New Trip Time! Placement in Ghana

It is way beyond time for another major trip. And this time around, it’s more than just casual travel. This time, it’s a volunteer placement/internship in Western Africa, tied to my Master of Social Work program. 

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Yes, from September 28-December 21, 2013, I’ll be in Ghana! I’m going to be working full-time with International Needs Ghana, primarily with their Women’s Empowerment project in the Volta region (which borders the country of Togo). There, in the small town of Adidome, I’ll be working between the office and the community, in areas such as counselling and vocational training/micro-enterprise for local women. 

And . . . I’m getting pretty freakin’ excited. I know a whole lot more about Eastern Africa than I do about Western Africa, but I’m very ready to learn and experience. Can’t wait to see the culture and meet the people of Ghana! The Volta region, at least according to my current reading, is primarily made up of the Ewe people, who speak Ewe, so I’m trying to pick up at least a few polite words. English is, however, one of the main languages of the country.

Beyond my “day job”, I’m hoping to both get deeper into the community I’m staying in, and see more of the country during weekends and other time off. I’m hoping for festivals, and colour, and natural beauty, and more. Wish me luck. 

And for those who’ve talked to me lately. . . well, nope, it hasn’t been an easy time getting to this “almost there” point. Here’s my mostly tongue-in-cheek picture of what I’ve been through for the last 6 months or so: 

How to Get a Placement in Ghana in 15 Easy Steps

  1. Apply for the International Placement Program. 
  2. Get in, with Tanzania as a planned destination. 
  3. Celebrate! 
  4. Discover the Tanzanian placement isn’t exactly social work. 
  5. Desperately get contacts for any other agencies: talk to the school; talk to anybody you know who might have contacts somewhere in Africa; do Internet searches. 
  6. Gain contact with a promising agency in Rwanda. 
  7. Get all the documents signed, make it official. 
  8. Celebrate! 
  9. Discover you are not accepted for a Rwandan visa (the day before you are supposed to fly out). 
  10. Panic. 
  11. Cancel technically non-refundable flight; beg for credit; get it. 
  12. Super-desperately push for any previously promising contacts in Africa. 
  13. Get contact with that previously promising agency in Ghana. 
  14. Get all the documents signed, and visa in hand, make it totally official to start at a later date. 
  15. Cross fingers. 
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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “New Trip Time! Placement in Ghana

  1. Great photos and captions. I had fun camping out in your blog. I’ll be back! 🙂

    http://iseebela.wordpress.com/

  2. So excited to hear about all your adventures in Ghana! I liked this post, particularly the 15 Step Programme.. heh heh!

    -Nicole
    http://hammereats.wordpress.com/

  3. lisa

    i’d be curious to hear more about your decision to go to ghana as a white person helping in africa.. i have a hard time with that.. reminds me too much of colonialism, too much white saviour, etc. i’d really appreciate hearing your thoughts, especially as a social worker.

    • traveljess

      Hi Lisa, thanks for posting! That’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about throughout. The African experience was partially a goal for me because I have a keen interest in international politics and particularly international development. I’ve been wanting to live in a developing country (particularly in Africa, which as a continent has been much of my research focus in my undergrad, though actually it’s eastern Africa that I knew better) for a while, because I wanted to see how the high level politics & development affects the daily life of the people. Coming in, I was thinking of it both that way and the way I was in my non-international placement: i.e. this is a learning experience for me (both the work, and the whole developing-country living, in the case with Ghana), but I’d like to contribute using skills I have or skills I’m learning. However, on coming here, I’ve found I’m sometimes treated a little more “highly” than I would prefer, or considered possibly being an expert in areas where I am a learner myself, so I’ve had to correct some assumptions, work a lot on rapport building and let people see me as another young woman, rather than just White Foreigner – and to just be “Sister” Afi, and not “Madame”, to use the local lingo. It’s an ongoing process, I think.

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