This is the perfect role for someone with a big heart and the desire to do something meaningful.
Like so many developing nations, Ghana has a large number of children who find themselves in the care of an orphanage. Not all children at the orphanages have lost their parents, some arrive from abusive homes and others are taken into care as their parents cannot afford to look after them. The orphanage is basic, under resourced and in need of volunteers assistance.
The children will have their food and accommodation provided for them, but with limited staff resources, it is individual attention that the little ones crave so much. Providing the children with the essential skills in life will help them on their way to successful futures free from poverty and filled with the same opportunities as others. As a volunteer you will become a big brother or sister to the children. You will work alongside local staff to assist with teaching the children, general childcare and the daily operational running of the orphanage.
We also encourage volunteers to initiate their own activities by organising structured activities and games for the children.
PMGY volunteers are placed at Kumasi Children’s Home. The Kumasi Children’s Home was established in 1965 by a private organisation and later became a government run organisation. It is currently home to around 100 children. The children are split into three different blocks – the girls house, the boys house and the disabled childrens house.
Many of the children arrive at a very young age, as their mothers die in childbirth and have no one to look after them. However, the home also accepts abandoned children, street children and children of unstable parents. They even occasionally care for children whose families are travelling. Generally speaking ages can range anywhere from newborn babies to upper teens.
The children stay at the home for varying lengths of time depending on their situation. The home is now run and supervised primarily by the Department of Social Welfare and their supervisor is a government employee. Though the government pays the wages of most of the workers, much of the home’s funding still comes from other sources. Catholic Relief Services provides a substantial amount of funding each year, and additional support comes from cash and in-kind donations from private citizens and organisations.
This role is perfect for someone with a big heart and who has the desire to do something meaningful with their time abroad. Working in an orphanage will require heaps of patience and a real sense of self-direction. Your level of impact is based on your willingness and pro-activeness to get involved and make the most of your time. Experience of working with children is not necessary but it does help.
Essential Programme Information
As for all our volunteer programmes in Ghana, it is possible to combine multiple projects during your time with us. If this is something you’d like to do, then please apply for the main programme you’d like to take part in but also outline in your online application the details of the other projects you’d like to do. Our local team will finalise the details of your placements during your in-country orientation.
For the majority of our programmes you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the programme – particularly if you’re looking to travel between June and August, as spaces can fill up very quickly during this period.
It is best that you apply sooner rather than later as some of our programmes only have a limited capacity and spaces get filled very quickly.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us directly.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.
While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.
Volunteers are encouraged to get involved with as many as the day to day activities that an orphanage of 100 children plus brings. This includes daily care and interaction with the children and spending time in the playground area to the more mundane but essential tasks such as cleaning, feeding and washing. Doing these tasks with a positive and pro-active attitude is not only a great help to the children and their hygiene; it will also help build rapport and respect with the local staff who commit there time and devotion to the orphanage too.
It is very important that volunteers join this programme with an open mind and understanding of cultural differences. Children’s rights and the methods of discipline used often greatly differ from what is the norm in the UK. Although mistreatment of children is never condoned volunteers should be aware that physical discipline does happen in Ghana. This can be quite shocking, but it is important to remember that physical discipline is commonplace throughout Ghana.
We therefore believe it is best for volunteers to be open minded on arrival and come with limited expectations. You are there to help and make a difference, but this is done in a framework where there are rules to follow and cultures to abide by. Our local team will brief you on these issues during your in-country orientation, so that you are fully prepared for your placement. If you see something that you believe is not right then please do approach our local team who can aim to resolve or give clarity on the issue.
PMGY volunteers are based in a friendly neighbourhood of Ghana’s second city, Kumasi. The volunteer house is a 45-minute drive into Kumasi city centre, which is still dripping with Ashanti traditions and has some interesting sights.
Kumasi is still the heart of Ashanti country and the site of West Africa’s largest cultural centre, the palace of the Ashanti king. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills and has a vast and vibrant central market.
Close to the market is the city’s National Cultural Centre which encompasses a museum of Ashanti history and you can even try your hand at traditional dance and drumming classes!
KUMASI (KEJETIA) CENTRAL MARKET
One of the largest markets in West Africa with up to 11,000 stalls and four times as many people working there, this throbbing market is utterly captivating. Just 30 minutes from your PMGY base this chaotic and buzzing spot is a labyrinth of stalls selling everything you could ever want and quite a few things you didn’t! Definitely worth a visit.
BOABENG FIEMA MONKEY SANCTUARY
The people in Boabeng and Fiema consider the monkeys to be sacred and in the 70s actually came together to pass a law prohibiting causing harm to the monkeys. The sanctuary holds about 400 Colobus and Mona monkeys. They come into the village all the time to steal things, but as the people are not allowed to hurt them, they simply get away with it!
The guides at the sanctuary will take you on a tour of the rainforest and local village, where you will see monkeys everywhere. There is also a monkey cemetery in the forest, where the priests of the village have been buried alongside monkeys that have passed away.
A popular retreat for volunteers at the weekend looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Kumasi. The lakeside area has a range of decent, inexpensive hotels that you can go to for a night or two. You can take a boat trip, go swimming, or just chill out by the lake.
BEACHES & SURFING
Not far from Cape Coast you’ll find no shortage of great beaches such as Anomabo, Elimina and Busua.
And if you fancy your hand at surfing then Busua is a small, laid back coastal village with surfing at its heart. As surf destinations go, Busua really is a frontier town: it’s home to the only two surf shops in Ghana, and almost every one of the country’s surfers live in the village. Not that there are very many of them.
With gentle waves, warm water and an absence of sharks, the beach is an alluring proposition for anyone looking to learn to surf in a tropical destination off the usual circuit. It is perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers, but the more experienced can make easy trips along the coast to find more challenging and potentially unridden waves.
KAKUM NATIONAL PARK
From Cape Coast, it is highly advised that you take a day-trip to Kakum National Park.
All volunteers must arrive into Accra on the Sunday. You should book your flights into Kotoka International Airport in Accra (airport code ACC). The airport pickup is available 24 hours. Please note that if you arrive before the set Sunday start date then you are responsible for arranging your accommodation and time in Ghana until we collect you on the Sunday.
A member of our local team will be waiting for you when you arrive at the airport holding a Plan My Gap Year sign. You will be taken straight to our partner hostel near the airport. The journey will take around 20 minutes and will allow you to gather your first glimpses of this amazing country.
The rest of the day is yours to spend relaxing and getting to know your fellow volunteers. Meals on the Sunday arrival date are NOT included, so please budget between £5 to £10 for this.
Your first night in Ghana will be spent at a hostel near to Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Our partner hostel offers basic but comfortable accommodation. You will share a room with fellow volunteers. Rooms are air conditioned here. A member of the PMGY Ghana team will also stay at the hostel to ensure you have 24/7 support and will travel with you to Kumasi the following day.
During your time with PMGY in Ghana you will live in our Volunteer House located in a friendly neighbourhood, 45 minutes drive from Kumasi city centre. You will find restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs in the centre of town. There is a small shop opposite the Volunteer House. The local community are extremely friendly. As soon as you step out of the house you’ll be greeted by smiling children! Just one of the amazing experiences you’ll have with PMGY in Ghana.
The accommodation is basic but comfortable with free Wi-Fi. Each room has bunk beds with up to 6 people per room in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own mosquito net and bed linen. Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Ghana is hot all year-round!
The house has free Wi-Fi (although intermittent) and a communal area for volunteers to hang out. There is a lounge, TV and DVD player and an outside seating area. Volunteers are welcome to use the kitchen to prepare meals or even help out when meals are being prepared. We also have a refrigerator where you can store your personal food items but please remember this is dependent on electricity and power cuts can be a frequent occurrence in Ghana!
Clothes can be hand-washed or you request a local maid to wash them for you. Living in the PMGY Volunteer House offers a great social experience. Volunteers are given their own privacy and locks to their rooms, so it is a very laid-back atmosphere.
A member of our local team will also live at the house. The house is gated and secure and our local coordinator lives on-site ensuring you have around the clock support and security.
Please note that power cuts and water shortages are very common in Ghana. Whilst we have backup measures to combat this, there maybe times where the power cuts out or there is no water for a while so its important to be aware of this in advance.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
Volunteers will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day during their time with PMGY. Breakfast and dinner are served at the Volunteer House, whereas for lunch we provide you with a packed lunch or the project may provide you with lunch.
Pork, lamb and beef are difficult to source in Ghana and usually quite expensive. The main meat is chicken, fish and goat. There is also a real lack of fresh dairy products, so you should be prepared to live without milk and cheese etc. Most milk is tinned.
There are a number of western restaurants around a 45 minute drive out from the accommodation should you fancy picking up some home comforts. There are also some Chinese and Indian restaurants in Kumasi. Our local team will tell you all about the options available to you during your in-country orientation.
Please note most meals will incorporate lots of carbs and not so much dairy or meat compared to the UK so please be open minded around this! It may take you a few days for your body to accustom to the local food as well.
* Please inform us in your application if you have any dietary requirements. Furthermore, meals on the Sunday arrival date are NOT included, so please budget between £5 to £10 for this.