On Tuesday the team had the momentous privilege of building a library in a previous school of Thrive Africa employee, Kwame. When driving through the school’s gates we were instantly greeted by a previous teacher of Kwame who was keen to show us many photos of Kwame as a young boy! Shortly after, we attended a formal introduction with the headteacher who thanked us and Thrive Africa for our kind actions and donation of a library. After this, work quickly began and the team faced the challenge of two flights of stairs when moving the materials into the room. This did not phase any of us and the team worked extremely hard to make the library the best yet. We decorated the room with pictures, logos and African motifs, whilst also using many colours to make the room look colourful and attractive to the primary aged children. At lunch we were very lucky to be given a selection of soft drinks as a gift from the school- the team were very happy to receive these! Following a mass book sorting, we cleaned the floor, displayed the books on the shelves and revealed the room to staff of the school…they seemed incredibly grateful and excited to see so many different storybooks! As a surprise to the volunteers, we then walked down to see a school assembly thanking us for our work. This allowed both the headteacher and myself to say a few words explaining the value of a library. I used this as an opportunity to tell the children that if they work hard with the books they can achieve so much. The children then sang a song named ‘We Will Get There’; at this point myself and other members of the team felt truly overwhelmed and it will be a day with Thrive Africa I will never forget. Kwame himself described this as “one of the best days ever” and called the library the “best” in Thrive’s history! Very controversial! The team then had a fun evening out with a Pizza Night in a nearby hotel, this offered an opportunity to meet the other volunteering group in Kumasi whilst celebrating a truly successful day.
On Wednesday the pressure was on the team to try and replicate the library from the previous day, it felt like nothing could top Kwame’s old school! In the morning, we woke to a mass thunderstorm and torrential rain which meant we were unable to leave for building until 10am. The school was closeby to the one we visited on Monday and was targeted to Junior High age. Knowing we were running behind on time, we swiftly arranged into building and painting teams. The floor was still damp which meant it was tricky to construct the shelves without getting the wood wet. The adverse weather conditions also meant the shelves took longer than usual to dry, but this allowed us time to interact and play with the school children. A 19 year old member of the team, Stevie, had his football pump with him and he kindly spent time pumping up footballs belonging to the children that had gone flat- they were immensely happy after! A short while later, the shelves were dry and we assorted the books into appropriate areas for the children to explore. In the evening the team were anxious to try Rhoda’s fajitas and they certainly were popular! Some volunteers attended church with Rhoda late in the afternoon and felt very appreciative of having the opportunity to do so, they were enticed by the excitement of church in Ghana!
Thursday meant an early start as the team commenced their journey to Mole National Park in northern Ghana. On the way we stopped by the breathtaking Kintampo Waterfalls, roughly halfway to Mole. We had a brief lunch of chicken wings with fried rice, then walked onto Stage 3 of the waterfall. As we descended the stairs we came down to children screaming and laughing as a local school had also arranged a visit that day. They were very enthusiastic to play in the water with us and many of the volunteers took some great photos to capture the atmosphere. We then drove onto Mole, arriving around 5pm and quickly ordered dinner before settling into the accomodation. We were all feeling sleepy after the lengthy drive, especially Benjii our driver, so had an early night ready for the safaris early the next day.
On Friday we were incredibly unlucky to have heavy rain first thing, so we were advised to do the driving Jeep 4×4 safari into Mole national park, measuring 4,577km²; with over 400 elephants, many species of bird, monkey and reptile. The team were still in good spirit regardless of the weather and everyone was eager to climb onto the rooftop of the Jeep. Around ten minutes into the safari we were told by our guide, named Kwabena, that an elephant was nearby. We quietly climbed down the Jeep and trekked into the trees to explore further. As we peered through the trees we caught sight of a large, grey ear and immediately came in full glance of an adult female Savannah elephant. She only had one tusk, our guide informed us that this was because she had lost one in a fight. The elephant was calm but we were told not to get too close as she may quickly change position, this was an incredible moment to share with the team and everyone was amazed by the sheer size and appearance of the animal. When finishing the driving safari we thanked our driver Adonkor for his patience and assistance in our exploration of the park. In the afternoon we travelled to a nearby village called Moghori to experience the canoe safari- another opportunity included in the excursion package purchased by the team members. Many volunteers were nervous about boarding the canoes and were concentrating hard to stop the boat capsizing! We all stayed dry and this was a calm but different way to explore the wildlife of Ghana. In the evening many of the team sampled the Beef Pepper Steak in the motel’s restaurant and this proved an excellent choice, with plenty of people purchasing the same meal the subsequent day!
Saturday meant another early start to make full use of the park’s facilities. The sun was shining and today we started the day with a 7am walking safari. Following the previous day many of the team were hoping to see more wildlife in the dry weather, as animals refrained from staying deep within the wet jungle. Our group swiftly descended the hillside and headed for the lake, we were told by our guide Abdullah many elephants had been spotted nearby. As we approached the lake we found ourselves gazing at six Savannah elephants, four adults and two young. This was a superb opportunity to see Mole at its finest and many of the team were mesmerised by the interaction and behaviour of the animals as they walked into the lake. At one moment, an adult elephant charged and pushed a younger elephant into the water- we were shocked to witness the speed of such a large animal! Our guide then explained to us that the elephant is the second fastest animal in the world…an interesting fact to learn! Later in the safari we were lucky to see monkeys, warthogs, many types of antelope, a chameleon and several species of plant. The majority of the team had said they felt this was a highlight to their time in Africa; they were fortunate to see the sights Ghana has to offer. Breakfast was popular that morning with the team enjoying omelettes, toast, beans, sausages, fresh fruit and an assortment of hot drinks. Many of the team took the chance to enjoy a Milo! Following an afternoon chilling by the pool, the team later attended a cultural village dance in Moghori and this offered a first hand experience of life in a Ghanaian village. The dance was fulfilling and enjoying to see, with many of us joining in to truly make the most of this unique opportunity.
Another early start was needed on Sunday so we were quick to breakfast and could get back on the road to head for Kumasi in good time. Shaunagh, a 20 year old volunteer had a breakfast she will never forget that day, as a baboon leaped onto the table and ran off with her apple juice! Nevertheless, the journey home was swift, this was helped by the many newly constructed roads in the middle of Ghana- another sign of improvement to this special country.