Read the story of Megan, one of our volunteers who spent a month in Ghana. Megan worked in childcare, helping children both at the school and at the orphanage run by Becky’s Foundation. Despite the many hardships faced by these children, Megan saw their innate joy shine through and was inspired by their positivity.
When did you go to Ghana?
June 2016. When I went, I was between my junior and my senior years of my undergraduate degree in university. It was basically the last summer that I really had before grad school summers and that type of thing, and I was like “Ok if I’m going to go, I have to go now”.
How long were you in Ghana for?
I was there for four and a half weeks.
What made you decide to go to Ghana? Why Ghana?
I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, just in general. I found out about a volunteer program through my aunt who’s a world traveler. Although she’s never done anything with them, she had a friend who did and had a good experience, so I decided to do the program because I originally was just going to go on my own. Through that, I was like “ok they have South Africa and Ghana, and I would rather go to Ghana,” and that was basically how it worked out.
How many other volunteers were there when you were there?
I was in turquoise, and there were four other volunteers when we got there. Then it was only myself and the girl I went with, but that was just for a few days. Eleven others came after that, so it was kind of like learn, do it on your own for a little, and then teach all the new people.
What did your volunteering work consist of?
We would wake up around 5 each morning and bring the kids to school. We’d take them to school, go have breakfast, go back to the school, stay there for a while, go back for lunch, and then we’d take a breather. The schools are kind of hectic so you can only handle so much of that. Then we’d go back up to the orphanage, hang out with them until about 6:30, because it got dark at about 7 while I was there, and then we’d walk back for dinner.
What type of tasks were you doing while you were at the orphanage?
Cleaning, playing with the kids, and helping with homework. That was mostly the jist of it I would say.
And did you have any childcare experience before you went?
I’ve nannied for summers, but that’s about it. So not too much, but I love kids and I was going into teaching and that kind of stuff.
Did you do some teaching while you were there, or was it more just entertaining the children, reading to them, and that sort of thing?
Mainly the latter. I started teaching, but not a lot. I didn’t come prepared to teach, and the teacher that I was with for the time being was new, so she didn’t really know what she was doing and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was more there being like “what do you need me to do?”
Do you have a degree that’s related to childcare?
Maybe? I have my undergraduate degree in communication disorders or speech and hearing sciences. I’m going into speech/language pathology once I get my Master’s degree, so I could work with kids but it just depends.
Do you feel that going to Ghana is going to help you going forward in your career?
Yes, I do. I’ve always had a heart for Africa and children. I actually wrote about this in my graduate school applications, and I thought “Alright, I’m going to write about Ghana because that’s my heart”. Everyone always says “I want to go back, I want to go back”, and yes I do, but I want to have the means to help the kids that I want to help before I go back.
How was Seth and the rest of the staff?
Seth was great! When we got there on the first day, he had us come to his house and sit on his front porch. He wanted to tell us about the organization and how things are run. Afterwards, Jordyn and I, the girl I travelled with, walked back and were like “ok we’re in the right spot, this is right, this is exactly where we’re supposed to be.” And the people that you meet have the same kind of heart. Most people that I would tell I was going to Africa during the summer were like “why?” And I was like “what do you mean why? That’s what I want, that’s my heart!”
One thing I do have to say, when I was there I didn’t do any of the public health stuff, but I was involved with it a lot. The girl that I was travelling with has really intense migraines and she ended up getting typhoid while she was there, which was crazy. But Chief was awesome with her! Also, just being able to take the kids to the care center if they needed malaria medicine or anything like that was really helpful. So that was definitely a good experience, and one you wouldn’t think would be a good experience.
Had you done any travelling before you went or was this your first experience?
It was my first trip on my own. I had done travelling up in Canada and Mexico, and my family and I went to Vietnam in 2009 and 2010. My aunt had lived there for two years, so we went and visited her for a while.
Did you do any day trips?
We did Cape Coast the first weekend and then we did Wli falls, which was kind of crazy because it was right after the eleven other volunteers had come in. They wanted to do it and I was like “yes!” I love to hike, I love all that kind of stuff, but Jordyn didn’t want to go. She stayed with people that didn’t want to go at the house, and I took myself and nine others to the falls. I somehow took the ropes and figured out how to get there. The other girls had just gotten there and didn’t know anything yet, so it was kind of crazy and scary, but then great at the same time. It was something new and kind of scary, which made it kind of cool. We also went down to Sunflower, and then we went to the mall, especially when Jordyn was sick so I could get her food that she was used to. But that was most of the travel that we did.
How did you cope with the experience of actually being in Africa?
Water. I made sure I was very hydrated all the time. But to cope with things, with just living in a different place for a while, I definitely had to make sure that I had time just to myself after lunch. I used this just to kind of reflect and just do me for a little so that I could give to the kids more, because otherwise I’d just be totally wound down. But for food and housing and that kind of thing, everything was good! I didn’t have to worry about any of that, or safety, or anything like that.
What would be your advice to people who are looking into going into Ghana? Why should they choose Ghana over somewhere else?
It’s beautiful! I’ve never seen so much joy in a group of people. It’s strictly joy, and it’s not because of anything manmade or physical, it’s literally just who they are. You look at these faces and you look at these people and you’re just like “I want that! Whatever you have, I want that joy.” I want to go everywhere in the world, I want to travel everywhere and do everything. And I never really thought that I would go back, I thought I would just do it and move along. But I definitely, at some point in my life, want to go back. And it was for the people, it was definitely for the people.
To learn more about our programs in Ghana, click here.