I am honoured to write a testimonial for my trip to Ghana as a volunteer with Our Children Africa. I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario in London, ON and I am studying in the Social Sciences faculty. This trip to Africa was far from spontaneous as I had wanted to volunteer in Africa for the past year or so. The only difficulties I had was finding a trip I could afford since I knew I would be paying for it with my own money. I searched through numerous volunteer organizations but I found that they were all the same; asking for thousands of dollars in donations alongside paying for your own ticket, accommodations etc. As I continued to feel discouraged because I did not have enough funds in the eyes of many organizations, I stopped looking. Through an acquaintance I met at a charity event that was being run at my university I became aware of Our Children Africa. As soon as I had the opportunity I researched the organization and was automatically attached to the fact that it was such a small NGO in Ghana and that some of the founders were Canadian which made it all more appealing. I took the steps to contact both the Ghana and Canada directors of the organizations, Kwame and Gagan, both of whom were so helpful that I cannot even express my gratitude.
Through months of planning I ended up in Ghana, my first time travelling alone and I had decided to pick a country in Africa. As soon as I saw Kwame at the airport I could tell he had an amazing personality and I knew he was very dedicated to what he did because we started talking about the projects of OCA right away. Throughout the two weeks I was in Ghana I saw many of the projects Our Children Africa was funding or had completed. I met many of the children who attended the schools Our Children Africa built and as Kwame took me around to several projects I was fortunate enough to also meet the communities and saw nothing but hard work and determination. The parents were dedicated to seeing their children in school, and appreciated the chance their children had at an education. The chance to help people who were so committed to their children’s future was an honour. The projects that I saw were not only beneficial for the communities but also very necessary. I felt as if the schools that were being built and the programs that were being run, such as the HIV awareness program for teens and pre-teens, was an adequate part of educating the communities in order to build stronger futures. As an organization OCA proved to me, a Canadian who came into Ghana with minimal knowledge about international nonprofit organizations, that a lot of change can happen with dedicated people and amazing minds.
As a Canadian I feel very secure at home in Toronto, ON and always felt other places were never as secure as Canada. Being alone in Ghana without any of my loved ones around would have been difficult if it were not for the amazing accommodations I received by being a volunteer with OCA. A fully furnished house and someone to look after my household tasks was exactly what I needed to feel right at home. This kind of treatment that I received because I was a volunteer only proves how much OCA appreciates their volunteers. My career path has taken a turn for the better after my volunteer experience in Ghana with Our Children Africa. I was set in stone to become a neurosurgeon and work as one for the rest of my life in Canada. Through this whole journey I have found out how much I would like to help the international community and as a Canadian how I can take advantage of the education I receive to better others in need. I am now leaning towards becoming a medical professional abroad, preferably Africa. I have seen how much help is needed abroad and how I could take my interest in medicine and help those in need, something I would have never thought of if it were not for my experience in Ghana.
With all the work OCA is doing a lot more work needs to be done, work that requires a lot of funding. I visited a few schools in Ghana that OCA initially built but it is clear that things in the school are lacking due to minimal funds. Things that schools in Canada take for granted such as desks and chairs or even something to write with were things that the children of the OCA schools could not afford. I hope through this letter it is evident that Our Children Africa is an organization that deserves to be a registered charity of Canada, as it strives to make the lives of children in need richer through education, something that should be a right of all children not a privilege.