Chris was KickStart Ghana’s Assistant Volunteer Coordinator for the summer of 2013. He spent almost three months in Ghana and his work ranged from managing volunteers, conducting interviews, helping organise the summer school, coaching at Dynamo FC and assisting the financial administration. We couldn’t have asked for someone better and we were delighted with his work and attitude. We caught up with Chris to find out his thoughts on the summer.
Q. Why did you choose to volunteer with KickStart Ghana?
I chose to volunteer with KSG for a couple of reasons. Initially, it was a bit opportunistic because I was at a loose end after I finished my degree and was looking for something to do for the summer. However, as soon as I saw that there was an opportunity to work with KSG I jumped on it. I knew if I went with KSG the summer would be extremely worthwhile, both in terms of my own personal experience and in playing a role in carrying some extremely helpful work in a community that it benefits.
Q. What did you enjoy about volunteering with KickStart Ghana?
The thing I probably enjoyed most about volunteering with KSG was the way you are made feel so much a part of the family. In the early weeks of the summer I spent a huge amount of time with Ghanaian people who lived in the compound and I felt I got on really well with everyone, we had a lot of fun and we created a strong bond. This was very different to what I had expected and experienced before as I think it can be very easy for volunteers to only socialise with other volunteers and not to build true friendships with the locals.
Another thing I enjoyed massively when working with KSG was the focus on achieving our goals. Setting challenging goals and then working hard to achieve them made it extremely sweet when they were actually completed and it also meant it felt like we were actually of some use in the community rather than just blow-in tourists.
Q. What impact do you think you made volunteering with KickStart Ghana?
Its difficult to say what impact I thought I made in the longer run because I’m not in Ghana to see how the summer school children are faring in JHS or how Dynamo F.C. are playing. However, in the short run at least I think we had a good impact where we worked. There was a huge amount of enthusiasm for the work we were doing and people were very receptive to it. It was also very rewarding to see students or footballers taking on board our suggestions and our teaching and developing their skills right in front of our eyes. Having seen the work done in previous years in KSG I think this will stand to them in the long run.
Q. What was your favourite thing about living in Ghana?
My favourite thing about living in Ghana was just embedding myself in the culture. The smallest things had the biggest impact on me like saying ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to nearly every single person you see and having them respond with a smile and a greeting. Also, the way there is never any rush to do anything in Ghana – even if somebody is an hour late there is till time enough for a chat and a slow saunter to your destination. That suited me down to the ground because I don’t like moving anywhere quickly.
Q. Would you recommend volunteering with KickStart Ghana to others? If so, what would you say?
I would recommend it in a heartbeat. The charity has a strong vision and ethical code and it is extremely focussed on achieving its goals. As a result the quality of the work done by KSG is extremely high. Even better though is the people you work with and live with. Never have I met a group of such lovely, talented people both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians. Everyone is extremely welcoming and great fun to be around – even Vivian when she was pretending to be angry at me for weeks on end!
If you’ve been inspired by Chris make sure you check out our recruitment pages for roles in 2014.