It's been almost nine months now since i was on a plane bound for ghana, with the pain of parting still in my bones and a pretty sinking feeling in my stomach at what could be in store for me in the coming months. Nevertheless, it still seems to me as if I were still halay in africa.
At the time, I wondered whether I had not given myself too much credit, but now, in retrospect, I am very, very glad that I made the decision and a little proud of myself for not giving up eight months ago. Because from my stay in ghana and my time at the future VIP school I have benefited in every respect. In the five months i spent there, ghana and especially the school became like a second home to me.
The culture shock
However, i saw it quite differently in the early days. The culture shock was enormous. Nevertheless, thanks to my german sending organization travelworks resp. Making life as easy as possible for the ghanaian partner organization syto. In keeping with the ghanaian mentality, the welcome from the syto staff was extremely warm. Consequently, it was difficult not to feel at home and welcome right away. After an initial orientation period under the wing of the syto staff, i started my project in madina, one of accra's numerous suburbs.
The ghanaian capital accra is the hub of ghana in every respect, and i was soon aware that i was very lucky to be placed there. Even though accra does not come close to our european idea of a big city and seems strange at first for westerners as well as for the rest of ghana, ghana's capital is very well developed for west african standards.
I was also positively surprised by my project, the future VIP school and my new home. My host parents, johnson and bernice abankwa, have been funding the school out of their own pockets since it was founded twelve years ago, making it possible for about. 200 children from the surrounding area the chance of a professional future. Even their home is on the school grounds.
After moving in with the abankwa family, i soon got to know the ghanaian way of life, with all its good aspects, but also with the not so good ones: nightly visits by cockroaches, mice and lizards, showering without running water, using a bucket, electricity outages at any time of the day or night, cooking on the fireplace, washing by hand. In the end, however, I can confirm an old wisdom with full conviction – that everything is only a question of habit.
The school system
My work in the school was more of a challenge at the beginning, because the ghanaian school system, as far as you can call it one, is very different from the german one. This is reflected in the fact that there is no standardized curriculum or that any curriculum that might exist is simply ignored. In addition, physical punishment is still heavily used in ghanaian schools. The lack of teaching and learning materials proved to be a major obstacle, which makes it very difficult to organize the lessons, even if there is a great deal of imagination.
But with a little creativity, patience, effort and not least a certain willingness to make a financial investment of one's own, one or two lessons can be managed even with little material.
In the beginning, my job as a teacher remained also limited to single hours. But in the last months of my stay, I was allowed to take over the class leadership of a preschool class, which gave me a lot of pleasure, despite all the exertion.
From this point I felt accepted in my school and family and adopted more and more the "ghanaian way of life".
Over time i accompanied my host family to various events. I was able to experience the ghanaian church service as well as family celebrations, baptisms, funerals and weddings. The cultural diversity in ghana has impressed me again and again. No traditional ghanaian festival is celebrated without music and dance. It is natural to celebrate even funerals dancing and singing. Everyone is invited, whether known or unknown, rich or poor, light or dark-skinned.
The ghanaian hospitality and openness is impressive, especially considering the diversity of the indigenous population. Ghana is indeed a country of a thousand faces, religiously, linguistically and geographically. I have seen many of these faces on my weekend trips with other volunteers to different parts of ghana. Not every event is remembered fondly, and yet it is difficult to put it out of one's mind.
Miserable conditions in the areas of medical care and treatment, social justice, hygiene and, last but not least, the education system often make one doubt the extent to which justice exists on this earth. Traps in which injured children are stitched up with dubious material in so-called clinics without anesthesia or young people do not know that the earth is not a disc are not rare. And yet – the claim that life in ghana is worse than here is far from my mind.
One characteristic that distinguishes the ghanaians is their infinite serenity. They also accept situations in such cases with a shrug of the shoulders, which would throw us europeans completely off track. And finally, one must never forget: they don't know it any other way. The self-reliance to take life as it comes and make the best of it makes life in ghana seem a lot freer than in germany. People do not care what others could think of them. They are honest and direct, yet always friendly, calm and relaxed, which is especially noticeable in the general (in)punctuality …
A ghanaian, for example, would never be ashamed of singing or even dancing in public, on the contrary – he dances when and where he likes and not in an unobserved moment. One thing is particularly clear in ghana, given the diversity of the population: freedom is not a question of money, influence or prestige, but a question of attitude – toward oneself, one's fellow human beings and life itself.
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the generous donations that my family received after my report on christmas 2012 (when i was still in ghana). At the concert of the "con brio" choir were collected and forwarded.
Both my host parents bernice and johnson abankwa as representatives of "my" parents school in madina as well as alex adjanie, the principal of the school of the godchild of the choir "con brio" in mamfe, which i also had the pleasure to visit, they express their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the donors and will use the money for the further construction of their schools.
My volunteer service in ghana flew by and, if i have to be honest, way too fast. I hope I can keep in touch with all the wonderful people I have met during these months. Without a doubt, I had an unforgettable time in ghana, full of wonderful experiences and encounters, and I would like to return there soon.
With the active support of my family, friends and the choir "con brio" from friesen a total of 1100 euro in donations could be collected at the beginning of the year. I proudly presented part of the money to my host mother and the school administration of the future vip school to support the construction of the urgently needed school roof.
The other part of the donation money was given to alex doe adjanie, the principal of the young souls academy in mamfe, the school of "con brio-godchild christiana, for the construction of a new school building.