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POD Volunteer - Sarah's blog: Teaching & building in Ghana

Date added: Friday 20th November 2015

 

Sarah volunteered with Pod Volunteer in Ghana joining their teaching and building placements. You can find out more about her chosen placements here:

Teaching- https://www.podvolunteer.org/Teaching/teaching-ghana.html

Building- https://www.podvolunteer.org/Community-Development/volunteer-building-africa.html

On the teaching placements volunteers help develop the students’ confidence speaking English and inspire further learning by running after school sessions. The charity works with volunteers to promote hand washing in rural schools to increase health education and reduce preventable diseases.

Building volunteers work alongside the local team of builders and carpenters to build and renovate schools and community buildings. The team are also building school hand washing facilities to help improve the health of the community

I had the most incredible time away. It was hard in the beginning, the days are long and it's hot, there's a language barrier and the way of living is so different to what anyone is used to. You get to live in the community and everyone in the village was so happy to see you, not just the children! Once a week we got to eat with a family, eating the local cuisine and fully indulging in the culture and the local market is where you can get fresh fruit and veg which is an experience in itself.

The teaching was extremely rewarding. The language barrier is hard, the children in the village speak next to no English, so communications are difficult. With that said, the children are so eager to learn any English they can, even if it is drawing a flower for them to colour, so they learn what a 'flower' is.

There are next to no resources in the school, so you have to be prepared to learn with nothing! If you're taking our resources for the school, I would recommend colours, they absolutely love sitting and colouring!

Building is a brilliant way of spending the afternoons. The builders work incredibly hard and the transformation in what they were building over the month was amazing. I had absolutely no building experience and I was worried I was going to be thrown in the in deep end, but everyone works to show you what to do. I did things painting, plastering and digging and although it was hard work, I enjoyed it so much.

Twice a week you get a culture lesson from Master Gyampoh. He is one of the teachers and he is so interesting. You can choose what to learn about, and he'll teach you, we had lessons on culture, equality, geography, economics etc and if there is something he doesn't know, he'll learn it to teach us next time!

The people who you live with, make friends with and grow to love, have absolutely nothing. It makes you realise how much you take for granted. The children can wear the same top for 4 or 5 days in a row and play with tyres and sticks.

If you're thinking about giving it a go, you should definitely do it! The people who are in charge are amazing and so supportive and the charity has achieved so much being the village. It's been an incredible experience and the memories will stay with me for the rest of my life. I'll definitely be going back in a couple of years!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Ghana?
You wake up between 6-6.30am, and breakfast is at 7am. You start work around 8am. I was teaching, so we started by walking round the village to let all the children know you were there, as it was summer school. You taught until around 12, which consisted of colouring, phonics, simple maths and learning the alphabet/simple words. You also went outside to do things because the children lose concentration quickly. When outside, we did singing, reading, races, football and sports games or just messed around with them. You had up to an hour for lunch and after that I joined the building where I did numerous jobs. You could plaster, paint, dig, make windows etc. A typical day finished around 3/4pm though you still had to cook dinner!

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing was watching the children develop over the month. They are eager to learn so everything they can understand they remember and it was amazing what progress they made whilst I was there.

What did you find most challenging?
The diet was hard for me. By the time you've finished a typical day everyone is very tired so cooking is hard work, and all the food is similar.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
You don't need as many clothes as you think! With that being said, you still need to take long clothes! I didn't take enough long sleeve tops and I got bitten like crazy. Get involved with anything you can, it's a once in a lifetime experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It changes the way you think about things. I've come back with a whole new perspective on everything. It makes you realise how little people have though they remain cheerful. The sense of achievement you feel doing something which will make a difference to so many people is one of the best feelings ever.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
The website is welcoming and the people you talk to are encouraging and helpful

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends?
Yes”