Erin Cusack went to Ghana as a Leave for Change participant in 2010.
I volunteered as a Career and Social Counselling Advisor in Ghana. My placement was at a FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists) school for girls in the village of Obodan, Ghana, close to the town of Nsawam. While the school itself had some challenges (limited resources, financial difficulties), the people were wonderful– the teachers were warm and welcoming and the girls were truly inspiring. I worked closely with the girls at the school to establish a peer counselling program and to provide basic guidance and career counselling.
Many of the girls come from difficult backgrounds so the work was challenging but incredibly rewarding. Most days it was about 40 degrees celsius, the sun was shining and goats and chickens ran freely around the roads. Local women carried water back from the well in buckets on their heads and children excitedly shouted “Obruni” and waved with huge smiles when I walked by. In Ghana, you are often greeted by “Akwaaba”, which means welcome, and it is a fitting description of how I was made to feel wherever I went during my time there.
On the weekends, I had the chance to ride the tro-tro to Cape Coast, visit gardens and markets and make friends with local people. At the end of my placement, I met with the country director of WUSC to review my report and discuss recommendations, and a commitment was made to hire a long term volunteer to continue the work I began.
I am excited to have recently heard from the new volunteer who will be taking over for me! This was the experience of a lifetime and I would encourage any UBC staff member who is considering L4C to do it!