At the beginning of summer myself and 6 other students from the university set off to Ghana for 9 weeks. We were all members of the student run charity Edinburgh Global partnerships- A fantastic organisation focused on community led development overseas. We had been fundraising as a team throughout the year and the time had finally come to put all our hard work to good use.
Our project involved constructing a sustainable poultry unit for a school in the community of Akim Swedru. Together with the help of some skilled locals we built a large unit of 2 rooms to contain 1000 laying hens with space for up to 2000 hens in the future. Its reason being that the school can sell the eggs for a profit, meaning it can expand existing facilities, generate funds for important supplies and become self-sustaining.
Before leaving my home in the Highlands I really hadn’t thought a lot about what I was about to do. I didn’t have time to prepare myself for the culture that I was about to be submerged in. I had no idea what to expect and I found that exciting.
Upon arrival I could not have been more overwhelmed with the heartfelt welcome we received from our partner charity. Our host, Andrews was the most kind-hearted man I have ever met and it was a great pleasure to be able to work with such an inspiring, motivated man.
Ghana is one of Africa’s leading developing countries and on the surface it appears to be. However being welcomed deeply into the community we were presented with truths that were really hard hitting and made me reform my initial judgement.
However, despite the countries developing nature, its people are in a constant state of happiness. Their all singing and dancing culture brings such warmth to a country that is already ridiculously hot and humid! ‘Community spirit’ is not limited to close neighbours, it expands right to the borders and beyond, and the helping and loving nature of the people cannot be missed.
But I will miss Ghana.
The absence of home luxuries was not such a struggle. I miss being disconnected from social media, being away from the expectations of giving instant replies. I miss showering in the heavy rains because you can achieve higher levels of cleanliness than bucket showers. I miss the strange sense of security you get from a mosquito net. And I miss not having a mirror and just really not caring!
I miss the children from the school, who despite having so little, knew no better and were content that way! This inspires me to realise that material goods are of such little worth. And we should really focus on what is real and happening in this world. I cannot list all that I have learnt about myself and about Ghana, and in fact about home, but what I can say is that I am inspired by the people and inspired to return to developing countries and continue to give the small amount that I can.
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’