10 Things to Know Before Volunteering in Ghana
Ghana might not be the first country you think about when looking to go and give service in Africa, but this country will leave a big impression on you. If the idea of going to do charity work in Ghana appeals to you we have put together some useful points which provides more information about this destination and things to know before applying.
Please note all Ghana volunteer programs are different and each organisation/project will have different options available.
10 Common Questions About Volunteering in Ghana Answered:
1. Is Ghana a good country to volunteer?
When looking to volunteer in Africa a lot of people choose to go to more well known countries, for example volunteer in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana or Namibia but don't discount Ghana. You will get a really authentic experience and also meet other participants from all over the world. There are short and long term volunteering programs open all year round, perfect if you would like to take a short holiday or gap year in Africa.
Expect the people and culture to be vibrant! Prepare yourself for African drumming and dancing as you will have the opportunity to experience the true culture of Ghanaian Dancing. There are a large number of western-style pubs and clubs and if you fancy a football experience to remember, then prepare yourself for watching Hearts of Oak at the National Stadium where the locals wave flags, blow the famous Vuvuzela's and dance on the roofs of the terraces! There are also amazing beaches.
2. What can I do?
There are so many different projects available to join from community development, helping animals, volunteering at orphanages working with people, coaching sports or teaching just to name a few. There are also various internships in Ghana where you can gain work experience in areas like healthcare, journalism and media.
3. Are people friendly?
Yes! People in Ghana will greet you with smiles and warmth, they are among some of the friendliest people on the continent!
4. I’ve heard Ghanaians are strong Christians. Will it be a problem if I am not Christian?
In Ghana, like in many West African nations, you will notice a strong Christian presence. It tends to be more overt in Ghana with local businesses being named after all things holy. For example, you’ll see the “Jesus Loves You FOREX,” “Redemption Restaurant,” or “God is Good Hotel” in many towns and cities. Don’t be overwhelmed though. It is a unique expression of faith, and Ghanaians are tolerant of other religions and cultures. Curious people may ask you about your spiritual beliefs or lack thereof, but there is no ill intention. There is mutual respect of personal beliefs between volunteers and local people. All are welcome.
5. What part of Ghana will I be living in?
Most projects re in Accra one of the busiest cities in Africa. With its congested pavements, baking hot streets it can be hard work. But the festivals will make up for it. Residential areas vary from crowded shanty-towns to leafy suburbs. There are plenty of bars and gourmet restaurants as well as a local hip music scene for you to enjoy. This city does not fail to impress and surprise its visitors. You could also be placed anywhere in the country.
6. How are home-stay families chosen?
Most organisations work with local home-stay families who are trusted. These are relationships that we have built over time. The families are committed to providing a welcoming home, integrating you into their lives, and taking care of your safety. The families are middle class with at least one member usually being an early career professional. Many have young children. You will either have a room to yourself or share with one other volunteer. Internet cafes and markets are within walking distance.
7. How far is it from my house to where I will volunteer?
The location of your home-stay will determine the length of time it takes to reach your project site. It can take five to fifteen minutes to walk, or up to fifteen minutes using local transport depending on where you are based and what you will be doing.
8. What is the local food like?
Favourites in Ghana include beef or sausage kabobs, fried plantain with ginger and peanuts, fried plantain with beans and red palm oil, fried rice, jolif rice which prepared with a tomato and palm nut sauce that makes the rice red (served with salad, egg, chicken or beef). Wakye (pronounced Wa-chi) is another favourite and is an unusual mixed bag of rice and beans, with added extras such as spaghetti, whole boiled eggs and hot pepper. The common ingredient in all Ghanaian dishes is hot pepper that makes everything spicy hot so beware!
9. How can I get around the country?
Taxis and tro-tros (mini buses for 15 people) are everywhere. We recommend taking the tro-tro as these are by the most efficient and cheapest way to get around.
10. Will I get time to travel?
Yes you will, most organisations provide Ghana tours and activities in your program. You will usually get nights and weekends free to travel. If you are looking to explore more of the continent check out Africa tours there are so many available where you can see multiple countries.