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Plan My Gap Year - Ghana

Page history last edited by Phil Pierce 8 years ago

 

Partner institution: Plan My Gap Year

Website: http://www.planmygapyear.co.uk/ghana/

 

Contributors (2013):

Lauren Overton

 

Instructions:

Contributors: for details on what is required in each section, please look at the Guidance Notes

Contents: 

Placement Information

Accomodation

Transport

Social life

Things to do, things not to do

Useful Contacts

Before you go

Costs

Placement Information

I was picked up from Accra airport on arrival with a couple of other volunteers and taken straight to the hostel we were staying at during our orientation. As I was only out in Ghana for 3 weeks I took part in the 'short orientation', this meant that I had 1 day of orientation and then 1 day of travelling to my host family. The day of orientation consisted of a lesson in Twi (a language spoken in the city and village I was staying in), and lessons about the Ghanaian culture and history which was very interesting and helped with collecting information for assignments! We also got a talk about the 'dos and don'ts' whilst being in Ghana which was very important to know. We then went to the local beach, had lunch and went for a swim in the afternoon!

 

There are various different projects that take place in Ghana, the project I joined was based in an orphanage called the Mampong Babies Home. Not all children at the orphanage have lost their parents, some arrive from abusive homes and others are taken into care as their parents cannot afford to look after them. The women working in the orphanage are generally very friendly and welcoming and are very grateful to have the extra help as it can be quite manic at times with 30+ children to care for all at the same time!

 

 

The hours we worked were 6 a day (Monday - Friday):

8:00am - 11:00am

Lunch break

3:00pm - 6:00pm

You will not work on Saturday and Sunday!

 

The general things you will be doing during your time at the orphanage come under 'general care' of children. This includes feeding, changing nappies, washing, dressing and playing with the children. The children are very friendly and welcoming and love to see new faces and have more adults to play with! Sometimes they can get carried away when with you and may pull at your clothes and hair, but just know that they are simply fascinated by you and are excited to spend time with you!

 

 

 

A thing to prepare for whilst at the orphanage and sometimes with your host family is the discipline from the adults, this does often include 'physical punishments'. The children are sometimes beaten by the adults but it is important to remember that this is just another part of the way of life in Ghana and it is not always your place to 'step in' in these situations. It can be hard to witness but know that the adults never cause the children serious harm and know the difference between giving a child 'a warning tap' and severely beating a child.

 

Expenses

Programme Fee (3 weeks): £320

Registration Fee: £149

Flights: Prices usually range upwards from £500

Accomodation

For the orientation we stayed in a hostel in Accra. The hostel was nice, the rooms were shared, about 6 beds in each but they weren't always full. The rooms had a bathroom attached to them with a western style toilet and a shower with running water, the rooms also had air conditioning!

 

During my time on this project I stayed with a host family that lived approximately 5 minutes walk away from the orphanage where I was volunteering. The facilities at the house were basic but manageable! There had been no running water for six months at the time I was in Ghana, a tanker would come to the village and provide the families with barrels of water, which was then transferred into buckets to wash with or to flush the toilet so be prepared!

 

 

You will be provided with three meals a day, although depending on your host family's work commitments you may have to cook your own lunch if you return to the house during your lunch break.

Do not be surprised to find goats, sheep, cockerels, lizards and other various creepy crawlies roaming about the main village where you are staying. They won't cause you harm and generally stay out of your way as you walk past so there is no need to worry!

 

Another thing to prepare for would be prayer calls, this can sometimes occur in the early hours of the morning so it is advisable to take ear buds with you to block out noise including animals in the village that may disturb you while you are trying to sleep!

 

Transport

To travel from Accra to Kumasi when going to your host family you will travel by 'V.I.P bus', this is a coach that will transport you between the cities.

The orphanage is about 5 - 10 minute walk from my host family but it would have been easy to catch a taxi from the main road too, so depending on where you are placed it is your decision whether to walk or get a taxi.

 

The taxi system in Ghana is very different to the UK. If you catch a taxi do not be surprised when the driver pulls over to let someone else in too! It is quite the norm to stop and share taxis with other people and just pay for your journey when you get out the taxi. However it is possible to avoid this if you do not feel comfortable doing so, you need to make sure that you ask the driver to 'hire' the taxi, this means that they will just do your journey and not stop to pick up anyone else.

 

Another way to get between cities and other places is a tro tro, this is basically a mini bus that is used by the public. It is quite cheap and is a good way to get around!

 

 

Social life

There are many different things to do in Ghana including lots of tourist-type attractions. There is an aspect of 'night life' but volunteers are encouraged not to drink alcohol (at least in large quantities), and a lot of the time you will be too tired to go out in the evenings! There are other things to do at the weekends however. There are a couple of hotels with swimming pools and places to eat which are not too far away from the village and it is easy to get a taxi. It is also quite easy to get a tro tro to the city of Kumasi where there is a zoo, markets and various different restaurants/bars to visit which can make a lovely day out!

 

 

Things to do, things not to do

Visit the market in Mampong - the market is open every Wednesday. Make sure you have water with you as it can be very tiring and extremely hot when walking around the stalls, and there are plenty of them! If you want to buy something at the market make sure you try to haggle for the price as it may come as no surprise that they will try to get as much money out of you as possible!

 

Try the food - one of the main traditional meals eaten in Ghana is Fou Fou. The sauce on it can be quite hot so be prepared but it is delicious! Another traditional meal is Red Red, again this is very hot so be prepared!

 

Go to church - Ghana is a very religious area, mainly made up of Christians. This means that church on a Sunday is part of daily life, the service lasts for a couple of hours in the morning. It is completely different to church in the UK and is a great experience to have!

 

Do not travel by yourself - Ghana is generally a safe place and obviously if you are travelling alone then you may not have a choice but if possible try avoid travelling on your own especially late at night.

 

Useful Contacts

Plan My Gap Year website: www.planmygapyear.co.uk. They also have a facebook page and forums that you can visit to talk to people that may be travelling at the same time as you or to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have.

 

Before you go

Make sure you consider travel on the way back to Kumasi and then to Accra in order  to get to the airport as this is not included in any of the programme or registration fees. You can ask the reps at the hostel or your host family about how much money to put aside for travelling back home.

It is advised to do your own research before you travel to Ghana, about the history, culture and things to do whilst you are out there.

The currency in Ghana is cedi (GHC). It is not possible to exchange your money to cedi until you arrive in Ghana. I exchanged my money in the airport on arrival, but they do not accept debit or bank card exchanges so if you plan to do this too then make sure you have cash on you when you travel! There are banks and ATMs around that accept cards but until you find one it is best to just exchange cash.

Make sure you have a mosquito net to cover your bed once you are out in Ghana, also it is advisable to have a thin cotton liner sleeping bag to sleep in as it is too hot to sleep in anything heavier! You may also want to bring a duvet cover to sleep in and possibly a pillow case!

There are various different vaccinations that you will need to get before you travel to Ghana, including:

- Yellow Fever (you must provide proof of this in the form of a certificate on arrival in Ghana, you can't go unless you have this!)

- Meningitis

- Hep B

- Rabies

- Typhoid

 

These were the jabs I had to get, make sure you check with your doctor before you go which jabs you will need to get depending on which ones you have had in the past!

You will also need to talk to the doctor about anti malarial tablets, there are a few different types of tablets that are available to you so make sure you discuss all your options with the doctor before deciding which tablets you are going to take!

It is encouraged to take certain items that are suitable for the children at the orphanage, for example:

- balloons

- bubbles

- pens and pencils

- paper and card 

Costs

 

 

 

 

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