Volunteer Testimonial - Katie French


My Ghana story began when sometime last year I decided that I wanted to spend my summer break from University doing something rewarding but also educational.


After much research, Ghana became the obvious choice. Often dubbed the perfect introduction to Africa, I heard endless stories of how welcoming the country was and how friendly the people were.

As I would be travelling alone it was up to me to find out as much about the country beforehand. I would strongly recommend looking into your chosen country with enjoyment. Discovering about where you are going beforehand offers you an opportunity to clarify if it's really what you are looking for and also is an exciting way to prepare yourself.

I chose the month of June for the fact that it fitted perfectly with my academic studies and also partly as it would be the rainy season supposed to the dry. The rainy season is often recommended for travellers as it is marginally cooler if more humid but you spare yourself the dust and dry heat of the latter. When I first arrived I was incredibly nervous. Accra airport was unlike any other airport I have previously visited and without family or friends I felt very alone.

This subsided however once Fred and Annette picked me up. Even in the taxi on the way to Koforidua I couldn't stop looking out of the window soaking up the sights


Coming from England the only street sellers are the ones shifting copies of Big Issue so I was fascinated with the elegance and athletic ability of all the ladies casually strolling in and out of cars balancing vast bowls of merchandise on their heads.

We arrived at the volunteer's dormitory around an hour and a half later. The gated community automatically made me feel safe and Fred and Annette's extensive knowledge everything Ghanaian also made me feel like I was in safe hands.

I was impressed with the standards of the dormitory which was very clean, basic but modern. The internet was a huge bonus too!

I met the other volunteers and one of them persuaded me to take a trip to Cape Coast the next day so I thought I would go!

Cape Coast was beautiful, the beaches were amazing and the slave castles were interesting if depressing, a great way of bringing the history to life though and to envisage the horrors of the slave trade. We managed to make it back to Koforidua late Sunday evening, where I caught an early night so I would be in good condition for my first day at my project!

The first day of my project Annette accompanied me. I got to meet with Mr. Lawrence where we spoke about how I should spend my time whilst there.

I taught class 3 a maths lesson and then later on in the day I worked with class 1 helping out with English. The next day I settled into class 2 assisting with English, Maths and other subjects like drawing. Alongside the teacher, I was able to assist classes but also lead some too. I was able to help out those who struggled the most. As the class is a large size (somewhere between thirty and forty) there is unfortunately a slight learning gap between some of the students.

I tried to bridge the gap by keeping those who had finished first busy or helping those out who were taking slightly longer.

A small task I enjoyed was marking their class work and home work. This gave me an opportunity to see individually how each child was doing and over the process of my time at the project, I also got to notice which children were improving which was great affirmation that a particular lesson in class had gone well. One of the nicest aspects of working in a school is the lunch break where you are free to play with the children and get to know them properly without the restraints of having to teach them.

I learnt many new songs and clapping games but I also got to know the children's stories. Where they live, what their family did etc. what siblings they had. I loved learning about their lives as much as they did about mine. I was so impressed and amazed at their ability to switch from Twi to English with ease and it left me embarrassed that I can only speak English and passable French!

The children were so welcoming and seemed so genuinely pleased to see me each day. I felt that I was able to offer them an insight too into a different culture by describing them my life at home and what I got up to there. Another volunteer joined two weeks after I did, so I also got to co-teach some classes with her which was a lot of fun. We taught maths but used games to interact with the children. The involvement meant they were more likely to pay attention rather than get distracted, again I was so impressed with some of the mathematical capabilities of the children and I really hope they stick with it and continue to work as hard.

All of the children are a credit to their school and their communities. They cannot appreciate how nice it is to be welcomed with such wide open arms, immediately I felt comfortable and capable.

My time at the Hour of Grace has given me time to reflect on my own life as well as those of the students. It has affirmed that I definitely want to pursue a career in journalism but with links to education.

It has also given me time to experience and witness the everyday running of a busy Ghanaian school and I have found it invaluably interesting. The school does not have the resources British schools are given but still the children are educated to a high standard and still produce great work. I would love the opportunity to help out the orphanage in the future which is why my time here has also confirmed my desire to become more active in fundraising and is something I will look into when I travel back to the UK.

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