When I am privileged to guide travelers and volunteers who come to Ghana, I always ask them the question; Why do you want to come to Africa and Ghana in particular? ‘I want to know what life is really like in Africa, that’s why I want to volunteer in Ghana’, is often one of the answers. I am going to write a few blog articles about some of the pitfalls that are specific to volunteering in Africa. The first one is about the factors that can prevent you from learning more about life in Ghana.
Learning about African life during your trip in Ghana, a beautiful goal
I think it’s a very nice endeavor to learn about African life. Perhaps the first lesson is that we should not talk about African life when we talk about Ghana. Ghana is one of the 54 countries on the continent of Africa. But that’s actually off topic for now. Furthermore, it is a great goal, but unfortunately it turns out that there are many pitfalls for travelers and volunteers. Traps that may lead to the fact that when one goes home, one does not know Ghana very well at all.
Do you have enough time for your adventure in Ghana?
The first pitfall is time. It takes time to get used to life in Africa. In Ghana it is usually warmer than you are used to, so as a traveler you need a moment to acclimatize. But you also need time to get used to how things are going here and to the fact that most people speak in their local language. So you don’t understand much of what’s being said. When you come to make a trip for 4 weeks then that is enough time to explore the country globally. But when you come to volunteer in Africa, 4 weeks is way too short.
You can live in Ghana for 6 months, but when you don’t take the time to learn and observe…..
A second aspect of time is whether you take the time to look and experience. Do you allow yourself and also Africa not to jump to conclusions? I recently read a Dutch article on medischcontact.nl where it was very nicely worded: Wait to understand.
Who are you with and where do you stay during your ‘life in Africa’
I think it’s obvious that when you mainly travel and are only at the same place for a few days at the time, you don’t get much depth in your quest to learn more about African life. But what many people do not really think about is that although it might feel very pleasant and nice or safe to volunteer with others.
But the group dynamics, even when you’re two people, can get in the way of your goal. Events and experiences are coloured by the opinions and observations of another. Of course, this doesn’t have to be wrong, but be aware of it. When you’re with more people, it also becomes more difficult to get in touch with the local people you’re trying to get to know.
Try to get in touch with different (local) people in Ghana
If you are staying somewhere for a longer period of time during a volunteering project in Ghana, you may have a contact person. Probably that person has experience in guiding or helping volunteers. That is of course nice and normally you will have a click with that person, yet it is important to make other contacts as well.
When people come to Ghana during their gap year or on holiday at Moon&Star guesthouse, which I own, it happens a lot that I get all the questions. From toilet paper to all sorts of questions about Ghana. Now I know quite a lot about Ghana. But when you really want to experience what ‘African life’ is like in Ghana…. Also talk to my colleagues who are from Ghana.
Beware the trap many travelers fall into in Africa….. The constant comparison…
In the Netherlands I worked for a long time at 2 companies. When I first started working at the second company, I often said, “Oooh but at my previous employer we did this.” Until my supervisor said, “Yes, we know that now, but we’re not here with your previous employer.” I didn’t like to hear it, of course, but my supervisor was right. I realized how annoying I had been in that first week with my new colleagues. And most importantly, I opened my eyes to the new company and how everything went into it. I started to learn, because I was open to new experiences…
Do you really want to learn what life is like in Africa? Then take my colleague’s advice!
The other day one of my Ghanaian colleagues said that she noticed that #obrunis (foreigners) were comparing so often. I asked her what she meant. She said volunteers and other travelers often asked her questions about all kinds of customs here in Ghana. To which she then answers. And most of the time in the conversation it is said, “But we do it this way in the west, why don’t you do it like that?”
Her advice when you travel to another culture and says you want to know what life is like there. Stop comparing, take off your Western glasses and start absorbing. Who knows, you might really start to see and say to yourself, “Why don’t we in the west do it the same way we do here?”
The next article in this series is about another reason why volunteers want to come to Africa. “I want to do good in Africa” Would you like to receive an email when this blog comes online and stay informed about Ghana coach? Sign up now!
I understand that vaccinations for Ghana are not fun and expensive
Although there is a lot of information about vaccines for Ghana and malaria prophylaxis, most guests still ask my advice. I think this is because I understand that vaccinations are a necessary evil when you want to come to Ghana. Some vaccinations are quite expensive, as are the malaria tablets. And fair is fair; getting vaccinations is really not fun and sometimes quite painful.
At the time when I had to go to the Dutch Municipal Health Services before leaving for Ghana it always seemed as if the nurse was keen to ‘sell’ all possible vaccinations. It has changed a bit, fortunately, and now this happens less and one looks at the personal situation quite a bit. The idea of the more pricking the better seems to fade away!
As a Ghana expert I would like to help you prepare for your Ghana adventure
I have bundled my 20 years of Ghana knowledge and experience and created a valuable workbook that will help you prepare your Ghana! You can learn and enjoy from the mistakes I’ve made, from my blunders. I provide information about the practical preparation such as visa applications, what do you bring and do not bring to Ghana and what vaccinations do you need. I’ll tell you about food in Ghana and about equality.
I’m going to talk about the possible vaccinations for Ghana in this paragraph. For example, you can read more about what the various diseases when you Google. I tell you what the Dutch Municipal Health Services advises and I give my opinion on the advice. Please note that every person is different and if, for example, you belong to risk groups, I strongly advise you to follow the advice of the general practitioner or the Municipal Health Services. My opinion is subjective. If you want to discuss with me about your personal situation and vaccinations for Ghana, you can!
Yellow fever vaccine – This is mandatory, if you do not have a ‘yellow booklet’ containing the yellow fever vaccination then you will not get a visa. Yellow fever is a nasty disease that is spread by a mosquito species. It hardly happens in Ghana anymore and the government and the Ghana health service want to keep it that way.
DTP (Diphtheria, tetanus and polio) – This vaccine is recommended by the GGD and I recommend it as well. When you hurt yourself in Ghana, for example by a fall, and there is a wound that needs the attention of a nurse or doctor. Then they give by default the tetanus prick, which is given here in 2 times. An accident is in a small corner and I think it is nice when you do not need the tetanus jab after a possible accident in Ghana.
Hepatites A – The vaccine against infectious jaundice is recommended by the GGD and I agree with that as well. The virus is mainly spread by contaminated food and drink and there is actually no drug for it. Vaccination against hepatites A is recommended for many countries.
Hepatites B – Hepatites B is transmitted through blood and through sexual contact. Hepatites B is present in Ghana. The advice of the GGD depends on the purpose of your trip and the length of stay. I certainly agree with this.
TB – You can get vaccinated against tuberculosis, it is usually recommended when you travel for more than 3 months and are often going to be in institutions where the risk of infections is higher, such as hospitals. You can also get tested when you return to the Netherlands. The latter is my advice.
Meningitis – This vaccination is especially recommended for Ghana when you are travelling in the dry season and are in close contact with the locals. Meningitis is slightly more common in northern Ghana than in the rest of the country. If you are travelling in the dry season, approximately from the end of November to March and you are going to work at a school, for example, Then I recommend you take this vaccination.
Rabies – Rabies is scary and in most cases deadly. The vaccination in the Netherlands consists of several vaccinations and if you are bitten in Ghana by an animal with rabies then you need another 2 vaccinations, which you need to get within 48 hours. I’ve never seen a rabid dog in Ghana, but of course they are. The rabies vaccine is available in Ghana, but there is an urgent need for treatment. A little more urgency if you have not taken the vaccinations in the Netherlands. I myself have not been vaccinated against rabies. I found an article from the AD containing 2 experience stories, click here to read the article.
BMR – The vaccine against mumps, measles and rubine dog is sometimes recommended. In this advice one looks at the diseases you had in the past and personal risk factors. Normally, I would not recommend this vaccination.
What about anti malaria tablets?
Ghana is malaria area and normally taking malaria prophylaxis is the advice. But there are certainly reasons why you wouldn’t want to take the tablets. The side effects can be quite severe. When you come for a long time you may not want to take all that time medication. In addition, anti malaria tablets are costly. I don’t take medication to prevent malaria and have had it countless times. Want to read more about me and malaria? I wrote a blog about malaria for Moon&Star guesthouse.
Vaccinations Ghana and malaria prevention | Ghana coach advice
As you may know, I’d love to help you on your way to Ghana. I do this by sharing a lot of information online on the website and in my blogs. Would you like my personal advice on your trip to Ghana, vaccinations Ghana, malaria prevention and would you like to know how I can help you? Feel free to make a non-committal appointment for an online conversation!
In 2001 I came to Ghana for the first time as a 20-year-old. I had saved very hard, bought half a wardrobe, arranged the visa and there I went! I had gone through the practical Ghana preparation, otherwise I could not start the journey. But otherwise I had hardly read anything about Ghana and went on a journey as green as grass.
In the meantime, we have entered an era where we can look for everything immediately. Google is our best friend. 20 years ago, that was something else. But I also thought that I could experience Ghana fully if I were to be open-minded. That I could experience everything more intensely. It was intense! But in addition, it caused ignorance and sometimes difficult situations.
I would like to share my Ghana knowledge with you!
In the meantime, I have made up for that ignorance. Over the past 20 years I have learned a lot with trial and error and I like to tell you about it. In this blog I share 5 Ghana facts that help you prepare your Ghana very well.
In Ghana, the left hand is for ‘dirty’ things
Fortunately, the organization, with which I first came to Ghana for volunteering, offered an introduction. One of the things that was first told was that you eat, indicate things and do things with the right. Also pointing, greetings and waving all goes with right. The left hand is used for dirty things like wiping your bibs. If you really need to use your left hand to tackle something, say, “Excuse me for left”. In my years in Ghana, I have seen considerable discussions, including from Ghanaians among themselves, when this rule of conduct was not observed.
The old and new currencies (Cedis) are popularly used interchangeably in Ghana
Imagine you go to the market and you want to buy a piece of pure sheabutter….The lady says okay, that’s 20. And you think 20??? That’s quite a lot for such a small piece, but oh well it’s a pure product and I spend my money on the local market so let me do it. Wouldn’t it have been helpful if you knew that in Ghana they adjusted the currency in 2007 (4 zeros off!!) but that many people still count in the old currency. So the 20 that the lady is talking about is twenty thousand, or 2 Ghana Cedis…Bargain, right? Pure sheabutter for 30 Eurocents!?
When you want to buy something and you don’t understand how much something really costs, feel free to ask. To prevent the seller from using the old values, you can ask: “Please, how much is it in Ghana Cedis?” It ‘s still very confusing. I was just asking Lydia, my colleague at Moon&Star guesthouse, how much something costs. She replied: ‘170’. I looked I think somehow dazed or surprised and she corrected herself quickly in 17 Cedis.
Some compliments are a veiled question
I’m one of those people who quickly calls out when I like or like something. During my first time in Ghana I regularly said things like: “What a nice slippers” or “I like your beautiful dress!”. When it came to smaller things like a bracelet, some people gave it directly to me after such a comment. To which I gave it back and explained that I liked it but didn’t want to have it.
My compliments sometimes also resulted in gifts. For example, I got a pair of slippers with no obvious reason. That was a reason to find out what actually happened. A friend explained that my direct compliments were taken as: I like it and I want it. A better compliment, or a compliment without confusion is: “You look so beautiful!”. If you want to have the same kind of slippers, you can just ask where someone bought them and you can also ask about the price in Ghana.
Ghana is noisy
When I lived with a host family in the village there was no minute’s silence, not during the day, but also not in the night. During the day and in the evening there were always radios on, people talking, arguing, cooking sounds, in short sounds of everyday life. That day started between 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning, at which time my neighbors started sweeping. Around 6:30 a.m., a radio was hung on a nail above my window that chattered all day even though other neighbors were also playing their radio.
Around 9:00 p.m., everyone went to bed, except for the neighbor in the next house. He then started playing 4 songs by Bob Marley until 3 a.m. Yes really, the same 4 songs from Bob Marley on repeat! At midnight the lady who lived in the room next to me always went on the phone, because that could be free in the night. Long live MTN, the provider!
Fortunately, there is not much noise at the guesthouse, but it is also no longer the oasis of calm that it was 9 years ago. The neighbors have cocks, at regular intervals we can hear the announcements from the village. We can hear the school bell and on Sunday we hear the church. The best thing you can do when you come to Ghana is set your mind to sound and maybe bring earplugs for the night.
English is the official language in Ghana, but not the language of choice
When I first came to Ghana I thought I had to polish my English and learn to be less shy. After all, the language in Ghana is English. What a mistake that was! Yes, the official language is English, but the language depends on the area you are in. I was in Ashanti, where people speak Twi. And in some places there is very little English spoken.
What happened regularly was that people told me a whole story in the Twi and that story ended by default with why. And when I didn’t understand, the story came again, a little harder, again followed by a why. And sometimes after a whole day of hearing “why why why” I was really tired of it in the evening.. It took me a long time to figure out that why was actually wai and means something like ‘Right?’. In other words, people asked for confirmation….. Another Ghana thing I would have liked to have known in advance.
I’d love to help you prepare for your Ghana trip!
As a Ghana coach I am happy to help you on your way in Ghana. But did you know that I can also help you with an effective Ghana preparation? I have long since stopped believe that you can experience the best and most intensely when you come to Ghana uninhibited. But where do you start preparing? Very simple, you start here.
I have bundled my 20 years of Ghana knowledge and experience and created a valuable workbook that will help you prepare your Ghana adventure in an effective way! You can learn and enjoy from the mistakes I’ve made, from my blunders. I provide information about the practical preparation such as visa applications, what do you take and do not take to Ghana and what vaccinations do you need. I’ll tell you about food in Ghana and about equality. As you may have noticed, it’s a workbook, it contains assignments and quiz questions that you can use.
Your investment for an effective Ghana preparation
The ‘Everything you need to know before travelling to Ghana’ workbook costs €17.50. Would you like to receive personal online coaching in addition? This means that you will have 2 online appointments of up to an hour with me. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask as many questions as necessary for a month. The total investment for this is €47.50
With your order you will receive a free night’s stay with breakfast at Moon&Star guesthouse for 2 people. The value of this bonus is €25,00
Would you like to receive personal online coaching in addition to the book? Guaranteed the most effective Ghana preparation available! This means that you have 2 online appointments of up to an hour with me. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask as many questions as necessary for a month. The total investment is €47.50
What a great E-book you’ve made! Enthusiastically and written with a lot of love for Ghana and because of the beautiful layout and pictures it also looks very attractive.
It’s beautiful. I’m really impressed. The colors, the pictures, the quiz, …. Perfect
How nice!!!! I’m really excited about it. You notice it comes from your heart.
Hi, welcome to Ghanacoach.nl’s very first blog. My name is Patricia Zoer and I want to use this article to explain why I chose to professionalize Ghana coach. I do this on the basis of 6 why questions that have been asked. Of course you can already find a lot of information on the website, but I think it is important to give you a glimpse into my vision towards Ghana coach.
Why did I start with Ghana coach?
I first came to Ghana 20 years ago when I volunteered for 6 months. I thought I was going to help poor people in Africa. In the end I mainly filled my own backpack with souvenirs and knowledge. The volunteer project was expensive, but certainly not sustainable. When I started Moon&Star guesthouse, I also started hosting volunteers. I thought I could do better and cheaper. Maybe it was better and cheaper, but it still wasn’t very sustainable.
Good intentions don’t always give a positive result
In Ghana there is a pretty big volunteer market and I saw more and more projects that mean well, have nice intentions, but which end up having negative impact. There are many factors that play a role in this and I can’t name them all in this blog because then it will be a very long article. But a few factors are sustainability, lack of self-reliance on projects and not listening to local leaders.
A few years ago, my Ghanaian business partner and I took a critical look at Moon&Star guesthouse’s volunteering policy and a new approach has emerged from there. Soon after, I started helping other Western volunteers and Western staff in Ghana who came to Moon&Star guesthouse to relax. Thus came the first idea of Ghana expat coach, an extra service on the website of Moon&Star guesthouse.
Coach in Ghana, why now?
Between 2014 and 2018 I was swallowed up by motherhood and was mainly busy holding all the balls high. I worked, but a lot of time and space for myself and my development was not there. When the youngest turned 2, that started to change. The hormones disappeared from my body and there was time for me and the things I liked and liked.
Becoming a mother has made me a little more relaxed. I started working with myself on a spiritual level, but also knowledge oriented. And now there’s a top team in the guesthouse, the kids normally go to school so there’s time, and I now, at 40 years old, not only have the knowledge I need, I also have enough confidence to coach Ghana.
Why I called myself Ghana coach
This is a very good question…. I actually hate the word coach. I started out even worse in my own vision as a Ghana expat coach. I also have something against the word expat. In the end, it became a coach because that word best covers the load.
I support, I think along, I listen, I guide, I have knowledge that I share…. I am a coach in Ghana
Why is there a need for Ghana coach?
There are several reasons why a Ghana coach is needed. As has been said, there are many projects in Ghana with good intentions that are ultimately not fulfilled. I can help.
There is still a stereotype of Africa and therefore of Ghana, an image that is too often underlined by travellers and volunteers and what they post on social media.
Western travelers posing as something they are not to then access places where they do not belong. In short, it seems that many travellers in Ghana are doing things that they would not get in their heads in the west. This starts with something as simple as with a cute African baby, that you don’t know, to take the picture and post this picture on social media. This is not allowed in Europe, so why should we do it here? As long as this happens, we also need a counter-movement.
Sometimes the language stands in the way of good cooperation
In many projects, local leaders are not listened to enough, so projects are doomed to fail. This is sometimes down to the Western people who tend to bring their way to Ghana. But it is also often down to the way we communicate. Ghanaians who say no very difficult and who may be grateful that the project has chosen their community. But also a language barrier can be a cause, because of the different English accents. I can help in 2 ways, I can be a bridge in the communication between the two parties and I can help the Western staff or volunteers to integrate faster and better. This also teaches you to read between the lines as a Western person in Ghana.
Why am I the right person to be coach in Ghana?
I can help you on your way in Ghana because of my experience.
Guidance in Ghana for expats, staff and volunteers:
I’ve made almost all the mistakes myself, but I’ve learned. What mistakes do you think maybe…. Well here comes a row…. For a long time I was completely unaware of the impact that white privilege has. I was a white savior. I took pictures I didn’t have to take. I pushed my opinion through it because I knew better.
Coach in Ghana | Gap year with a plan!
Life experience, experience as a store manager, drugstore and has been hosting for all kinds of travellers for 10 years now. In addition, I am an expert in many fields. I’m good at listening, I’m there to fall back on, I’m there to give you a move when needed and am the mirror that everyone needs sometimes.
Everything you need to know when travelling to Ghana E book
I have lived and traveled around Ghana for 20 years, I still enjoy every palm tree and lizard I see. I stand for sustainability and equality. This mixed with my enthusiasm and practical knowledge about this country made me the best person to write this book that will help you to prepare for you Ghana adventure!
Why do I offer 3 different services as a coach in Ghana?
When I decided to create a full website for Ghana coach I started to take stock of what I do next, but also during my work as a hostess at Moon&Star guesthouse. That turned out to be quite a lot when I wrote it all dow n. After that I started to think about what I prefer to do and those are the services I offer on Ghanacoach.nl. Because when I call myself a coach, I want to help you with great pleasure, enthusiasm on the road in Ghana.
IF IN DOUBT, PLEASE CONTACT ME WITHOUT OBLIGATION!
There is a huge diversity in customers that I am able to help. From business people to students and volunteers and schools and churches. That diversity and the fact that I get to help a lot of people on their way in Ghana make my work as a Ghana coach very varied and enjoyable. Not sure if I can help you, your company or your organisation? Please contact me without obligation. This can be done via email, Whats app or make a non-committal appointment. I am happy to help you and if your wishes and my expertise have no connection then that is also fine.