Time has come to have 2 weeks easter holidays in France !
Save the date : Marseille, Bordeaux, St Palais-sur-Mer and Paris !
By plane, train, taxi or buses , subway and feet 😮
Before leaving your host country for Holidays :
Holidays for expatriates are planned and checked by the company of your husband or boyfriend quite a long time before.
And it does not look like resting days !!
Making everything ready to take off the D day.
Now that you have your plane ticket and you have chosen where to land, you have to organise the meetings for the two parents family and friends.
I started with my boyfriend family in Marseille, then my family and friends near Bordeaux and at last but not least all my friends in Paris.
For my friends, I used Facebook by posting the dates of the week I ll be in Paris to organise each several days with them ( lunch, shopping session, diner..) and manage to see everybody.
J – 10
Now that you have you schedule complete, you want to bring small presents from Ghana to family and best friends and also for birthday or 2 new baby birth.
I decided to go to the Art Market ” in Accra to find some little products in wood of roses ( small animals like elephants 😉
I have also been to Marina Mall, for cosmetic made in Ghana with shea butter cream or essential oil or tea tree :
I bought some soaps and shea butter from the “all for nature ” shops
And the best presents I think are made by my friend Lova in Accra who buy her fabric in Ghana and then can sew by hand all what you want : I ordered her some typical things for birthday : pillow, bags, etc… She sells all products on a little market website : crea by lova
Check all that you are missing in your host country which does not exist or is too expensive:
Part of the list : chocolate, french mustard, cheese, your favorite wine…
You pack everything (quite nothing except presents since you still have clothes for winter/summer at home) and take two suitcases to come back with products.
D DAY at last!!
I m ready to jump into the first plane for 6 hours flight to Amsterdam and the second plane to Marseille and few days after ……
And after a while… I finally arrived HOME ! !
My parents house near Royan, in St Palais sur Mer!!
I had not seen them for 4 months.
The day after my arrival to my parents place ……..
WHAT do you think I did ?!?!??
I have been on early morning to a supermarket !! Yes what you have just read is true : Super Market !!
I wanted to buy the products I do not eat in Accra because there are not or they are too expensive: such as chocolate, cheese, french bread, good wines, yogourt, mustard, ice cream , oisters….
At the payment desk, no plastic bag is given : now you need to have your own bag for food.
It is so good not to see all plastics on the ground everywhere you go… in Ghana, people do not care about it because I think that they are not aware of pollution and what is dangerous for the planet.
Then I could enjoy time here with friends and family :
A little of Ghana in Vaux sur Mer/ St Palais sur Mer :
What a surprise I had while going to “la maison blanche” , a wonderful and beautiful place (to eat and drink and even dance at night ) in front of the beach of Nauzan and the sea :the Ghanaian flag red/yellow and green alnd instead the black stars there was the logo of the ” white house” .
I thought i was not seeing well but yes when I ask the waiter it is was effectively the director who love ghana and Bob Marley as well.
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.
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 :
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 !
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“!!!
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…
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 !!!!)
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 Unoand 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.
Since I did not work all day, I had time to give to an association …
I decided to help in an orphenage since I like being with children, playing with them and teaching them things .
A friend of mine was already a nurse in Beacon House orphenage…
So one day, I followed her in this orphanage and I started a “love and helping” adventure.
What I do in Beacon House as a volonteer :
My friend who introduce me had to moove out from Africa… so my first mission in the orphenage was to prepare the medecines for those kids who have VIH (25% of the orphans in this orphenage). She explained me and since then I do it all wednesday for the whole week. I also go to hospital with them once a monthe to see the doctor who take car of the one with VIH.
But after this, I started to find games such as puzzle, and also dancing on zumba style!
Volunteers can help with school (homework, tutoring, reading ), they can propose arts and crafts, organizing a game, sports and other projects per their skills. If you have other hobbies (such as me music and danse) you can propose it to the orphanage director for approval and just start !
I already started to have idea to collect some clothes, toys, shoes, and medecines because they were in needs og basic ones.
I send a letter to Accra to be publish on their own website and I had so many respond after that at school! And by word of mouse, I get even more that I could imagine!
After this, I put an album on my facebook page for sharing photos of kids playing with toys and wearing clothes they gave me for them.
Many friends from France also answered my call by sending me medecines, clothes, toys…so that I can return it when i will be in France ( in the end of April for holidays ).
It is wonderful to see their smiles, energy!
How is everdyday life in Beacon House orphenage ?
They are 23 lovely children there : the smallest baby is 6 months and the oldest child is 21.
Most of them are about 5 to 7 years old.
I also learned their everyday life such as duty :
Each day, 2 or 3 kids have to clean different parts of the house inside and outside. So there is a planning sticked on the wall to kwnow who do what and when ! Good organization! However, sometimes, one kid refuse to do it, since this is the way, the director of the orphenage give a punition : he will be forbidden to go to school the day after and he will have to clean even more!
Morevover, after school both girls and boys have to wash with hands their clothes since they do not have a washing machine here.
One lady prepare food for dinner for the 23 children. Most of the time they eat rice with something else like chicken, eggs.
Their plates are filled very well! However, they ask donors to give fruits and vegetables for having vitamins since it is expansive here.
They have a land 35 minutes from Accra (where they will moove on in few months) where they already try to become self- sufficient and they have built a chicken coop (thanks to american donors) : they produce eggs for them to give protein for energy and even to sell now to get an income for them to spend in other food expenses ! Other projects such as producing their own food are in progress :they have already planted orange, lemon, avocado, and mango trees to provide fruits for the home. A great idea !
They all go to the ghanaian school wich is not far and they go there by walking. They start at 8am and finish around 3pm. They both learn english and french (since Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, are close to Ghana).
Rules for adoption and link to help all around the world
Adoption is limited in Ghana right now. An american lady asked for adopting th 6 months baby (Matthew) but governement refused. It is so sad for him to miss to have parents and better condition of living , education and hobbies…
Changing myself, and being aware of reality
This experience makes me grow and gives me a great joy, each time I enter the orphanage, a little boy or girl is running to kiss me and giving a big hug, and the others are following with their “mumies”working there with big great smile.
It is like if I was a Mrs Santa Claus giving love, hugs, cuddles and bringing fruits, toys, clothes..
Helping the most disavantaged is really a self-fulfilment for me. I feel like growing into a better person, and changing my point of view of the world, being more aware of the opposed lives on earth.
Poverty or / and being an orphan is hard to see but their everyday smile gives me a beautiful lesson of life!! How wonderful they are inside and their courage, strenght to struggle.
I you feel like being to be a volunteer, here is a link of a website to know and find how to be a volunteer in all the world: workaway.
It is really wonderful to see how love is strong from them to you and the from you to them !!