To sum up our trip to Ghana is no easy task. It is hard to articulate how much of an overwhelming, enlightening, and life-changing experience it truly was.
It enabled us all to grow a great deal and we came away feeling extremely privileged and grateful for the life that we are so fortunate to lead. From luggage falling off of our mini bus, to the shower stopping after you had just put shampoo in your hair, we quickly learned that life in Ghana is very different and it did not come with the luxuries that we have grown accustomed to.
Atorkor, where we stayed, was a relatively small, poor village and daily life there was rather basic and simple. However, this by no means lessened the locals’ spirits, for they were bursting with energy and passion, whilst their constant smiles were truly contagious. From the very moment that we arrived, they made us feel extremely at home, with a wonderful welcoming ceremony of dancing, singing and drumming. This introduction to Ghanaian culture gave us an initial insight into the joyful, upbeat and positive rhythm of life that the we were soon to live by, and this was only the beginning!
We were soon to discover how great a role these people would be playing in making our experience in Ghana something we will never forget; particularly the children. Every day, without fail, the street outside our house would be teeming with smiling faces, all awaiting the chance to hold our hands on the walk to school. Our main role at the school was to organise and run the holiday camp. The day would be divided between sport in the playground, games in the ICT room, board games in the library, and their favourite activity: arts and crafts. The process of inventing a new craft activity each day certainly tested our creativity skills, but seeing the children use their imagination was truly magical. It was amazing to observe how a simple feather and a handful of glitter could bring so much joy into a child’s life – although they did seem to prefer putting the glitter on their faces, rather than their drawings! They also marvelled at our ‘bubble writing’ and we quickly learnt that once you wrote one child’s name out like this, there would be a rapid queue of about twenty other children wanting to do the same. This holiday camp was to become a highlight of the trip, because it gave us the chance to spend time with the children, learn their names individually and bond with them.
Speaking of names, we also got to learn our local Ewe names, which are assigned according to what day of the week we were born. Additionally, we got the opportunity to learn basic words in the local Ewe language so that we could communicate with our partner girls. This proved to be more difficult than we expected however and, as someone who learns two languages at A-Level, even I was struggling to grasp the pronunciation! To enhance the cultural aspect of the trip, we were also lucky enough to learn how to drum, batik, cook African cuisine, and dress in typical Ghanaian fashion. Some highlights however may have been our rainforest canopy walk and our trip to the local baby clinic, where we were able to weigh the babies ourselves, whilst some of us even learnt how to carry them on our backs!
Perhaps though, the greatest experience of all was the significant and lifelong friendships that we forged with our partner girls. We spent most days together, during which they taught us how to cook, wash our clothes, and speak the language, as well as showing us their homes. In return, we taught them to swim in the lagoon, make friendship bracelets and read English in the library. At their Prize Day, we watched them be awarded for their academic success and we were then invited to try what would come to be known as the ‘chicken dance’. In return for their hospitality, we decided to share a glimpse of our own talents with a breath-taking gym routine and a rendition of our school hymn; which we sang in true RMS style, Reverend Quill will be pleased to hear!
These moments are only a mere snapshot of our trip, but they all culminated to a very special bond with not only our partner girls, but the other children and the village itself. It is safe to say that leaving this behind was very emotional and many tears were shed, even by those of us who apparently never cry! On behalf of everyone on the trip, I would like to say a massive ‘akpe’ (thank-you) to Mrs Baron, Miss Tarbox and Miss Reidie, without whom the trip would not have been possible. We feel extremely privileged to have had such an eye-opening and humbling experience and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that Ghana will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Katie, Year 13
You can view a full gallery of images from our trip to Ghana here