Volunteering in Ghana through International Volunteers exposes you to rural Africa more than any of our other destinations. Rural orphanages, women's programs, teaching, health, wildlife conservation and construction programs are available in North and Central Ghana. Amazing experiences await you in Africa's most peaceful and friendly nation!
One of the major concerns in Ghana, as in many developing countries, is population growth. Both the government and NGOs have worked to establish orphanages to help give a home to children that have been abandoned or abused. ELI works with several different orphanages throughout Ghana, helping the often overworked staff to keep the facilities running. Orphanages rely on the assistance our volunteers can provide to insure that they can accept as many children as possible. Each orphanage houses anywhere between 20 and 100 abandoned children. All these children have come from poor families and many have suffered from malnutrition or neglect. The children thrive on the attention and love our volunteers can share with them. Volunteers don't necessarily need care giving experience; just energy, enthusiasm, an open mind and an open heart. Orphanages often operate with very limited resources; this requires a high level of creativity and flexibility on the part of the volunteer.
See descriptions of orphanage projects in Ghana here
ELI works with several organizations throughout Ghana that work to empower women in the community. These organizations range from centers that assist women who have been victims of sexual or physical abuse to cooperatives that help women start and run their own businesses. Depending on their experience and education level, volunteers can assist with day-to-day activities and chores, or help with planning and implementing programs.
Schools in Ghana are extremely underfunded. Students often lack the most basic of school supplies, and teachers tend to be underpaid and overworked. ELI works with local schools throughout Ghana to help provide additional teachers to work in these schools. Volunteers may teach a variety of subjects, but are primarily useful for their English speaking skills. Students benefit greatly from volunteers who can bring a variety of perspectives to the classroom. This placement does not require teaching experience, though it may be helpful. Successful volunteers are highly motivated and very flexible.
See descriptions of teaching projects in Ghana here
Throughout Ghana, as in much of Africa, there is a severe lack of funding for medical equipment and personnel. ELI works with clinics and hospitals throughout the country which provide care primarily toward high-need communities. Volunteers shadow and assist doctors providing general medical care in mostly rural environments.
Swedru Government Hospital
As a government Hospital this is a large institution that handles a wide variety of acute and public health issues for the public and National Health Insurance Scheme. It was originally a municipal clinic that has grown to provide the needed services of a hospital more out of the desperate need then the actual expansion of services or capacity. This government hospital serves all of the communities in the Agona municipality and can be quite busy. It is a great place for interns and volunteers to see a wide variety of medical issues acute and chronic and become well versed in the treatments for malaria.
Tamale West Hospital
The hospital serves the people of tamale and its environs with a population of not less than 399,359. It is a 24 hours service provision facility. The hospital serves as a referral center for tamale metro sub-district health centers. The hospital has seven (7) functional wards: Men’s ward, Women’s ward, Maternity ward, Labor ward, Children's ward, Surgical ward, Emergency ward.
The entire continent of Africa has a wealth of biological diversity and Ghana is no exception. Our brand new programs allow volunteers and interns the opportunity to get involved in aiding the preservation of this biodiversity in a variety of different ways throughout the country.
The Juaso Project is a conservation project in the forest designed to develop community based eco-tourism in the region, with a view toward helping the community to conserve the forest and reduce destruction by illegal mining, timber operations and the cutting down the trees for firewood.
The forest is located at Akim Juaso in the Eastern Region. It is an upland evergreen forest with hills and valleys drained by two streams Subri and Kyeboa. In terms of Biodiversity, the land is rich in fauna such as birds, primates, and butterflies as well as unique floral species like trees ferns, liens, economic timber tress and medicinal plants.
Afadjato Agumatasa Project
The Afadjato Agumatasa Project was initiated by the local community in 1998 and is funded by the Dutch Government. This project is run in conjunction with the Ghana Wildlife Society with the goal of conserving the natural resources at Mount Afadjato for the social and economic benefit of the local communities. This can be achieved by creating alternative methods of generating income and managing the sustainable use of the conservation area. One key way to create new income is to encourage eco-tourism to the area.
The area is designated as a community nature reserve. It is prohibited to hunt, to log or to farm in the area. Dead wood is the only thing that can to be removed from the area as long as it is not for commercial use. The project employs a number of rangers to patrol the area to protect it.
This is a long-term project so volunteers work on part of the overall plan while they are there. This means that it is not possible to determine EXACTLY what tasks volunteers will be given in advance of their arrival. Group work will be discussed once they are at the project and participants will be given a planned schedule of what needs to be achieved at that time.
Kazigo Reforestation Project
The Kazigo Reforestation Project is an indigenous, environmentally focused project which started about 20 years ago. It is a multispecies a variety of different tree species that are being nursed and planted yearly throughout the region. The project uses indigenous knowledge and resources in the implementation process. Most of the seeds nursed and planted are of indigenous species. The Kizugu community is focused on decreasing deforestation (as a result of bush burning among and other factors), through education and tree planting.
The primary activities volunteers will assist with are the nursing and transplanting of seedlings.
Baobeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary is unique in the world. It is the only place where two different species of monkeys, regarded as sacred locally - the Campbell's Mona and the Geoffroy's Columbus - live together within the same habitat in peace and in harmony with human beings. Here the culture of the people includes the acceptance of the monkeys as part of the society. The community came together in 1975 to pass a bylaw, prohibiting harm to the monkeys. They revere the animals with the belief that the monkeys are the children of the God of the twin-community.
The major obstacle the community has faced has been population encroachment and the poaching of monkeys in the sanctuary. The Ghana Wildlife Division Office and the local community have taken the responsibility of conserving the monkeys and is now also serving as a community based ecotourism site managed by the community. The income helps in providing resources to develop the community.
Volunteers assist both with actual conservation activities with the monkeys, as well as guiding tours and educating tourists and locals regarding the unique site.
Sometimes the most helpful way to volunteer is to simply be an additional hand for the people already actively working in the field. Volunteer projects in construction offer participants the opportunity to tangibly see the results of their labors as they assist with the actual building process. Participants aid skilled contractors and builders to build schools, orphanages, or community centers throughout Ghana. No prior construction experience is required, although it may be helpful. Participants must be in good physical shape.
In addition to the projects listed for Ghana, projects in Togo and Benin are listed below.
Projects in Togo
“Ecole vivenda des Sourds” is a project which was initiated in 2003 to address the concerns of children with hearing difficulties so far as their professional, social and educational integration are concerned. The core objective of the project is to minimize discrimination of the deaf in the academic arena. This project is driven by the passion to improve the living conditions of these children by providing significant solutions to their educational needs. The project offers a wide range of activities for volunteers to contribute immense support to educators.
The orphanage is located at Hiheatro, a suburb of Atakpame. Hiheatro is a small town situated in Prefecture of Amou, 3 km from Atakpame on the way to Kpalime. The orphanage currently has 52 children who are from 6 to 16 years old, mostly in primary school. Volunteers are valuable resources for this project and assistance is needed in many areas. Volunteers are invited to support the project in administrative organization, farming and gardening projects, house painting, cooking, and playing with children. Participants are also welcom to teach and help the teachers in the recruitment of pupils in the school.
Projects in Benin
Agriculture and Women's Empowerment
The association Vivogbè is a rural women association of Kpovié involved in the processing of palm nuts oil Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with hard working women in the treatment of palm nuts, cooking, grinding, oil extraction, bottling, and selling products as a method of income-generation for the women.
Environmental volunteer programs in Benin deal primarily with reforestation and attempts to slow desertification in region. Volunteers help primarily by cleaning up sites to be reforested, picketing, planting seedlings of acacia and maintaining reforested sites. In addition volunteers help with gardening, rabbit breeding, and compost production.
Volunteer teachers are needed at every level in Benin.Participants can help with little children, up to high schoolers, or university students. Volunteers assist staff in their daily work, teach English, and organize various educative and recreative workshops. The need in primary schools is the highest. Once primary school became free in Benin class sizes jumped. Some classes may have as many as 60 students.
In all the hosting communities, we have partnerships with hospitals and clinics where medical students and health workers can work for 3 weeks or more. Volunteers are supervised by a doctor and will assist in daily consultations of patients and treatments. Volunteers can observe in the fields of general medicine, surgery, gynecology, maternity, laboratory, physical therapy, ophthalmology, pediatrics, and emergency. Volunteers are asked to come with medical equipment, a white uniform, and a PEP kit.
Skilled volunteers or those who are interested in broadcasting (radio, newspapers, television) and communications can work writing and translating articles, making reports, sound and video editin, camera work, and animation. Projects are available throughout Benin.
Ghana is a great place to pursue an internship whether you are just starting your career or to broaden your experience. Successful interns have the ability to be flexible, maintain a sense of humor in frustrating situations, and a deep interest in learning firsthand about the vibrant cultures of Ghana.
ELI works with hospitals and clinics throughout Ghana to provide medical internship programs designed for pre-medical students. Interns will have the opportunity to learn about the day to day practice of medicine in Ghana by shadowing doctors and nurses. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges the Ghanaian healthcare system is facing first hand. Interns will also learn about the treatment of diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, Guinea Worm, and tuberculosis. Participants with this program will have no medical responsibilities, but depending on qualifications, may be asked to assist with tasks around the hospital or clinic. Interns with this program are encouraged to get involved with health education and outreach programs as a way to give back to the community.
Ghana is a great place to start or broaden your career in journalism. ELI works with several print media outlets in Accra where interns can experience the energy of the newsroom, assist the editorial staff, or even write articles. All journalism internships are set up on an individual basis. Specific placements will depend on the experience, skills, and goals of the applicant.
Throughout Ghana, a variety of NGOs are working to promote economic development in small towns and rural areas. These organizations focus on a variety of issues ranging from infrastructure development and improvement to capacity building and adult education. Interns with this program will assist with ongoing projects and may possibly be able to implement new projects or new approaches to projects. This program requires at least a three month commitment.
Organizations throughout Ghana are working to provide legal services to the underserved populations, mostly women and the poor. Interns with this program will gain insight into the day to day practice of law in Ghana as well as become familiar with many of the legal and human rights issues faced by the poor. This internship is designed for law students or law school graduates. Interns must be motivated, independent, and very proactive in the position. This internship requires at least a three month commitment, and participants must be prepared to adapt to challenging cultural differences.
Water and Sanitation
Access to water has been one of the biggest and most controversial issues in Ghana during the past 10 years. Water shortages and been experienced in both urban and rural areas due to drought and lack of infrastructure. Many families start their day with a hike of several miles in search of water. Interns can work with an organization devoted to providing sustainable potable water and sanitation services to rural communities in Ghana. A major component of this project is hygiene education and promotion in order to prevent contamination of the water supply and illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, and parasites which are associated with unsafe water sanitation. Interns wanting to be involved with the actual digging of wells should join the program during the dry season (October-May) because the water table rises during the wet season, and many roads become impassable.