THOMAS – GHANA – 12 MONTHS
HANDI VENGALISM REHAB AND RESOURCE CENTER in Accra, Ghana looks after abandoned children up to the age of 12. The aim of the project is to provide a future of hope through quality residential care, education and counselling for disadvantaged children. Thomas’ role was to help other workers by providing general care for the children and his duties included helping with homework, assisting the children with feeding and bathing and teaching a variety of subjects.
VOLUNTEERING AT AN ORPHANAGE
I had come with a fair few trials, not least as the concept of childcare and child welfare was vastly different from the UK. Carers and even the resident nurses sometimes seemed nonchalant in their attitude to the children and at the house where I worked; children were aged little more than a year old, up to six years old and often required much care and attention. This is not to mention that we had 3 children living with the HIV virus, 2 further children with cerebral palsy, and a few who had behavioural and learning difficulties.
THE CHILDREN I WORKED WITH
were absolutely wonderful, though at their age and due to the impossibility of remembering my name they simply addressed me as “obroni”, which is a Twi word for non-black person. The word comes with none of the negative connotations in the west and the children were without exception endearing and extremely curious. One even went so far as to inspect and feel my hair, and declared gleefully that it was in fact quite soft, and not as rubber-like as she had first thought. Others then promptly followed suite, and I felt somewhat like an exotic creature on display at a petting zoo!
Fundaçao Thiago de Moraes Gonzaga (VIDA URGENTE) is an educational project focusing on drug prevention. It’s located is in Jardim de Salso, Porto Alegre. The project works with the youth from local community and tries to instil a sense of responsibility towards safe driving. It also aims to help those with drug addictions.
GHANA ITSELF WAS VERY HOT
and I have a lasting memory of stepping off the plane on the first night. The balmy night seemed to weigh a tonne, and all my clothes immediately stuck to me like cellophane as soon as I stepped out the flight cabin. Nevertheless, I acclimatised well and the heat was not so unbearable. It was also a great relief to find that even the locals struggle with the heat, going so far as to even sweat, albeit unnoticeably, on sunnier days.