Adventures in Ghana for Sixth Former Molly!
Molly Huxley, a Year 13 pupil at Shrewsbury High School joined 20 young people from Shrewsbury travelling to Woe, a small fishing village on the coast of Ghana. Here is her adventrue in her own words.
During the October half-term holidays, I travelled to Woe, a small fishing village on the coast of Ghana. I was one of twenty-one young people from Shrewsbury travelling 4,730 miles from home; leaving Shrewsbury on the Thursday night at 11pm was daunting as it suddenly felt very real. Although I was physically prepared with my malaria tablets and my suitcases packed, I didn’t know what to expect other than what other people had told me. I left with one obvious aim which was to contribute my small bit of change to Woe but I travelled home with much, much more than that.
After a seven-hour flight we landed in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and we were immersed straight into the Ghanaian culture. We were instantly astounded by the interesting dialect ‘Ewe’ and we quickly realised just how extraordinary that week would be.
We met our guides who brought us a bottle of water each: a Ghanaian gesture of welcoming and peace. Along with our water we received a warm hello and we helped load our suitcases onto our yellow bus which would be our mode of transport to the village. We were on the bus for about an hour when we arrived at our first stop, a hotel, and got an early night before leaving for Woe as we had a four-hour journey to the village the following day.
The journey to Woe was eye opening; I saw women with numerous things piled on top of their heads, children running and playing and we experienced so many new smells and sounds but the most memorable thing about that journey was how welcomed we felt when small children and adults alike waved and smiled to us as we passed through. Seeing mud huts and small plots of land (where people were growing their own food to sell at market) really began to put things into perspective. By the time we arrived at our accommodation for the week, my nerves had faded and I was so excited about my week in woe.
After a good night sleep and a little bit of adjustment to sleeping inside our mosquito nets, we had breakfast which, every morning, was a mix of fresh fruit, plantain and omelettes. We spent Sunday morning at the church and we were all amazed by the sense of community and, even more so, by the way the people of Woe made us a part of that community. Singing, dancing and jovial praises left us feeling a part of the village even if it was only for 10 days.
Monday morning brought back some of my nerves that weren’t that dissimilar to the first day of school feeling - which is ironic as that was exactly where we were going. We got back on the bus and left the volunteer centre our two schools: Tegbi and Little Roses. I was at Tegbi and our group were introduced to the head teacher and the volunteer coordinator, Eric. We walked round the yard and were astonished by the children and the respect and commitment they had for their school and us. We spent the whole week being reminded of that.
One poignant moment for me was when I taught an ICT lesson. I was confused at the idea of an ICT lesson as I hadn’t expected that they would have any computers. The learning objective was typing and I was moved as soon as I walked into the room as I saw that they would be practicing on keyboards without a monitor or computer at all. They used old, broken keyboards that they had gotten as donations. The week in the school was fantastic and I got to teach the students more than just spelling and multiplication; we taught them play ground games like hopscotch and hide and seek and we got to know so many of them really well.
Being back in England took some serious readjusting to and I really miss Ghana. So, what did I gain? I am left with such a proud feeling of myself and the rest of the group for raising the money and traveling to the centre of the earth (Ghana actually is the centre of the earth as it is where the Greenwich Meridian Line meets the Equator)! The experience changed the way I perceive things and made me appreciate everything so much more. Although there are many obvious disparities between our school the school I taught in for the week, the sense of community was very similar and I think that’s why it began to feel like home by the end of my trip. If you took away the calculators, computers, interactive whiteboards and other luxuries we are so fortunate to have, the lessons were fundamentally just like ours.
It really was the trip of a lifetime or, at least I hope, the first trip of many like it in my lifetime.