West Africa

Grassroots Education

Applications Closed

Applications Closed!

West Africa

Grassroots Education

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  • Hike to Agumatsa falls, the highest waterfall in West Africa, and stay in the breathtaking mountain village of Wli Todzi.
  • Walk the dusty red paths of the Upper East region and see where education and environmental sustainability intersect in Ghana.
  • Explore the Vodun markets of Lomé, Togo and see how one of the oldest religions in the world fuses traditional and modern practices.
  • Connect with local educators and activists pushing for innovative teaching practices in various settings and against different constraints.
  • Cross the border and practice your French in the beautiful city of Kpalimé while playing in the forested hills of Togo’s cocoa and coffee region.

Currency:

40-DAY ↑

Fees + Community Contribution  

$2,725 USD + $615 USD
$2,990 CAD + $750 CAD

Program Dates

2017
July 14 – August 22
Applications Closed!

May 26 – July 4
Applications Closed!

Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation in Accra
We’ll begin our educational adventure in front of Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s iconic capital. Home to some of the largest open markets, streets, and stations, Accra makes for the perfect place to unpack our bags and get a feel for the hustle and bustle of urban Ghanaian life!

We’ll be staying at our home-away-from-home in the centre of the city and meeting with a variety of local educators and activists to see the many ways teaching takes place in West Africa. We’ll check out the New Horizon Special School to interact with some innovative approaches to education for those living with disability. We’ll also dig into sex and consent with Nana Akosua from Let’s Talk Consent and play some football with the Integrated Center for Employable Skills.

But of course, our learning is never confined to the classroom! Our crew will get out and explore beautiful botanical gardens, listen to incredible local music, and check out some inspired street art. Get ready for a West African orientation!

Conversations Around Education in Togo
After spending time in Ghana’s largest urban centre, we’ll travel by tro-tro to the border of Togo where we’ll ditch our wheels and strap on our packs. From here, we hike! First, we’ll walk to the beautiful mountain village of Wli Todzi where we’ll hear incredible stories of resilience, see real grassroots initiatives, hike the nearby hills, and experience the healing powers of the Agumatsa waterfalls.

Bienvenu! Next, we’ll trek into Togo and visit the community of Kpalimé. We’ll meet up with our partners at Togo Kinder and continue the conversation around education at the community level. We’ll explore the city, savour some Togolese cuisine, and practice our French. We’ll also learn about some of the barriers to education in the rural border area while engaging with organizations working to overcome them.

Vodun Markets in Lomé
From Kpalimé we’ll travel to Togo’s capital, Lomé, where we’ll dig even deeper into Togolese culture. In what was once dubbed ‘the pearl of West Africa’, we’ll wander palm-fringed boulevards and explore the continent’s largest Vodun markets. We’ll quickly feel the incredible contrast between two countries so close in proximity and yet so different in language, patterns of development, and approaches to education.

We’ll learn how colonial histories, cultural traditions, and political systems are affecting accessibility and teaching quality in Togo. We’ll also discover how an indigenous spiritual tradition travelled halfway around the world because of the slave trade. Vodun, or Voodoo, as it has become known in the Americas, originated in West Africa and despite years of repression and stigmatization, remains one of the region’s most important religions. We’ll connect with local Togolese who are finding creative ways of protecting their culture and attracting tourism by fusing traditional practices with modern lifestyles.

Intersection of Environment and Education in Kazugo
From Togo’s southern coast to Ghana’s northernmost border, we’ll settle in with our homestay families in the town of Kazugo. We’ll have the special opportunity to savour home cooked stews, share stories, play games, and immerse ourselves in the unique local culture.

During the days, we’ll put theory to practice and learn by doing. We’ll spend time with the Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGIIS), an organization dedicated to adapting innovative approaches to spur community-centred sustainable development. We’ll accompany ORGIIS field officers and meet with local farmers to see how they promote sustainable agriculture. We’ll learn about super foods like Moringa and how traditional knowledge and native species are being used to generate livelihoods in rural Ghana. We’ll also engage with a local all-girls school program and get dirty planting trees for the next generation.

…oh, and did we mention that there’s a crocodile pond?! Yep. Get ready to get up close and personal with these creatures!

Independent Travel Time
A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but we encourage everyone to travel in pairs or small groups. ITT is the ideal time for you to learn more about your specific interests. Are you eager to hit up all of Ghana’s ten regions? Or maybe you want to cruise through the safaris of Mole National Park? Or are you hoping to revisit your homestays and volunteer placements? This is the time to do just that!

**Please note that you are not under the auspices of the organized program during ITT. Team members will be given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice.

Disorientation – Cape Three Points
A staple of every OG program, ‘Disorientation’ is a chance to regroup, kickback, relax, and reflect. We’ll reconnect at Escape Ecolodge situated along a golden sand beach backed by green covered hills. Surrounded by fruit trees, our group will tell tall tales from ITT and re-live memories from our adventure together. We’ll enjoy some last tastes of real Ghanaian grub and discuss what we’ve learned. We’ll assess our accomplishments and talk about how we can make change at home. There might even be a few surprises… like castles and banana pancakes (but you didn’t hear it from us)!

Then it’s back to Accra, where we’ll say our hug-filled farewells.

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it

ITT

Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Explore the tropical jungles and enormous waterfalls of the Volta region.
  • Visit French-speaking Togo or Benin for a relaxing beach experience.
  • Learn about Ghana’s tragic past at the Cape Coast slave castles.

Accommodations

With OG, you live like the locals.
Our time will be split into several styles of accommodation, from sharing local guest houses to dorm-style hostels. Immersing ourselves in various local communities, we’ll certainly feel the warmth from welcoming Ghanaian families. Pounding fufu, telling Anansi stories, and waking up with the sun can be expected. Although accommodation varies from place to place, everywhere we stay will be a safe and enjoyable place to lay your head!

Meet Our Regional Director

Yaw is a Ghanaian that calls wherever he may find himself in Africa home. As a wanderer, dreamer, palm wine intellectual, and an eternal art lover, he tends to let his soul roam free. In addition to Operation Groundswell, Yaw is pursuing a Masters of Philosophy in African Studies at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. He also facilitates several poetry and writing workshops in Ghana.

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