In just over 5 weeks, I will be on a plane on my way to Ghana, Africa! A lot of people have asked how I got involved in this and why I am going, so I will tell my story here 🙂
A few months ago, I met a friend who had just returned from a 3-month humanitarian trip in Peru. Near the end of the summer, she started talking about going on another one this coming January, and I volunteered (excitedly) to join her. And so began the research. We narrowed it down to Africa or the Pacific Islands (Asian languages are intimidating), then discovered that most of the volunteer projects in the Pacific are wildlife and animal conservation projects. Working with children seemed more rewarding.
We made our decision: orphanage work in Ghana through an organization called IVHQ (see volunteerhq.org if you’re interested) for three months (12 weeks).
And then came the bomb. My friend had returned to BYU-Idaho and discovered that she had the option of switching from the inconvenient summer/fall school track to the fall/winter track. That meant she would be in school in January rather than in Ghana with me (Interesting side note: she just received an LDS mission call, so she will be on a mission rather than in school or in Ghana. Sometimes it’s funny how life works out). Anyway…I spent about a week internally debating myself, and then I decided to go anyway. Alone.
Why Ghana, you ask? Two main reasons: (1) they speak English as the official language, and (2) the LDS (Mormon) church has a pretty solid presence there, which makes me feel safer. I have heard that the people are welcoming, accepting, and very friendly. And by Africa standards, it’s a stable economy and government at the moment. IVHQ has been sending volunteers there for years and assures me that I will be placed in an orphanage where I can make a difference. I’m very excited 🙂
I leave Jan. 13th! I have officially received my passport, my visa application is in the mail, I’ve paid the program fee that will cover room and board during my stay, and I’ve purchased flights.
Also–I am quitting my job to go. Crazy, you say? Perhaps. But I’m ready for a change anyway, so this is good timing. I’m hoping that the volunteer experience will increase my marketability as a potential employee when I return. I figure if a company isn’t impressed by it, I probably won’t want to work for them anyway, right? So yes, it might be a mistake. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Yesterday I received 6 very dreaded immunization shots. Bleh. I am terrified of needles. The vaccines included yellow fever (legally required), tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, and meningococcus. I was already up-to-date on influenza and MMR shots–thank heavens. I also received prescriptions for an anti-malaria antibiotic, a drug that cures yeast infections (a potential side effect of the anti-malarial pills. Fun :P), and a drug that helps with traveler’s diarrhea. This is the first time in my life that I have received prescriptions for medical problems I may or may not ever have. haha. For the record, the yellow fever vaccine is the worst. It’s been more than 24 hours and my arm still hurts. But it’s worth it!
Ghana, here I come!