The team have enjoyed a fantastic start to their trip, grasping new challenges quickly to achieve three superb library builds. The trip officially commenced with an induction to Ghana life, cultural values and societal norms on Sunday. This also offered an opportunity for any members of the team to ask any questions they may have. The group, 14 girls and 3 boys, have bonded quickly to form solid friendships and show efficient teamwork. Many volunteers were already bursting with stories about their journey to Kotoka International Airport and enticed by the views out of the windows of the bus when approaching the volunteer house in Kumasi. After a few entertaining revelations during fun team games the group tucked in to some jollof rice and chicken that evening, anticipating the week ahead.
Monday, the group faced a challenging task in organising over 120 boxes of books into reading ability and age in preparation for distributing to multiple schools during their projects in Ghana. This was a lengthy task but allowed the books to be divided well and ready for their appropriate schools. These books were donated to Thrive Africa from Book Cycle and Books Abroad; they provide numerous educational and fun learning resources for children aged 5-18. This task was a good way to ‘ease’ the team into the testing work of the coming weeks. The team were exhausted following this task but felt a great sense of achievement to prepare for the library builds in their trip. Many volunteers enjoyed Rhoda’s cheeseburgers that evening in the house, they went down a treat!
Tuesday quickly arrived and we were off to start our first library at a Junior High School roughly twenty minutes away from our volunteering base. On arrival many of us felt overwhelmed and grateful to witness the excitement and enthusiasm the children held towards our arrival! Sinead, a 17 year old volunteer has said at this moment she felt lost for words and she was happy to see them happy. After a short introduction by the Head of the School, tasks were quickly allocated including painting, shelves building and book organisation. The library was well finished with some brilliant artistic creativity to give the room a warm feel. The team left the school feeling very content at the result of our first build and were excited for the coming weeks.
Wednesday’s library was three times the size of the previous day and meant an adjustment of numbers to ensure the room was decorated well. The group made great use of resources, time and equipment to create a happy space that many children I’m sure will enjoy. The team were lucky today to travel to another Junior High so close to the Kumasi base, but were warned that future journeys would soon get further! Later that day we explored Kumasi Wartime museum to discover more about Ghana’s history and artefacts. The group found this insightful and were interested to learn about a piece of history that had previously been unknown to many volunteers.
Thursday proved a testing day as the team travelled for approximately an hour away from the city to another Junior High School to renovate a small but cosy room. This also required painting of the ceiling to give the room a bright feel and make the room appear larger. New libraries require new tests and the ceiling was a tricky area to paint. Many different volunteers today tried different roles on this day and it allowed people to try new things, whilst also discovering unknown talents! Following this day many of the team were in need of a good sleep, the heat was testing us!
Friday was a very physical challenge as the team had to unload a fully packed shipping crate from the UK with 16 pallets of books, each containing roughly 50 boxes of books. We quickly set up a ‘chain’ to empty the books from the crate into suitable spaces for effective storage. Many of us were tired later that day but felt grateful to see the arriving books and understand more about how Book Cycle provide resources for Thrive Africa. In the afternoon the team had a chance to grab some gifts for loved ones back home from the local cultural market. Necklaces, bracelets, masks, bags and even a machete were amongst our purchases!
For Saturday and Sunday, the team spent the weekend relaxing on one of their purchased excursions at Bosomtwe Lake. The group made full use of the resort’s facilities- sunbathing, horse riding, mud fighting and hiring boats to gain the most from the excursion. This offered another chance to sample some local cuisine as volunteers tasted tilapia, beef, rice and fruit dishes. It made a pleasant end to a week of hard work and eye opening experiences. When speaking to the team there was a general atmosphere of complete admiration for the people of Ghana and the momentous privilege they felt for being able to be here.
Overall, a fantastic start with a fantastic team.