During the summer, pupils and staff from RMS made a life-changing visit to the village of Atorkor, located on the coast in Ghana’s Volta Region, with the Atorkor Development Foundation (ADF).
Our school has had a longstanding relationship with the ADF, a community-based organisation that seeks to transform Atorkor village from being under-developed with extreme poverty, into a self-sustaining community.
Groups from the School have made several trips to the village over the years, successfully raising funds to build ‘Ruspini House’, a nursery that provides crucial early childhood education to the community.
Our most recently planned trip had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s trip was a much-anticipated return to Atorkor to support the ADF in developing a new Early Learning Centre.
We spoke with Molly, our new Deputy Head Girl for Charities, about the team’s incredible trip.
How did you find out about the trip and what made you want to go?
Due to COVID, the last school trip to Ghana happened when I was in the lower years of senior school. At the time, the trip sounded amazing, and it felt like a long time until I would be old enough to go on it.
When the announcement came that the trip was running again, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss out on
I knew it was a country that I was unlikely to travel to on my own, so by going with the school, and the charity, it was much easier to travel there with a planned itinerary.
It also felt much safer, as the charity has local connections. Reading through the itinerary and looking at pictures from previous years just made me want to go more!
What were you most excited about ahead of the trip and what were you most nervous about?
I knew that I would have an incredible time on the trip and I was excited to experience a new culture and environment
I was really looking forward to meeting my ‘partner girl’ at the school out there. We had all received letters and pictures from our partner girls before the trip, which added to the excitement!
I was also nervous about being so far away from home, as it was the longest I had ever been away from my family.
Can you give us a brief summary of what the group got up to day-to-day?
We generally did two main activities each day. This included a welcome ceremony, going to church, cultural activities at the local technical school, helping out at the baby clinic, visiting a local market, attending the school prize day and taking part in a football match.
We would have our breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the dining table in the house. In between the activities, we would spend time at the house, where we played cards, games and made bracelets with the local children in the courtyard, as well as spending time with our partner girls.
The main aim of our trip was to help set up the new Early Learning Centre, so together we painted the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colouring pencils on the walls of the classroom.
What were your top three highlights of the trip?
It is so hard to pick just three, as I have so many incredible memories!
One of the highlights was spending time in the courtyard of the house playing with the local children. There was a door in the gate to the courtyard which, during the day, the local children would come through to play with us. We played football, clapping games, made bracelets, learnt some of the local language and answered their questions about our life in England.
Another top highlight was when we made a trip to a baby clinic. There we saw the way the babies and their families live and the medical care they have access to. We also saw children as young as two years old walking themselves to school, helping with the family chores, cooking, cleaning, and washing, which really put our lives into perspective.
Another highlight has to be walking around the village and having the children that we had previously played with waving at us, and slowly gaining the confidence to come and hold our hands and give us high-5s! We also ended the trip by giving each of our partner girls bags of gifts and donations, which included items such as cups, towels, toiletries, sanitary products and stationary.
Seeing how truly grateful they were for what we would think are the most simple necessities was very emotional, especially since we had to then say goodbye!
What would you say to pupils who might be thinking about going on a trip like this in the future?
We made so many connections with people in the village and members of the Atorkor Development Foundation. It has given me so many new opportunities and links for future volunteering. It was also a great chance to give me an insight into what travelling without my family to other countries and continents would be like. I now feel more confident about travelling without my family in future.
I would 100% recommend that you sign up for it. It was an amazing experience that has given me a new perspective of life
Is there anything else you wish to mention about the trip?
As a group we would like to give a HUGE thank you to our teachers, Ms Duffin and Ms Whitton. Without them this trip wouldn’t have happened and they truly pulled it all together and made the experience unforgettable. We cannot thank them enough. There were many evenings where we were tired and emotional and their jokes and smiles always made us feel so much better!
We would also like to say thank you to Mrs Baron and Mr Cox who also helped organise the trip and put us in contact with the charity.
We really cannot recommend this trip more, and we hope we have encouraged more people to be pushed out of their comfort zones to experience a trip this life changing!
The school will be continuing to collect donations to send to Ghana, so look out for future fundraisers to support the charity.
If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to come and talk to any of us about the trip. We will be so glad to speak about it as we could talk for hours about this experience!
You can see more photos from the trip below.