Volunteering in orphenage

Since I was asked if I could tell more about how to be a volunteer, how to choose a reliable association, I decided to create a dedicated part with several point to help you for volunteering in Ghana !

 

Why and how to be a volunteer?

There are different steps and questions to answer yourself before starting to be a volunteer:

1. You have to know how long you will stay and propose your help

2. Decide what type of volunteering you want to do

3. How many hours by week you want to give

4. What type of association you will like to give help and time

My personnal experience as a volunteer for Beacon House orphanage in Accra :

I decided  to start helping Beacon House because a friend of mine, Sophie, a young french girl (it was her first expat in ghana)  used to be the nurse helping kids in the orphenage. During nearly a year, she  was a volunteer but unfortunately,  she had to go back to France because of her husband work .

So she is the one who introduced me to the director, Romana, who is such an amazing american woman who created this orphenage.

There, I met also the wife of Bolloré Africa Logistic country manager who was also a nurse and volunteer there with my friend.

As to the consequence, there were enough good reasons to believe in the good and reliability of this orphenage association  called Beacon House, located in East Legon not far from french school in Accra.

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When my friend Sophie unfortunately left Ghana to go back to France, I started to replace her. It was this January 2016.

I met and worked during about 2 months with Bolloré country manager’s wife  (called also Sophie) but then she moved also in March. (Expats’ life is like this… you moove every 2 or 3 years…).

Right now, I’m working with an american student, Sarah,  who is learning psychology in the ghanain university of Accra. She  comes 3 times a week on afternoons to teach them english well and read books. We get along very well.

My registration and actions as a volunteer for Beacon House:

I “registered”  and signed a legal paper to Romana giving the days and hours I wanted to give as a volunteer and when I will come in her orphenage (twice a week on afternoons).

 We discussed about the missions I wanted to do : I could help for many things ! So we decided together that I would replace Sophie with preparing medecines set for kids having HIV each week on wednesday,  and that I would go to hospital with them when they needed to see the doctor and renew their medecines.

As I wanted to give time to kids playing with them , and since  I love music and dancing, I proposed to give Zumba lessons to them on fridays afternoon too.

How is life in Beacon House

Who is Romana, the creator of Beacon House?

Romana created this orphenage in 2005. She is an american woman and has adopted 2 ghanaian chidren too.

She lives inside the house with kids.

Her dedication is to help children making them believe that they are loved, that they matter and, despite what they have faced in the past, their dreams can come true.

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When Beacon House was created?

Beacon House has opened in 2005, and has served the Ghanaian community through fostering orphaned and vulnerable children and assisting at-risk families in their communities.

How many children is living in the orphenage?

There are about  20 children in this family in April 2006 in Beacon House (as you can see on pictures on the link before), from 9 months to 20 years old. Solo is the oldest because he is blind and has mental problems so unfortunately he will stay here his entire life.

Theses kids used to be malnourished with developmental delays and chronic, life threatening illnesses.

The last orphan baby called “Benji” who Romana is helping right now to survive is only 9 months. She put him in hospital because he has a critical illness : she is paying aghanain woman to take care and be with him all the time in the hospital. He will go soon to an orthopedic center because he was operated and need rehabilitation for his back before coming to the orphenage one day when he will be cured.

How are orphans there?

With the help of volunteers (students from Accra University exchange with USA) and local staff (one house manager, one cooker/ housekeeper, one ghanaian”mummy” taking care of the baby Matthew 8 months only, one driver to go to buy food, take kids to hospital) and of course the director of the orphenage “Romana” who lives inside the house with them.

I can see from inside that orphans (or children rejected by their own family who could not afford them) are now in good shape, having a normal life and are happy living all together as brothers and sisters.

Children are happy there, eating well, going to school, having healthcare, and most of all having LOVE  from students and volunteers, woman working there and Romana since she lives with them and has her bedroom upstairs…

Which are Beacon House last and recent projects?

  • Become self sufficient in a new house outside Accra :

Beacon House will soon moove to another “house” near the Dodowa Road, 30 mn drive from Accra. They will live there next October normally. They want to become self sufficient, eat properly a diversification food. They will not have to pay a rent in East Legon anymore.

There are a few things already on the land: a wall marking the property, a guard house, a chicken coop, and fruit trees have been planted and also orange, lemon, avocado… and mango trees will  provide nice fruits to the children and staff  of the orphenage.

A mother from my school gave me also 3 rabbits too for them (and you all know that rabbits make lots of babies!): so that they will put the rabbits on the land (some to play with kids but also to eat its meat).

Funding from an american college in the US and other association help them to build a chicken coop, so they bought 200 chicks and upkeep them until they started producing eggs

The chickens are now producing eggs; these not only supplement the nutritional protein needs of our growing children and those children who come to Beacon House malnourished but they also provide Beacon House with an income … an income to help off-set our other food purchasing expenses and some household supplies.

WHY do I have chosen to help a small orphanage and not a big and famous ONG who woulf be in Ghana?

I like being a volunteer for this “Beacon House” orphenage because it is “human size” and that each child is imporant for Romana, and she takes care of them as if it was all her own kids. It is important for me to see actions from inside, meet the donators even if they are small like neighbours giving a cake for a birthday kid.

I like to be next to them, know their names… know all their age…what they would like to be later (many wants to help children as a doctor). And start to share love together.

I could not maybe see that in a huge association who helps thousands of orphans from all Ghana. It is why I prefered myself to choose small.

But for me, I prefer to give clothes, food and time to each kids and givin love to each…

It is my choice but everybody can do what the feels is better of course! It will depend from your point of view but the objective will still the same :

Helping to give the opportunity to have a Happy and Healthy Life and access to Education and have good food everyday.

 

See now my actions to find donators for beacon House orphenage !

follow me on this post !!

You will see first co-operation between :

“Bolloré Africa Logistic” and “Numero Uno”

Start of a new good energy vibes !!!

 

 

 

 

My actions for Beacon House with Bolloré and Numéro Uno

MY PROJECTS IN HELPING BEACON HOUSE :

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After giving zumba lesson My second aim was to find and research donators from expat community and other sponsors with companies:

As you may know, I am graduated in Marketing and Communication so I could use my experience for a good cause.

I proposed Romana to find some partners to help the orphanage with its everyday needs which are mostly having food and pay for school for the 20 kids (school is expensive an not free like in France !)

I first began to ask my own friends who had tall kids and do not used anymore their clothes, shoes, toys and teddy bears… I started to collect things to redistribute to the orphenage like this with always good intentions and love. An very very soon, within 2 weeks, with word of mouth (or god?!), mothers from french school started asking me on morning when leaving their kids to school, what the orphenage needed so that they would give to me.

I started to be the link between donators and Beacon House and I was happy that french expats (mostly women) had confidence in me and “my” orphanage Beacon House without seeing anything but just believe in myself. And, most of all, I was not only given clothes but also bed for baby, a bathtub, highchair, a stroller and food which was the most needed for everyday life and follow the link to see their need for food to feed  20 people to feed in Beacon House !!!!

I’d like to THANK all of  YOU by taking now this opportunity to tell you again:

THANK YOU ALL, MY FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES OR ACQUAINTANCES  FOR YOUR GENEROUS  DONATIONS WHATEVER BIG OR SMALL, GIVEN WITH HEART, WHICH I BELIEVE IS THE POINT.”

Thank you Lova, Brigitte, Noreen, Pauline, Marine, and Maria, my 6 closest relation friends from Accra and also my spouse – :  I will never tell you enough times how much I  LOVE you and how you are important in my everyday balance- 

Thank you to  make me always believe in myself, who supported me when I lost faith last week, and gave me both material help and food like Brigitte who still prepare with LOVE, and above all fresh fruits “baby sauce”  for baby Matthew who is nearly 8 months.

-“He enjoys it so much” told me Barbara, his “mother of heart“!!!

:):):)

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I go on with saying thank you to my best friends from France, Caroline, Vanessa, Emilie, Cécile and Florence and  others from all parts of France, who, even far from 4000km, even if I did not see these people  from my primary or business school (Capucine, Hélène, Réjane, Sarah, Nassira, Virginie, Delphine, Claire…) , who still support and encourage me a lot from the begining and are waiting for me next week in Paris to give me also  basic medecines, and material support… to Beacon House.

I will now say thanks to all mothers from french school, who I knew before being a volunteer ot not, who talked of me to their friends also from Accra or France :

 Anne-Marie  and Corinne  – woman with such a big heart, who gave me hut , swing, huge boxes of pinapple, books and shoes, and even 3 rabbits !!!!!

 

And of course : my friends Mongia and Amy : who together ,  gave me the opportunity to do an amazing ” Beads activity” with beads bought from TK beads near Accra. And thanks Mongia for your listening and understanding especially during the last weeks…

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And also Sophie L,  (for all toys, rings, clothes…) , Clotilde M.G (thanks for  the cosy, apple sauce for Matthew, ect….,  Virginie F.S.G , who give me from France thanks to Stéphanie M medecines, but also a huge drawing map for all, it was so great !! Thanks Virginie for your support, you have faith in humanity, I ‘ll pray for you and family health with all my heart and conviction) ,  Floriane (for bathtub and clothes) , Marjorie (for the indispensable baby chair) , Suzel, (for giving her own clothes to the ladies working in the orphenage),

 

And also Myriam, Nathalie O.E, Sophie, Servanne, Madonna, Arlette and Frédérique for you listening and your donations too ( I hope not to forgot someone, if so, just tell me, I will add your name !!!!)

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AND … at last but not least….

MY FIRST huge donator from Accra now : is the owner of “NUMERO UNO” shop (in Marina Mall).

Without these mothers, I would not have believed that I could find “more and more and more… donations from here and France and Belgium “, they gave me the energy to go on forwards till what occured  this last monday, April 19th,  with Numero Uno and its huge clothes donation, as you can read on my “projects for Beacon House” part.

I showed the mothers donators pictures of the kids with their clothes, playing with toys they gave, and sleeping in a brand new stroller. Everybody thanks me and were thanks back by Beacon House with a photo letter with thanks signature from the  kids.

Why not trying to do even more now?

This wonderful spirit of generosity thanks to all expat friends and others made me think that many would like to help for one cause in which they believe it is good.

HERE ARE THE LATEST NEWS ACTIONS AND RESULTS  :

One saturday, while going to the supermarket I enter in “Numero Uno” which is a clothes shop in Marina Mall in Airport area. It has from babys to women with different brands such as Zara, ect…

I was looking for Afia and Regina birthday present and I was served by the director, Vera, Who is a lebanese having 3 shops in Accra area.

Speaking with her, I explained her my needs and that the kids were the orphans from Beacon House.

She told me that she kwew someone too volunteer in another orphanage that she helps by giving her clothes that she more sell from old collection or with small defects.++

As she goes on, she talked me about her flooded warehouse which occured one month ago I think. Its clothes could no more be sold now in hers shops and so she would be pleased to donate it for a small and human size association as Beacon House. Clothes are in cardboard packaging 30 mn from Accra and I would just need a big pick up to take it all and resistribute to differnets orphenages.

I was so glad to meet her and hear her proposal !

I replied with big smile that I will do that : make a commitment personally so that I can show her it is well done and so that it benefits to the orphanage I am volunteer. First I would give some for them and after I would find other reliable small associations to also help other orphans with the help of Romana who has many contacts with small association helpings orphans in remote villages in different part of Ghana as you can the on the link beofre..

ANOTHER PARTNER FOR THIS DONATION

I asked my friends if one of them had a pick up explaining “Numero Uno” big donations.

One of them told me I should ask for Bolloré Africa Logistic pick- up , since I told you the wife of Ghana Bolloré manager used to be a volunteer for Beacon House till march 2016.

And the next day I had a positive reponse for that!

Everything was  going perfect!

Then, monday, March, 18th, I went to the warehouse of Numero Uno with Bolloré Africa Logistic pick up, and take the big clothes donations!

I find friends to help us in washing some clothes each which have some wate task (I asked already  on facebook and tahnks for all your “Yes” ). I’m so happy for that too!

Here are the steps through photos!

First, meeting Vera, Numero Uno manager shop,  to go to her Warehouse outside Accra, with Bolloré pick up.

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Then we collected 100 boxes of clothes :

 

AND AT LAST WE ARRIVED IN BEACON HOUSE!!!!!!

 

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What about Expat Women career and work?

What is hiding behind an “expat woman”…

When you decide to follow your husband or boyfriend for expatriation, you know your life is going to be radically different and you will be called an “expat woman”.

I prefer saying ” women follow men” because it is primiraly the case for 90% according to a survey.

What about working abroad although you are in Africa?

 

  • First of all : working abroad will teach you to become adaptable and creative!

If you want to be more “creative”, work on the other side of the world :

I really think that discovering another way to work – with so many differences such as language, culture, time notions, space notions, way of thinking, understanding and realising staff/things –  is the best way to adapt yourself, developping an open minded and high capacity of understanding other people.

No matter the nationalities and the countries, you will always have to adapt to them by understanding  their cultural background and being creative to make business or anything else together. And you will start from the beggining when you will change from world’s region : Asia, America, Europe and Africa have all different ways to behave in business job.

“Cultures come with new norms and values and ways of looking at things, immersing yourself in a culture gives you proxies for biculturalism. Juxtaposing these two different worldviews lets you come up with new possibilities.” Adam Grant

  • Do women really need to work here?

You will have the first chance (at last !!) in your life to stop working ! Or even at least for a while until………… So if you choose to take advantage of the life without working you can feel like being in holidays, being finally able to see your children, taking time to cook more for your family, and above all looking after yourself for the first time since ages 😉

You have followed your husband because  he is supposed to have a better job (I’m only talking about €, £, ¥, $ !!!) , and your apartment and car will also be paid  by the company…..

Moreover, if you finally find a local work paid in GHC be aware that it would be useless for getting more money. At the same time, if the reason why you want to work is to have an activity, just do it !

But afterall you will have to find some activities (or at least one) to have something to do in order to avoid loneliness & a boring life !

However, according to my experience here (but I’m speaking personally), to stop working -because you are abroad- can be also very difficult to survive after a while. You will no more get up every morning thinking how to dress and make up to meet your collegues at 8 o clock and have a working purpose and activities everyday…

  • Is it difficult to get a job in Ghana ?

West African countries like Ghana and Senegal are said to be welcoming….. but…………

The problem is that you should have already moved there to have a chance to get a job. Employers receive so many false assurances from expats pledging to be on the next flight out that preference is usually given to people they meet in person.

Another drawback is that some West African nations may have quotas for issuing work visas to foreigners, with some smaller companies only being allowed one at a time.

On the other hand, reports suggest that anyone with technical skills such as engineering can expect the bureaucratic mist to miraculously lift : the oil and gas sector offers rick pickings, particularly in established countries such as Nigeria and Algeria…

But isn’t it mainly job for men ?!?!?!

==> Consequently, you can now understand that for women, it is not easy to find a work in Africa, except if you work for the embassy (few offers), school (be a teacher) or if you are for your account (psychologist, physiotherapist…)  and that you want to open your  cabinet/ office here. That is possible.

And above all, you have to check if you are allowed or not to work in the hosting country. It is stuck in your Visa passeport Permit. 

My Personnal experience in Ghana…

A SINGLE QUESTION :

Who was I  before being an expat woman …? ” 

Well, FIRST OF ALL I used to be INDEPENDENT !!!!

I was working in Paris, France for a famous natural cosmetic brand called L’Occitane en Provence in the center of this beautiful city which I love so much…

I had responsabilities being a District Manager in the city center of Paris : I was “the boss” of  more than 15 salespersons and 3 shops managers.

So when I choose to quit my job, I was on the one hand happy to be free for the first time of my life and on the other hand  I was scared that I miss my work, colleagues, and stop being proud of myself.

“Will it be worth it …or not…? ”

Nobody could answer that question at that time…

 

MAY 2014… my arrival in Accra

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BUT WHAT CAN I DO HERE NOW ?????

At my arrival in Accra, I started quicky to be ALONE in my “lovely” house, knowing noone, being LOST in the crowded and noisy capital of Ghana, Accra.

My boyfriend was working from 7 am to 7 pm  so I had yo find out what to make with my two hands and head!

First, I really had difficulties to adapt: I MISSED France, family, friends, colleagues, Paris, my appartment, my dance lessons, my “own” bars of preference , restaurants, Zara and FNAC shops, theatres, Opera Garnier, cinemas and all what Paris could offer… EVERYTHING in fact! And what about here??? Well………. φ φ φ φ φ…….

HOW could I make to go out of this mess ?

==> I HAD to find  a WORK and other  daily ACTIVITIES to integrate and spend time.

July… hummm… no french expat is here … no activities neither … OK, it is summer holidays… well… one solution… (you are following me?!?!!!)  BECAUSE I do not want to commit suicide alone here.

So  I “cried” to my boyfriend :

-“please, my lover, I am sorry but I beg you, can I go back to France for the summer  and I will come back in September ? ……” 

…….

“one angel is very very slowly passing” we would say in french which means “There is a hushed silence “

-OK then… you are sure? You don’t want to stay with me?

-Well………

September 2014, 3 months later…

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3 months after my arrival, (yes, you know now that all expat women are going back for the whole summer holidays to their country, but I understand why now…). and with good new motivation and a parachute this time , I landed in Accra happy to find my boyfrien again .

I first tried to help in organizing “Accra Accueil” activities and visits with the french association. I met french expat girls and start to discover with them the city, the culture and typical things of Ghana.

So yet, it was a good beggining afterall…  but after 6 months…. the same questions… were coming back to my mind….

I was missing something only given by work : the  Pride to be active and independent.

“WHAT ABOUT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL ? 

BUT THIS TIME FOR HELPING AND  TEACHING CHILDREN ?”

“WHAT ABOUT BEING A VOLUNTEER IN AN ORPHENAGE?”

….

 

Contrary to all expectations, the life changed for me from that moment.

At last, I felt like waking up again …!

 

namaste