Why I Believe Everyone Should Visit Ghana
15. The view from Cape Coast Castle 16. The local children of Andomoa
17. The hundreds of boats that lined the shores of Cape Coast 18. A relaxing boat ride on Lake Volta
I’ve gone back and forth about doing a blog post about my trip to Ghana for sometime now. The fact is, it was a very special experience for me and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share it with anyone. As cliched as it sounds, I learnt a lot about myself on that trip and developed friendships I know will last a lifetime! But I’ve decided to share my experience in a hope that I will inspire at least one other person to visit Ghana. So here it goes…
Ghana is a unlike any other country I have visited before, in both the landscape and the cultural norms. I landed in Accra, the capital of Ghana, quite late at night and had a 3 hours journey inland to the village that I was going to be volunteer teaching at, so as it was dark, I didn’t see much of the capital that day. However, I passed through the city several times on the way to other parts of Ghana later on. Although Accra can look quite dry, countryside Ghana is very lush and green, especially as I was visiting during the rainy season (I was there during August).
The small little town that I was teaching, and staying, in was called Adoumoa. The town is so small it doesn’t even show up on google maps! The town close by that we would travel to for supplies was called Mpraeso. This area was my home for two weeks! I got the idea from the organization I was traveling with, Original Volunteers, to perhaps play to my strengths as a music teacher, and bring some recorders from home (yes, the instrument you most probably learnt to play in primary school) and teach the local school children how to play. I was a little skeptical at first… Ghana has its own unique traditional music and vibe, and I didn’t want to be ‘that’ person that brought over little recorders and imposed it on them.
But the kids loved it. The school I was teaching at was split up into three classes depending on age: the 5-7 year old children, 8-9 year old children and 10-12 year old children. It’s important to note that most children in regional Ghana don’t go to school much past the age of 12. I decided to teach the older children how to play the recorder… and they really took to it! Most were so excited, seeing as they had never seen anything like it before, that they were just happy to blow into the thing regardless of the high ‘shrill’ sound that would come out of it if they didn’t press any of the holes correctly.
Since it was summer break for the children, we would teach from roughly 8.30am until about 1pm and then go back to the house for lunch and afternoon activities. Teaching wasn’t the only work you could do whilst on the trip, there was also the opportunity to help build the new school, open up the local library and read to children, or if you were or a nurse or doctor, go to the hospital and help there.
On the weekends, we would travel to different parts of Ghana. The first weekend, a group of about 10 of us volunteers went to Cape Coast. Cape Coast is a city, as well as a fishing port, and is situated along the coastline in Ghana. There are a few notable attractions there including Cape Coast Castle, which was a slave castle and is open to tours (be prepared as the history of Cape Coast Castle is extremely shocking and sad), and Kakum National Park, which you can take a tree top walk through. On the second weekend, we went to the seaside town of Kokrobite, which was pretty much a relaxing few days spent on the beach! I was leaving a few days after this weekend trip, so it was the perfect way to unwind before making my way back to London.
So why do I believe you should visit Ghana? Well I learnt some pretty amazing lessons. There were the obvious things you learn from being in a third world country such as appreciating water, food and basic sanitation but there was also the fact that the Ghanaians are very friendly people, and a huge importance is placed on family. I know most people will say they know how important family is for their well-being, however I feel Ghanaians truly know how to appreciate and take care of their family.
As well as this, the landscape of Ghana is stunning, and allows you to really relax and think. The amazing sunlight just before sunset is spectacular, especially as you watch it set over Lake Volta. Walking through the lush forest surrounding our tiny village was also really breathtaking. As well as this, there were the moments I had there that were truly Ghanaian, such as dancing on the street at night with the village children and grabbing a late night omelette (yes, you read correctly) on the way home!
Everyone creates unique memories for themselves whilst traveling, and each trip you take helps you discover a bit more about yourself and life… this specific trip to Ghana was no exception. So if you can, make a trip and volunteer there. Guarantee you won’t regret it.