I have brought away so much from my trip to Ghana. I've met the most inspirational people and made lifelong friends who also were on the trip. I've learnt there is so much work to do in countries like Ghana. They have 3G data in the entire city and many people had smartphones, but they can't afford to provide clean water or sewage covers to stop people dying of disease. We spent two hours with a corporate lawyer from the 'biggest firm in Accra' (which was the equivalent size of a four bedroomed detached house in the UK) who admitted that there aren't really any lawyers helping with human rights issues, apart from foreign organizations and people like myself because there was no money involved and the worst issues were in remote areas where nobody wants to live. There is an incredible lack of education, evident everywhere. From parents asking how else they're supposed to punish their child without hurting them, to a school teacher shouting at us, calling us sinners because our country has advanced in social acceptance in terms of sexuality and that a lot of people are not religious. In Ghana people are still stoned for being gay.
For the children who aren't left selling things on the dangerous roads with their parents all day, some who go to school, go hungry with ripped clothes with bodies covered in scars or untreated injuries left to heal due to the lack of medical care. Abuse is a big problem. I heard stories of the children who were beaten by their teachers and families, banned from school for asking the teacher for permission to drink water or have a snack. I met children who were sold (for the equivalent of £2) or given away by their parents as slaves, orphans whose parents abandoned them or died from hunger and disease - all too common wherever I went. Yet every single place I went to help, every child was smiling. I walked through the slums, people getting on with their day to day lives, children were playing happily. Wherever I went, be it a school or to visit parents to explain why we were teaching a human rights education, faces lit up and they were so interested about Western culture.
When I went to the medical centre, I had a long conversation with the man who was accompanying me. He made me feel incredibly fortunate to live in a place as amazing as England. He said he always watches the news and knows exactly what he was missing in the other parts of the world. I learnt that what I was seeing in Ghana was only half as bad as some places in Africa, such as Somalia. The trip to the hospital cost £120. I learnt it was the equivalent of one month's income for him. I felt awful, and it really made me think about the value of money - what we see as a pair of nice shoes or a trip out to the shops in England requires many hours hard work for people in different parts of the world. He explained he wants his child to go to a 'better school' than he can afford at the moment, and that the best ones costs $400 a term, which is most of his income. This is so his child can have access to toilets and be able to write in exercise books.
The idea of flying to undeveloped country thousands of miles from home by yourself, not knowing anybody, might seem incredibly daunting. But if there's one thing in life I think people from a country like ours must do if they ever get the chance, it is to go and see what a truly different world it is in these places, especially at our age.
There are not really many words to describe what I saw. I could never tell anybody that my trip to Ghana was 'amazing' because what I saw was far from that, but I would certainly describe it as a necessary trip to make and definitely a life changing experience.
Seeing photos of 'slums' in geography and learning about poverty and people dying of disease is one thing. Experiencing it in real life was a whole different story and no matter how prepared I thought I was for what I was going to see, nothing had quite prepared me to see what I did. When they call it a 'third world country', I now understand that they are legitimately like a whole different world you have stepped into.
My trip volunteering in Ghana was the most incredible, life changing experience I have ever had. I met the most beautiful and inspirational children and adults, and I hope that what I did will have a positive long term impact on the people I met and the messages they will pass on even further . We are honestly so lucky and privileged to live in the country that we do and lead the amazing lives we do. Thank you to everyone that donated towards this that made it possible for me to go, I already want to go back and do more.