Our Ghana Action Project team has been giving us updates every week during their time volunteering in Ghana. Take a look at their 6 weekly instalments bellow!
Posted on the 9th July 2018
The Ghana Action Project (GAP) officially began last Monday with eight volunteers arriving from the UK into Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Team leaders and Lattiude staff involved in the project had already been in Ghana a week prior to the volunteers’ arrival for planning sessions, so it was great to finally get GAP started! The flight arrived late so we went straight back to the hotel to rest before starting orientation training on day 2.
Orientation is a great introduction to volunteering as it gives volunteers the opportunity to learn more about the background of the project, rather than being thrown into the deep end! We learnt more about what we’ll be getting up to over the next 6 weeks as well as what life in a rural Ghanaian community will be like. It was very useful for us all to get together at the beginning of this project because you can really get to know the different characters in the team and what everyone’s strengths are.
In the afternoon of orientation, we took a tour of Accra led by former Lattitude Ghana volunteer, Samuel. He took us to an old fishing community in James Town in Old Accra. This is where British colonialists built the first road in Ghana. The community in James Town was vibrant and has a wealth of talented people – famous boxers and footballers have come from this community. We also visited Black Star Square and Black Star Gate which marks Ghanaian independence. We drove past other notorious sites such as Jubilee House where the President, Nana Akufo-Addo lives.
On day 3, everyone travelled to Abrobiano – the community we will be staying in for the next 6 weeks. The volunteers met their host families and got settled into their new home environment. The volunteers are in pairs, so there is someone familiar staying with them. Getting to know the host family is one of the best parts about this project as it really helps you to understand and learn more about their culture.
On the fourth and fifth day we met with teachers across both the primary schools in the community – The Islamic Primary and Abrobiano MA Primary. From here we planned and taught lessons in spelling, pronunciation and grammar. Teaching at the schools in Ghana is very challenging as children have little focus and run in and out of the classrooms. All volunteers managed their classes well and lessons were a success!
For our free time at the weekend we visited Cape Coast which is the capital of the central region. We enjoyed going around the markets and haggling for unique pieces. We also got acquainted with the Ghanaian public transport system of tro-tros! This is definitely an experience as every time you stop you get several “street hawkers” in the window trying to sell you Ghanaian foods!
It is safe to say that the week has been challenging for everyone, but a lot of fun and plenty has been learnt!
Written by Team Leader, Emily DeSouza
Posted on the 16th July 2018
The second week of the Ghana Action Project was a fun-filled week of teaching in both the local schools in Abrobiano. We began teaching at the Islamic Primary School at 9am each day and 12:30pm at the Abrobiano MA K.G School.
We split into pairs who each chose a specific grade of class to teach throughout the project. All of our classes focus on spelling, pronunciation and the meaning of the words we were teaching. The classes so far have been challenging but extremely fulfilling and we are enjoying seeing the progress that the students are making. Each pair started with a baseline test in their lessons on Monday to assess their students’ ability and to prepare suitable lesson plans for the rest of the week.
The results of the tests on Monday allowed us to tailor lesson plans to each of our specific classes. We all decided to theme our lessons and teach related words on a specific topic. These ranged from; occupations, animals, family and many more. All pairs aimed to teach 10 words every lesson. After each lesson the group would meet to talk about how the teaching was going and any difficulties they were facing.
On Wednesday evening we had a little respite from teaching with the England v Croatia game being broadcast on TV in Abrobiano. All of the group went to watch the match and support England. This was an entertaining evening as all of the Ghanaians were supporting Croatia who to their delight wont he match!
On Thursday our teaching efforts continued in both schools. On the side, the team started to plan a community event to be held in the village on Saturday 21st July. This involved enquiries about using the village football field and borrowing items such as chairs and tables from various people in the village.
On Friday the pairs of team members held tests to monitor the progress of their respective classes. The test results varied but all in all served as a good indicator of the classes’ ability to retain words taught in class.
That Friday afternoon the team met with the Elders of the community to inform them about the purpose of our stay in Abrobiano. This was very exciting, because the idea of a group of Elders which makes decisions on behalf of the village is one which is new to us all. The team went to the “Elders Palace” and introduce themselves and our mission. With the aid of a translator, the Elders responded by accepting us and welcoming us to their village.
Saturday was our day off. Still, the team got up early and took a trotro (the Ghanaian equivalent of a bus) to Kakum National Park. We had a great time experiencing the Canopy Walkway, which gave us a great view of the lush rainforest surrounding the region. Some members of the team also went on a longer hike in which they learnt about different trees in the forest and and how the Ghanaians have used, and to some extent still use, their properties in their daily life.
In summary, our second week in Ghana has been interesting and exciting. A couple of team members have had their hair braided, and we are constantly picking up more of the local language, Fante. In our respective host homes the team members have also had the chance to try out activities relevant to daily life in Abrobiano such as washing clothes. (This is harder than it seems, especially when half the village gather around, curious to observe someone who has never washed by hand before!).
Written by volunteers Katie and Maddie.
Posted on the 23rd July 2018
Monday 16th was the beginning of our Abrobiano project week. For this we split into pairs (and one three) to choose one research area each. The areas which were to be researched were: education with young people, livelihood, fishing and farming. With the help from our translators we spent the rest of the day advertising our summer school classes and clubs which we will run in weeks 5 and 6.
Tuesday 17th was the first day of researching. In our pairs we conducted interviews to gather information for our project presentations later this week. The afternoon was spent planning our vacation clubs.
Wednesday 18th was the second day of research which meant that we conducted more interviews to gather more information. Our afternoon was rounded of with a “Know what I know” (KWIK) session which this week was the basics of kickboxing.
Thursday 19th was the day where all groups had to finalise and complete their Action Project Week topic. Some went off on another full morning, visiting the farms – a few miles out – or the fishermen at the beach, but for the most it was another packed day of interviewing in the community. After, a few members of the team headed off to the beach after a long day, Upon our return, one of our interpreters went on to try to catch some goats!
On Friday 20th we had a group meeting – all things vacation school related! This meant we collectively have a plan for the final 2 weeks of fun lessons for the children who attend. The afternoon was allocated to our group presentations where everyone took part to explain their own area. The whole session was informative and helped us gain a greater knowledge about Abrobiano and the people who live there.
Saturday 21st was a rest day for the team, the majority of us went to Cape Coast again. This trip was to visit the historical Cape Coast Coast castle and to buy some essentials. Cape Coast Castle once served as a prison and embarkation point for slaves en route to the Americas. Slaves were kept in dungeons there in horrendous conditions. Words can’t describe the experience of the tour around the castle but we all felt more informed than we had been before going.
Written by volunteers Michael and Megan.
Posted on the 30th July 2018
On Monday we didn’t teach due to exams at both the primary schools. The morning was spent planning for the summer school. We produced teaching plans and organised the resources needed to carry out our lessons. In the afternoon we split into two groups. Half of us advertised the summer school by going around town and speaking to the locals. We got to explore new areas of Abrobiano and meet more locals, which was a great experience. The other half of the group started painting the library and organising the books.
On Tuesday our group spend the morning conducting reading ability tests in the MA primary school. We were quite shocked a the reading ability of the classes – many of the students struggled to read even basic sentences. In the afternoon the painting and organising continued. By the end of Tuesday we were all pleased with the progress we had made.
On Wednesday we completed the reading ability tests and some conduced lessons. After lunch we continued to paint the library.
Thursday began with our traditional cockerel wake up call and before we knew it we were back in the library painting another wall. For both the schools (MA and Islamic) it was the final day of the academic year which was reflected in the enthusiasm and energy of the children! In the afternoon, the mood changed as we focused on reflection within our one-to-ones with our team leaders.
Friday was a more relaxed day to finish our week with the morning entailing bead and macrame making, we were able to bring out our inner artists which many of us were not aware of. In the afternoon, the majority of us headed out of Abrobiano for a night of luxury in Cape Coast.
Saturday was a day spent in Cape Coast, we headed to the fabric store to pick up a variety of colourful patterns which are being made into different outfits including dresses, trousers, bags and jackets. After which we hopped back on the tro-tro to Abrobiano just in time for our favourite afternoon snack of mango.
All in all, a fun week to reflect on. Now onto summer school for our final two weeks!
Written by volunteers Alex and Charlotte.
Posted on the 7th August 2018
The library makeover came along leaps and bounds this week, with only the final touches left to complete before our grand opening on Thursday.
Our creative talents have blossomed, much like our tree of knowledge, and our collective efforts realised into a vibrant and fun workspace for the children of Abro to enjoy all the joy and empowerment that reading entails.
In summary, the week has been a great success. The summer school has been a major triumph. The children have been very eager to join us to learn English in the morning and enthusiastically participate in the creative and sports clubs run in the afternoon.
Let’s strive for next week to be an even greater success with the opening of the new library!
Written by volunteers Laura and Stanley.
Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th
Week 2 of summer school began today, in most there were less students than normal because many had gone farming. Teaching, however, remained much the same! Both days after lunch we descended to the library to continue painting the library and organising books and textbooks.
Teaching again today, many of us ran tests with our classes to measure their word retention level. With plenty of time for fun too! Again, returning to the library to continue with any jobs. Today, however, the first shelf was ready and that was then fixed to the wall. Due to miscommunication issues the table and chairs weren’t made so it was agreed they will be made overnight!
Today was our final day of teaching, some ran tests and others played games with their classes using the words they had taught. We then moved the table, chairs and last bookcase in, organising all the books too! After lunch we formally opened the library with many children as well as representatives from host families, the elders, community and teachers all present. Maddie and Michael gave an opening speech which was translated by our ever helpful country coordinator, Agnes! The final hours of our day were spent filming and compiling content for our case study video!
Project evaluation today, we had one to ones with our country manager Nana in the morning and then a full team debrief after lunch where we watched our case study video and reflected on our time in Ghana. After dinner we went to the elders to thank them for having us and to say our final goodbye!
Our final day in Abro today. It was a slow one as we had little left to do except pack our bags. Many of us spent the evening with our host families, to enjoy the last evening we would ever spend with them!
Our bus arrived at 6:30 so we moved our departure time to 7:30, but ended up leaving at 8 anyway. Emotions were running high as we had our final goodbyes with host families and all those who had welcomed and helped us in Abro during our stay! Then 4 hours to the Suma Court hotel in Accra, most of us slept for much of the way, hitting heavy traffic in the capital! After lunch 5 of us went to the mall to buy the things we were still to get. Dinner, showers and sleep as we prepare for our flight tomorrow!
Today is our final day in Ghana, which was spent in the hotel getting ready for our flight tonight. The whole group greatly enjoyed our trip to Ghana, and are grateful for the overall positive experience we were lucky enough to have had! Back to the UK we go, with Ghana ever with us!
Written by volunteer Michael.
Thank you and goodbye from: Alex, Charlotte, Katie, Laura, Maddie, Megan, Michael and Stanley.