Each year KickStart Ghana works with Exeter Community Action to recruit ten Exeter University students to travel to Ghana to volunteer at a summer school, reading club and Dynamo FC. Below is a guest blog post from Alex Hills, one of the project leaders, describing the work they will be doing and their fundraising efforts so far.
Hello everyone! Thanks for taking some time out of your valuable sofa time busy schedule to read this! We appreciate your interest!We are Alex Hills and Roman Christoforou, two students at the University of Exeter, and we are volunteering as part of a team of 10 students going to Ghana this summer to deliver a programme of sport and education. We will be volunteering in a township called ‘Ho’, in the Volta Region of Ghana, and we are working in coordination with a charity called ‘KickStart Ghana’ and the University of Exeter Students’ Guild society, ‘Community Action’. What exactly will the team be doing in Ghana? Well, the sport and education programme we will help to deliver consists of three main parts:
- We will providing teaching lessons in St Cecilia School, focusing on extra-curricular and skills-based learning . We will be doing this every weekday from 9am until 4.30pm.
- We will be assisting and helping children read in the Reading Club for around an hour and a half after each school day.
- We will be coaching all age categories of the football club Dynamo FC, including the men’s team, who recently qualified for the last 64 of the Ghanaian FA Cup.
As you can see, our days will be action packed! We have chosen to renounce our traditional summer in order to actually make a difference in a country where more than 1 in 4 people are living below the poverty line (source: http://feedthefuture.gov/country/ghana).We would like to stress a point that we believe is very important with these types of programmes: In no way shall the programme we deliver attempt to promote western culture or interfere with the children’s usual academic curriculum!
- The classes we will be doing are extra-curricular. They will be aimed at social and emotional development and interactive skills that one may not spend a lot of time learning at school.
- The Reading Club will use only their library, where the children will be able to read Ghanaian books which have stories, names and role models which are applicable to them and go some way to preserving their culture.
- At the football club, we will provide alternative training drills and tactics for them to use, but this is not a case of a difference between one culture and another – every country has different mentalities and in this case everyone can learn from everyone, as they are complementary. We, the coaches, may well end up learning as much or more from this experience as the players themselves!
We will be heading to Ghana at the end of July 2014, and will begin the programme within a week of arriving there. This will then run through all of August and until the 5th of September, when it’ll be time to say goodbye to Ho and the people we have met, and begin to look towards our 2nd year at university. (Roman feels there is an added bonus here, as this programme will probably mean him not seeing his family from its beginning right up until Christmas, so he’s very motivated to work on the programme! 😉 )
This is all yet to come, but the project starts (has started) well before we set foot in Ghana. We have to prepare everything extensively, including issues such as vaccinations and visas, as well as fundraising.We need to raise £14,000 between the 10 of us in order to be able to deliver the programme. Half of this amount goes to KickStart Ghana – who will be providing us with a place to stay and food to eat whilst we’re there – and half goes to paying the volunteers’ travel expenses.As you may understand, £14,000 is a lot of money, especially in the current economic climate, and we will need to put some work in to raise this amount.
So what us two, Alex and Roman, will do in order to prove our commitment to the cause will be ‘The Big Walk’.We will be walking from our University, in Exeter, right up to Halesowen, near Birmingham. We will be aiming to complete this walk in nine days, and we will be sleeping in churches/houses in towns along the way, and/or possibly in tents!This in itself will also be a new experience for us and we will be looking forward to the real possibility of humongous blisters and the virtual certainty of aching legs, whilst everyone else will be enjoying the June sun and chilling after exams! We will be setting out on June 10th and hopefully arriving in Halesowen on the 18th.
So, if you’ve reached this far, well done! If you like the sound of this project and would like to “join our journey”, you can certainly do so! You can donate through our online fundraising page, by clicking here – we would welcome any and all donations that help us reach our target, which all goes towards enabling the team to get to get to Ghana and deliver the programme this summer. Or you can you actually join us for part of ‘The Big Walk’ itself – take a look later at the ‘The Journey’ tab on our website (thebigwalk.org) and see which part(s) of the journey you would like to join us for (the route has not yet been planned but, when it is, this information will be added to the ‘The Journey’ page).Thank you for your time in reading our first blog post! This blog will have bi-weekly posts so come back in a couple of weeks to see how things are going with ‘The Big Walk’ and the ‘International Project’!Roman and Alex 🙂