As a volunteer in Ghana, you’ll find a unique richness everywhere you look, from the country’s cultural history to its varied expanses of wilderness and coastline. Known for its exceptionally warm national character, Ghana, meaning “Warrior King,” is a place where visitors are welcomed as friends. In the Volta Region, home to the Ewe people, you will become family. Become a volunteer in Ghana and experience firsthand the culture and tradition of a place that you’ve only ever dreamed of.
The ever-growing population of the Volta Region has resulted in a notable strain on vital social resources. In recent years, many advances have been made to improve healthcare, hygiene, and education. However, malnutrition, disease, and the large economic divide between well-paid workers and low-paid workers have all posed significant obstacles to Ghana’s progress. As a volunteer in Ghana, you’ll have an opportunity to effect real social change in a community dealing with all of the growing pains experienced by a region in flux. You’ll become an instant part of a warm and welcoming community as you work alongside local people to address some of their most pressing social issues.
Where you’ll stay in Ghana
Sitting atop a hill in a safe, residential community, your Home-Base in Ghana offers beautiful views and your very own mango tree! Common areas are furnished with plenty of chairs and couches that are decorated with bright batik fabrics. Enjoy the evening breeze on the patio with fellow volunteers or bring out a book for some quiet time. Living areas are communal with plenty of space to keep your belongings. Each bed also has a mosquito net, so we’ve got you covered, literally.
During your stay, you’ll feast on a blend of healthy Ghanaian cuisine. If you’re not “big on spicy,” the cook will turn it down a notch or two. Typical meals include plenty of starches like pasta, potatoes, and some new favorites like cassava and plantains mashed into fufu and banku — Ghanaian specialties. At meals, you’ll have the option to use silverware, but give the traditional way a try by using your hands to sop up a helping of homemade stew with your fufu.
Who will support you
Born and raised in Ghana’s Volta Region, Makafui Amenuvor has been with the program since its launch in 1998. After earning his bachelor’s degree stateside at the University of North Dakota, Makafui established the Hohoe program, and has been steering the ship ever since. When he’s not busy working or showing off his dance moves, Makafui loves to swim, after recently conquering a childhood fear of the water; go, Makafui, go! A dream of his is to build an operational plane out of scrap parts so while in Ghana, keep an eye out for anything he might be able to use.
Gender equity has progressed in Ghana. And as many mothers work to support their families, they must rely on community support to help with their children. Community groups and childcare centers support the needs of these mothers and provide essential services for children. However, these centers are often under-resourced and severely understaffed. Your work with The Child Development Project offers opportunities for entire families. While providing care, early education, one-on-one attention, and love to the youngest generation, you’ll bolster each child’s self-esteem and pave the way for their first steps toward a new future.
In a place where modern medical facilities meet traditional healing rituals, Ghana’s healthcare system is both diverse and complex. Through outreach, education, and care, you will provide much-needed support to an underfunded and overcrowded public health system. The Global Health Project works to support the medical and emotional needs of patients, assist with health education, or address the underlying factors contributing to public health. You’ll contribute in a meaningful way and gain a unique understanding of a fascinating healthcare system that involves traditional healers, bone setters, and witch doctors.
Things to Do
Get to know your new home away from home on a staff-guided walking tour of Ho. Staff will be sure to call out all points of interest including silversmiths, money exchange sites, ice cream shops, and internet cafes. The tour ends at the weekly outdoor market where you’ll catch your first glimpse of the ubiquitous handmade batik fabrics. Purchase some eye-catching fabric to bring over to the local seamstress and she will inexpensively transform it into a one of a kind souvenir.
Although English is Ghana’s official language, you’ll still have the opportunity to learn Ewe, the mother tongue of Ghana’s Volta Region and neighboring Togo as well. After just one round of biweekly classes held at your Home-Base, you’ll be ready to greet your new neighbors in the local language.
Join a Dance Circle
The local community puts on an exclusive collaborative presentation just for volunteers to formally welcome you, and you’ll get to join in on a traditional drum and dance circle, a very important cultural practice for the Ghanaian people.
Swim in the Wli Waterfall
Plunge into a natural pool at the base of the Wli Waterfall, the highest waterfall in West Africa. You’ll take a short hike to the falls where you’ll witness the rainbows forming in the mist, and then you’ll paddle out to experience the refreshing spray of the falls up close. After drying off, you’ll stop by one of the best souvenir spots in Ghana for a chance to buy wood carvings and batik clothes directly from the artisans who crafted them.
Dye Batik Fabric
Ghanaian folklore isn’t a strictly oral tradition; it’s conveyed through traditional “adinkra” symbols as well. You’ll quickly begin to notice adinkra in pottery, wood work, business logos, and fabrics. Visit a local seamstress to learn about these symbols, as well as the traditional batik process for fabric dyeing. Make your own batik handkerchief as a small but meaningful keepsake of all you’ve learned and seen.
Sleep in the Treetops
You didn’t realize Ghana has rainforests? Surprise! Explore Ghana’s most accessible animal haven, Kakum National Park. Scale the treetops on Ghana’s only canopy tour and keep your eyes peeled for monkeys and birds. For an extra dose of adventure, and perhaps even a super-rare glimpse of an elephant, camp out in one of the tree houses scattered throughout the park.
Enjoy Life in Accra
If you find yourself missing the niceties of urban life, Accra is the place! Ghana’s capital city provides a striking contrast to Hohoe’s small-town feel. Slip into the air conditioned mall for a movie or a snack from the food court, and find yourself surrounded by hip young urbanites clad in leather pants and high heels. For a bit of culture, explore Accra’s museums or wander through one of the outdoor weekend markets.
Boat Across Lake Volta
Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes, dominates the landscape of eastern Ghana at over 3,000 square miles. Boat across Lake Volta and watch as fishermen tow in the day’s catch. Check out some of the recreational facilities lining Volta’s shores, and even go for a refreshing swim in the lake!
Dine in Ho
In a small town like Ho, every day brings a new opportunity to engage with local people. Practice your Ewe language skills by greeting new neighbors, and don’t be afraid to accept a friendly dinner invitation from a new friend. After dinner, hail down a Fan Ice bicyclist to buy some ice cream treats, or get a coffee from a man vending from his cart. Next, make your way to a local watering hole to sip a cold drink and huddle around a televised soccer game with new friends.
Venture into Togo
The present day Volta Region of Ghana, along with neighboring Togo, was once part of a large German protectorate called “Togoland.” While the area was divided by post-WWI arbitration, eastern Ghanaians and Togolese still share the same heritage, culture, and language, and many local people travel across borders to visit friends and relatives. Once you’ve found your way around Ghana’s Volta Region, cross the border to Togo for an international experience with a familiar feel.