Bourne Community College Ghana 2019 by Dan Sims
We have previously reported about Seaward’s support for a group of young people from the Bourne Community College who were travelling to Ghana on a volunteering trip. Seaward were joined by some of the sub-contractors from our current development at Priors Orchard in supporting this activity, details in this post. We were delighted to receive this report from Dan Sims, one of the young people involved.
In February, me and my fellow pupils at Bourne Community College travelled to Ghana on a 10 day volunteering trip, where we would be working in a school and experiencing a vastly different culture. We stayed in a village called Woe in the deprived Volta region, in a compound set up by The Young Shall Grow International, the charity that hosted us whilst we were there.
TYSGI was set up in 2009 by Siva Vordzorgbe, a former street child, with the goal of educating and providing for young street children and orphans, and improving conditions in the community. Since its inception, TYSGI has provided homes, education and care for over 50 children in the area, allowing them to flourish and develop, with some even progressing onto university.
For me personally, this was my second trip to Woe, as I also went on the trip two years ago, and we were directed to work in the same school as I worked in before, Dedzidi Community School.
In our group we split into two: those who were going to spend the week building and working in construction, and those who were going to work in the classroom, teaching and assisting the learning. I chose building.
The school is undergoing the building of second story classrooms to reduce the strain of the class sizes, one of which contains 61 kids mostly between 4 and 6 years old! We were to be building concrete ‘blocks’ to go into the construction of the classes however, unlike my last trip, we weren’t allowed to lay the bricks. This was due to possibly the only health and safety notice I saw throughout the entirety of our work, which was that second story construction work had to be carried out by local craftsmen, to ensure that the structure was stable and safe. The tools we used were very basic, and the work required lots of persistence, as the physical nature of the labour was tiring, and temperatures did not drop below 30°C for the entire trip.
The cement arrived throughout the week in 50kg bags, which we had to lift and move whenever required. We would mix two bags of cement at a time, and by the end of the week we were mixing up to 8 bags a day. They would be mixed thoroughly by hand with 24 ‘headpans’ of sand, weighing around 20kg+ , and we would have to pile it all together using spades two or three times, before adding water and mixing again.
Then we had to start shovelling the mixture into moulds, compacting it, and then carefully removing the mould, trying to prevent the block collapsing. Overall, we built around 500/600 blocks, and shovelled tonnes of cement and sand.
Those students working in classes took lessons and marked work, and all of them remarked how surprised they were at the desire of the kids to learn. In addition, I spoke to a street child of about 17 at one point in the compound (they frequently visit to play football and volleyball with us) who told me that he could speak English, French, and Ewe (the local language) fluently, could read German, and that he was learning Spanish and wanted to go to university. Our trip host, Livingstone, also told us that often the kids don’t go to school as they have to work instead, however when the ‘yevu’ (Ewe for ‘white person/people’) go to work in the schools, that makes them want to go to school to see them.
In the afternoons and evenings, we spent time immersing ourselves into the local culture and environment, such as markets, beaches, a monkey sanctuary, and a waterfall. The group also took cases of donations to leave behind in the country, including sporting equipment, educational equipment like pens and pencils, and clothing, and it was amazing to see the joy and gratitude for what we gave.
All of the volunteers will undoubtedly remember this trip, and I do think it has changed our attitudes towards life and the outside world, as we now understand how privileged we are in this country, and are much more thankful for what we have now.
So finally, from all the students and staff at Bourne, a massive thank you to everybody at Seaward Properties and their sub-contractors for helping to make this possible.