Fishing Boats in Ghana

A must-see on any volunteering trip to Ghana is its beautiful coastline. One of the more interesting sights are the colorful traditional fishing boats known as “pirogues” (not to be confused with our favorite Polish food pierogis!)

Many visitors go to the touristy town of Elmina to see the boats and the fishing industry scene. But don’t forget about the capitol city Accra.

Below are some photos we took on the beaches of Accra, not too far from the city of Tema. One of our volunteer program coordinators in Ghana regularly takes our participants to see the boats and even talk to local fisherman.

You will notice that the boats usually have some words and phrases with some sort of Christian reference. Ghana, as you will quickly learn on a visit there, wears its Christianity on its sleeve – and its fishing boats. On this day, the boats had phrases like “God’s Time Is The Best”, “The Bible”, and “Everything By God”.

5 Reasons You Will Love Ghana

I can think of 50 reasons why you will love Ghana. But here are just five to get you started.

5 Reasons You Will Love Ghana

1. Experience African culture minus any political strife or street hassles

As World Nomads wrote recently, “Ghana is one of the gems of West Africa. It’s a relatively stable country in a region not known for peace and stability.”

2. English is an official language

Quora user Sedem Garr writes that:

“If you plan on coming to Ghana and you’re worried about language barrier issues, you won’t have any problems at all as long as you are in the cities and towns. I have lived in Ghana all my life and can only speak English. It has never been a problem for me.”

3. There are direct flights to Ghana

The website tripsavvy has the details:

Delta Airlines has direct flights from Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK) to Accra (ACC), the capital of Ghana. The flights from Atlanta leave several times per week in the late evening, arriving in Accra mid-afternoon the next day.

Delta’s direct flight from New York (JFK) to Accra (ACC) leaves late afternoon, arriving in Accra early the next morning. The flight operates several times per week and takes around 11 hours. 

United Airlines has daily direct flights from Washington DC (IAD) to Accra (ACC). The flight leaves Washington DC in the late evening and arrives in Accra around midday the following day. It takes about 10.5 hours. 

4. The weather is tropical (but not oppressively hot)

From Trip Advisor:

Ghana enjoys a year round tropical climate, but it does have rainy seasons.  The coastal region (including Accra) has two rainy seasons, one beginning in March, and peaking in May or June, the other in September/October.  Even during the rainy season, Accra can still enjoy an average of 5 hours a day of sunshine.  During this period, the rain tends to be…thunderstorms.  Average temperatures along the coast are usually in the 75-90 F range.  In the north part of the country, there is a single rainy season starting in May or June and it tends to be significantly hotter as you go further north.

5. Ghana has natural beauty 

Kakum National Park is on coast of southern Ghana. It’s famous Canopy Walkway, suspended 30 meters above the ground, provides treetop views of the forest. Kakum protects an area of rainforest, home to endangered mammals such as forest elephants, bongo antelopes and primates like the Diana monkey. 

Ghana Volunteering

Lake Volta, encompassing 3,275 square miles, is the largest artificial lake in the world:

Lake Volta Ghana Volunteering

Mount Afadjato rises just over 2,900 feet above sea level. Located near the Togo border, Afadjato attracts tourists because of its waterfalls and the community-operated nature reserve on its slopes.

The majestic Akwapim mountain range begins about forty-fives minutes outside of Accra, in Ghana’s Eastern Region. Aburi has breathtaking views of the lush, green mountains, which are often shrouded by fog in the early morning. 

Volunteering in Ghana? Divine Chocolate!

Thinking of volunteering in Ghana?

Did you know that Ghana is one of the biggest suppliers of cocoa to the world market?

And there are also lots of local companies in Ghana making finished chocolate bars.

We always urge our participants who are volunteering in Ghana to try some of the local chocolate and even bring some home as gifts.

Divine Chocolate

One chocolate brand in Ghana that we like is Divine Chocolate.

Divine Chocolate Ghana

Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative in Ghana that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine. As owners, they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace.

When you are volunteering in Ghana, feel free to visit the co-op in the Ash-Town section of Kumasi. If you are back home, you can buy their chocolate at their online store.

In the US you can buy Divine Chocolate at Walgreens and Whole Foods.

Kuapa Kokoo farmers Linda and Victoria spoke at the Divine Chocolate ‘What is it about women and chocolate?’ briefing at the Lansdowne Club in London on 9th March 2017. They explained how membership of Kuapa and co-owning the Divine Chocolate company is empowering women like them:

An Introduction to West Africa

Writer Dan Wilcox wrote an article the West Australian on Ghana.

The article is a couple of years old but the information is still relevant.

I first visited the country in 2003 to establish our volunteering programs in Ghana, West Africa. Our volunteers always love learning about the culture and serving Ghanaians through volunteer work.

Dan writes:

Ghana is generally regarded as an excellent introduction to West Africa and I can only agree. Yes, you will receive the odd plea for money but begging is frowned on in this devoutly Christian society…

Accra, the capital, will be a first port of call for any traveller and is worth exploring before venturing beyond. Settled initially by the Dutch and later the British, Jamestown, with its two forts and lighthouse, is Accra’s historical heart and is recommended for a walking tour.

While there, I attend the annual Chale Wote street art festival, which is as good as any I have visited. Throngs of local graffiti artists creating live art, street performers, rap battles, food and drink stalls and fashion parades add to the eclectic mix…

Ghana West Africa

The main tourist destination in Ghana is Cape Coast. Some 200km west of Accra, it is where the Dutch and British first established their big forts. Accra transport consists of standard taxis and tro tros as a cheap alternative. These are minibuses, filled to bursting and with no timetable. Once the bus is full, it leaves…

The forts built in Cape Coast and further along the coast in Elmina were used to house slaves. The slave trade soon eclipsed the gold trade as a source of wealth for the British and it is these forts and their history that draw most tourists…

“Fantasy” Coffins of Ghana

Fantasy Coffins of Ghana

In Ghana in West Africa, people like to be buried in style, often in elaborate coffins that symbolize the life of the deceased. For example, a businessman might have a huge shoe coffin, or a pilot may have a coffin that looks like an airplane.

When you join one of our volunteer programs in Ghana, you will undoubtedly see coffin makers on the roadside doing their thing.

Paa Joe is Ghana’s most prolific coffin artist and, after five decades in the funeral industry producing some of the world’s most extravagant designs, his work is being celebrated in a major exhibition in Accra.

“People celebrate death in Ghana. At a funeral, we have a passion for the person leaving us – there are a lot of people, and a lot of noise,” says Jacob, 28, who has worked with his father for eight years.

Fantasy Coffins of Ghana

Far from seeing their work as morbid, Jacob says the coffins are celebratory and reflect west African attitudes to death. “It reminds people that life continues after death, that when someone dies they will go on in the afterlife, so it is important that they go in style.”

Joe’s creations have attracted high-profile fans: Jacob recalls visits from Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, and the ex-US president Jimmy Carter, who reportedly purchased two coffins. Bill Clinton also stopped by during an official state visit to Ghana in 1998.

Read full article by the Guardian…

Ex-Microsoft worker who founded Ghana school given “genius grant”

Ghana has some innovative education initiatives going on. Not the least of which is Ashesi University and its founder Patrick Awuah.

Patrick Awuah, who walked away from a career at Microsoft to start a university in his home country of Ghana, last week was one of the 24 recipients of this year’s “genius grants,” $625,000 awards paid out over five years by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Ashesi University is a private, non-profit liberal arts college located in Ghana, West Africa. The university’s mission is to educate a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others and the courage it will take to transform their continent.

Ghana Drumming Classes with Edi Gbordzi

We provide our volunteers in Ghana with an African drumming class. It’s an incredible fun cultural experience.

If you happen to live in Wisconsin, you have the opportunity to take classes with world famous Ghanaian drummer Edi Gbordzi. starting in October 2015. Classes will be held at the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts.

Edi is a master drummer, dancer, singer, and composer from Ghana. The early years of his life were spent fully immersed in the drumming and singing traditions of the Ewe culture. As a teenager, he founded the youth choir for his church in Madina, Accra.

Edi’s professional career began with Ghana’s National Music and Dance Ensemble (Ghana Dance Ensemble) at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana which brought his talents to a broader audience, both regional and international. With the National Music and Dance Ensemble, he performed across West Africa, Europe and the United States.

He quickly caught the eye of several Universities in the United States and kept a busy travel schedule as visiting faculty for Howard University in Washington D.C., Temple University in Philadelphia, the A & T University Greensboro, NC and others.

He later accepted a permanent adjunct faculty position with the University of Wisconsin – Madison and taught for three years. During this time he continued performing, teaching workshops, leading residencies for K-12 schools, libraries, community centers, festivals, other events and founded Atimevu Drum and Dance Ensemble which recently celebrated it’s 10th anniversary.

His current and most exciting creation is the versatile and multi-talented band, Edi Gbordzi & Timbukale, featuring his original compositions, traditional Ghanaian songs with fresh new arrangements and the traditional drumming and dancing of Ghana.

Over the course of time, Edi has never strayed far from his roots. The powerful rhythmic language he acquired as a young child is still the driving force behind all of his creative projects.

Thursdays from October 1 – November 5
45-minute classes. Two Sessions

4 – 7 years old students at 5 pm
8 – 13 year old students at 6 pm
Fee is $60 ($48 for Friends of THELMA)

Roots Tourism Thrives in Ghana

CNN had a story about “roots tourism” in Ghana, where visitors to the country learn about the history of slavery.

CNN says that “…This search for” historical truth” has led thousands of visitors to Cape Coast, in Ghana, a picturesque seaside town with stunning blue sea, serene beaches and pastel-colored fishing boats.”

It’s worth a read. Plus CNN has some good links to more of Ghana’s history.