In association with African Adventures, over October half term a team of volunteers went out to Woe, Ghana for to help out within schools and local communities. For many this was the experience of a lifetime – Read what Molly Huxley had to say about her experience here.
As one of twenty-one young people flying 4,730 miles, I had the same aim as everyone else: to try and contribute my small bit of change to Woe, Ghana.
Leaving on the 25th October at 11pm, with suitcases packed and a mixture excitement and nerves. We arrived at the airport not really knowing what to expect, but nothing could have prepared us for the trip of a lifetime or, I hope, the first trip of many like it in our lifetimes.
As soon as we landed in Accra, we weren’t just hit by the heat but the fact that the culture that we were about to be immersed in couldn’t have been more different to home – or so we thought.
We left arrivals and met our African Adventures team who brought us water: a Ghanaian gesture of welcoming and peace. Along with our water we received a warm hello and we helped load our suitcases onto our ‘little yellow’ bus. We were on the bus for about an hour when we arrived at our first stop. We stayed for the first night in a hotel and got an early night before leaving for Woe as we had a four-hour journey to the village the following day.
That journey was our first taste of what Ghana was all about.
I saw women with numerous things piled on top of their heads, children as young as four running and waving at us in the bus and an array of music along the way but it wasn’t until we arrived at the Volunteer House that I really began to understand how remarkable our time in Ghana would be.
My nerves lifted the moment we met the girls football team as they welcomed us onto their street and they helped us carry our suit cases (again on their heads). We got into our rooms where we found bunk beds and mosquito nets which really made us realise how far we were from home. We had an induction from one of our leaders Noah; he went through our itinerary for the week and we were all overwhelmed with excitement for the week and three days ahead.
After a good night sleep and a little bit of adjustment to sleeping inside our mosquito nets, we had breakfast which, every morning, was a mix of fresh fruit, plantain and omelettes. We spent Sunday morning at the church and we were all amazed by the sense of community and, even more so, by the way the people of Woe made us welcome there. Singing, dancing and jovial praises left us feeling a part of the village even if it was only for 10 days. How welcome we all felt really was what I will remember from the trip along with how accepting people were there which made it feel like, although we were far from home, that this was a home from home.
We visited the beach later that day as we were having some down time before starting at the schools and we were mind blown by the views – and the size of the waves. Ghana really is such a beautiful country, and like no other that I’ve visited before. It’s lusciously green and hot, and it really was a feast for the senses. Woe had so much to see, smell and hear.
Monday morning brought back some nerves that similar to that first day of school feeling. Probably because that was exactly what we were doing! We got back on the bus and left the volunteer centre, splitting into seperate groups to head to our two schools: Tegbi and Little Roses. I was at Tegbi and our group were introduced to the head teacher and the volunteer coordinator Eric. We walked round the yard and were amazed by the children clearing up the yard after the storm the night before and that really resonated with us the respect and commitment the students had for their school. We spent the whole week being reminded of that.
The students all worked hard and the students really immersed themselves in every lesson; from ICT where we typed outside on the keyboards without a monitor, to maths lessons with simple chalk and chalkboard. Without a calculator or interactive whiteboard, the lessons were fundamentally just like ours.
It really put everything into perspective being at the school and some moments have really stuck with me. The main one being when that we were told that 80% of the students didn’t have enough money for lunch, and that most of them would have been up very early helping their fathers’ to fish or their mothers at the market.
We were incredibly lucky to be in Woe during their festival week! We got to experience Ghanaian music, traditional dress and dance first hand.
Being back in England I am left feeling so proud of myself and the whole team from Shrewsbury Town in the Community for raising the money and travelling across continents to help make a difference. I have a strong determination to go back already and to continue helping the village. I know we have only scratched the surface in terms of change and helping the community and over time great things can be achieved.
The trip didn’t end when we boarded the plane home as we have all brought a piece of Ghana back with us through our experiences. We learnt that you should take nothing for granted, from college to clean water and we must use what we have to help others. We hope that we are the first of many volunteers from Shrewsbury Town in the Community to go out to Ghana and, just as we took a piece of Ghana with us to hold onto for a lifetime, we hope that Woe will always hold Shrewsbury Town close to their hearts too.