How would you describe/rate your experience working with the ABV staff in the USA?
I had a fantastic experience working with the ABV staff prior to my trip. They were very prompt in responding to all of my questions, and made me feel extremely comfortable and confident about my trip, especially because it was my first experience traveling out of the country, and alone.
How was the local ABV Director and the support provided in-country?
I can not even put into words how comfortable I felt working with the directors (edem and Jessy) in Ghana. They worked very hard to make me feel welcomed and at home. They were always busy and on the move, however they always made sure that all of the volunteers were comfortable, and that all of their needs were being met.
What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Every memory that I had was my favorite. This was truly the experience of a lifetime. I think that I took so much culturally from this experience, that every moment was meaningful. Edem wished for our experience to be a two way street (me offering the program and community as much as they offered me). I can only pray that I offered the program nearly as much as what they gave me.
What was the most difficult thing you experienced?
My most difficult experience was just arriving to Kpando so late at night. I was unable to meet any of the other volunteers, or to stay with my host family. It was so kind of Edem to arrange for me to stay in the guest home, however I just felt overwhelmed being there alone for my first night. It was also very difficult being informed that I would be staying in my room alone for a week because my roommates were traveling during that time. I briefly spoke with Edem about the situation, and he kind of chuckled and said that it would be good for me. I was very worried at the time, but he was absolutely right. He really pushed me to be independent, and to explore and obtain from this opportunity the most that I could. I couldn’t be more thankful for my experience.
What was the one thing you wished you were better prepared for?
I think that ABV was very thorough in making sure that I was well prepared. I definitely had far more than what I needed. The only thing that I was unprepared for was the extremely long travel time, and the time it took me to readjust to home, however that was definitely inevitable and out of the organizations control.
Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, sightseeing etc)
Try to contact your director in the country that you are attending prior to your arrival. I think that they are just able to give you a better idea of what things that you can bring to assist you in your stay, or to donate to the organization that you are volunteering with.
Speak with another volunteer that has traveled to the same location that you are preparing for. They have so much insight to offer you, and truly eased my mind about my upcoming trip.
Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
ABV provided me with an experience that I don’t think I could have received with any other organization. I was challenged to be independent, and provided experiences that maximized my critical thinking skills. The volunteer experiences that I received were ones of great need in the community, so you felt that you were truly making a difference. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in a nearby village providing wound care to some of the citizens of the village. They provided me with such an appreciation for life. Although they are suffering from these horrible wounds, they are so thankful for their lives, and your presence, and they carry on with their days as if nothing were wrong at all. The relationships that I built were so valuable, and I will forever be indebted to the community and other volunteers for their kind spirits and welcoming hearts.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Definitely!
Jennifer Volunteer Abroad in Kpando, Volta Region, Ghana