In February this year G-lish welcomed its first volunteers—from Estonia!
It was a great honour to host Raimo and Janeli from Estonia on behalf of Mondo, an Estonian NGO that G-lish has come to know over the past few years.
By the time we met the volunteers, two weeks after they arrived, they had loads of questions for us. So we spent the first half day addressing those questions and getting to know each other. (We also prepared foods we thought they may be missing, and Godwin’s famous pineapple and mango smoothies.)
Then, G-lish delivered orientation workshops over three days to help the volunteers acclimatize to life in Ghana and, specifically, the Upper East Region, as per the brief from Mondo.
We covered topics including an introduction to Ghanaian society and culture, intro to Frafra and Nabdan culture and society, language training for the village where the volunteers will carry out their project, cultural dos and don’ts, major cultural issues like how to interact with elders, with women and men, issues between men and women, a visit to SWOPA’s gallery and a short tour of the painted villages, and orientation around Bolgatanga—although they had it pretty well figured out just two weeks after arriving.
They arrived in early February and are leaving at the end of May—a good period of time in which to carry out a project. They are based in Kongo (about 20 minutes from where G-lish works) to deliver the “Letters from the World: Global education through reading clubs” project. They will keep working on the project once they return to Estonia by raising awareness about Kongo, Ghana and Africa to people who are interested in hearing about it.
The project is funded by the European Commission, Youth in Action programme, European Voluntary Service and the project was written by NGO Mondo (Estonia), who are the sending and coordinating organisation, and NGO KOCDA (Kongo Community Development Association) as the receiving organisation.
Their main activities are:
- organising reading clubs for children and teaching them English
- organising computer clubs for children of Kongo
- organising and coordinating training for the widows in Kongo
- helping KOCDA to grow and to become more effective
Godwin will accompany the volunteers to community meetings to observe and help find solutions to some of the challenges faced there. And G-lish has been commissioned to carry out training on one skill area for the widows as part of this project.
We really had a great time with Raimo and Janeli who stayed in our home and christened our volunteer accommodation. We learned a few things about Estonia and some excellent skills ourselves. For instance, Skype was invented in Estonia! And, we learned how to prepare and throw pizza dough from Raimo who works in an Italian restaurant back home.
Who would have thought an Estonian would teach and Australian and Ghanaian how to throw an Italian classic in remote West Africa? Volunteering is as much about cultural exchange as it is about ways we can make a positive difference in the communities where we work, together.
It was great to host Estonian volunteers, if only for 3 days. We look forward to meeting our new volunteers who are arriving from the USA in early May to work with G-lish on climate change and environmentally-focused projects. Meanwhile, we’re expecting Raimo and Janeli to keep popping in over the coming weeks for a break, some down time and Godwin’s frozen smoothies—perfect in this hot hot hot season.