Community Projects - Volunteer Reviews

GHANA

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about volunteering in Ghana

Richard - Teaching, 2018

“I spent my initial few days helping construct some steps at the local primary school. Despite having limited building experience, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of designing and then building the school steps that will hopefully remain useful to the children and teachers at the school.

The remainder of my time over the last 3 weeks, I supported the teacher of year 4. My teaching experience was very positive and it was great to be invited to lead subject lessons on Maths, Science and English, as well as supporting Gladys in other subjects.

Rather than just re-writing lessons from the text book which seems to be the norm, I tried to engage the class in some more animated activities to illustrate lesson content e.g.

• Acting out the Sun and planets of our solar system;

• Using a magnifying glass to demonstrate solar energy.

The children are lovely, eager to learn, polite and well behaved. One quickly builds up a rapport with them and I’ll retain some fantastic memories of my time spent with them.

Additionally, I ran an after-school ICT workshop for the children. I tried to encourage the children in keyboard and mouse navigation skills and basic use of Word, Calculator and Paint program functions which alongside a few games they thoroughly enjoyed.

I had a great 4 weeks in Ghana and not only did I feel that I was doing something to help the local community, I also started to feel part of the community. The local team are great and all of the Ghanaians I met in Abenta and elsewhere during our travels throughout Ghana were so friendly and welcoming.

The charity have clearly done a brilliant job through their work to date and with the right focus, I believe that there are some great opportunities for them to become one of the leading charities in Ghana.

What did you find most rewarding?

Everything

What did you find most challenging?

The heat!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Be flexible/have an open mind and to talk to the local management team who will help make sure that your aspirations are met.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Volunteered twice previously

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Kathy - Teaching, 2018

“This is a great project, really well organised, we had a very clear explanation of the charity's aims and work. You are living in the local community and have a really good understanding of village life. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and the children I worked with were delightful, sometimes cheeky, but well behaved and respectful. Accommodation is basic, but comfortable and there's a strong emphasis on hygiene which is reassuring. It was very hot, but you get used to that. It's well worth taking the opportunity to travel at the weekend as there are some really interesting places to discover, especially the Volta region.

What did you find most rewarding?

Living in the heart of the community meant we were constantly in touch with the villagers, the children and those working with the charity. Personally I found teaching art and craft really rewarding as the kids hadn't done much of it and they responded to it so enthusiastically.

What did you find most challenging?

It's a full day, you need to get a good night's sleep, which can be hard in the heat. Teaching methods can seem basic and old fashioned, but they have to cope with very limited resources.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Go with an open mind, the things that sound challenging, like long drop toilets and basic accommodation are really not a problem! If you are teaching, think about taking resources out with you (check what is needed), especially for art and craft.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?

Not really, but we were the only two volunteers for 2 out of 4 weeks which meant we had to cook most nights. I'd have been happy to pay for more meals to be prepared for us!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Two previous volunteering experiences with Pod, both excellent!

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Mackenzie - Early Learning, 2018

“I have volunteered twice now with POD in Ghana working with the charity and I loved every moment again. The environment is tough at times with the heat, but the people in the village and the support from the staff is unrivaled. Every time that I leave, I cry because the country, the village and all of its people are truly beautiful.

What did you find most rewarding?

Working with the kids and building relationships with them.

What did you find most challenging?

Dealing with the differences in how education is handled. Realizing how different things can be and working with the school staff can be frustrating at times, but you have to understand that things are different by culture. Once you do that, then you will be able to work alongside them better.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Just do it. Travelling and entering into such a different culture can be difficult and oftentimes stressful, but once you get accustomed to the situation and get to know the people then you start loving your time.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I've worked with POD volunteer before through my school.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes"

Grace - Film & Photography and Early Learning, 2017

“I had the most wonderful time volunteering with the project in Ghana. The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming and I felt like I was part of the team. All the team at POD were also so helpful, every time I had a question it was answered quickly and fully and this made me feel so safe and supported during the whole process.

The month I spent volunteering with the project in Ghana was the most rewarding experience of my life. The amazing people working for this charity improve people’s lives every single day and I’m so happy to have been a part of that. My entire experience has been a positive one. From the very start POD were supportive and helpful, answering all my questions and making me feel that I was in very good hands! When I arrived in Ghana I was made incredibly welcome by the team. I had a fantastic time working with the children and making films for the charity. I also loved the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a culture completely different from the one I know, it was a truest eye opening experience that I would recommend to everyone.

What did you find most rewarding?

Working with the children in the Crèche because I could see the difference I was making by being there.

What did you find most challenging?

I found it hard that everything is so different. Sometimes I felt like an alien in a world I didn’t understand at all, it’s hard when nothing is familiar at all.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Be very open minded and learn to accept the cultural differences. There are things about the culture which are very different from what we know and it can be difficult to understand why people do certain things. Also make the most of the experience, the more you immerse yourself in the way of life the more you will get out of it.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?

No it was all great

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I felt sure that POD would look after me during my trip, which was something I wanted to be sure of as I had never done anything like this before. POD sent me lots of information about the volunteer project and were very quick to answer my questions so I knew they would look after me.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Karen - Early Learning, 2017

“My overall experience in Early Learning in Ghana was amazing from the moment I arrived at the placement to the last day. The volunteers at the project were so supportive and really looked after me. The children were so special and always happy as were the people who were amazing and so friendly. My work in Ghana was varied I went to do Early Learning which I did, however I also helped to paint a school, and work with the local nurse helping with the baby weighing clinic and health screening. It was a truly inspiring, rewarding and humbling experience and would definitely recommend this to anyone. I will definitely be back next year.

What did you find most rewarding?

Working with the children in the crèche and at the after school club.

What did you find most challenging?

I think mentally it was all challenging - seeing how happy the children and people were with the so little that they had.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

I would say just go with an open mind as things are so different out there, but enjoy and put your heart and sole into the project that you are doing, it will be very rewarding in so many ways.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

After much research POD seemed to be the one offering projects to all age groups not just 18-25 year olds.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Grace - Teaching and Building, 2017

“I had an amazing time volunteering in Ghana. The team out there are so friendly and welcoming, as is the whole village (and country!) It was wonderful to be able to see the work the charity has done over the last decade and to see what plans they have for the future also. From arriving in Accra and being picked up by Aikins and Jason, to the day I left, I felt a part of the team.

What did you find most rewarding?

I was lucky enough to be out there for the 'Girls Day 2017' which saw over 100 girls from three rural villages come together. They were given inspirational talks from business women and had the change to ask questions and talk about their aspirations, all topped off with a football tournament. Seeing so many people work to put this together and give these young girls an opportunity and freedom to think big about their lives was incredible.

What did you find most challenging?

Witnessing parts of the culture that Westerners aren't used to was hard. Children being caned and lack of basic hygiene in some places. And aside from that the heat!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Go for it, don't build up too many expectations or worry about things running to time. Just take each day seperately and enjoy it. It's not about you making a big difference while you're out there, it's about helping the charity make a big difference over time.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?

I think the way the volunteer programme is run us fantastic, it would maybe nice to get aheads up on what's going on before you head out. I was down to do some building work, but it was the end of they financial year so nothing much was happening on that front. Although I did help paint a creche and health clinic!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Recommendation & Ethical company

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Dominic - Film and Photography, 2017

"I arrived in Ghana wanting a new experience, to push myself. I definitely got that. When I first arrived it felt almost surreal driving around and seeing the real Africa. What's so great about the whole experience is that you are exposed to the real, rural Ghana and are in close communication with the locals. The people I met on my trip is definitely what will stick in my memory. The locals are so kind and make you feel very welcome. Perhaps what surprised me the most, was not the difference in the culture, but how similar the people were.

What did you find most rewarding?
Meeting loads of interesting people, both the locals and the staff. Brendan and his lovely girlfriend Laia kindly asked me to join them on a trip to cape coast to see an exhibition.

What did you find most challenging?
Trying to get used to the customs of using the camera with the locals.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be enthusiastic and ready for anything. The locals love having volunteers coming and they love it when you look happy. Try to experience the real Ghana, it is much more rewarding and acting like a tourist. Also, bring lots of mosquito spray!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I wanted to go Africa and I am very interested in Film and Photography

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes"

Mary - Teaching, 2017

“I cannot fault the support, information I got beforehand, the experience was awesome and I would definitely recommend this to anyone, whatever age you are!

Don't limit yourself by thinking these projects are only for the under 30s, they are for anyone! I had an awesome time in Ghana, I went to help teaching in a school, but learnt more from the people there than I could have imagined. This experience was life changing and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

What did you find most rewarding?

The welcome and acceptance by the local people

What did you find most challenging?

Missing my family, I was there for 12 weeks, so it was a long trip

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Go for it!”

Conor - Teaching, 2017

“The project location is stunning - just under two hours drive from Accra in a rural setting up a bumpy unsurfaced track to this secluded setting with beautiful views. The base has good space, a lovely outside area and a view of the school you would be working in. The children are around there all the time apart from the evenings and expect to help them along with things when you are free and play with them! The staff are incredible, the most friendly team you would ever wish to work with (special shoutout to Aikins!), and it is well run, well organised and very ethical towards the community and the surrounding villages, which makes it very ideal if you're looking to go the extra mile to ensure it's as ethical as possible. I arrived at the end of the school year so I didn't do much in terms of school work but I helped out where possible, marking, creating resources and helping with the Malaria awareness program and quiz in the school before it closed! It's great to be flexible out there as you can, like me, join the building programs as the team will always be more than happy to have you helping, whether it's on mortar or painting the schools. Either way, there's always something rewarding to be done!
An incredible country with incredible people at an incredibly friendly project that has left a lasting impression on me.

What did you find most rewarding?
Probably the people, and helping out the children and seeing them enjoying themselves

What did you find most challenging?
I've never had issues with homesickness, but it is very secluded so it is possible if it's your first time in rural Africa that it may take some getting used to. The heat sometimes was very strong and for me, my stomach didn't like the packet water at first but you'll get used to it if you don't want to buy too many bottles from Accra!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Nothing else other than go with an open mind, be flexible and just do it!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Worked with them before, very easy process, lovely communicative staff and never had a single issue in two volunteer trips organised with Pod

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Ray - Building, 2017

“Living in Manchester for almost a decade I have always wanted to get involved with projects like this, and was very pleased when I finally found one that provided an opportunity to take part in literally building something. To have been involved with the construction of the Obum school and view the surrounding projects that has been constructed locally informs me that the charity is involved with sustainable projects that will make an effective difference for the better for future generations to benefit from. Best to go with an open mind, first aid kit, some personal questions about Ghana for the cultural lesson teacher and spare money for the bead market as there will be some amazing things to buy. If you go in July you may be in for a surprising treat, I know I was. If you were like me two months ago and are wondering whether you would like to go, (and you are thinking it may be now or never), I would say please take the plunge and listen to your inner voice click apply and book your ticket to go. Chances are that on top of all the interesting people you will meet, you will also cross paths with others who were thinking the same as yourself and are much happier for having made the decision to get involved, thus the right decision.

I was surprised with how much sharing and trust among the volunteers and with the locals that took place. The dormitories were well maintained as were the other bathroom, and bed facilities. Looking back I miss nothing more than those nights when coming back from a hard day's work then showering under the stars I would sleep to the whooshing comforting sound of the fan to see me off till dawn. The charity is well spoken of, no nonsense and high impact. The structure of the placement was very well considered from the initial homestay with a local family in Accra for a day to the village life and daily routine of the placement. It is a fortunate thing to be a part of the difference being made, and see others doing the same. Akwaaba indeed!

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the children and members of the community who we were working with and for. The energy levels and welcome by Kwabena and Ghanaians in general. Seeing the physical transformation and alterations to the school in Obum being worked on. The off-road drive to the village. The local NGO's hospitality. The cultural lessons. The weather in the second week, and having no access to the internet.

What did you find most challenging? Mosquitoes. Transition of phone networks to get in touch with friends family or pod in the second week.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? To bring back Ghanaian chocolate for friends and family. To probably read more about how mosquitoes are attracted to certain types of hosts over others. Perhaps to have some questions about Ghana in mind saved for the Master's cultural lesson. Have a first aid kit and most importantly an open mind.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I chose Pod, because it is UK based, phones were always answered when I called. The guide was helpful and the guardian reviews and mention of it being an ethical charity with high impact or as one reviewer on the pod site put in a "no nonsense" charity sat well with me

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Ronan - Building, 2017

“I really enjoyed my time in Ghana and feel like I made a second home in the village.

When I researched volunteering I wanted to really do some hard work to help a community less advantaged than mine - not just a token day or two helping out here and there. I definitely received that opportunity in Ghana, some days I came home from the building site absolutely exhausted but feeling great about what I had accomplished!

Despite the hard work, I also managed to travel with other volunteers on my time off and see other parts of Ghanaian culture. I was able to comfortably do this with people I had only met the week before due to the communal feel that existed at the base. The atmosphere created at the base and in the village is incredibly welcoming and supportive and I feel like I really got to know the volunteers and staff.

Travelling to Ghana and opening my eyes to local perspectives has been humbling. Life for locals is far more difficult yet they always seem to have a smile on their faces and I hope what I learnt from the experiences there will stay with me for a long time.

What did you find most rewarding? We didn't have to shy away from doing hard work - you were given the opportunity to do as much as you could and the feeling at the end of a day when you had given it your all was really rewarding.

What did you find most challenging? The heat and the fact that I never seemed to be able to drink enough water!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? If you're serious about doing some hard physical work, but also want to explore on your time off, then go for this!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? On recommendation from an ex-volunteer. I wanted to work with an well-run, professional agency who were trying to help local communities, and not profit-driven.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Charlotte - Film and Photography, 2017

“I loved the time I spent in Ghana at my volunteer placement. The support I received from  Pod was very good throughout the application process and placement and I could not have wished for better. I loved the tasks I was given to complete during my time in Ghana and it was so great to meet so many amazing people, who lived in Ghana and also other volunteers like myself. I spent two weeks there and by the end I felt as though I could have easily spent another two. I have returned home feeling very positive and I know I will never forget this fantastic experience!

What did you find most rewarding? The film and photography work I completed, as well as spending time with the local children. In particular working at holiday club and teaching dance and yoga.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? You will achieve what you expect and more! Have access to a card or means of getting more money if you need it.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”.

Zita - Building, 2017

“My time in Ghana was absolutely amazing. I spent two weeks on building projects and I was involved in the construction of a Health Clinic and a Creche. The team there is fantastic and very welcoming. I loved working with the builders there as they were fun and very inspiring. For me, it didn't take long to get used to the village life though it was strange waking up to natural noises instead of cars and sirens.

I would highly recommend anyone who would like to take a break and would like a challenge in his/her life. You get to know great characters and a beautiful country with its breathtaking treasures.

What did you find most rewarding? The people I've met and that I was part of something great for two weeks which will go on to make great impact on the village life.

What did you find most challenging? Mixing mortar and cement but I did it smile

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Take lots of (big) plasters and sun cream!!! Also, try not to copy what the guys are doing as they are way stronger then they look.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Because I wanted the opportunity to go to Ghana on construction sites and Pod had this on their agenda.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Dave - Building, 2017

"Overall I had a fantastic experience and would recommend this to anyone. The Team in the UK are great always available to help and have actually worked on the project. The Team in Ghana are fantastic too, They seem to have everything organised - even the social events. Great work everyone!

I had never volunteered before and wanted to give something back, even in a small way. I chose the building project as this seemed more interesting to me and I felt I may have something to offer here (even if it was just hard work)!

Travelling alone for the first time was quite daunting. But the organisation in both the UK and in country was excellent. It probably also helps to talk to the POD team as they have actually visited and worked in these projects and have first hand experience.

The Team in Ghana we also excellent - they had everything organised, even the social events! I worked on 2 building projects along with another UK guy and a group of American Students. It was a mixed team and everyone pulled their weight. I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of comrades! It was hard work at times, but I felt very rewarding. The Ghanaian people are so welcoming and friendly. Go on...take the plunge!! I did and feel great for the experience.

What did you find most rewarding? The greatest reward was meeting the people. Both Ghanaian's and volunteers. Also experiencing their culture and feeling in some very small way - I actually helped.

What did you find most challenging? The most challenging was probably working in mid 30 degrees heat mixing concrete by hand. But we had a great team and the time flew by. Remember to drink plenty of water and re-hydrate lots!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Follow your heart and go for it. There are plenty of people on hand to help you decide on placements and projects.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? I tried to think of this when I gave my feedback in the village on the day I was leaving. i just couldn't think of anything needed. Of course I was always joking about setting up a fund to buy a mobile cement mixing lorry!!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I was originally looking at a different project with another organisation, but never seemed to get any response unless I chased. POD on the other hand were helpful and pro active from day 1. Of course initially it was a simple website trawl, but POD looked to have the right projects and sounded ethical

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Manhar - Building, 2016

"If you have been to any country in Africa or Asia before volunteering with Pod there won't be that culture shock at having to use basic facilities at the base or site you will be staying at ie having to use a bucket shower or drop toilet. By all means bring hand gel/wipes but don't get too squeemish about being slightly grubby - it's all part of the adventure (!) Likewise just ignore anything (big or small) you find crawling towards you. I did find things did run smoothly and more or less to time virtually every day - despite the notifications on various documents I received that "this is Ghana - things may not run to schedule" - this was a bonus.Most of all Enjoy - you have made a conscious decision to choose this holiday - certainly in Ghana the people were very friendly & welcoming - Akwaaba indeed.

What did you find most rewarding? Working as a team on the building site - just the 4 of us but I'd like to think I earned my stripes (!)

What did you find most challenging? The heat - on the 1st few days did find it hard coping on the building site in the heat.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Would recommend a good to very good level of fitness - this will stand you in good steed. If you buy a supply of cereal bars to snack on whilst on the site it will stave of the hunger pangs till lunch / evening meal time.

Really enjoyed the volunteering holiday - even though it did feel like hard work on the building site at times – really rewarding and got back home to appreciate all that I / we take for granted."

James - Building, 2016

“Well where do I start, it was a life changing experience that everyone should do! I only went for two weeks but I could of easily stayed for another three. The people of Ghana are some of the friendliest and polite people in the world.

I was doing building work during the day and the odd football coaching during the evening, you don't even notice working such a long day as it’s so rewarding. Brendon and Aikins make you feel very welcome, you can have a great laugh with them and facilities are great, having a cold shower really gets the blood pumping, I can't wait to go back next year!

What did you find most rewarding? The relationships you make the people in the village.

What did you find most challenging? Seeing the children being caned at school and leaving.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Go with an open mind and take everything in. Also make sure you drink a lot if you're building!”

Helen - Early Learning, 2016

“My experience was better than I ever could have imagined!!! It's the best thing I have ever done! Thank you!!

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the children smile and meeting all of the amazing inspirational people in the village!

What did you find most challenging? Cockroaches in the toilet at night time!!!! And seeing the children being caned or with sores and not being able to help.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? You've got to be prepared to work hard and be adaptable. You need to open to a completely different world and accept it for what it is.”

Richard - Building, 2016 

“Pod and the team were brilliant. Prior to leaving Pod made sure everything was clear. I also thought that the Pod insurance provided by Banner was first class – those guys really know what they're doing....

What did you find most rewarding? Getting involved with something that you could see was going to be valued by the community

What did you find most challenging? The physical nature of the work

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Ensure you're ready for some hard work!

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? I thought it was very very well run

Did you have any problems, incidents or accidents while on the placement? Yes, colleagues bag didn't arrive on the flight but this was well managed by the team

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes. We'd all highly recommend it and feel that going on a trip ourselves has given us a valuable insight.”

Ian - Building, 2016 

“Can't recommend Pod enough. Very well organised. Left me with some great memories of the people and Country of Ghana. Has probably inspired some people I know to get involved in volunteering. Has helped me to see how commodity driven we have become in the western world. I only made a very small change to the village, however a small change is better than no change.

What did you find most rewarding? That I left something behind that will help the villagers.

What did you find most challenging? The heat for a few days at the start. Only because we left our winter for 35+ degree weather.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Read the guide provided by Pod. Allow plenty of time to ensure visa / vaccinations are in hand.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? None.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? We work with them and seemed a good fit for us.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Laura - Building, 2016 

“The organisation of the charity was amazing and the facilities above par! The Journey to the base was tough as we took the dusty road which was badly eroded which made for a very challenging 2 hours. We did however take the tarmac route on the way back to Accra which was much better.

The project its self was hard going as it was very warm and we were digging and mixing concrete for a storm drain. This would prove invaluable when the rains come as it will stop the school house from subsiding. I have never worked harder in my life but it was for a good cause !!

What did you find most rewarding? Working around the community

What did you find most challenging? The building work and the fact that I was the only girl in the dormitory (the other female was there with her husband) this meant that I felt lonely some times.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? 

Make sure you drink plenty of water and double up on your undies so you always have clean ones.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Scott - Sports Coaching and Teaching, 2015

“Thank you again for providing such an amazing experience! Overall I had an exceptional time in Ghana, and I was proud to be a part of such an excellently-run charity.

But above all, it was an excellent charity with some truly outstanding operational staff. Pod were wonderful to deal with also! So thank you.

It really is incredible to work with such a well-run, motivated and established charity. The work is always meaningful and very "bottom up"... so you're always working with the community to make it stronger, rather than awkwardly imposing ideas from afar. From a social point of view, you will form life-long friends from other like-minded volunteers that you are staying with. Volunteer work isn't a holiday, but Ghana has a lot to offer in terms of lush scenery and beautiful places. Ghana's an incredibly safe country; rich in history and with an enthusiastic, genuine, laid-back society.

If simple living + working with similar minds to help other people sounds appealing to you, then I couldn't recommend this Ghana charity enough. Volunteering here is a wonderful way to experience a whole different side to the word 'community', and I am positive that you will learn some things that you will never forget!

What did you find most rewarding? Being accepted as the coach of a very enthusiastic, very receptive soccer team was very rewarding indeed. From my first week of coaching, it was clear that my team hadn't received a lot of formal training in the past (in spite of a high skill/fitness level!), so it was wonderful to teach some fundamental drills and to watch my players - especially the younger ones - develop on the field as they started to feel natural and comfortable

What did you find most challenging? During my IT Mentoring volunteering, I found myself undertaking a large project from scratch. Whilst sometimes I felt like I was heading in the right direction, the largely unsupervised nature of this work meant that I also felt like I was getting nowhere on some days. I hope that I have contributed in some way to the IT Mentoring portfolio that the charity offers, but I feel like it could use further refining and direction.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? When volunteering for a long period and working towards a large goal, you often become very invested in the work that you do. Towards the middle of my stay, I found myself working 10+ hours every day, and wanting to do even more on weekends. Sometimes it can be very important to simply take some time off, and deliberately 'do nothing' for a while - so that you can give yourself fully to your projects when you return to them.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I chose Pod Volunteer because they were independently reviewed & judged as being efficient and ethical. I first heard of Pod Volunteer through the endhumanitariandouchery website. Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes

Pod Staff were great! I am a huge fan of their projects, and by working with Pod Volunteer, I ended up with more or less exactly the kind of volunteering experience I was after. Thank you to Gemma and all of her team's hard work!”

Martin - Teaching, 2015

“I was really impressed with how the charity looked carefully at our skill sets prior to starting, and the skill sets of the other volunteers, and then found suitable positions for them which both maximised the impact the volunteers could make in the village and maximised the sense of commitment to the work. For example, my partner and I are both qualified teachers with quite a bit of experience in the UK and the charity worked hard to ensure that we met and worked with stakeholders in the Ghanaian education system so that we could make the biggest impact in the short time (6 months) we were in Ghana.

In the time we've been here, we've set up a teacher training programme which we will be rolling out in the next three months in various schools. The aim of the programme is to boost English literacy levels. English is the official language in Ghana yet research shows that 60% of children leave Primary School illiterate, which means their chances of providing for themselves and their families is limited to subsistence farming.

Ghana is a beautiful country, and the people are the highlight of it. Ghanaian's are so friendly and welcoming. There are also lots of great touristy things to do in Ghana. The charity is very flexible with weekends and trips away, so you have the opportunity to see a lot of the country in your free time.

What did you find most rewarding? So far, it has to be devising the teacher training programme and working towards the target of improving literacy rates in the community school and other rural schools in the area we're working in. I'm sure there'll be many more in the next three months!

What did you find most challenging? Coming to terms with the way in which rural schools struggle with lack of resources and lack of state investment.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Do it - you will love it, meet lots of great people and be able to help the charity continue making a huge difference to the lives and life chances of people who would otherwise lack the opportunities to get a good education and a well paid job.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? More variety in the food for lunch would be great!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? The values of Pod laid out on the website matched with our own e.g. the emphasis on sustainability.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Sarah - Teaching and Building, 2015

“I had the most incredible time away. It was hard in the beginning, the days are long and it's hot, there's a language barrier and the way of living is so different to what anyone is used to. You get to live in the community and everyone in the village was so happy to see you, not just the children! Once a week we got to eat with a family, eating the local cuisine and fully indulging in the culture!

The teaching was extremely rewarding. The language barrier is hard, the children in the village speak next to no English, so communications are difficult. With that said, the children are so eager to learn any English they can, even if it drawing a flower for them to colour, so they learn what a 'flower' is.

There are next to no resources in the school, so you have to be prepared to learn with nothing! If you're taking our resources for the school, I would recommend colours, they absolutely love sitting and colouring!

Building is a brilliant way of spending the afternoons. The builders work incredibly hard and the transformation in what they were building over the month was amazing. I had absolutely no building experience and I was worried I was going to be thrown in the in deep end, but everyone works to show you what to do. I did things painting, plastering and digging and although it was hard work, I enjoyed it so much.

Twice a week you get a culture lesson from Master Gyampoh. He is one of the teachers and he is so interesting. You can choose what to learn about, and he'll teach you, we had lessons on culture, equality, geography, economics etc and if there is something he doesn't know, he'll learn it to teach us next time! the local market is where you can get fresh fruit and veg which is an experience in itself.

The people who you live with, make friends with and grow to love have absolutely nothing. It makes you realise how much you take for granted. The children can wear the same top for 4 or 5 days in a row and play with tyres and sticks. They're all so happy.

If you're thinking about giving it a go, you should definitely do it! The people who are in charge are amazing and so supportive and the charity has achieved so much being the village. It's been an incredible experience and the memories will stay with me for the rest of my life. I'll definitely be going back in a couple of years!

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding thing was watching the children develop over the month. They are so eager to learn so everything they can understand and remember they do! From what the children knew when I first arrived to when I left was incredible.

What did you find most challenging? The diet was hard for me. By the time you've finished a typical day everyone is very tired so cooking is hard work, and all the food is similar.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? You don't need as many clothes as you think! With that being said, you still need to take long clothes! I didn't take enough long sleeve tops and I got bitten like crazy. Get involved with anything you can, it's a once in a lifetime experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It changes the way you think about things. I've come back with a whole new perspective on everything. It makes you realise how little people have and how happy they are. The sense of achievement you feel doing something which will make a difference to so many people is one of the best feelings ever.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? The website is welcoming and the people you talk to are encouraging and helpful

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Charlotte - Teaching, 2015

“If you're debating whether or not to do this project, I'd fully encourage you to do it! Volunteering in Ghana has been an amazing experience and something that has created lifelong memories for me. As soon as you arrive in the village, you're instantly welcomed by the locals and made to feel at home in their village. Brendan and Aikins, who work for the charity in Ghana, are both amazing and work so hard to make sure you feel comfortable and are happy whilst in Ghana (they are also both hilarious so there's never a dull moment with them around)! The project I was working on was thoroughly rewarding and really opened up my eyes to the standard of education in developing countries, which is completely different to the education we're used to in the UK. Nonetheless, the children still wanted to learn and enjoyed being in school, which is really good to see and really highlights how important education is for development. Overall, whilst on the project in Ghana I made lots of new friends, both fellow volunteers and locals, and experienced a brand new culture and way of life to what I've been brought up in. Everything combined meant I had an amazing time in Ghana and by the end of my 3 weeks there, I didn't want to leave! I think returning to the project in the future is definitely on the cards.

What was a typical day at the project? A 'typical' day would start around 6am when the village rooster would act as an alarm clock for the volunteers. We'd then have until 7.30am to get showered, get ready and eat breakfast before heading out in the land rover to Abenta. School should then start around 8am, but often started 15-20 minutes after then due to the weather or teachers being late. We'd then be able to watch the kids do assembly before heading into the classroom for the day. There's a break at 10.15am and lunch is at 12pm, with school finishing at 2pm. The kids learn a variety of subjects in the day so the classroom is never dull or boring and you always feel as though you're a part of the lessons. Once school finished, I did some colouring with a few kids in a classroom whilst waiting for the builders to finish their work. After that, we'd all head back to the village for showers and dinner before it got dark at 6.30pm. We'd usually spend the evening talking, playing Uno or reading and then go to bed around 8.30pm ready for another day on the project.

What did you find most rewarding? For me, as someone who had no experience in teaching before the project, the most rewarding thing was being given an opportunity to teach the children maths. The teacher I was placed with always made sure I was ok with the material I would be teaching before I stood up in front of the class and he was always in the classroom to help and translate if needs be. This was rewarding because the children seemed genuinely interested in what I was teaching and all of the kids were raising their hands to get involved in the lesson. It was a great feeling to know that what I was doing was helping the children to learn and improve their maths.

What did you find most challenging? As a native speaker of English, it can be quite hard to be able to converse with some children who do not speak or understand English very well. This was made easier for me by the teacher I was placed with, who would translate what I said from English into the local tribal language, Twi.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Do it! As long as you're opened minded and flexible (things can change last minute and the schools are very different to the UK) I'd recommend doing this placement 100%. It's so rewarding and such a great experience that you won't want to leave.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad is great because it really opens up your eyes to different cultures other than the one you're used to. On this project, you live in the village with the locals so you're completely immersed into their way of life. Experiencing a different culture for 3 weeks really highlights the problems with Western culture and, hopefully, it will change the way you view things when you're back in the UK.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Pod Volunteer have consistently good feedback and are commended by a lot of travel institutions for their non-profit work. The support and guidance you receive from Pod before you leave for the project is really good and helps you to feel more organised about your upcoming travels.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Lee - Sports Coaching, 2015

“My three weeks in Ghana were an amazing experience and something I will never forget. The team in Ghana made us feel very welcome from day one and were always on hand if we needed any help or support. The local villagers welcomed us with open arms and were some of the friendliest people I have ever met. It was fantastic to live within their community, experience their cultures and really feel like we were playing our small part in making a big difference. Finally, thank you to Gemma and the team at Pod for all of their help in preparing us for our trip.

What was a typical day at the project? Wake up around 6:00am and have breakfast with the other volunteers. Leave for our project at around 7:30am ready to start at 8:00am. I spent a few days working on the building site but was mostly in the school from 8:00am to 2:00pm, where I would assist the teacher and even take control of some lessons. Head back to the base at around 3:00pm ready for sports coaching, which ran from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Then back to the base for dinner and to relax for the rest of the evening ready for the next day!

What did you find most rewarding? To see the children, both in the school and at sports coaching, so engaged and eager to learn. Seeing their development during our time there was really great.

What did you find most challenging? The language barrier could be difficult as some children do not speak good English, so it was a challenge to find different ways to explain what you were trying to say in ways they would understand.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? I think it should be made clearer to volunteers signed up for Sports Coaching that they will be expected to help out on other projects as this is not a full time project. This would give volunteers plenty of time to choose another project they would like to help with and get fully prepared.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go into it with an open mind and no preconceptions and be flexible, as there is much less structure to the days in Ghana and things may not happen the way you expect them to happen.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Many people donate money to charities but never get to see where the money goes, so the chance to see first-hand what the charity does in Ghana is a great opportunity. It is your chance to make a small difference in the world, whilst also experiencing different cultures and traditions. You will meet some great people and develop friendships and memories that you will never forget.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? After researching a few organisations, Pod seemed to provide the most comprehensive service and it was clear just from reading their website that they were trustworthy and would be there to help us every step of the way.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Emily - Building, 2015

“The most productive, amazing two weeks I've ever had. I highly recommend doing something or anything like this because it was the most rewarding experience I think I will ever had. The volunteering is very lenient so I was able to bounce from building to teaching throughout my trip and we were taught many things about the culture and we all had to be very self-sufficient for meals and travel that I feel like it has given me that extra step to prepare for University and the rest of life.

What was a typical day at the project? We would wake up, make breakfast, do dishes, drive to the site, work for a few hours, make lunch, do dishes, work for another few hours, drive back to the base, make dinner, do dishes, go to bed. Now that might sound very boring and nothing like the inspiring trip that I've described. But throughout each day, we learned culture and language from the builders, we were always observing different things that we would never see at home, and we got to know the other volunteers and share this experience with them making us even closer.

What did you find most rewarding? Most rewarding would be seeing the final product of what we did there. Also, seeing all the smiling faces and the strength of all the people living in such poverty that are just incredibly happy with life and work harder than any of us would in our entire life.

What did you find most challenging? Most challenging would be the building part, my body has never hurt so much in my entire life.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? The food but there is only so much you can do in those conditions so nothing really.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? 1) You don't need as many clothes as you think. 2) Bring EVERYTHING on the checklist that Pod provides you. Trust me. 3) Be open to learning about new things, keep an open mind.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's worth every penny, and you get to help others.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Very legit website, gave me the most information and the project that I wanted.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Paige - Film & Photography, 2014

"I was completely amazed by how professional the charity and Pod were. They were both incredibly helpful and informative and as a result, the whole process ran smoothly with very little complications.

As soon as we arrived the manager, Brendan, made us feel extremely comfortable and safe as we were informed straight away about health and safety and how to respect the local culture so as not to offend the villagers.

Volunteering has been a really humbling experience as it's made me incredibly grateful for simple luxuries that we take for granted like electricity and running water. It really shocked me that the cost of a night out drinking with my friends is the same price as an 18/19 year olds education for a year - I know which is far more valuable!

I loved the fact that no two days were the same and that the projects were incredibly flexible as it allowed me to grow in confidence and learn to take my own initiative.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Ghana? Most people wake up between 5am and 6am and have breakfast at 7am which mostly consisted of spreads and toast. Brendan, the manager, would also talk to each of us about the tasks we are going to do that day. By 8am I would start filming in either the village or possibly a nearby village. On some days I'd even join other volunteers doing different projects to record them. We all usually meet up around 12/1pm to have lunch at the base. We'd then return to our tasks after lunch until about 4pm where we'd return to base to have a shower and change. Around 6pm we would be cooking, going to the bar in a nearby town or eating at a local family's house in the village to taste the local food. In the evening, we talk round a campfire or play cards in the evening until about 9pm which is usually the time we start getting ready to sleep.

What did you find most rewarding? The whole experience really challenged me, both mentally and physically but in doing so, I surprised myself as it showed me that I am much more independent and determined than I originally thought. You can never fully prepare yourself for the humidity or the overwhelming emotions of staying in such a poor but incredibly friendly and welcoming village but seeing first hand how your money is used for the benefit of the village is so rewarding and humbling.

What did you find most challenging? I actually found the mosquitoes one of the hardest things to cope with as they come out around 4pm so you have to cover up at that time which can be challenging when it's around 28 degrees. They are also around before 8am so you have to wear long clothing for breakfast too. I would definitely advice bringing Antihistamine tablets!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? If you book a two week placement, be prepared that it will go incredibly quickly so if you get the chance – stay longer!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It does change you and, although it sounds cliché, it allows you to discover yourself and it helps put situations at home into perspective. It's an unforgettable experience and you will learn far more from it than a two-week holiday.

Why did you choose Pod? They were incredibly helpful and informative when I was inquiring. They seemed to take more interest and care in who applied for the projects as you have to be interviewed over the phone, showing that they're not doing this for the money - they genuinely care about the charities.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Rachel - Teaching, 2014

“As a professional teacher, this project helped me to expand my knowledge and skills through experiences I would not get at home. On a personal level, I felt supported from start to finish, even before I'd really decided that this was the project for me, the staff was helpful and prompt. The charity and the residents of the village were very welcoming and made for a very comfortable stay. I also appreciated the flexibility to travel and see more of the country during weekends and holidays. Definitely a small charity doing big work!"

Sue - Building, 2014

“This was a rewarding project and I was lucky enough to be there for the completion of the school and the opening ceremony which was really something! I really enjoyed being part of the local building crew and learned some new skills.

How would you describe a typical day building in Ghana? In Africa you get up when the sun rises and after breakfast we would head off in the Land Rover to the building site. We would work all day as there was so much to be done. It was hot so drinking loads of water was essential.

Back to base before dark we would make dinner and more often than not some of the villagers would pop round for a chat so I felt very much part of the village we were staying in.

What did you find most rewarding? I really enjoyed working with the local building team, being the part of the gang and feeling my time and efforts were helping the project get finished. Finished the school and seeing the community's excitement during the opening ceremony was great but also living right in the heart of the village of Gboloo Kofi meant I got to experience what was going on and see how people lived their lives.

What did you find most challenging? There were challenges but nothing too hard. I've done rural African volunteering so was used to the lack of electricity and running water. Trying to cook in this circumstances was a new one however.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Definitely do it! You get right to the heart of the work and the living experience in a rural African village. Brendan is a great person to spend your volunteering project with - truly dedicated to what he is doing and good fun.

Would you recommend Pod to your friend and why did you choose Pod? Yes. Firstly the project was what I was looking for ie a building project in a rural Africa village. Beyond that, from the website Pod's emphasis on not for profit with strong ethical values was very important for me.”

Stefano - Film & Photography and Sports Coaching, 2013

“If you are doubtful about charity. If you think volunteer experiences are rarely effective. If you are still wondering whether if...whether maybe...Well, get ready for something you'll never forget. I spent 2 weeks in Ghana on the Filming and Photography project in Ghana and I really wish I could have stayed longer. I'd definitely would do it again!

How would you describe your typical day volunteering on the Film and Photography project in Ghana?

There are many things to do in the village and apart from the filming and taking pictures, I have been helping with the completion of the JHS and with the football coaching.

What did you find most rewarding? Feeling the trust of the kids and of the local community.

What did you find most challenging? To leave.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? You are in a very poor village and obviously the condition of the placement are the same. But I wouldn't change it because volunteers have to experience how is living like the locals to understand better their problems.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Enjoy it and be open minded. It's a learning experience that you'll never forget.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because is the best way to understand other cultures and lifestyles.

Why did you choose Pod? They had the project I was looking for.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Juan - Building and Sports Coaching, 2013

“My stay there has confirmed what I already felt but had not been able to experience so deeply and truly accept. A life based on joy, self-acceptance, commitment, freedom, integrity and no-fear is possible. It is up to you and me to decide whether we want to challenge what we have learnt and try it. It shall not be easy, internal and external forces will try to prevent us from doing it, but I now know that if we succeed, the reward will be limitless.

How would you describe your typical day volunteering? Mon-Fri: We wake up at around 6 am. Breakfast, some chatting and, if wanted to, go to teach or work on the building at around 8 am. Breaks were up to you. There was normally one at 10.30 am. Lunch break was from 12.30 to 1.30 pm. After that continue working on site if you wish to till around 4 pm. From 4 to 5.30/6 pm playing volley, table tennis or rest. Then dinner (it gets dark at around 6.30 pm) and chatting, listening to music or playing cards, chess, etc. till you wanted to go to bed. Weekends were free to do what you prefer.How a so simple schedule can make every minute count? you need to experience to understand it.  

What did you find most rewarding? The torrent of positive energy I continuously received.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Abbie - Early Learning and Film & Photography, 2012

“What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go into it with an open mind. It may be hard work at times and you may get fed up with the heat but being able to witness the difference you are making makes it all so worth it! It will also probably have a big impact on your outlook on life, but that’s not such a bad thing.

I never really thought I was a 'kid person' before I went on this project but the love I felt for the kids in the village is indescribable. They are so happy all the time, even if they do have hardly anything in their lives. It was the most incredible experience of my life so far and it was so rewarding to donate your time, money and hard work to these amazing people who need it but also appreciate it so much. They will do anything for you to show how much it means to them and their families. The idea of no running water or electricity in the village really worried me at first but it was actually so easy to adapt to it and at the end of the day, if the people who live there can deal with it all year round I could definitely cope with it for a month. It was actually surprisingly nice to not really have any electricity and I really enjoyed the bucket showers they were great.

What did you find most rewarding? Spending the weekends and evenings with the kids. We would play games, read books, draw pictures, go on walks, have cuddles and just sit and chat. It might seem quite a simple part of the trip but to me it was very special and especially sitting and cuddling them was nice as they dont really get that from their parents as it's just not part of their culture. Also witnessing how happy the kids were to be spending time with me as well was very rewarding.

Find out more about volunteering in Ghana

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal