Arrive in Accra at Kotoka International Airport, where trip leaders will pick you up from the airport and take you to the hostel where we will be staying. Rest up and get ready for the adventure that awaits us!
Kick off orientation activities along the ocean while exploring the friendly streets of Cape Coast and experiencing the lush vegetation from within Kakuum National Park. Test your courage while walking along one of seven suspension bridges before spending the night inside the rainforest with your team in a treehouse. Wake to explore the UNESCO World Heritage historic slave trade castles and engage in an emotional discussion on the country’s history and its impact in the world.
Return to Accra and meet with community representatives from Ghana’s largest illegal settlement, Old Fadama. Spend the day exploring the community, visiting schools and learn about their struggles facing forced eviction, access to resources and government support. We’ll hear the inspiring initiatives started by community members and meet with international non-profit organizations, such as Peoples Dialogue for Human Settlement and Amnesty International Ghana, to discuss their role and the tremendous steps they’ve taken together over the past twenty years. As per Ghanaian customs, we’ll finish the day sharing a meal and perhaps exchanging some Azonto dance moves!
Ready, set, climb! It’s time to trek to the incredible mountain village of Wli Todzi. Nestled in the heart of the Volta Region, this climb is one of the largest and most beautiful in the country. It is also the only viable way for community members to reach their village – this includes the elderly, sick and pregnant and often puta individuals at a life or death risk if they are in serious conditions. We will not only split up into community homestays for the next three nights, but learn about the community based initiatives taking place to support the development of a local health clinic and how our visit helps support this movement. During our stay we will participate in daily activities such as farming, cooking, and collecting water from the local stream and will visit professors and children at the local schools. Feeling adventurous? I hope so! We’ll be taking the back route to the beautiful Agumatsa Waterfall… and get to experience it from a whole different perspective than other tourists!
After a powerful three days in one of the most unique villages OG visits, we’ll travel by public transportation to the capital city of the northern region in Ghana. Here in Tamale we will stay at the incredible Cultural Learning Centre – (with their Jungle Bar and all!) – and meet with local organizations for our educational retreat! Together we’ll explore impacts, access, and procedures of education specific to the northern and upper east regions and learn about the contrast between urban and rural education. Through the conference retreat we will develop ideas, skills, and confidence to begin our work in Sandema with the boys of Horizons’ Children Centre and the Girls Leadership Initiative in the days to come… (not to mention explore the many wonderful things in Tamale by moto bike).
This is the real deal! Spend two weeks in the town of Sandema in the north of Ghana. This is where OG started in 2007 and where we will be based for our volunteer placements. Participants will be living together in a house, immersed in community life. We will be busy buying our own groceries and cooking our own meals while becoming neighbours to the people who welcome us with such open arms. This is an opportunity for participants to explore what life is really like and build relationships with community members and our volunteer partners. Our main partnership is with the Canadian-Ghanaian run children’s home called Horizons Children’s Centre, which works to provide marginalized and under privileged children with access to shelter, food, education and most importantly love and support. Here, we will work with the older boys at the centre to develop literacy programs, outdoor team-building activities and field-trips! This is always a highlight for OG participants and is something the HCC family looks forward to year-round. Another incredible volunteer program is the Sandema Girls Leadership Program, where participants will organize and facilitate leadership workshops for young girls in the community. Lastly, we will be working with G-Roots, an OG alumni-initiated farming program that aims to empower subsistence farmers by working with them to implement a dry-season irrigation project and a seed-based micro-loan initiative. Participants will be making regular visits to rural communities to conduct follow-up research and needs assessments on behalf of G-Roots. Although not scheduled into our ‘volunteer roster’ another option for participants is to spend time at the Sandema Resource Centre, where we work with staff to train community members in computer hardware and software maintenance and develop computer education programs for the children in the community. Needless to say, there is lots of action and tons of options for participants to contribute to community-requested projects and gain an inside perspective on what it is like to live in a rural village in northern Ghana.
Participants will also have Independent Travel Time (ITT) – a staple of all Operation Groundswell programs. All participants will be given detailed travel guides and information on the best places to see and how to stay safe. You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, participants are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for themselves. Participants are given the emergency contact number of trip organizers during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. ITT is the ideal time for participants to learn more about their specific interest, whether it be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing.
Participants will reconvene at a community-run colonial slave castle-turned-guesthouse in Princess Town, on the Atlantic coast of Ghana. Set against pristine beaches, we will have a trip debrief known as “Disorientation”. We will reminisce about our accomplishments, discuss ways to collaborate on future projects and ways to stay in touch. Everyone will also enjoy caretaker Joseph Mensah’s delicious banana pancakes in what many trip leaders call the most beautiful spot in the country!
Get ready to spend six weeks with some of the raddest people on earth…we’re not even exaggerating! Just click on their name to read more about them.
With a year living in Ghana under her belt – not to mention her experience working as an educational facilitator in both Canada and Mexico – it was a perfect match for her to lead OG’s West Africa Discovery programs. Her commitment to community development and passion for alternative education has given her the opportunity to work alongside numerous non-profit organizations in program development, facilitation and media relations. Michelle describes OG as a package of education, adventure, partnership and possibilities, her question: “What’s not to love?” Starting in the crazy capital of Accra, to the mountaintops of the Volta region, all the way to the north of Ghana in the village of Sandema; she can’t wait to return and share this incredible experience with OG participants!
If there is one thing that Jeremy loves, it is organizing. Whether it’s discussion groups, activism or art festivals, Jeremy’s passion is to get people together to co-create meaningful experiences. In 2010, he studied abroad in Ghana, where he co-founded the Rise Up: Wli Todzi Eco-Tourism Program and the Rise Up Development Collective in order to build a hospital clinic in the isolated mountaintop village of Wli Todzi. A few months ago, Jeremy accidentally stumbled across OG while researching online and fell in love. Now Jeremy is going back to Ghana (and Wli Todzi), but this time with OG! Finding OG has been a dream come true for him- to work internationally with a network of other driven, passionate change-makers. When not organizing, you can probably find Jeremy at the nearest open mic enjoying the local poetry scene, or loudly philosophizing to anyone who will listen. Call him anytime if you want to chat about projects you’re working on!