the learning programme. My friendships with Ally and Mel got stronger, and we all grew together as we struggled through the difficult times (showering with a bucket), the terrifying times (crossing a 12 inch wide bridge over a huge cavernous space), the fun-filled times (going to the wood market on the last day) and the rewarding times (going out to remote communities to provide basic medical care) I would definitely do volunteer work abroad in the future; it feels amazing, and has changed me forever.