Gloucestershire to Ghana and back
On Sunday 14 July 2018 our (new) Year 11 volunteers returned from Ghana after their incredible two week trip to Woe in the Volta region of Ghana.
During the trip our Ghana 2018 pupils worked at Rhema Abutia and Dedzidi Community schools, the same projects we supported on our trip in 2017. As builders and teachers, our volunteers worked incredibly hard in their chosen roles and Miss Bluett and Mrs Mackew were impressed by the team’s determination and resilience throughout the trip.
Both schools currently have plans to extend their school facilities so all of our community builders were tasked with moulding concrete blocks ready to be made into new classrooms. In the intense heat, mixing the cement by hand and carrying water, sand and blocks was not an easy task but our pupils persevered. Both groups of builders were commended for their hard work and creation of well over 1,000 blocks between the two schools over the course of the trip.
For our teaching volunteers the heat proved challenging too with up to 60 pupils at a time in compact classrooms with tin roofs. However, they rose to this challenge remarkably and showed great energy, commitment and enthusiasm in their planned activities, as well as flexibility when some activities didn’t work how they were intended to. The Ghanaian pupils at both schools were thrilled with the resources and games our students had collected prior to the trip with bubbles and stickers being particularly popular! During our second week at the schools, our pupils tasked their classes with writing replies to pen pal letters kindly written by pupils from Siddington CofE Primary School and Powells CofE Primary School. The pupils really enjoyed writing and decorating their letters and we hope that these links will grow and strengthen when the 2019 Ghana trip departs in April next year.
It wasn’t all work and no play however, as each evening the team took part in a range of activities at the hostel or in the local community. We were treated to a local language lesson, a number of volleyball games, a boat trip across the lagoon as well as a trip to a local hotel to see England play in their Semi-Final match in the World Cup. The team were also invited to play the local ladies football team and we were told on many occasions that they were an unbeaten team and also the regional champions. However, our pupils were determined to give the match everything they had and came away with a 2-1 win over the other team (which made them feel a little better about England’s loss the night before!).
The volunteers also went exploring on the weekend in the middle of their trip and headed inland to Ho and Wli waterfall. Here they had great fun feeding the monkeys and cooling off in the spray of the waterfall.
We revisited the small village of Lolito, where the 2017 group of volunteers spent their Easter Sunday, taking with us some donations collected from the local community in Cirencester. We were welcomed back with much singing and dancing and were able to present bags of cement to the community which they are going to use to concrete the floor of the church, right at the heart of the community and a space used by all generations.
"The 2018 Ghana group have surpassed my expectations. They all worked tirelessly and with serious determination and dedication both in fundraising for the trip and whilst in Woe. The pupils were a credit to both the school and to themselves and did CDPS proud. The experience was a challenge for us all in various ways, adjusting to the different routines, the change in food, the heat, and the diverse culture. It was a challenge all pupils rose to and embraced which, in turn, made this African Adventure one that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives." Mrs Mackew. Year 10 Year Leader
The team were a credit to themselves, their families and the school throughout the trip and we hope that the memories made on this trip will be ones they treasure for a lifetime.
"The trip taught us humility and respect for others' hardships. I came home more open-minded." Jack
Beth: 'I really enjoyed Ghana, it was so eye-opening to see how people live their lives and it was an amazing experience.'
"My highlights included the adventure weekend; in particular I enjoyed the monkey sanctuary due to the contrasting environment when compared to England. Another highlight was the warm welcome we received throughout the whole stay." Jacob
"We all learnt a lot about not only Ghanaian culture but also those who are less fortunate than we are. I liked to see the kinds of foods they ate and their way of living. It made me really grateful for what I had." Ben
We would all like to finish by thanking everyone who supported and contributed to our fundraising over the last 14 months and wish the 2019 team all the best with their preparations prior to their trip in the Spring.
Miss Bluett, Trip Leader and Geography Teacher
For more information, read the Ghana 2018 blog:
Ghana 2017 Trip Report
Ghana 2017 Blog
It was great to catch up with members of our Ghana 2018 team and to learn of their experiences and the progress they made at Rhema Abutia and Dedzidi Schools. It was a joy to listen to their reflections and the special memories they will continue to carry with them as a result of their engagement with the community and culture in Woe. I am grateful to all of them for their commitment to this volunteering project and the ambassadorial roles they played as members of Cirencester Deer Park School abroad. I am sure the contributions they made will make a difference, however, great or small, and these will undoubtedly help shape their own futures too.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher