Ghana | School Volunteer | Kate

Kate, an 18-year-old from the United Kingdom, volunteered in Ghana for 3 months, splitting her time between teaching and playing football with students. For three days a week, she taught English, Maths, and Science using textbooks since she had no prior teaching experience. On the remaining two days, she played football with the same students as a reward for attending homework sessions. Initially, the kids were challenging, but she quickly adapted. Despite finding it tough to play football in the heat, she cherished the experience, especially seeing the girls’ enthusiasm. Building relationships with the students was deeply rewarding. Adapting to a new culture, Kate enjoyed exploring the rich history, local hangout spots, and beautiful beaches near Cape Coast.

“At first, the kids were a handful, but I quickly got used to it. Playing football in the heat was tough, but seeing the girls get just as into it as the boys made it all worth it.”

Motivation to Volunteer

Kate’s volunteering placement in Ghana was recommended by a family friend. She sought an experience different from typical tourist activities, preferring to immerse herself in a new culture and live with a host family to understand everyday life in a foreign country.

“I wanted more than just a beach holiday in Thailand. Living with a host family in Ghana allowed me to truly understand the culture and how people live.”

Cultural Insights into Ghana

Initially, Kate found Ghanaian culture overwhelming. Being one of the few white people in town, she received considerable attention, including four marriage proposals. People often called her “obroni,” meaning “white person.” The cultural and language differences posed challenges, but she eventually formed connections. Ghana’s strong religious culture fascinated Kate, and she enjoyed attending church with her host family, participating in the singing and dancing.

“Ghana’s culture was overwhelming at first, especially being called ‘obroni’ frequently, but attending church and connecting with the people made it an enriching experience.”

Food and Accommodation

Kate lived with a host family, which was both challenging and rewarding. The language barrier and cultural differences took time to navigate. She had two younger host brothers, adding to the lively environment. Living on a school campus, where her host dad was a teacher, provided a safe and engaging community. Despite occasional cockroaches and power cuts, Kate felt comfortable. The food, including traditional meals like “fufu” and “banku,” was a significant adjustment. Eating with hands was surprising, but she eventually found balance, occasionally indulging in familiar Western snacks from town.

“Living with a host family in Ghana was challenging but incredibly rewarding. It took time to adjust to the food and customs, but the lively community made it worthwhile.”

Experience with NVW

Kate felt well-supported by New Ventures Worldwide (NVW) throughout her placement. She was well-briefed about her role and what to expect in Ghana. While nothing could fully prepare her, the Ghana Programme Manager, Kweku, was always available to assist. Her host family also provided significant support.

“New Ventures Worldwide made sure I knew what to expect and were there for me whenever I needed help, making the transition smoother.”

Personal Growth and Future Aspirations

Kate experienced numerous positive outcomes from her volunteering stint. She developed a greater appreciation for working with kids and became more adept at handling the heat. Her people skills improved, and she became less shy. The experience broadened her understanding of the world, made her more empathetic towards immigrants, and deepened her appreciation for her UK friends and family. Kate is now more inclined to volunteer again and has a clearer sense of her professional values and ethics.

“Volunteering in Ghana has made me more empathetic, improved my people skills, and deepened my appreciation for the little things in life.”

Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

Kate advises aspiring volunteers that while volunteering in Ghana is challenging, it is immensely rewarding. She emphasises perseverance, as it takes time to settle in, and the lasting positive impact becomes clearer in hindsight. Making an effort to connect with locals and other travellers leads to the best experiences.

“Volunteering in Ghana was challenging but totally worth it. Persevere, and make an effort with people—it leads to the best experiences and lasting memories.”