In my last post I spoke about the project and how it was laid out. Yet, I didn’t included all the pre-Ghana prep done on both sides. Whilst I can’t tell you the ins and the outs of what happened on the Ghanian side of prepping for the Girls Empowerment Camp I can tell you the basics along with all the prep I had to carry out for the project. And, when I say prepping I don’t mean just the normal pre-travel jabs and malaria prevention stuff (but I will include that too).
In Ghana, GHEI invited the girls who were leaving JSH to take part in the Camp and set up weekly sessions with the girls. This meant that GHEI could start building the bond with the Girls before we arrived so they could be prepared for the topics that we were going to be talking about as well as a way to find out why the girls wanted to partake in the camp. Through doing this it meant that GHEI could prepare a pack for the volunteers to be able to see a picture of each girl along with their name, likes, dislikes, date of birth ect. As a volunteer this was useful for us to be able to see what the girls like doing to be able to plan the sessions. On top of this, the Girls learnt a camp song – which they then taught us when we arrived and prepared their welcome presentation. The welcome presentation included a skit, a song and a dance by the girls (I will talk about more of the details of the welcome presentation in my next post). This is all I can really tell you about the prep that happened in Ghana because I wasn’t there I can’t tell you the details of their weekly sessions that ran over a few months I believe.
As a volunteer, I had to raise money for GHEI which covered my living costs as well as money for the NGO to carry out their projects. One thing, that I’m going to point out now is that normally the living costs would included two meals a day (lunch and dinner) but I have a peanut allergy so I had to take out my own food. This left me feeling like I couldn’t get the whole experience of going to Ghana as I couldn’t try the food but I did get given the recipes so I could try them back in the UK. This meant that my living costs included getting me my own cooking equipment instead of food as GHEI did not want to run the risk of me having going into shock as the hospital that was able to deal with this was 3 hours away from the village. So it was for the best. This money did not include flights nor visa and insurance so once this was all added on and for all the medical bits (even in the UK). For GHEI, one of the things they ask you to do is to raise the money by holding events or doing things you wouldn’t normal do; as it gets them more awareness. Whilst, I can see the great benefits of this for any NGO personally I found it very hard to raise the money needed. I would say this is down to the amount of people I know who are taking part in volutourism (volunteering tourism) and the amount of them that take do it through bigger companies… so i felt rather over shadowed by their projects. But, I guess that’s what happens when you go with a smaller NGO and you are the only one from your university working with them.
As well as raising the money, I had a number of conference calls with the other volunteers and GHEI staff. In these conference calls we were told a brief history of GHEI, the role they play in the village, the aims of the project, what was expected of us, what to expect, what we needed to take with us, the protocol of how we get to the village from the airport and how to get through the airport. This was to make sure none of us had a belongs stolen or people trying to make money off us as soon as we arrived in Ghana. As well as this, the conference calls allowed for us to organise who would be leading which sessions of our project and gave us a chance to be able to email our co-workers to be able to start planning the sessions that we were running. Personally, I felt like this was really useful as I knew what to expect in how the project was going to run and to what could happen at the airport before I had gone through all of the customs checks where I was going to be completely on my own. As soon as I was through customs I was met by my project co-ordinaters. As this was the first time I had flown by myself, not with friends, family or teachers I did find this the scariest part of the whole trip but I will explain why that was in a later blog.
The fact that I was given all of this information and had so much contact with GHEI before I left the UK made me feel more comfortable as none of my friends were going with me and I didn’t know anyone else that was going to there either. Yet, I did have friends who were also going to different parts of Africa (some even go to Ghana but at a completely different time to me) so getting the jabs and malaria prevention was done with group knowledge. So here is a quick breakdown of the medical preparation.
The Jabs I got all the ones that were legally required and highly recommended. These were:
* Yellow Fever – legally required if you are travelling to Ghana. You have to pay for the injection and the certificate (but your certificate can be filled out each time you get a new course so you only have to pay for this once in the UK). This consists of one injection that you then get a certificate to say that you have had it. It also lasts for 10 years, however, the nurse did tell me at the time that there is research going on to see if one course can last longer than the 10 years that is currently stated.
*Hepatitis A – optional but highly recommended. Plus, if you live in the UK the NHS will pay for this one (or at least they did when I got mine). Again this is 1 injection for a course, however, you will need a boaster 6-12 months after your first injection then you are covered for 3-5 years.
*Typhoid – optional but highly recommended. Again, this was 1 injection for a course and does not need a top up until 3 years later. Also, I got this one on the NHS as I had it with the Hepatitis A injection as it was a combined shot.
*Rabies – optional but highly recommended. You will have to pay for this in the UK. One course consists of 3 injections and they have to x amount of time apart from each other and before your trip so you will need to research into this if you are going travelling anywhere that you are recommended for it. This does not need topping up for 3-5 years after the full course and this is only if you are travelling somewhere where you will need it.
*Hepatitis B – optional but highly recommended. You will have to pay for this in the UK as well. One course consists of 3 injections that again have to be spaced x amount of time apart from each other so I would advised you to research this yourself. This one will also require a boaster a year after your last injection but after this you are then covered for 3-5 years again.
*Meningitis ACWY – optional but highly recommended. You will have to pay for this in the UK. One course consists of 1 injection and covers you for 3-5 years.
On top of this, I took daily malaria tablets. These were the Malarone Paediatric. I had to start taking them 1-2 days prior to my trip (so I choose to take them 2 days prior). Then everyday of my trip and for a week after my trip. Again, I had to pay for these both the prescription and for the tablets; the prescription was paid for with my injections but the tablets I had to paid for at the pharmacy. In the UK (this may have changed since last year but I don’t believe it has) the is not set price for a week or month supply yet it is for each tablet. Again this added to the cost the of whole trip.
Anyway, that’s all for this week. I hope you have found this post useful in knowing how to prepare for a trip to Ghana or anywhere else like Ghana. And, that you have a bit more background in how GHEI prepare me for my time with them. More next week.