UK ASB volunteers traveling to Accra, Ghana will work through Ubelong, a social ventured based in Washington, DC founded “to advance international development efforts and promote cross-cultural understanding.” Recognized nationally for its work with U.S. volunteers, Ubelong uses a bottom-up approach to identify local development challenges and help mobilize the necessary resources – connecting volunteers and local partners around the world. In Accra, Ghana, Ubelong places volunteers with the non-profit organization, Cheerful Hearts Foundation (CHF), which works across multiple local development initiatives. Located in Kasoa, just outside the capital city of Accra, CHF sponsors initiatives with a particular focus on education, health, and human rights, each of which plagues Greater Accra. According to Ubelong, “Greater Accra is caught in a web of complex problems that negatively affect access to quality education. Deficient infrastructure, overcrowded classes, and materials shortages are common problems. There is a 40 percent school dropout rate in the area, mostly affecting girls who leave school to sell goods at the local market. Unemployment is high, forcing many families to seasonal migration, which also affects their children’s school attendance. Children’s malnutrition is another challenge that affects learning.”
Thus, UK ASB volunteers working with CHF will work with teachers in elementary, middle, and/or high schools to help create more interactive and student-centered learning environments. They will bring enthusiasm to class activities – engaging the students to help them learn, stay motivated, and attend school – and broaden students’ views about different people and places. UK ASB will be placed in small groups, assigned a school, and assigned a subject based upon their interests and their local partners’ needs prior to or upon arrival in Ghana. Volunteers will stay in local housing identified by Ubelong while in Ghana, and partake of local food which will be provided by local partners. Volunteers will work at their school placement during the week, Monday-Friday, and on the weekends, UK ASB will coordinate excursions to nearby cities. All free time activities will be coordinated and led by the group, and will include opportunities to learn more about the history and culture of Ghana. This may include daytime or overnight trips to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, and Cape Coast, a nearby coastal city with beautiful natural resources and a rich history related to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Ghana is often described as the beacon of the African continent – since becoming the first African country to gain independence, Ghana has borne the torch of inspiration for its neighbors. Ghana is one of the most robust democracies in the region and it has sustained high levels of economic growth in the past two decades. Positive economic indicators are mostly related to the exploitation of its rich natural resources, especially cocoa, gold and oil. However, despite significant progress in raising the living standards of the population, poverty remains a serious issue in Ghana. As the country continues its transition from an agricultural society to a market-based economy, rapid and chaotic urbanization is at the core of many of the poverty-related problems the country faces today. For a country of roughly 25 million, Ghana is extremely diverse. Including English, 78 languages (nine of which are government-sponsored) and hundreds of dialects are spoken by dozens of ethnic and tribal groups. Although Ghana is presented as a model for African modernization, traditions are carefully preserved. Religion is central to life in Ghana, which is predominantly Christian (including many denominations). Islam and traditional African religions comprise significant minorities, particularly in the north of the country. And yet, Ghana is considered one of the most tolerant and harmonious countries in Africa. Despite multiple social and economic challenges, the last two decades of stability have made Ghanaians rightly optimistic for their future.
Group flights to Ghana will be booked by UK ASB, and students will depart as a group from Lexington to Ghana, and return as a group from Ghana to Lexington.
For more information about Ubelong, visit: www.ubelong.org.