Project Manager Intern: LISA DOVER
Saturday 29th June 2013
After a night at Cape Coast I left after lunch with our driver, Bright, and 30 of the June volunteers to take them all to the airport in Accra; a journey which should only take 2 and a half hours but ended up taking nearer 6 with all the traffic! After we all had our final supper together we said our goodbyes and the June volunteers set off to catch their planes. Maxwell and I went down to the arrivals area to collect the next few volunteers and take them back to Hotel Mexico where we stayed overnight so that we could set off after breakfast the next day.
Sunday 30th June
After a tasty breakfast of noodles(!) we set off on the 5-6 hour drive back from Accra to the Thrive Africa house in Kumasi. When we arrived we were greeted by Kwame and the 10 other volunteers who had already arrived. After a delicious dinner cooked by Filo, there was a power cut across the whole of Kumasi, which lead to an entertaining evening of us playing group games in order to get to know each other better and learn a few names.
Monday 1st July
Today we got up at 8am and began sorting through the thousands of books which have been donated to Thrive Africa. We were separating the books into primary, junior high and senior high piles which will be taken to the Kumasi school libraries that each group builds over the next three months. After a hard morning’s work we went to the local swimming pool to relax in the sunshine for a while…only for it to end up raining! When we got back from the pool the rest of the volunteers arrived, which meant that we had an impressive 43 volunteers in the house, plus staff. After an induction from me, Kenny and Kwame, the whole group got together to play a few games and learn as many names as possible. We’ve had a relatively early night because my group is making the 12hour journey up to Bolgatanga early in the morning. We are going up to Bolga to do some work for the Orphan Welfare Agenda (OWA) on care giver farms. The OWA supports 270 orphans in Bolga, and provides them with health care, social care, food and education, as well as supporting their care givers; the ladies who foster the children. Our work in Bolga is part of an income generating scheme set up by the OWA which sees Thrive Africa volunteers going to the care givers’ farms and planting various seeds, such as ground nuts and maize, for the care givers to sell and raise money to support the orphans. It’s relatively hard physical work in the Bolga heat, but knowing just how much it’s going to help the children is enough to spur every volunteer on.
Tuesday 2nd July
We got up bright and early this morning to pack up the buses, have breakfast and head to Bolga and managed to be on the road by 7.30am. We were pretty lucky with the journey with no real issues and managed to get up to Bolga in almost exactly 12 hours. The journey went pretty quickly for most of us and we seemed to revert back to our childhoods by entertaining ourselves with games like I spy for hours on end. The last hour or so of our journey was particularly beautiful as we watched a gorgeous sunset as we entered Bolga. When we arrived at the house Linda met us with a delicious dinner and we spent the evening chilling out in the lounge, playing board games and watching films.
Wednesday 3rd July
Today we went to our first care giver farm with Samson and Sarah from the OWA at 9am. We went to a community called Zorko-Goo where we split into two sub-groups so that we could work on two nearby farms and get double the amount of work done for the caregivers. It was quite overcast and breezy today which made it easier for everyone. My group finished our first farm in astonishingly quick time, so at around 12pm we headed over to another local farm to do a bit of work for the ladies there. After we had all finished work at 2pm we headed to a local shop to stock up on cold drinks and alcohol for a party we’re having for one of the girl’s birthdays tomorrow night. Everyone ended up in bed pretty early this evening as we were all so shattered from today’s work, but we also all went to bed with a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing we’d really helped the care givers today.
Thursday 4th July
We went to a different community this morning called Sumburigo- Anateem and mixed up into two different sub-groups to work on two plots which were about 100m apart. It was hard work in the sun with less breeze than yesterday, but we worked out a good system which allowed us regular breaks to sit under an enormous, beautiful tree in the shade to cool down. When we finished sewing the ground nuts we went back to the local shop for drinks and snacks and were met there by a man with a pet monkey called Peace! Needless to say buying snacks became a low priority as the group flocked to the monkey to have a photo shoot with him. When we got home everyone got ready for Emma’s birthday party this evening. Jerry and Linda made the world’s best BBQ chicken kebabs whilst volunteers built an enormous bonfire in the garden for us to sit around. After dinner we all smothered ourselves in bug spray and sat around the bonfire, drinking and playing games like ‘never have I ever’ and truth or dare; there were some hilarious confessions and highly entertaining dares- including one volunteer standing on the wall, singing ‘I like big butts’ whilst flashing his bum to us all. Everyone had a great night and ended up in bed pretty late; I’m expecting a few struggling volunteers tomorrow morning!
Friday 5th July
Remarkably, everyone made it up and out on time this morning, despite a few people admitting to feeling a little worse for wear! We headed back to the same community as yesterday but split onto another two different plots. I was really impressed with everyone today as they all just got on with the work without complaining about how hungover they were feeling and worked really hard, despite the blistering heat. After we finished the project we came home for lunch then headed out for a wander around the Bolga market. Despite it being market day, the Bolga market was waaaaay more spacious and generally chilled out than its Kumasi sister! We strolled around for around an hour or so, and some of the volunteers picked up a few bargains along the way. After we got back to the house and had dinner, some of the volunteers decided to have a few drinks again this evening, which resulted in the funniest game of Ring of Fire I have ever seen and a couple of them conking out on the sofas- a right treat to wake up to the next morning!
Saturday 6th July
This morning we went to a community called Sirigu to visit a pottery centre which had been set up by a group of local widows with the aim of making and selling beautiful pottery, with the profits going towards the school fees of local orphans. We had a look around the centre and in the gallery and gift shop, and then went into the room where the ladies give pottery classes. When we went in we were met by a British school group who are in Bolga to do music lessons with local street children. We were given an unexpected treat from one of the Ghanaian men who performed on his home made guitar and sang his own songs; apparently he’s a bit of a local celebrity as he finished second on Ghana’s version of the X Factor! After he had finished, the local boys began drumming and all the Ghanaian children began having their impressive version of a dance off. It was absolutely incredible to watch and all the volunteers absolutely loved it- if only they were going to be there every time we visit Sirigu! We drove home and had lunch before going to the local pool to have a bit of down time; unfortunately though it wasn’t exactly hot and sunny- there was actually a huge thunderstorm which meant we had to abandon the pool, but at least we know that all the seeds we’d sewn this week have been well and truly watered in!
When we got home everyone had dinner and got ready for tonight’s visit to the local hotel/club; The Black Star. Everyone had an absolutely amazing night there, with plenty of chatting and drinking and more dancing than was really socially acceptable! We stayed out until 3.30am, when we all got taken home by our trusty drivers, Samson and Benji; but the party wasn’t over yet. No one really knows exactly how it started, but somehow we ended up having a MASSIVE water fight in the lounge! Everyone was absolutely soaked through and the floor was covered with a good inch of water, it was complete chaos but absolutely hilarious and none of us got to bed until gone 5am.
Sunday 7th July
Wow, everyone was seriously struggling this morning! We had a lie in until 9am(!) and then most of us ended up going back to sleep until lunch time! After lunch we were all feeling much better though and we all headed over to Paga Crocodile Pond where everyone got the chance to sit on a two metre long croc! It was a real once in a life time chance and everyone love it, even if some people were a bit nervous about it- including me! After we had finished at the crocodile pond we drove a little way north to the Burkina Faso border, where you can walk across the border and visit a second African country on the trip! This evening we’ve all been pretty quiet as last’s antics have caught up with us. Looks like it’s going to be a nice, relaxed night of board games, films and an early night to make sure we’re all fresh to start our second week’s work tomorrow.