Achiase, Ghana: Day 1 of Placement at Bethel Children’s Home

After spending one night in a gorgeous volunteer house in Madina, where we had a flat screen tv and got to try Red Red (kind of goulash, with beans and corn) and fried plantains (so sweet and chewey- yum!), we were moved to our real placement where we will be volunteering for the upcoming 2 weeks, the Green Program in Achiase, Ghana. We were told that the accomodation would be similar to the one in Madina. Ha! Not quite…The volunteers include Steph, Demet, and I, as well as Katherine from Barbados, Allision from Colorado, John from California, Ben from Montana, and John, who has been kind of a nomad around the US for the past year. At the moment we have no running water, meaning no flushing toilet, no showers, not even bucket showers. The bug situation isn’t too bad, although when we were all hanging out in the kitchen last night 3 spiders spindled down from the ceiling, over MY head of course. Luckily John is quick with removing his shoes and was a hero each time.

We got to start volunteering at the orphanage yesterday, as well. It was everything I expected yet still shocking. The children have nothing, they play with tires, plastic, and bottle caps, and receive 1-2 bowls of rice per day. They wear tattered clothing and many of them have sores and scars and have illnesses. Still, they are all SO happy. As soon as we walked into the yard children were climbing us like trees, hugging us and tickling us and laughing. I don’t think there was a second where we had a free lap or arm as the children constantly were sitting on our laps, holding our hands, and playing with our hair. My favorite part of the afternoon was when we put on some Reggae music really loud and we all started making up dances (as everyone, knows I LOVE to dance). I also found an old volleyball and played a mixture of volleyball/soccer/hackysack with the kids. Hand games are very popular, too, and I now know 3 new ones.

Apparently, there were four Aussie girls who paved the way for the program, fundraising thousands of dollars to pay off the orphanages debts, build a classroom, and buy a water tank for the orphanage. I have been told they still send money over. Ben (who found out yesterday he has Malaria, even though he has been taking Malaria pills, yikes!) is following in their footsteps by implementing and putting into action, with his own money, a project that will be able to give the children protein as well as provide some income for the home. He has built a chicken coop and puchased 100 chickens. The children will hopefully be able to eat one egg per day and the extras can be sold for profit.

Overall, I am very happy to be here. The running water situation is a bit stressful, but it feels so good to be making a different in a place that really needs it. I look forward to the rest of the week.

PS/ on an upbeat note, Steph and I bought fabric and just went to a seamstress to have dresses made. Mine is a wild orange print that reminds me of Africa, and I’m having it made into a tank dress that ends mid-thigh. I’m excited to see what it comes out like.

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Jessica Festa is the editor of Jessie on a Journey as well as Epicure & Culture. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and living with a family in Ghana.


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