Why Ghana? How did you get involved with the country?
After completing a distance learning degree, I took a 5 month career break to go travelling. Having planned my travels around Asia and Australia, I had about a month free before I left. My friend mentioned she was thinking about volunteering in Ghana as she’d seen an advert at her university and I checked out the website and thought why not! So I volunteered in Ghana for 3 weeks, where I was building school libraries and homes for orphan families. I then travelled around Asia and Australia, where I also did some volunteer work.
When I came back to my job in the UK, sitting at my desk doing lots of analytical work, having seen the struggles of people in countries I’d visited, my perception of work changed and I longed to help people in a direct way again. At that point, I decided I needed to take a leap of faith and pack up and move abroad.
How does Paper to Ghana make the difference?
Pen to Paper Ghana is a registered Ghanaian NGO that aims to improve education and facilities for the youth of Ghana, to give them a good grounding for a successful future. The organisation develops infrastructure in schools, as well as working in partnership with the Ghana Education Service to increase education, particularly literacy, through after-school reading classes, home visits and parent meetings.
How has your organisation made the difference in your life?
I don’t think I’m actually aware of how much the organisation and living in Ghana has changed me but I know that my outlook on certain things has altered, for instance, having the latest phone or a new dress for a night out, really doesn’t seem important to me anymore. It doesn’t bring happiness to my life; seeing the delight on a kid’s face as you give them a pencil or when one of my pupils understands a new concept, is what makes me happy.
What advice would you give for people that want to make the difference?
I would say to anyone who is sitting in their job and literally counting down the time till the weekend, find something that you truly love doing, whether that’s a new job or spending a couple of hours a week volunteering, it’ll give you more meaning to life.
Making a difference can be made in many different ways, from donating monthly to an organisation, to giving up an hour or two to help children read, to just helping an old lady cross the road. I like the quote “helping one person might not change the whole world BUT it could change the world for that one person.” It’s about helping with the capacity that you have available.
And how to make donations, any material that you need and contacting Paper to Ghana?
Our vision is obviously to continue to improve education, particularly increasing literacy rates. We have many ideas and projects we want to undertake, such as, with funding, we’d love to have a mobile library that we could drive to different schools and both read with the pupils and educate them on the concept of phonics. So in terms of helping to achieve this, we are relying on people to hopefully donate to us or undertake some fundraising activities, and also to raise awareness of the organisation, mainly through promoting our social media pages.
We’re also looking for schools and parents interested in becoming Pen to Paper Ghana ‘Pen Pals’ who’s pupils or children can write letters to our literacy pupils and then they’ll write back to them. Though we haven’t run any trips through Pen to Paper Ghana, we have lots of previous experience of running volunteer trips in Ghana, so we would be very happy if people want to come out and visit us or for us to plan a school trip for a group of students.
To get in touch with us, we have a website (www.pentopaperghana.com), where you can find our contact information and we’re also on Facebook and Instagram.