Volunteer in Ghana
What to Know Before Volunteering in Ghana
Ghana is a country in West Africa, located on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Although it is quite small in area and population, Ghana is one of the pioneering countries in Africa, partly because of its considerable natural wealth, great tourist attraction and also being the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence from colonial rule.
For a fun fact, Ghana is practically in the center of the world, incredibly close to the equator and on the line that represents longitude 0 ° .
Volunteering abroad especially in a challenging environment like Ghana, is an experience that you will proudly remember. It will provide a better understanding of true compassion for humanity. With volunteers in Ghana from all walks of life, this is often an opportunity to make new and lasting ties.
Many people choose to combine their travel with humanitarian work and there are countless opportunities to do this in Ghana.
Volunteer projects in Ghana are widespread in the country and usually include works in orphanages, clinics and hospitals, as well as primary and secondary schools.
With education and health being a sensitive issue in the country, most volunteers usually channel their energy into these sectors.
Ghana is a multilingual country and of these, English is the official language used in Ghana. It was inherited by Ghanaians through their British colonial masters. English is also one of the subjects taken by students in the country from basic school to the university level. However, English spoken by the locals is not as fluent as a native speaker’s English. Pidgin English is what is spoken by most of the natives. It is not difficult to comprehend what they say in Pidgin if you speak English as well. The local Ghanaian may say, “What is your name?” as “ What be your name?” which I’m guessing was easy for you to understand. In a nutshell, Language would not be that of a barrier for English speaking volunteers.
Ghana’s climate is generally hot with an average of 31 degrees Celsius during the day and 25 degree Celsius at night. Due to the African monsoon, Ghana has dry season during winter and a rainy season during summer. The rainy season in the northern part of the country lasts from May to September, the rainy season in the central part of the country is from April to October, and the rainy season in the southern part is also from April to November. On the other hand, along the east coast, the rainy season is short, lasting from April to June, breaking in July and August, and recovering slightly in September and October.
The Ghanaian currency is the Cedi with the symbol GH₵. It is the fourth in History and the only legal mode of tender in the country. Sadly, within the past few years the country has witness depreciation of the Cedi against the dollar. The dollar is now five times stronger than the Cedi. Which is somehow sort of great news to people who come into the country with the dollar.
Moreover, online payment system and cashless payments have grown in the country over the past few years. With your worldwide accepted visa card or Mastercard, you can walk into any modern shop in Ghana and get yourself some groceries.
If you are the physical cash type, there are a number of banks around willing to exchange your dollar for Cedi at a fixed rate.
Timings and weekends
Ghana is on GMT +0 which makes us have time closer to that of London. Hence on weekends, the English Premier League is live on every television in any household, bar or even restaurant.
Since a larger population of the country are Christians, Sundays are for going to church. You would usually hear all sorts of music from all corners. It really is annoying if you are not used to but I bet you would love to experience how a Ghanaian church functions on Sundays
The police here is not as effective as it is in the western world because of our slums.
Hence you need to take certain measures to ensure your safety.
These include walking in groups, keeping valuables in places you can only reach,beware of pick-pocketing, and also avoid smoking in public places as it is not openly accepted.
Malaria is also quite prevalent in Ghana so try as much to get to repellents and medications.
Ghana has three main religious groups. These include Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. These religious group are pluralistic and hence have several divisions and denominations.
Christianity is the most dominant religion followed by Islam.
Though the African Traditional group is the smallest amongst them it is also quite active.
These religious groups although different, practice religious tolerance for each other and hence coexist peacefully. A good number of inter-religious marriages are being witnessed here every now and then. So with that being said, it is common to have the different group co-existing in many homes across Ghana.
There are certain foods that one cannot afford to miss when you come to Ghana. Most of these foods though local, have a touch of the western world when it comes to the ingredients used. The most popular places to get these delicious meals are the local food joints popularly known “chop bars”. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, you can choose to go to the restaurants also. Frankly speaking I would say that most of the local joints have mouthwatering delicacies which you would love to taste.
There’s a meal which usually comes up as a topic of debate on social media. A lot of people compare it to that of the other African nations. It always happens that Ghana emerges the winner of this never ending debate . I am talking about Jollof Rice. Jollof rice is made from a mixture of tomato stew with rice and tastes best when eaten with fried plantain and chicken. Aside this, there are many delicious dishes that most tourist love to eat anytime they visit the country. A dish worth mentioning is Banku, made from corn dough with grilled Tilapia.
A little piece of advice, wear what you feel like but make sure it is decent.
The Ghanaian society upholds to strict rules of decency. Indecent dressing is a very sensitive topic in the country. Try to wear a dress which will not show your private parts or you will have the whole community staring at you.
The most common means of transport in the country is the bus, locally known as “trotro”. This transport system takes about fifteen to twenty people to one destination in a trip. I will recommend this if you would love to have interactions with some Ghanaians and also it is worth the experience. Also, Uber and Bolt work legally in the country and it is very easy to get a ride if you are in the capital city, Accra, where they have a lot around.
The health-care system in the country is not well developed especially in the rural areas due to poor infrastructure. This is what drives volunteers to invest more in this sector. Nonetheless, good health care is assured since the medical staff in the country are well trained.
I would personally recommend the privately owned hospitals because they have relatively better infrastructure which costs slightly higher but worth it.
Key Phrases to know
The Ghanaian community loves to hear other natives speak their indigenous language. It would not hurt to learn a few phrases. I’ll list the most common phrases below in the most spoken local language, Twi.
Wo ho tse sen?- How are you
Me ho y3- I am fine
Medaase- Thank you
In summary, Ghana should be on your checklist if you have any plans of travelling or volunteering in a country abroad. With very grateful citizens, the country will always be indebted to you and sing praises to your name always. There is a lot of tourists attraction to explore here too.
It is easy to find accommodation in Ghana. With very little money involved, you will find a luxurious place to rest your head after a hard day’s work. There are numerous hotels and guest room with reasonable discount for visitors who have plans of staying in the country for a relatively longer period.