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.
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.
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 :