Friday, 24 June 2016

So Much Potential, But No Enough Time…

When I was a teenager, I heard people talk about volunteering; I didn’t really think about the deeper meaning, I just knew it was voluntary work that could be undertaken in many forms. I told myself I would like to take part in such a project when I get the chance. Community service has been a passion for me, as I have always wanted to be a part of a developmental project. I wish everyone could have the life he/she dreams of.

My team made a giraffe out of newspapers
One fateful day, my grandfather brought home a newspaper where I saw an advert by International Service talking about  recruiting new volunteers. I felt this was my chance to help someone have a better future. Well, I didn’t know much about this organization but the passion to take part in community service gingered me to apply. I applied and a couple of days later, I received a call from International Service to say that I had been shortlisted for assessment. 

On the assessment day, I met loads of vibrant and energetic young Ghanaian adults who equally had the same passion as I did. We became friends instantaneously.  We were taken through various exercises – where we were grouped and instructed to make a giraffe from newspapers and tapes. We were encouraged to engage in team work and team building as that’s the only sure way we could be successful in our quest. We did our best and to our surprise, we were able to make a giraffe out of the newspaper! Our giraffe stood throughout the assessment day. One thing I learnt on the assessment day was that, everyone has his/her strengths and weakness but when we come together as one we can achieve the impossible.

Fortunately, I was called and I had to come to Tamale for the volunteer placement. I was so excited as my dream of community work had finally come to a reality! I moved from Accra, all the way to Tamale (by the way, I had never been to Tamale if not for ICS…Hahaha!) This was a new environment for me, although I am Ghanaian, but I have lived all my life down south. I was to now live with a new family (host home) and a new roommate – who’s going to be a British volunteer. I was assigned to Create Change – this organization is into girl child education and they help girls in the rural areas in advancing their education. I was really excited about this project as I would get the chance to meet new people and also help them to achieve whatever dreams they had.

The ABC Team
I arrived at the office on that first day and I met my new teammates. It was a bit strange for us at the start as we never knew one another. We started with some introductions and later on, we got on as a family. The first couple of weeks were quite boring as we didn’t have much to do at the office and our community work have also not begun as most of the schools were on vacation.

During literacy classes at Yapala
Our work really began at week 5 as we had to travel to our three operational communities – Kpunduli, Ticheli and Yapala. We ran literacy classes in all the communities and piloted a Kids’ Club in Kpunduli. I had the opportunity to tutor these young ones during our literacy classes. I have realised that education is the only tool to combating poverty around the world especially in developing countries like Ghana. I was really excited each time we went for such classes as I felt I was helping in achieving the SDGs number four (4), that is, education for all. 

Weeks went by as the work become more stressful and fun, I always picked up my ICS t-shirt and read aloud the inscription at the back – “Challenge yourself to change your world!”. This has been my motto throughout my stay in Tamale. No matter how many challenges I encountered, I always believed I could overcome them. Through volunteering, I have come to the realisation that development is not an individual agenda but rather a collective affair. My 12-weeks in Tamale and on the ICS programme, although it wasn’t that long, has really been helpful as I have developed as an individual, been able to have an impact in our three operational communities (Kpunduli, Ticheli and Yapala) not matter how small it might have been and finally, I leave placement as an active citizen who’s going to bring about change and development in communities and the world as a whole. 

I leave with so much joy!
My personal quote to summarise my story is, “Fulfillment in life is looking out for the well-being of others”. My team and I will leave Tamale fulfilled as we’ve been able to challenge ourselves in changing our world. We have laid a good foundation for others to continue the development that we started. Volunteering on the ICS programme is never a waste of time, and I entreat all and sundry to grab this opportunity when it comes calling!

Written by:  Evans Osei-Opoku

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