HOLLY’S AMAZING VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE FOR NEW LIFE GHANA CHARITY
A former student had the experience of a lifetime when she had the opportunity to volunteer for a children’s charity in Ghana. Holly, who supports the New Life Ghana Charity at the New Life Baptist Church, in Northallerton, was honoured to be part of a group who headed to Ghana to help some of the poorest families in the Greater Accra area. We were really pleased to receive some fabulous photos and a great blog about Holly’s experiences in Ghana which we hope you will enjoy reading below:
After much planning and fundraising we left for Ghana on the 19th of November. I was really nervous as I had never been away from home alone for more than a few nights and it was the first time flying without my family. I left Richmond at 2am knowing I wouldn’t arrive in Ghana until around 8:30pm. By the time we arrived at Schiphol airport Amsterdam, our team who previously didn’t know each other very well had already started to bond. I was the youngest on the team by about 25 years, but was made to feel comfortable and equal to the others in the team with everyone having a different skill set and outlook on the experience we were going to have.
It was late when we arrived and the airport was hot and busy. We walked out of the doors to meet Pastor Osmond and Pastor Samuel who were picking us up to take us to the hotel where it was chaotic and noisy but I already felt welcomed and it felt homely. We put our luggage into the school bus they used to pick us up which was very different from any bus we would use here – with the door being held open with string! We got onto the road which was full of pot holes or as Pastor Osmond likes to call them ‘manholes’, as they were so big you could fit a man in them! The journey to the hotel was about an hour and a half and the roads were crazy, beeping horns all around and no real sense of road rules.
Everyone we met were so welcoming and excited to have us there. It felt incredibly homely and as a result I felt settled there from the first day. During the week, we did so much, from spending days in the school meeting the children and getting to see their ways of learning and school experiences, including the food to going to one of the small villages to take them rice.
When we delivered rice to Honi we also took bubbles and balloons for the children. The joy that this brought them is something that I will never forget. Alongside the children loving them, the adults also thoroughly enjoyed playing with them eventually taking them from us to have for themselves. While it was a fun experience with the balloons and bubbles, it was heart wrenching to see the poverty up close. But what has stuck with me is how appreciative they are of what they have and anything we could bring for them. What we would consider small change can feed a family and, although saddening, it makes me realise even more the value of the money that we raised and how much the school and community will be able to use it for good effect.
Being in the school was my favourite part of the trip, meeting the children who are sponsored by churchgoers in the UK, and having the privilege of taking them letters and small gifts from the sponsors. On Friday, we threw a party for the children in the school. We had balloons, bubbles and face painting, as well as providing chicken and fizzy drinks for them to have with their school lunch. It was very humbling that just by having the chance to eat chicken with their lunch was enough of a party for them – as you can see in the photos by the excitement of showing us their drinks and food.
While I was there, I met a young girl Jewella, age 4-5 who has completely stolen my heart! She was the sweetest and calmest little girl and I ended up spending a lot of time with her, just sitting with her and chatting, then in the classroom where we read them stories. Since the trip, I have found out from her teacher that she is ‘calm, friendly, hardworking, loves to do things independently and shows great respect to everyone.’ Following my return from Ghana, I have had contact with Pastor Samuel who has selflessly and so kindly made trips to the school to send me photos with Jewella and given me updates on how she is doing and suggesting a video call with her so I can see her again. This has been absolutely incredible and the joy I get from these conversations and photos is unexplainable.
The work on the school that we raised money for is ongoing. The tiles have been delivered and are waiting to be fitted and the windows have just been installed since we have returned.
The biggest culture shock for me in Ghana was the ever-moving timescales which are much more fluid than the UK – it took some getting used to but added to the experience.
Although the trip and the fundraising are to provide support and help for the Ghanaians, overall, I think the experience for us was to see the work we can help with and to make us aware of the project. As much as we have provided money for them which they will benefit from, I believe that I have benefitted far more from meeting them and spending time there with them and seeing the true value of the small things we have in everyday life in the UK.
One of the great things about New Life Ghana is that as we were self-funded volunteers so all the money which is raised goes to the project and the Ghanaians.
All of it was an incredible life-changing experience which I will never forget. I am already saving to fund my trip back hopefully later this year! I would encourage anyone thinking about doing something similar to bite the bullet and do it.
To find out more about the project, donate or sponsor a child, please click here.