Volunteer Name: Gina MontesDeOca
Project Location: Volta Region, Ghana
Volunteered at: Orphanage / Child Care
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local ABV Coordinator was great as far as a volunteer and I enjoyed their company. The coordinator is a very passionate man and I admire how he puts his heart and soul into what he does. He is usually busy running around trying to keep all of their projects running as well with helping the locals in his community. He can come off a bit stern and unapproachable at times but friendlier in others which you should never take personal. Jessy is great. She is easy going and quite companionate and easy to talk to. The little time that we did meet due to her juggling her kids and her projects I enjoyed.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
I was surprised the most with how approachable the people in the community were. Coming from Boston where people go about their day without greeting strangers which was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the kids in the neighborhood most. They were so happy to see new faces and would randomly go up to me to hug me or greet me while I was walking and I love it.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing to adjust to was the heat. The weather was extremely hot. Also the lack of structure and communication with the Ghanaian people was hard to adapt to.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
ABV staff gave Jessy my email and we were able to coordinate were their needs were and that allowed me to plan ahead. Bring comfortable clothing you will be playing with the children and getting dirty. Plenty of bug spray and hand sanitizer is a must!
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
Be patient, be very patient. The Ghanaian way is very different from the typical "America/European" ways in handling time. Come prepared, plan ahead, and be proactive. Voice your opinions on the projects you'd like to work on but be patient.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
When I first touched down in Accra and walked out of the airport I did not know what to expect or what the next 2 weeks would hold for me. I can honestly say in the short period of time I was able to get to spend time with a large amount of the children from the home, go out and really observe yet experience what the Ghanaian culture had to offer in Kpando and Accra. I went on this mission trip with the intentions on touching those I met but in reality they touched me in ways I could never describe. The experience was extremely humbling and it was amazing to compare a country that had very little but were the happiest in comparison to mine that is quite fortunate yet unappreciative and stressful. I enjoyed being careless and living life day by day. They taught me to appreciate all of my blessings and look at my glass as half full and never empty.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
The host family was great. Mary did the best she could to accommodate our meals that were always very much on time (ironically) for 12pm lunch and 6pm dinner. I personally brought bars which I brought for breakfast and snacking. I felt very safe in my environment even when walking along at night I never feared for my safety in Kpando walking from the children's home to the host home.
8- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Its hard to pinpoint a favorite memory when there were many. I enjoyed spending time with the children at the children's home and spending time with them and laughing at the things they did and said. I enjoyed my leisure time with the volunteers going to the market or local restaurants and embracing the culture and people in Kpando and Accra.
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
I was pleasantly surprised how supportive ABV was to all of my emails of questions and/or concerns. I have no complaints what so ever. Staff were very supportive and will guide you as needed.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes. I would love to talk to volunteers to share my experience and prepare them for the amazing experience they are about to have.