Canadian teacher gains valuable experience as a volunteer at the Wonderful Love School in Akuapem Hills, Ghana
Although Ghana is considered one of the most developed and politically stable countries in Africa, many communities in rural areas are severely underprivileged and need a great deal of assistance. Projects Abroad has been working in various regions in Ghana for more than a decade, with volunteers participating in worthwhile service projects which contribute to sustainable development. Akuapem Hills is one of these regions and it is where Pascale Fortin, a volunteer hailing from Quebec, Canada, found herself living and working as a teacher at the Wonderful Love School in Akokoa Village.
Many volunteers who choose to work with children in disadvantaged schools do so for a number of different – yet equally important – reasons. “I decided that I want to be a teacher back home and my next thought was that I want to go and teach in Africa. In general, I always thought it was important to give back to underprivileged communities,” recounts Pascale Fortin, sharing her reason for joining a volunteer teaching project.
As a Teaching volunteer, Pascale assisted professional Ghanaian teachers at the Wonderful Love School with teaching and learning activities for young children. “It’s more of a co-teaching situation,” she said, describing her experience in a Ghanaian classroom. “The class teacher teaches a local language called Twi which I can’t teach and I teach English, math, and science. So with the help of text books and the teacher, I plan my lessons and take charge of those subjects. When some pupils are struggling with lessons, I take them separately and teach them so they can match up to the good pupils in the class.”
The school was built by Projects Abroad for the benefit of the community and employs local teachers to teach around 120 elementary students. Volunteers like Pascale have travelled from around the world – including Europe, America, Canada, and Australia - to contribute to the development of the school since it opened. This diversity has its advantages and disadvantages, but in Pascale’s opinion, the advantages carry more weight.
“Meeting volunteers from so many different backgrounds and nationalities helps a lot because the pupils learn and experience different things and it broadens their minds,” she says. “I believe the children are gaining an international perspective from having people all over the world. I remember I talked to them about my country and where it is and I believe other volunteers do the same. In Canada, I teach sixth grade and I am planning that the children I teach now in Wonderful Love School will write letters to their Canadian counterparts and vice versa.”
On a typical day in the green mountains of Akuapem, Pascale enjoys the friendliness of the Ghanaian people and the morning assemblies for the school children.
“I leave my host family’s house at around 7:10 in the morning and take a trotro (a commercial mini bus). Everyone seems very friendly in the trotros I pick. I get to the school before 8am and participate in the morning assemblies where the children sing songs and the Ghanaian national anthem and say the national pledge. The rest of the day I mark exercises, make lessons plans, and teach my subjects. During breaks, I play with the children,” she shared.
The Teaching project in Ghana has other fun and important social aspects which increase its impact on local children and the community as a whole and volunteers also find these activities to be equally valuable for themselves.
“As volunteers in the Akuapem Hills, we’re not limited to just working at out placements. We are active in the community and get involved wherever we can help, whether we’re visiting an orphanage to spend time playing with the children or planning a rubbish day where we can all help educate children about recycling and the importance of keeping the environment clean. We also organize a “Read and Feed” program for students. We read with the children and give them fruit juices to enjoy at the end.”
The proverbial Ghanaian hospitality was never elusive for Pascale as she expressed her feeling towards the country she travelled and lived in. “I love Ghana. I’ve never felt in danger and it’s true what they say about Ghana that it’s a friendly country. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to teach with fewer resources.”
Learn more about Teaching English and Other Subjects in Ghana.