I recently got back from Volunteering in Ghana for a fantastic NGO, Village by Village. They are based in a small village about 2 hours drive North of Accra called Abenta and so I stayed there. They do work with surrounding villages, of which I visited a just a few in this trip but was more than happy with my mountain view. Placed in one of the NG0’s builds I could watch the children start their school day along with the hustle and bustle of the local villagers and farm animals. The school days made possible in part with a school built by volunteers and people connected to Village by Village. This was one of the many inspiring projects they had been working on over here.
The first couple of nights took a little adjusting to get used to the humidity (being the end of rainy season), the long drop (which isn’t really that bad), the bugs (of all different shapes and sizes) and the late night alarm calls from roosters, goats and sheep! On our arrival into Base camp I could start to get a feel for the Ghanaian people. I had never seen so many genuine smiles and believe me when I say every wave felt like it a hug. I felt immediately welcome.
On our initial approach to Abenta the geology struck me with the wild red hues of the Earth on a backdrop of vivid green, very lush forest. In my ignorance I wasn’t expecting it to be so lush. I am told that during the dry season it looks quite different. I would also love to visit at this time also to see The Hermatten. This is a dry, dusty wind that blows in from the Sahara desert and creates a glowing haze and Bronze covered land. One of the staff told me his hair gets covered in red dust but it was his favourite time of year.
My role with Village by Village was as a photography/ Video maker as I was just there for 2 weeks. Something to help with sharing the message, for educational use, encouraging other volunteers and donations to continue the great work being done out here. I felt extremely welcomed by all as did the other volunteer on my trip who was here to get stuck into the very crucial building side. The days started early with us making breakfast and then going off to our various locations. I visited Abom and Akwatiakwaso on my photo shoots but actually spent most of my time in Abenta. The actual photography or video time was always brief but things did get done and I got more used to the Ghanaian pace as the days went on. This did leave some time for prep, playing with the kids, visiting a local market for food and the occasional walk. Oh and getting to know the team who really are amazing people who are the driving force behind these inspiring projects.
Every evening we would discuss our work, ideas, the community, life in Ghana with the team whilst many of the local children huddled onto Base camps landing. The kids are ever present with love and smiles sometimes a polite Good Afternoon Madame and a chorus of hello Madame Lucie! They liked to just hang out because of the light and to be able to play games, read or continue to learn. There is no electricity in the village beyond the camp so when it gets dark people normally don’t get to continue with these activities. This is actually one of the campaigns being looked at by the team who are wanting to invest in more Solar lighting to help people continue to learn and do their homework in the evening.
My fondest memories from the placement are the people, the very strong community and vibrancy of the place. Here are a small selection of images from each campaign, Abenta and surrounds.
There is a lot to be done and help is always needed to aid these wonderful communities to have better chance in life, I would suggest volunteering here to anyone, its a wonderful life enhancing experience.
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not let that stop me from doing something......." Quote from the Village by Village website.
View from Base camp, Abenta.
Early years learning programme, Abom.
Clean hands saves lives, Abenta.
Light to learn.
Cycle to success!
Base camp, where the magic happens!
Clean water saves lives
Tech to teach
Girls Football team (Female Empowerment)
Baby weigh and health check for under 5's. Done by local hero and friend of Village by Village Charles.
Village by Village team stars from left: Fiona, Aitkins & Emmanuelle, Lord Yobbo, Craig (building volunteer), Bee, Gabby, Jamie & Charles.
... Continued on Village by Village, Ghana. Part 2.