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.