From Carolien Vermeiren, Jeanne Strijbosch and Lien Jaminon (Belgium / The Netherlands)
Before I arrived in Ghana, I already had contact with Dorien Verdonck, a Belgium volunteer who was already in Ghana for 4 months. I knew that I was going to stay in the same hostfamily. My arrival was very pleasant, because Dorien could show me around and mama Becky was a very lovely lady. She took very good care of me and all her other children. The man of the house is her son Michael, because their father died two years ago. Michael is very good in his father’s role, even though he is only a few years older than me. I have also a hostsister, Lamisi, but because she studies in Wa, I didn’t get the opportunity to see her often. When I came back from travelling, it was always like coming home to me. I really started loving these people!!!
Jeanne Strijbosch and Lien Jaminon:
We have a big hostfamily, but they are all very nice people. With mama Hindu, her husband and the 5 children it is always very busy in the house. Mama Hindu owns a little school in front of the house, which makes it even more crowded, but even more cosy! Less nice was that the family waked up very early in the morning, so that we also waked up to soon. We were very impressed of the way of cooking of mama Hindu, because it was every time very delicious, where we are very thankful for. We liked to play ‘Jungle Speed’ with our little brother and sister, which they also enjoyed. The previous volunteer that stayed with them, taught our little sister some Dutch songs. We sang a lot with her and also learned her some new songs. We are glad that we have met these people and could stay with them for 3 months. We will miss them a lot when we are back home.
Tamale Teaching Hospital/Communities/Children’s rehabilitation centre:
Our work in the hospital was fine, we had a lot of modern equipments available for us. Only the supervision was not like we expected. This is not the fault of our supervisor, because he is the only educated physiotherapist present, so he had very little time left for us. Although he was very thankful for our help. We tried to treat the patients as good as possible with our available knowledge. There were a lot of non-educated assistants, we tried to explain some physiotherapeutic basics to them. But we were not successful, because there was a lot of rotation of staff and most of them where not interested. Never the less, we got satisfaction out of the fact that we saw progress in our patients during our stay. We stayed for a few days in different communities for an assignment outside of work. We really liked it over there. It was nice to experience this pure way of living. They were also very hospitable and thankful for our visit. In the last few weeks of our stay we also started working in the children’s rehabilitation centre. This was a project of a physiotherapist from The Netherlands. She was looking for follow up after she had to leave. We really enjoyed working with these young people and it gave us some variety in work.
The people in Ghana are very kind and hospitable. Only they assume that white people are all rich and they are not shy to ask for money or marriage. Everybody says ‘Hello’ to you on the street, especially the small children, which is nice, but gets annoying after a while. Because we were off work at the weekends, we had the opportunity to travel small. We visited the beautiful Kintampo Waterfalls, the impressive elephants in Mole National Park, the stunning views at Tongo Hills, the sad history of the Pikworo Slaves Camp and the scary, hungry crocodiles in Paga with our volunteer friends. We will always keep these memories in our mind.
We were glad to meet with Fidelis and Anke from the organisation before we went to Ghana. They explained us a lot about life in Ghana, so we could prepare ourselves very well for our travel. When we arrived in Accra, unfortunately Abu missed us at the airport but everything went good very quickly and he took very good care of us in the hotel. The next day he showed us around in Accra, helped us changing money, buying local mobile phonecards, arranged tickets for the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations and putted us safely on the bus to Tamale. Our first experience with the staff of the organisation in tamale, was unfortunately not as expected. They brought us to our hostfamilies, without any information for the following days. Before we knew, we already jumped the protocol without getting introduced to it. Because of the protocol we had a lot f problems/discussions with the staff. It was never well explained to us and when we did something wrong in protocol the staff get angry very easily with us. If they want to continue working with European volunteers, they should introduce them properly to the protocol. When the volunteer does something wrong, the staff just have to point out their problem, without getting angry right away. The staff should try to be more open for new ideas coming from the volunteers and try to see it sometimes from the European point of view. We hope that collaboration between Revsodep and our school will only improve in the future.
We are glad that we came to Ghana and go home with a lot of positive experiences!!!