An article about my trip to Ghana last year

Future volunteer interview: Esther Gittoes- Ghana Orphanage, Teaching and community health project.

This week we speak to Esther Gittoes about her trip to Frontier’s Orphanage, Teaching and Community Health Project in Ghana. We asked her what she’s looking forward to and why she chose this project.

Into the Wild: Why did you choose the Ghana Orphanage, Teaching and Community Health Project? 

Esther: I chose this project mainly because of the variety, having the best of both worlds to have the opportunity to experience three different challenges.  I think that all three of these experiences will enhance myself self-awareness and give me an insight into the developing countries.

Into the Wild: How are you preparing for you trip?

Esther: With only a couple of days to go, I think I’m almost prepared! I have booked my recreational time off at work, I have purchased my malaria tablets, had many injections, bought my kit, my mosquito spray and my many bottles of sun cream.  Although I am still yet to find a pair of sunglasses that actually look good on me! My mum is more prepared than me weighing my suitcase down with pens, pencils, colouring books and exercise books for all the children in the local village.

Into the Wild: Has it been difficult making all the necessary preparations?

Esther: It’s been difficult to balance both my college and work life with the preparations that this trip requires.

Into the Wild: You’ve done a lot of volunteering projects in the past, which one did you enjoy the most and how do you think your Ghana teaching project will compare?

Esther: My previous volunteering projects have only taken place within my local community.  I have assisted children with their reading, helped out at fundraising events, cared for learning disability clients within a Day Centre and assisted the elderly at the local Free Church.  I would find it hard to choose between these experiences but I’m sure that volunteering in Ghana will exceed all my expectations.

Into the Wild: What are you hoping to gain from your experience?

Esther: I’m hoping to achieve a greater understanding of the African culture, to comprehend and appreciate the ethos that the local community adopts.   I hope that this experience will be an eye opener and that in some small way I can help make a difference.

Into the Wild: So you’ve just finished college; is this trip part of a longer gap year or just a summer trip before university?

Esther: It’s a summer trip before University; this will hopefully be the start of many more years of travelling.

Into the Wild: What are you looking forward to the most during your time on the trip?

Esther: There are a lot of things that I’m looking forward to during this trip.  I’m probably most looking forward to meeting the people from the local community, being able to form memorable relationships and having some small impact on their lives.

Into the Wild: Do you feel nervous about going to Ghana to teach at all?

Esther: I don’t usually get nervous, but having to stand up and share your knowledge of the world to a class of school children may be a little daunting! But I’m sure they will be as eager to learn as I am to teach.  I’m confident that the countless stickers that I am bringing with me will help the process and encourage a meaningful education for both.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Cloke

Into the Wild: You said you want to study English at university, how do you think this project will help?

Esther: Having changed my course at University to Journalism and International development I think that my Ghana experience will enhance my ability in both of these courses.

Into the Wild: Any favourite holiday memories or stories you’d like to share?

Esther: I have had far too many memorable holiday experiences.  Some of my favorite destinations being India, South Africa, Zanzibar and Borneo. Travelling in a tuc tuc in India, is an unforgettable and exhilarating experience especially on the fast pace, bumpy roads of India.  Swimming with dolphins in the Indian ocean, sitting on a giant turtle, riding elephants, feeding Orangutans are experiences that are extraordinary and unforgettable.  Although my favorite experience has to be flying in a hot air balloon over South Africa.  That is one of the most unforgettable and life changing moments that I have had.

Into the Wild: You’ll be staying for 6 weeks; what do you think you’ll miss the most whilst in Ghana?

Esther: Although I’m probably meant to say my mum and dad, I think I’ll miss my straighteners, I guarantee my hair will be wild and untamed. I will also miss Subway, I always have a craving for it when I’m away from home and my little dog Sally.

Into the Wild: What skills do you already have that you think will help you out there? 

Esther: I think that I have good people skills which are vital when working with the community and as part of a team.  I feel that I am confident, quick thinking and passionate, which I believe are all key elements that are needed when volunteering abroad.

Into the Wild: Do you enjoy volunteering with children?

Esther: I love volunteering with children, I’m sure the ones in Ghana will be enthusiastic, eager and friendly.

Into the Wild: Have you done any fundraising activities in preparation for your trip? If so how did you find them?

Esther: I organized a massive clothes sale where people donated new and used clothes and I got the local radio stations involved to boost publicity.  Doing a clothes sale was hard work but with the help of my friends and family we raised a lot of money.  As well as this I did several car boot sales and visited coffee mornings selling cakes and asking for donations.  Although I still hadn’t fully raised the money my parents dug deep and found the balance!

Into the Wild: Do you plan on gaining any teaching qualifications or BTECs whilst in Ghana?

Esther: I did originally want to gain some teaching qualifications, but in preparation for studying for my exams I came to the conclusion that it would be difficult to juggle both, especially as the training weekend was in the middle of my exams.

Into the Wild: You said you’ve been to India and South Africa before, why choose Ghana as your next destination?

Esther: Ghana is said to be one of the friendliest and safest places in Africa, it’s also meant to be a good basis when travelling.  I have always been fascinated by Africa and I knew that Ghana would be an amazing place to experience.

Into the Wild: What do you think the most important item in your backpack will be?

Esther: The most important item would definitely be my notepad and pen, I’m sure when I’m out in Ghana I will be inspired to write and share my experiences.  I love to write and travel writing is one of my many passions, after this experience I may even start a blog!

Into the Wild: What books or music are you planning to take with you?

Esther: ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is one of my favorite books so that will definitely be in my backpack, I have so many books that I still haven’t read so I will be taking a few with me. In the way of music my old iPod is definitely coming along on the journey, just need to download some current music, maybe a little Ed Sheeran or Rizzle kicks!

Into the Wild: Are you looking forward to experiencing a new culture and a whole new way of life?

Esther: Yes! I cannot wait to leave, I know that this experience will be unforgettable and I hope that it will be the start of my many years of travelling.  I also can’t wait to come back with a tan!

By Maria Sowter

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