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Dec 15, 2017 | People & Places

Are You Preparing To Volunteer In Ghana? Here's How To Prepare

Photo credit - Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit - Wikimedia Commons

How to prepare for volunteering in Ghana
If you are thinking about traveling to Africa for the first time, Ghana is a great place to start. Here we have outlined some helpful tips to prepare you for your trip.

Be prepared to stand out!
You will stand out as a foreigner and the locals will want to know everything about you. It’s not that they are nosey, they are genuinely curious about you and your life in a land so far from theirs. On the other hand, they love to see your efforts to fit in with their society. Try the local foods, participate in community events and try to learn some of their language. Most people will speak English, but it’s always recommended to learn some “everyday language” of the countries you visit.

Lighten up on your western concept of time!
If you arrive on time, be prepared to wait. If you think you have a schedule, be prepared for things to just happen. Things take time and your definition of time is not the same as theirs. Go with the flow and you’ll find that your time is being used, not wasted.

Get your Visa in order ahead of time!
US citizens, as most other countries, need a Visa to visit Ghana. Find your nearest Ghana Embassy or Consulate for the necessary information.

The only vaccination required by Ghana is Yellow fever. Check that you are up-to-date on your routine vaccines. Other recommended vaccines are hepatitis, meningitis and typhoid.

It’s not the end of the world if you get sick!

There is Malaria in Ghana, but know that if you do get it, you are in good hands. Hospitals are experienced in treating Malaria and it usually isn’t as bad as people think. Of course it doesn’t mean you want to get it, so apply that bug spray/cream regularly and you should be fine. If you choose to take malaria medicine, research before you choose a brand, many are known to have horrible side effects. They do have pharmacies that provide basic medications, but its a good idea to bring those “just in case basics” like:

  • a general antibiotic
  • anti-diarrheals
  • antacid
  • cold medicine,
  • a full supply of any prescription medicine you require.

Water and electricity...sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t

There are occasional power outages in Ghana, however many places have back-up generators. Most hotels and hostels will have consistent power and water, but sometimes it just goes out for a bit. You will quickly adjust to candlelight or just relaxing in the darkness and you’ll find a new appreciation for those long showers back home.

Speaking of electricity…
Power surges can damage your electronics so its a good idea to have a surge protector. Ghana uses 230V power, so if you are bringing your own electronics you will need a transformer and a plug adapter, you can find these items in Ghana.

How to get there
The Kotoka International airport in Accra is your destination. It is not only the biggest airport in Ghana, but also the most modern airport on Africa’s east coast. All volunteer projects are located in Ho, which is about another 4 hour bus drive from Accra. If your flight arrives at night, you will need to stay in a hotel close to the airport and then can depart the next day to Ho. We know, you are excited and would like to head to your volunteer house as soon as possible. We also know, that we have mentioned how safe Ghana is. However, travelling at night is never recommended, especially when it’s your first time in a new country!

Other little tips...
It is HOT in Ghana, so pack light, comfortable clothes that don't show too much skin, a light rain jacket and a sweater for cooler nights. You can shop for personal hygiene products there, but they will be very basic. Bring your own if you are particular about the products you use. For women, you will want to bring your sanitary items.

Most hotels do take credit cards, but it is highly recommended to use only cash and travelers checks, due to the high rates of credit card fraud. Make sure your bank knows where you are traveling.

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