Hannah Cowen’s Ghana Diary: Volunteering at the Orphanage in Kpawumo
Hannah was a volunteer with Tzedek’s Ghana Project this past Summer. She kept a diary of her experiences while in Tamale, below you can read about one of Hannah’s volunteering roles:
The orphanage I work at in the mornings in Kpawumo is a really inspiring place. I was talking to Dawuda, the founder of the orphanage about how it started. He himself is from the village of Kpawumo, and drove himself to become educated. When he came back to the village, he realised that there were many, many children who needed taking care of. Either full orphans or children whose father had died and the mother had no means of taking care of them so they went hungry. He somehow raised the funds from his community to build a small orphanage in 2007, and it has fed and clothed the children ever since. There are 12 children who actually sleep in the orphanage, but many more who come every day to play around the area, as right next to the orphanage is the primary school, also built by the village itself. Currently it’s the school holidays, but the children still come every day, and there are classes being run for them. Not many, but enough to keep up their skills a little. Both the orphanage and the school are completely independent from the government, receiving no help, and no teachers.
One day I was there I asked one of the village chiefs who came to visit the children why they wouldn’t register the school with the government. He told me that the government is corrupt and bureaucratic, concerned only for the money and the teachers, without caring for the welfare of the children. The way it is now, there is so much love and care for the children individually, and they are taught in a caring way as well. And Dawuda and this chief told me their dreams. They want uniforms for the children, so they don’t have to dress in ripped threadbare hand me downs. They need money for food. They want to get health insurance for every child (a card is only 5 cedis, around £1) so that they don’t have to worry about treatment if a child is ill. Above all, they want to build a new school, and hire new teachers so that their children can get an education enabling them to move upwards from their village, get qualifications, training and knowledge in the city, perhaps earn a scholarship from a foreign government to study at a university there, and finally, to bring that attention, learning and money back to their village to create those opportunities for yet more children.
People come from all over the area to see and help at the orphanage. I met a police officer who comes as often as he can, many chiefs from neighbouring villages, and volunteers from the west as well. Mr Dawuda loves when volunteers come. We can help the children speak English, give them individual attention, teach them about computers and different cultures, and learn about the problems that they are facing, so that we can go home and talk about it with our friends. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is a drop in the pond, but still a valuable one. After all, if enough drops fall in perhaps the pond will overflow. And above all what it makes me feel is that this is an example of people helping themselves. They don’t need us to continue their work, we just enhance it. Helping people help themselves is surely the best way for development work to flourish.