Michaela Harris

This is my first venture into the oversees volunteering world. I chose Ghana as I visited last year and found it was a wonderful country, full of interesting people and places. I saw the good and also the poverty sides of Ghana and decided maybe I could contribute in some way and here I am!

Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 6 (Sunday 5th June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 8:38 am  Ghana  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 6 (Sunday 5th June 2016)
Jun 052016

Morning – As most people attend church on Sunday, I have the morning off.  Took the opportunity to wash my clothes.  There is no running water here so no washing machine.  Isaac filled a large bowl of water from the nearby well and I used this to handwash everything.  I also had some chill time to sit in the sunshine, do some reading and update my diary.  This was the calm before the storm as there was a massive thunderstorm late afternoon but luckily Isaac managed to bring my dry clothes in before they got soaked!

Afternoon – Orphanage visit.  I am getting used to this routine now.  Packed the colouring book etc again and also took a story book.  A couple of the older children read to me.  They were very good and had obviously been studying their English well.  I then read the stories to the younger ones before Ghana’s Strongest Man competition came on the TV and well, I lost that challenge, and joined them.

Another lovely end to a fabulous week.  Can’t believe it is 6 days already!


Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 5 (Saturday 4th June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 8:27 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 5 (Saturday 4th June 2016)
Jun 052016

Another day and more new experiences.

Morning – I was kept awake last night by music until 6am.  When I asked why Isaac explained that it was due to funerals being held in the village.  So after breakfast, Isaac took me to a couple of places where the funerals were being held. 1,000’s of people can attend one funeral.  All the chairs are lined up about 5 rows deep under large gazebos (black and red as these are the funeral colours in Ghana) around a large square area, with a dj and massive sound systems.  Close family of the deceased sit in a separate building where people come to pay respects to the deceased who is either in a closed coffin or laid out in the open.  I was invited in to one of the funeral buildings and asked to take photos, which I initially was uncomfortable with but they wanted me to so I obliged and was assured this was not disrepectful.  One of the deceased was a woman of 110 years old.  Posters of the deceased with their photo and age are put outside and insder the funeral building.  The funerals can last a couple of days.

One the way to the orphanage we visited a pig and chicken farm.  These are reared to sell at local markets and in Accra (the capital of Ghana).

At the orphanage I helped to offload bags of fertiliser from the a truck using very large bowls and buckets.  The Pastor (in charge of the orphanage) explained that these would be used to grow mushrooms.  This is one of their sustainable income projects.  I did try to carry one of the bowls on my head but it was too heavy so I shared carrying one with Vincent, one of the orphanage boys.  It was another amazing show of how working together they get things done.

Evening – I took the colouring books and pencils for the children to use again.  They love this activity and get totally engrossed in what they are doing.  It is lovely to watch them happily colouring in or doing the dot-to-dots.




Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 4 (Friday 3rd June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 8:11 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 4 (Friday 3rd June 2016)
Jun 052016

Market Day – Isaac took me around the market to buy provisions; cabbage, carrots, ground nut paste (similar to peanut butter), smoked fish, yam, plantain, eggs, coco yam leaves (a little like spinach) and cucumber (used like courgettes).

School – Decided to go into the next classroom of 3-5’s.  Had a great success teaching one of the boys to write the number 3.  He started off doing it backwards but after many repititions and guidance he did it.  What a great feeling – this is what it’s all about! I went back to the under 3’s after break to spend some time with them as they kept calling my name and then went to play volleyball with the older boys.  A very exhausting day, but very rewarding and fun.

Afternoon – back to the orphanage.  I took some colouring books and pencils which kept the kids happy for a couple of hours.  The smiles on their faces was wonderful.

Afterwards I helped the girls wash/rinse the dishes and pots.  They are each given chores to do and everyone helps out to keep this community running smoothly.

Evening – Nana, the volunteer co-ordinator, sorted out my phone so that I can use the local network.  Now have access to Facebook and Whatsapp so I can contact my daughter and friends around the world.  Happy, happy.

Feel very tired but in a nice way.

Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 3 (Thursday 2nd June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 7:55 am  Ghana, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 3 (Thursday 2nd June 2016)
Jun 052016

So excited!! First proper day.  Up at 6am to get dressed and ready for breakfast at 7am, which was a lovely omelette sandwich.

8am – 30 minute walk to the orphanage, escorted by Isaac, and met by schoolchildren on the way.  There were shouts of ‘Obroni’. This means white person, which I find funny as I am brown, but I am not a black person and this is how they differentiate people, so not offended.

I was introduced to all the teachers at the school, who were all very friendly.  There are about 5 different classrooms for the different age ranges.  School starts at 8.30am and finishes at 2.30pm as it gets so hot in the afternoons.  It was up to me to decide where to go so I decided to start with the under 3’s.  We played scribble on the chalkboards and played with the plastic building blocks and then walked around outside during the break-time with a little one holding each of my fingers.  You don’t know how hard it is to walk with six plus children holding on until you try it!  We are managing to communicate through simple words and a type of sign language which is impressive for 3 year olds.

At 12 noon we walked back to the volunteer house for lunch.  At 4pm it was back to the orphanage.  I sat with the kids and watched tv to let them get used to me.  Sometimes they seem to just want to sit quietly and have hugs.

At 6pm it’s back to the volunteer house for the evening meal. So even though I have to do a lot of walking (2 hours/day!) I don’t think I will lose much weight.  No cooking for me yet, but I helped to prepare the vegetables.




Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 2 (Wednesday 1st June 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 7:14 am  Ghana, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 2 (Wednesday 1st June 2016)
Jun 052016

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast, collected by Rose & Eric for the drive to the United Hearts Children’s Centre.  This is where the orphanage is located.  Dropped off at volunteer house and Rose went through the house rules and basic Twi (local language).  Met Isaac, the volunteer house assistant, who does the cleaning and cooking (with a little bit of help from the volunteers) and Nana, the orphanage volunteer co-ordinator.

Then it was onto the orphanage for a familiarisation visit. It was a bit overwhelming being greeted by all the lovely children and taking it all in, but I did expect this.  The orphanage has a school next to it which is used by local children and the orphanage.  Walked into Bawjiase town to see where to get the TroTro (small minibus) and taxi.  During the tour I was kindly given some cooling fresh watermelon by Isaac’s aunt, who sells them from a roadside market stall.

Walked back to the volunteer house for dinner and to get ready for the next day.


Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 1 (Tuesday 31st May 2016)

 Posted by Michaela Harris at 7:03 am  Ghana  Comments Off on Ghana Volunteering – Orphanage Day 1 (Tuesday 31st May 2016)
Jun 052016

Here at last!!  Flight from UK to Accra went very smoothly.  Customs was quick but baggage collection took an hour. I was met at the airport by the GVN co-ordinators Rose & Eric.  After introductions they took me to a B&B in Dansoman which is half way to Bawjiase where the orphanage is located.  Had a quick shower and was so tired it was straight to bed for me.

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