Volunteering in Ghana
Being a volunteer in Ghana is a unique opportunity to experience the West African country and its culture.
Volunteering in Ghana
EXIS organizes volunteer work stays in Ghana. Your stay begins with airport pick-up in Accra, where you will spend one night and get a short orientation. Afterwards you will be taken to your workplace, and begin volunteering. Volunteering is a unique way to discover a country, its culture and people while doing a meaningful job. You must be at least 18 years old, independent, outgoing and genuinely interested in volunteering. volunteering.
Food and accommodation
Accommodation during voluntary work depends on your project. Most volunteers will stay with a host family in a single room. Usually families have more than one volunteer living at their house. Social interaction with the family members is restricted and you probably will eat with the other volunteers. At least one family member speaks English. If you work in an orphanage you might stay at the orphanage. You will get 3 meals a day throughout the program.
Don’t expect luxury.
The Projects in Ghana
Below is a description of volunteer projects or internships available in Ghana. Please note that minimum age is 18. Parents and children can be accepted at some projects.
Program and start dates
Start dates are the first and third Monday of every month. Arrival and pick-up is from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, on Sundays prior to start dates. As most European flights land during the afternoon and road conditions are poor, most volunteers stay one night at a hostel in Accra, before they are driven to Kpando. This overnight stay will be organized for you and is included in the program fee.
This is an international program with volunteers from several different countries. Most work places are in the Kpando district. Kpando town is the center of Kpando district, in the Volta Region of Ghana. About 70,000 people reside in the district and are mostly Ewe speaking nationals. Formore information see: Kpando district. The people in this area mostly farm, fish or work in the kaolin mining industry. The area is also known for its pottery making and woodcarving. The vegetation in the area is partly savannah woodland and forest, with famous rivers like the Volta and the Dayi.
The main crops grown here are vegetables, rice, maize, yams and cassava. Both the social and the road network infrastructure are well developed throughout the district. The district also has the world-renowned Margaret Marquart Catholic Hospital and two other large hospitals.
Ho is the capital of the Volta Region. Unlike the capital Accra, Ho seems like a village that has swollen into a city. Ho is noted for a lively and huge open market that attracts people from all over Ghana and Togo. Ziavi is a small town close to Ho. There are several tourist attractions in the area with the Volta Lake and its scattered beautiful islands providing good sightseeing activities. There are grottos (Blues of Urs Grotto at Kpando Aziave and Lady of Lourdes Grotto at Kpando Agbenohoe), the Wli Waterfalls, and a Monkey Sanctuary.
The project aims to provide an opportunity for needy children and orphans to live and learn under one roof until they are adopted or integrated in the community or placed with family members, who can take better care of them. Due to extreme poverty, neglect and abuse, many children in Ghana are forced to leave their homes to live on the streets or forced into child labor and trafficking. The society also looks down upon them and they mostly live under bad conditions. Volunteer’s role in an orphanage depends on the need of the home as well as the skills and interests of the volunteer. However, volunteers will be involved in the following tasks:
- Develop creative activities such as dance, arts, music, etc.
- Clean, cook and serve food
- Organize physical and sports activities
- Assist the staff in counseling the children
- Supervising day-to-day activities of the children at the orphanage (e.g., sweeping, bathing, washing, feeding in the morning afternoon and evening.)
- Assisting in keeping the children’s rooms clean, planning extracurricular activities, physical education, music and culture, indoor and outdoor games, morning and evening studies, organizing beach and farm trips, excursions, etc.
- Helping prepare teaching and learning materials for the pre-school
Volunteers must have love and patience for children and be very creative.
Your task will be:
- Wake children in the morning and be sure they bathe
- Help with breakfast before sending them off to school
- Help with homework
- Help to rehabilitate the physically disabled people and reintegrate them back to their families
- Provide counseling services to street children
In Kpando there is an orphanage for children with AIDS, currently caring for 26 children, from 1 to 18 years of age. A lot of the children have lost a parent or other family member due to AIDS. Some of the children are HIV positive. The home provides a good base and the children’s health and physical and mental development are closely monitored.
The orphanage furthermore sponsors over 30 children in the surrounding communities. The amount of support depends on each child’s needs. The children receive funding for school, food and medical care. Many children come and spend holidays or weekends at the home.
Short time rehabilitation is offered to severely ill children who are referred by the medical staff at Margaret Marquart Hospital. See also volunteer possibilities under Hospitals.
The home also offers HIV/AIDS and hygiene education to local communities and schools.
Volunteer tasks can be:
- Tutoring and playing with the children
- Visiting and tutoring sponsored children
- Teaching and tutoring in local schools
- Assisting the doctors and nurses at the local hospital or clinic
- Health education, where volunteers work together with some of the older children in the home to spread knowledge both in English and in their local languages
- Working in the community on health education or on other community development projects
Although there is a curriculum in place in every school, the daily routine differs from day to day. This depends on the availability of teachers and materials and other influencing circumstances like the weather. You can teach in both regular school and special schools. Each intern and/or volunteer can be assigned to any of the schools, depending on wishes and skills.
The demand for English is growing rapidly in developing countries and Ghana is no exception. English is the gateway to good jobs and the younger generation is eager to learn to speak good English.
Although Ghana is an English speaking country, many school children cannot communicate in English. This is why there is a great need to recruit and place volunteers in communities that lack teachers who are up to the task. The project seeks to stimulate school children’s interest and curiosity so they will want to study and speak proper English and at the same time offer our foreign volunteers a unique opportunity to learn and experience the Ghanaian culture.
This project helps the primary and junior secondary class children between the age of 5-10 and 11-16 to learn English and also get education on math and science. Volunteers will be provided teaching resources to aid their work at the school. Usually you will teach about 18 hours of conversational English lessons per week. You will also need to take time to prepare your lessons and correct your students work. Many volunteers choose to help out in other areas too, helping students with extra-curricular activities like sports, drama or music lessons for example. Arrangement can be made for you to teach in a pre-school if that is your preference. Volunteers must be able to speak English or have at least High School Diploma.
Examples of teaching are English, math, health and hygiene and computer technology. It is important though to have affinity with education, especially in case of assignment to special education. It is also important to have a high school diploma in English and have good knowledge of the subject that you will be teaching.
Teaching is based on the syllabus of the Ghana Education Service and this will be made available to all volunteers after an orientation.
Teaching placements are not available during school holidays, so if you plan to participate in a teaching placement, please take the school term dates into account when planning the timing of your project.
Dates for the school terms (semesters) are:
1st Term approx. mid September to just before Christmas
2nd Term approx early January to beginning of April
3rd Term Beginning of May to late July
Volunteers do not need to have specific qualifications, but you should have a good knowledge of the subject you want to teach. Self-reliance, independence and initiative are highly appreciated and a sense of humour when the electricity fails or buses don’t turn up will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!
Teaching at Pre-schools. Nurseries and kindergartens is also possible.
The Community Inclusive Special School in Kpando aims to provide a better future for children with a disability. The school was founded in 1993. The founder has a son with a disability and is a witness of the exclusion of people with disabilities in Ghana. He started the school to promote inclusion and the right for all children to have access to education. The school was run privately for five years, until finally the Ghanaian Education Service realized the validity and importance of the school, and registered it into the public system in 2000. In 2008 the school was placed under Government Subvention whereby Feeding Administration and Service grants have been extended to the school.
The students are 6 to 30 years old and have different disabilities. There are students with autism, Down syndrome and learning disabilities. The school staff consists of six certified teachers, a director, a secretary, two kitchen staff members and a concierge. The school compound lies on the top of a hill, between farming land. There are three classes in the school that slightly differ in academic level. There is a large focus on vocational skills. The goal of the school is for each student to graduate with a skill that can help them generate their own income, allowing them to lead independent and healthy lives.
Volta School for the Deaf
The school was started in 1971 and resides in Hohoe. Primarily the school was hosting both students with a hearing impairment and students with learning disabilities, even though the main form of communication was sign language. Instead of using speech, the students with learning disabilities also started to use sign language. Since 2006 the students have been separated into two groups, each in their own building, with their own specialized education.
There are students with various degrees of hearing at the Volta School for the Deaf.
There are students with various degrees of hearing at the Volta School for the Deaf. Some students hear minimally, but not enough to produce speech. Some students were born deaf; others became deaf during their childhood.
The school is a boarding institution and currently houses about 270 students. There are about 30 teachers. Each teacher is trained in a certain subject. The children write the same exams as students in regular education. The classes go from kindergarten, to primary school, to junior high school, to vocational training. The vocational department teaches weaving, sewing, carpentry and tie and dye.
Volunteers with nursing skills and education can choose to work at the Margaret Marquart Hospital or St. Patrick’s Health Clinic, depending on their qualifications.
Volunteers are supervised and work closely with their Ghanaian colleagues at both placements. Volunteer placements are open to volunteers who are still in medical school, as well as certified medical personnel.
Margaret Marquart Hospitalet
Margaret Marquart Hospital is the largest hospital in Kpando and is used as a primary care facility for not only the town of Kpando but many of the surrounding villages as well.
Marquart hospital is staffed by trained nurses and doctors and it handles both primary care and surgery. “Marquart”, as it is called by the locals, has 5 departments that always need volunteers to come make a difference: eye clinic, children’s ward, laboratory department, surgical department, medical department, pharmaceutical department and counseling department.
St. Patrick hospital
St. Patrick’s is the second largest hospital in Kpando and also services the region, providing primary care as well as surgical care. This hospital provides medical services to people from the fishing communities along the Volta Lake. There is a small maternity ward, outpatient department, medical and surgical ward and an eye clinic is under construction.
The level of medical qualification of the volunteer plays a key part in determining what duties the volunteer can assist with in the hospital.
Kpando Health Center
The Kpando Health Center is a governmental clinic which provides general outpatient care, inpatient delivery care and community health education. The centre is about forty years old and is located at the Municipality Assembly of the Kpando Municipality, where the Ghana Health Service is represented with the Municipality’s health care management, a nutrition unit, a disease control unit, a public health unit and statistics unit. The health centre consists of several buildings with an outpatient department, a child welfare clinic, a psychiatric unit, a public health unit and a laboratory. A surgical room for caesareans is in construction.
A volunteer or intern will get the opportunity to observe and shadow the nurses and doctors at the outpatient department. It is also possible to observe and assist at the public health unit. The actual role in the health centre depends on qualifications. A student will mainly observe and assist. A qualified medical professional, will be given more tasks and responsibilities. He or she might be asked to organize training for the staff members of the hospital to share knowledge and experience.
Our health outreach projects range from home visits to community members to doing mass community testing on hypertension and diabetes. All year round we run a wound care outreach project in which volunteers visit patients with chronic ulcers six days a week to provide basic wound care, basic wound care education and basic psychological support. We can also organize home visits to patients who need physical therapy in order to provide them with the necessary tools and exercise plan.
One of the outcomes of our disability research showed that there is a need for empowerment groups for people living with a disability. Handicapped people feel excluded from society and feel that they don’t have a voice when it comes to community decisions. By setting up empowerment groups with the help of local churches, we aim to empower handicapped people and help them voicing out their opinions and concerns. Working on this project means visiting the empowerment group meetings to report on their activities, needs and questions.
In October 2012 we started to provide outreach wound care to several patients with chronic ulcers. Qualified health workers (volunteers, or interns) visited the patients six days a week to provide basic wound care, basic wound care education and basic psychological support. The wound care will be continued and if possible expanded to other communities. A start will be made to implement the recommendations of the disability research. These will mainly focus on providing people living with a disability with the information they need in order to improve their quality of life.
School Painting and Construction Program
We are looking for volunteers to paint and renovate some of the supported local schools located at Ziavi and Ho. Volunteers will engage in construction activities such as digging, mixing sand and cement, carrying bricks, sand, fetching water and painting school buildings. They will be led and work together with local skilled people who will be providing free labor for the improvement of their communities.
Some of the most important work that needs to be done in developing communities is setting up basic infrastructure. Helping communities through building lays a foundation that will allow locals to continue with your efforts even after your volunteer work abroad has ended. Volunteers will also draw educative objects on school walls.
Volunteers must be strong and healthy.
Computer and Internet Training
We have an I.T Center which is located at Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana. The training facility currently has about twenty-one computers including desktop and laptops. Volunteers are needed to help teach very basic computer programs like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, MS PowerPoint and internet training.
Volunteers taking part in our computer literacy project are required to spend some of their time making sure that the local teachers know how to use computers. If not they share their own knowledge with them and in this way the project can sustain itself when there are no volunteers around. Volunteers teach a variety of practical computer skills ranging from how to turn a computer on and off, to explaining software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint and demonstrating how to use the Internet for research and communication.
Other practical work includes helping students during activities, as well as creating learning materials, worksheets and a student database system.
IT training to laboratory technicians
If you have good knowledge of IT and Excel based programs, you can participate in this project, that aims to help the local health care facilities with digitalizing the patient registration in the laboratories.
Observations showed that the pressure on the laboratories could be significantly reduced by digitalizing the patient registration system, as this will improve the effectiveness.
A training program for laboratory technicians in using an Excel-based patient registration system was started in 2013. At least two staff members of each laboratory have to be educated to become a trainer for the other technicians. Together with them a good patient registration system will be set up, after which other staff members will be trained in using the system.
The health education project involves Junior High School students, their peers and their teachers. A health drama club was started consisting of young people who have finished JHS, but are not yet enrolled in Senior High School. This drama club provides performances on different health topics at schools and in communities throughout the Kpando Municipality. Staff members, interns and volunteers guide the group and teach them about the different health topics. The group consists of some Junior High School students. Based on the lessons they have received they have designed drama performances on the health topic.
Classes in topics like malaria, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, nutrition/physical education, oral hygiene, personal hygiene and environmental hygiene are also arranged. Brochures with health education have been sponsored by EXIS and are widely used in the area.
C.P.R. and first aid classes are also being held for health care facilities and other interested organizations, or individuals.
Volunteers or interns that are certified CPR instructors can teach these very popular classes. A C.P.R. box with an inflatable C.P.R. doll, a respirator and other tools are available. The project is very focused on HIV/AIDS education and information. Every year on December 1, World AIDS Day, the project organizes a big football tournament to create awareness on HIV/AIDS.
This program suits volunteers with an academic background.
An extensive health research in the Kpando Municipality showed that health care is low due to financial and geographical restraints. There is a lack of equipment, staff, training and drugs and a general lack of hygiene. In all communities poverty and lack of knowledge are considered important causes to health problems and it is recommended to provide health information and education for community members. According to the outcomes of the research done in 2012, further research will be done on antenatal, delivery and postnatal care.
A thorough research on HIV/AIDS in the Kpando Municipality is planned in the second quarter of 2013. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases, to increase the knowledge on disease prevention and treatment, and to decrease the HIV/AIDS stigma.
Research would help finding answers to questions like: who are all the stakeholders in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS? Why do current programs not seem to work? Does stigma really play such a big role and what can we do to decrease this?
Only few participants are needed in the research program each year.
For longer stays please contact [email protected].
Inkluderet i prisen
Voluntary Work in Ghana
Accommodation in volunteer house, local host family, or at work plac with three meals a day
Support from local coordinator during your entire program
40 USD in sponsor amount to your work place
Pre-departure handbook about Ghana
The following is not included in the fee:
- Visa fee approx. 120 USD
- Insurance and vaccinations
- Pocket money
- Laundry and bottled water
- Daily transport between accommodation and volunteer project, if necessary
Ghana was the first African colony to win independence, in 1957. Back then it was known as the Gold Coast, but the first thing the new administration did was change the old colonial name to Ghana. This was the name of a great African kingdom that existed about 1000 years earlier, to the north of present-day Ghana.
Ghana was the richest country in tropical Africa at the time of its independence. A massive population explosion combined with changing leadership and political unrest then put an end to the country’s good economic and political situation.
Despite its poverty, Ghana has managed in recent years to attract capital and many Ghanaian citizens return home from abroad with new investments and ideas. Compared with well developed countries Ghana is still a poor nation where many people live in deep poverty without access to basic facilities such as clean water, medical care and education.
Even so, African traditions combined with foreign influence have created an exciting, modern Ghanaian culture; open, musical and diverse.
The natural environment is spectacular. Few African countries have attractions like Kakum’s rain forest and Mole savannah. Here are colorful festivals, pristine beaches, traditional holy shrines and a population often called Africa’s friendliest.
Ghana has a tropical equatorial climate, with temperatures that are stable year-round. There are regional differences in rainfall: warm and fairly dry along the southern coast; warm and humid in the southwest; warm and dry in the north.
The official language is English.
Ghana has almost 26 million inhabitants, but the population could well reach 35 million by 2025.
Most people live along the coast or in the larger towns, such as Accra and Kumasi. The population belongs to many different groups, speaking over 50 languages and dialects. About 70 % of the population is Christian, 16 % are Muslim and the rest follow traditional religions or have no religious affiliation.
EXIS in Ghana
You will find most of our projects in the city Kpando, the center of the Kpando district in Ghana’s Volta region.
Before you go
It is a big challenge to live and work in a poor country. It demands courage and the ability to adapt. It is emotionally demanding to work with underprivileged people. It can be overwhelming, especially at first, to have to adjust to completely new conditions and communicate in a foreign language. Things are not as you are used to, the climate, the food, the atmosphere – everything is different.
During your work you will be faced with a harsh social reality and experience things a tourist would never see.
Do not expect a planned daily schedule waiting for you at your work place. If you have decided to work with children, you should already know how to entertain children – with crafts, sports, games and more. Use your imagination and be creative.
To take part in the voluntary work program, maturity, flexibility, independence and the desire to do social work are necessary. Your stay is an experience you will never forget.
When you arrive in Ghana, a local staff members will be waiting for you at the airport. He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. Please do not forget to email your detailed flight itinerary to [email protected] (date, time and flight number).
Remember – your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from your date of departure! A visa is necessary to enter Ghana. You should apply for a visa through the Ghanaian embassy in your country. Apply for a TOURIST visa; there is no visa for volunteer work. You can choose between a “single entry” or “multiple entries” visa. A single entry visa costs between 45-50 Euros and is valid for 30 days. It can be extended for a fee of 8-12 Euros while you are in Ghana. You cannot travel out of the country and back in again with a single entry visa. A multiple entries visa allows you to travel outside of Ghana and in again. The embassy usually issues this visa for 3 months and it costs between 60-65 Euros. Visas issued at the airport after arrival are valid for 60 days and will can be renewed in Ghana for a fee of 8-12 Euros per month. Further information will be sent after enrolment.
Ready to go?
Reserve a seat on one of the projects in Ghana