Helping kids in Ghana this summer

August 13, 2010
By

Allyson Contreras

A tiresome flight across the world was worth it once I arrived in Ghana on July 10. I was there to do community service with kids in two different schools. I also interacted with kids in a foster home as well as at an orphanage. The trip was with a program called Global Leadership Adventures (GLA). The program that gave me the opportunity to travel and get into GLA was Summer Search. The town I stayed in was Anloga, Ghana, where our home base was located. For this three-week program, there were about 31 other high school students participating. These students were from different states here in the US, but also from other countries like Kenya, the Netherlands, Britain and France.

My first week in Anloga I did service in a school named Rhema. The school building was made of palm leaves and tin roofs and the headmaster’s office was under a mango tree. The school had about 250 local students. The group that I went with to this particular site taught children in kindergarten “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and also gave them paper and markers to draw with. Markers were so new to them that they were confused when they noticed the drawings on both sides of their papers. We also built bricks there for their new school building by mixing sand, cement and water with shovels, then thumping the mixture into a metal rectangular mold. That same week we planted trees along the beach with local school kids.

My second week in Anloga I went to another school named Aklorbordzi. This school had a student body of about 800. I participated in teaching a class that had no teacher. I also interacted with a class of teens ages 15-19, where I met my new friend Veronica.

That weekend, we traveled to Ho, where we visited two Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). One was New Seed International, a clinic that served the local community as well as orphaned and/or HIV children. The second NGO was run by a woman who provides work and micro-financing to local women. The third week I got the chance to stay at the same service site, Aklorbordzi.

Throughout my travel, services and shopping, I contributed to the local communities either by teaching kids a new thing or two, making new friends and becoming a “sista” to the kids, bringing in money to the communities, or teaching Ghanaians about my Guatemalan-American culture. I also gained much knowledge from the kids and adults and elders that I met. I got the chance to visit a shrine where they practiced an indigenous religion and to speak with a local chief.

What I will definitely hold onto is that we all speak one universal language, which is that of a smile, and that giving to the needy gives us way much more joy than the materialistic things that we have.

For more information about the GLA program or helping out in Ghana, contact Jenna Padbury at jennapadbury@gmail.com.

The writer will be a high school senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy in Brighton this fall. She is an intern at the Gazette this summer through the Caroline Knapp Internship program of WriteBoston.