Ghana’s pride and poverty


By Mae Mae Cook, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Two things that really stuck out to me in Ghana was the amount of poverty, and the dedication to religion. Slums lined the roads while driving through the country, along with much graffiti. But instead of the vandalized walls saying rude or vulgar quotes, they were filled with bible verses and encouraging messages. Also lining the roads were advertisements for church services and evangelical events, which was a little strange to see.  

On Sunday, most restaurants and shops were closed to honor the holy day, and most of the people I saw were dressed in church attire. Coming from the south, this dedication to religion wasn’t new to me and it made me miss my church and my Sunday traditions.

Another religious aspect of the Ghanaians was their names. Many of them have two names- one that is a normal name given at birth, and the other is a Christian name, which comes from people in the Bible.  I saw a little of that in South Africa, but it was very important here. Although Ghana wasn’t a typical tourist destination and they have a lot to work on to make it one I would still love for everyone to get to see Ghana if you get the chance (and can handle the heat)!


More Like, “Kicking Makes Us Live”


By  Carly Brumgard, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Most all Ghana people are a part of the soccer world. They live eat breathe their love for this competitive game. This is what they look forward to doing every day, literally. I am not talking about playing soccer, I am talking about being the maker of the product that makes soccer possible: the ball. Those who are employed by Alive and Kicking, a social enterprise, know that what they are doing is helping the population as a whole. They make soccer balls, volleyballs, some hand balls, and rugby balls. Their sole purpose is to not make a profit but to achieve a social objective. The three purposes of Alive and Kicking are to create employment, use sports to promote health, and to provide every kid in Africa with a proper soccer ball. This company first started in Kenya then spread to Zambia. This then hit South Africa and next to Ghana.

In 2012 Alive and Kicking reached out to people on the streets specifically those with polio to provide employment for their business while also benefitting the employee. I met one employee who has polio and he seemed happy with the position he was in and very thankful that he was given the opportunity to get off the streets and start helping a great cause. There are currently 52 employees at the Ghana located and 1,500 balls are made per month. For each profit that they make, this goes to raising the salaries of their employees. All of Africa is benefiting from this great cause and kids are definitely happier when they have easy access to their favorite sport. All kids should have the opportunity to play the greatest sport out there, even the less fortunate.

Saving the Mona Monkeys

By Kelleen Haddad, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

This past week, I visited a village in what I believed to be called Mowzo in Ghana. There were many local villagers there, but an incredible beauty of the Mowzo village is that it is currently home to the Mona Monkeys. We learned that these monkeys are very special; they have two white dots right above their tail that make them very unique. Our guide explained that Mona monkeys are only found in this village out of all of West Africa.

These monkeys are endangered. The history our guide explained was that in the old faith before Christianity arrived to Ghana, the Ghana people would listen to the voice of God. God told them to move from the central region of Ghana to this village and to bring the Mona monkeys with them. That is how the monkeys arrived at this village. When the Christians arrived, they converted nearly 95% of the population, but 5% refused to convert. Therefore, the Christian’s burned and cut down the “sacred forest” where the Mona Monkeys resided in spite of the old religion folks and their beliefs. Now, roughly 800 years later, the villagers do all they can to protect what is left of the Mona Monkeys.

A man named John Mason has created a nature preservation center in attempt to save what is left of the forest and the Mona Monkeys. However, it seems to be a real struggle for the villagers as they hardly have enough money to even support themselves, let alone putting money into rebuilding and preserving a forest. I believe it is our duty to protect these incredible Mona Monkeys. Please reach out to me if you are interested in donating!

City of Refuge Ministries

City of Refuge Ministries

By Harper Williams, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

During my time spent in Ghana I was able to go on a Semester at Sea trip to a NGO called “City of Refuge Ministries.” This was one of the highlights of my time in Ghana for many reasons. I was also very excited to help out this NGO in any way I possibly could. The day began early and was well organized. Once we drove about an hour away from Tema we arrived at our destination.

We initially were greeted by the two founders of the organization and they invited us to their church service, being that it was a Sunday morning. I was ecstatic about this but I could not help but realize that this could make others in the group of about forty somewhat uncomfortable. Also this made me realize that in all of the SAS booklets or online signups, the description of the program never mentioned that this was a Christian organization. It actually completely left out the word “Ministries” in the title, it just read “City of Refuge Trip.” While this was not an issue for me personally, being a Christian, I realized that this could have put others in a tough spot.


As the day continued after the church service we were given a tour of the complex and then were able to eat our box lunches provided by SAS. After lunch we were given many options. We could simply play with the kids through soccer, basketball, volleyball, or arts and crafts. This was a great day because with it being Sunday the kids had the day off so they were all in very good moods. The ages ranged anywhere from 4 to 18. The purpose of this NGO is to free children from imprisonment, whether that is working as a slave fishing or prostitution. City of Refuge Ministries uses various tools to release the children from these situations and bring them to their property where they can live and go to school.

They had many facilities available for the children on their campus. These included a church, garden, housing, offices, soccer fields, basketball and volleyball court, a cafeteria, and a playground. The entire day I was extremely impressed with the work that had been done at this NGO. There is stills so much work to be done but they are doing an amazing job getting the ball rolling.

I was very pleased with how SAS handled this trip. I never felt as though we were exploiting the NGO or uncomfortable in any way. The field office did a great job arranging this trip and I would highly recommend it to others. 

Senase Village in Ghana

By Student, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

In this port, I did homestay the whole time in Senase village with Semester at Sea’s impact program. Senase is a small rural farming village in Ghana and 10 hours’ drive from the port of Tema. As a part of the SAS program, I visited the the Semanhyiya American School in the village. The purpose of visiting the school is to help teachers to teach English to children. After spending my time there for two days, I realized the village has a similar situation to the documentary about child trafficking that we watched in the class. In Ghana, at the end of Junior Secondary School (9th grade), all students must take the Basic Education examination, which covers English language, Ghanaian Language, mathematics, history, science, to name but a few. The exam is nation-wide, and only students who pass the exam can proceed to high school. According to the local guide, the quality of teachers in the village is lower than the quality of those in urban area. Thus, many children in the village cannot pass the exam and force to stay in the school for three more years to study again. However, many children who do not pass in the village usually choose to make their way to the city to find work where they are most often met with a horrible existence of living on the streets. In the case of the young girls, they do not have adults that they can count on in urban area, so they spend time with older friends who encouraged them to get into prostitution. According to the local guide, truancy is a major cause of prostitution. All of the prostitutes had not completed secondary school or were attending school.


Sure "Ghana" Miss Ya


By Danielle Murphy, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Ghana is a country that can inspire one to be a true traveler of the world with 

experiences that can alter anyone’s views on religion, politics and ones love 

for their country. Tema, Ghana is a port city that is in close distance to the

main hub of Accra. If you have only a single day to spend in the country I 

would recommend getting the heck out of Accra. 


The city of Accra does not fall into the mainstream concept of city and has a

main street of stalls with businesses attempting to sell you something. If 

you want to buy something within a stall do not go inside or even look if you 

are by yourself. Try to bargain, but do not be tricked into paying too much 

for a cheaply made item. There are also several malls in the area, about 3 

all with a half hour distance of each other. At these malls you will not find

too many western style stores. Maybe a MRP and Levis, but you will see grocery 

stores that are full of locals and you will stand out. 


If you decide to get out of the city try to get to an outdoor activity. Beaches,

hikes, horseback riding, bike rides, safaris and rainforests are all close by 

or at least 3 to 4 hours drive. I would recommend the preserves and rainforest. 

A beautiful rainforest full of rope walk ways in worth seeing and can make for 

an amazing photograph. Animals are far beneath you but you can hear sounds of life every so often. Animals are more apparent in the area of preserves and 

are well taken care of.  You can see species ranging from zebras, ostrich, 

monkeys and others. This is a perfect plan if you have children in your grou

Canopy bridges in the trees

By Renee Hall, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

My friends and I decided to go to Kakum National Park and experience the canopy bridges high up in the trees. These canopy bridges were the first ones in Africa. The views were breathtaking and the height was a little scary. I would say it’s a good place to go for mild thrill seekers, like me. It was kind of far to get to but I felt like it was worth it. They kept the place very clean and had souvenir shops that sold shirts that said “I Survived the Canopy Bridge”. They also had a little restaurant available. If you’re a hiker, then this is the place for you. They have a lot of trails that go all over the park. They provided tour guides that took us up to the canopy. You actually couldn’t even go into the forest to the canopy without a tour guide. I thought that this was a good idea because it made sure the tourists didn’t break any rules and it made us tourists feel safe and not get lost. It was also nice to see that there weren’t many tourists at all, it was mostly local people who were with us. Most of the tourists were from Semester at Sea. Overall, I loved it and would highly recommend it.

Totally Cultural at Torgorme


By Charly Solomon, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

During my experience in Ghana, I had the opportunity to participate in an African naming ceremony. The naming ceremony is a tradition in the Torgorme village, approximately an hour and a half north of our port. After a baby is born, the family waits one week to see if the baby survives. It is then on the eighth day that the family will bring the baby out of the home and show him or her to the public. When the baby is born, the baby is given an English name; however, they only receive an African name after the family is sure that they were meant to survive. The ceremony consists of African dance and song, followed by the chief of the village introducing the baby to the community by its new African name. The giving of an African name is a symbol of welcoming a new person into the village. All of the village comes together for these ceremonies as this a big celebration for a new member of the community. 

During our naming ceremony, we were brought up in groups of five to stand before the village and receive our new African names. When it came my turn, they told me my African name, Aozo Kakra. There are two names that one is given during the ceremony, a birth name and a life name. One’s birth name is depends on what day of the week a person is born. The life name is decided by the chief and the other elders in the village. My name, Aozo, means that I was born on a Monday and Kakra means blessed. 

It was a wonderful ceremony to experience first-hand and see how much this village appreciates the culture and environment that they have formed. If you were given an African name, what do you think yours would be?


Ghana Good Gracious


By Leslie Acta, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

This country is the first one where I truly felt out of my comfort zone. From cat calls to being walked alongside of for multiple blocks it was just something that as a woman traveler it made me nervous.

 Then I had a planned overnight stay at the Torgorme Village and I got to experience what it is like on a daily basis for a Ghanaian person. While there, I spent numerous hours playing and dancing with many of the children of the village. It seemed the simplicity of a small soccer ball, a Frisbee, and a simple game of follow the leader could get the kids all wound up and their excitement from the simplicity of the activities filled me with so much endearment.

 During the night I slept in a room that was more on the luxurious end of the rest of the group’s room. I had a fan, electricity, and a Television; no air condition but that is to be expected. I was constantly sweaty and never dried off until we got back to the ship and kept thinking about how my mom had been through this when she started dating my dad when he still lived in the Dominican Republic. I asked her, how in the world would you be able to sleep being constantly drenched in sweat and she just replied, “Exhaustion takes over the heat” and that is just what happened. I only spent one night there, and I assume it gets easier or it just is easier being born into it.

 Our host family told us that groups from Europe come at least once a month to see how they live during the day and every few months a group comes to spend the night. This is something I recommend to travelers, if you can find a way to do a homestay in Ghana to be able to experience the true life, do it. I was out of my comfort zone and now I feel like I know more than I did before I got there. Have you ever felt out of your comfort zone while traveling? What was happening and where? Let us know in the comment section below!


Exhausted in Ghana


By Kevin Coltrain, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

I am worn out.  Hiking up mountains, through the rainforests, and around the monkeys, was a little more than I had originally expected my Ghanaian experience would be like.  I signed up on a Semester at Sea field program called Southern Adventure Overnight.  And let me tell you, it was an adventure.

The first day, we didn’t have to go very far to the mountain we were going to hike.  However, with the traffic, it ended up taking 4 to 5 hours.  When we reached our destination many were overwhelmed with realizing the mountain we were going to climb the highest mountain in Ghana.  It was a task that not everyone in the group could complete as it truly was a tough hike.  But once we reached the top, it was just beautiful.

The next day we walked through a rainforest to reach the tallest waterfall in West Africa: the Wli Waterfall.  Bats were flying above us as we jumped in the water and began swimming underneath the gallons of water falling overhead

After, we went to a monkey sanctuary, where monkeys were looked at as friends.  We were able to feed and take pictures with the monkeys.  It was a great experience.          

Ghana was a great country and I am excited I was able to visit it.  However, with all the hiking, I was so extremely tired.  Have you ever had a time you were overwhelmed with how much was on your itinerary? 

Voluntourism in Ghana


By Tessa Andrzejczak,  Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Ghana is a developing country and many organizations have been established to help the country and its people progress. These programs are doing amazing things like rescuing children, providing education, empowering women, and hiring jobs. Because of the wonderful intentions of these groups, people are drawn to these organizations from all over the world. Tourists are coming to Ghana for the soul purpose of volunteering, this concept is called voluntourism. It is great that people want to help but oftentimes, volunteers end up doing more harm then helping

I volunteered with several non-government organizations during my time in Ghana and I had very mixed feelings about what I did. One program that I worked with was called Teach on the Beach, which is an after school tutoring program for the local children of Busua. I volunteered with them for a day and helped tutor the children, gave them little gifts, and played with them. Although the kids and I had a great time, I know that my help was only temporary. Having white people come in and bring joy for a day then leaving constantly cannot teach the kids how to have healthy relationships and I fear that they will become accustomed to people leaving.


I also worked with a program called City of Refuge, which rescues children and provides them with housing and schooling. Rather than just playing games, I spent the majority of my time there organizing shelves in the library. The section that I organized was the teacher resources books. The books were thrown in piles on the ground when we got there and now they are in alphabetical order on shelves and are easier to find. I know that my time there contributed to long term benefits for the teachers in that program. Voluntourism is not a bad thing, you just have to make sure that your volunteer work is for a good and lasting cause.

It is not all paradise

By Allison Karman, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

While in Ghana I took a trip with Semester at Sea to an island in Lake Volta. The trip description was very vague in the sense that I didn’t know what to expect from this adventure. After a three hour bus ride from Tema we pull up to this shore where we piled in a long wooden boat and took a trip down the lake to our island destination. The island was something out of a book. The island was about three football fields wide so you could easily run back and fourth from the crazy waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the calm waters of Lake Volta. We slept in huts on the beach with sandy floors, a single lightbulb illuminating the space under mosquito nets. At night we danced and drummed with the locals of the island and other travelers. It was something I will never forget. The next morning we packed up and took a two hour boat ride around the surrounding islands and saw how the fishermen earned their living, admired the beauty of the nature around us and saw how the local rum was made. It was an amazing experience.

On my last day in Ghana I went to an orphanage called City of Refuge. The children who are at this orphanage were rescued because they were sold into child slavery. These children were sold by their parents who were tricked into thinking that the children would be getting an education while working and earning money. The opposite is true. These children were sold to fishermen who made them work long hours in the sun without rest or much water, beaten when they didn’t work hard enough, and forced to dive down into the water to detangle fishing nets and sometimes being entangled and drowned to death themselves. We asked the heads of the orphanage where the children came from. Their response was Lake Volta. Now looking back at my beach experience I remember seeing young children working wherever I turned. It’s a hard thing to process that while you were having the time of your life, the children around you didn’t have a life at all.