“I want to do good in Africa” That’s what many people tell me when I ask; Why do you want to volunteer in Africa?
My answer…. Then you should stay home and send a donation to a good (local) project. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? It’s definitely not meant to be that way! I don’t want to scare you into coming either. Your visit to Ghana alone is helping the local economy, so your goal has already been achieved. Do you want to know why I’m taking this position anyway? Continue reading!
Why do you want to do good in Africa?
Because Africa is poor. People are pathetic. They need help. There’s nothing in Africa. Africa is torn apart by war and dictators. There’s no water in Africa. People don’t have houses. Africans are hungry. Babies are sick. This is the image that many Westerners (unconsciously) have of Africa. But what is this image based on? And is it? Are all 54 African countries poor? Are there no houses in Ghana?
Why can’t you just stay in Ghana for a long time?
You can also come to Africa with a different mindset. You can see your adventure as a journey where you experience, get to know a different culture and can explore another country. When you go to a Western country for a longer period of time, do you also feel the necessity want to contribute?
What is good doing in Africa anyway?
I often see projects where European young people literally come to build houses in Ghana. The young people are happy because they really do their bit. They are very busy with mason and carpenter work. Until they’re tired… Why do they build in Ghana with these huge blocks? And why do they mix the cement with a shovel and not with a machine? What these young people don’t know is that if they weren’t there, the house would be finished much faster.
What skills do you have to help in Ghana or other countries in Africa?
This question is in line with the previous question. And the question could be even more extensive. What skills do you have that local people don’t have? For example, it is very nice to help paint and there are certainly projects where volunteers, also local volunteers, paint. Especially when there is little money available. But there are also professional painters in Africa. What is more sustainable? That the Western volunteer paints, or that the Western volunteer raises funds so that a local painter can be hired? This question naturally applies to all possible skills.
“But Pat, with Moon&Star guesthouse, don’t you offer volunteer placement?”
Someone from a volunteer organization asked this question this week, quite rightly, in response to the Ghana coach’s posts over the past few weeks on Social media. And it’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the years. And ultimately the reason why volunteer work through Moon&Star guesthouse stopped. Click here to read more about the responsible alternative that Moon&Star guesthouse is offering!
I want to encourage everyone to come to Africa, also for a longer period!
I’m not asking these questions to discourage you from coming to Ghana. In contrary!!!! I want everyone to discover Ghana. But not to save Ghana…… To enjoy everything Ghana has to offer! And enjoying that is fine when you come to volunteer in Ghana or the rest of Africa. I just want to make sure that you come with a mindset that allows you to enjoy, experience and learn. A mindset that will ensure that your good intentions do not inadvertently do more harm than good…