The Special Needs Prgram
Ghana has reopened to international arrivals. See the 'Additional Info.' section for procedures in place during the pandemic.
Working with children with special needs is a truly worthwhile volunteering experience. This essential program supports children in Senya-Beraku, on the coastline of Ghana. Ghana is a developing nation, which experiences great poverty and many health and social issues. As in many countries, those with disabilities can be marginalized from society and many have extremely low quality of life. In this country having a special need is seen as a curse by much of society. Children with physical or mental challenges are often abandoned by their families and isolated from society. Uneducated and without support, many end up as beggars on the streets or worse. This wonderful program works to support special needs children, offering schooling and other initiatives to help those in dire need. Volunteers will be making a huge difference to their lives, helping their education and giving them hope. Join Love Volunteers in Ghana and help to change these children’s lives for the better.
Goals of this Project:
- Provide education and care to children with disabilities
- Improve the future prospects of some of Ghana’s most marginalized citizens
- Provide a caring, fun and educational environment for the children
- Create inter-cultural understanding which benefits both residents and international volunteers alike
How You Can Help
On this heart-warming program volunteers will be working hands-on with children who need additional support. Love Volunteer’s partner organization here facilitates a free school focused solely on those with special needs and disabilities. The children receive emotional and physical support across a range of channels, including different therapies, counselling, formal education and job training. Volunteers will be supporting the teachers and caregivers in the school, working directly with children and providing support to local staff. For the vulnerable children with disabilities, many of whom have been simply abandoned by their families, this program is absolutely crucial to their lives. Working with children with disabilities can be difficult, but it can also be the most rewarding volunteer work someone will ever do. Participants on this project will gain a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help those who truly need it and gain valuable experience in caring and working for those with disabilities.
Volunteers on this program will participate in a variety of tasks and can expect to:
- Teach the children
- Play games with the children and keep them entertained
- Help to feed those in need
- Care for the children
- Share experiences, talk to and spend time with children
See the Additional Info. section for more information on how to support disabled children.
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to assist in the support and development of some of Ghana's most marginalized children and young adults. While this highly rewarding project does not require participants to have a background in the field of special needs care, as there are many ways you can assist, volunteers with suitable education, qualifications or experience are highly sought after. Regardless, a volunteer’s individual role can often be tailored to suit their particular skills and interests. Ideally, volunteers on this project will have at least a basic knowledge of the local language in order to communicate effectively with staff and students, though this is not a pre-requisite. All applicants must of course display a genuine willingness to help, show drive, initiative and compassion, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
- Police check
Programs in Ghana are based in the small coastal town of Senya Beraku, 2 ½ hours drive west of the capital city, Accra. Situated on the Gulf of Guinea in the tropical Atlantic Ocean volunteers here have access to beaches, waterfalls, forest walks and historic forts and castles.
Ghana is Africa at its best! Friendly and welcoming people, easy transport options and natural and historic attractions make this destination a pleasure to spend time in. Volunteers in Senya Beraku have the chance to soak up the rich culture and and hospitality of Ghana!
Among the highlights of Accra are the National Museum, with its display of exhibits that reflect the heritage of Ghana, the National Theater, the Center of National Culture, Independence Square and the fishing port at James Town. The beaches of the Atlantic coast are popular with visitors and Ghanaians alike. This is a truly wonderful place to experience the real Africa!
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round and programs start every SUNDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Upon your arrival in Ghana you will collected at the airport (Kotoka Int. Airport) by a representative of the local team and taken to your host family accommodation. Here you will be welcomed and settled into your new surroundings.
Volunteers will have a full arrival orientation given by a member of the local team the next day after arrival.
They will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have. You will then be taken to your projects site where you will be introduced to the onsite project team and settled into your project work. Easy!
- Project Arrival Day: SUNDAY
- Project Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival/Departure Airport: Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana (CODE: ACC)
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers on this program are accommodated within a modest 3-bedroom volunteer house which is located in a safe and convenient area of Senya-Beraku - a two-hour drive south from Ghana’s bustling capital, Accra. Volunteers are provided with a basic but comfortable shared bedroom and shared bathroom, separated by gender, and will have the opportunity to meet and socialize with other like-minded people from around the world. Linen is provided for volunteers but WiFi is not currently available at the house (there is an internet cafe close by but most volunteers simply purchase a local sim card for their smart phone in order to access the internet). As with most parts of Africa, laundry facilities are basic (hand-washing) but this can be done for guests by the onsite cleaner, for a small fee.
Volunteers are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Volunteer House daily. All meals are prepared by an in-house cook (house mama) and for those volunteers who wish to learn how to prepare some wonderful Ghanaian dishes, they are always welcome to join her in the kitchen or even in going to the market together to purchase food for the meals.
It is important to remember that the living conditions in Ghana are very different from home. Most homes have running water, but hot running water is still uncommon in some areas and bathing is performed using a bucket of water that has been heated (when necessary) from the kitchen kettle. There is a nearby beach resort where volunteers can utilize clean and modern western-style showers for a small fee, and it is common for volunteers to make this short trip once or twice a week. Although the accommodation is basic, this is part of the challenge and experience of volunteering in a developing country. With a little patience, and a flexible attitude, you will quickly get used to your new surroundings.
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
All international arriving flight passengers will need to adhere to the following:
- Individuals arriving in Ghana by air must present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted by an accredited laboratory in the country of origin not more than 72 hours prior to departure.
- Upon arrival, each traveler age five and over must undergo a COVID-19 test conducted at the airport.
- The test carries a $150 fee per person. Each traveler must pay the fee online at https://myfrontierhealthcare.com/ and present proof of payment to the airline prior to boarding.
- Test results will usually be available within 30 minutes. Travelers who test negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to enter Ghana with no quarantine requirement. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will complete arrival procedures with the help of airport health officials before transfer to Ga East Municipal Hospital for clinical assessment and management.
- Individuals who depart Ghana and return within one week will not need to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test. However, they will still be subject to testing upon arrival at the airport.
- Travelers exiting Ghana will undergo temperature screening prior to departure and will be required to comply with the COVID-19 testing requirements of their destination.
- You will be required to wear a face mask while in Ghana.
- Please see the below website for more information: https://gh.usembassy.gov/ghana-covid-19-information/
Volunteering With Children With Disabilities: How To Best Support Them
Between 93 million and 150 million children worldwide are diagnosed with a disability. In developing countries, children with disabilities rarely have access to the resources and facilities they need to help them reach their full potential. By volunteering to help children with disabilities, you can provide them with the best support possible and encourage them to blossom in their own time.
Communicate directly with the child
When you first meet a child with a disability, avoid making the all-too common mistake of not actually directly talking to them. Children with disabilities should be given encouragement and patience to answer questions and speak up in conversation. Adults often assume they don't understand or can't answer and soon switch to talking to their caregiver instead. So, when meeting for the first time, introduce yourself and explain who you are. Depending on the type of learning difficulty and its severity, you may need to place your hand on the child's shoulder or take their hand. You can then let them know what you'll be doing together, including explaining the activity step-by-step. It's important to use simple language, be patient, and make a lot of eye contact to build rapport and trust with the child.
Use nonverbal gestures
Using nonverbal communication and gestures like nodding, pointing, and eye contact will help children with disabilities understand you better. At first, you may need to exaggerate or draw out these gestures to aid the child's understanding. In fact, using these gestures is usually essential to ensure children with disabilities participate in the activities. However, if you still have a problem with a child not listening to you, you may also find it useful to clap, whistle, or sing. Additionally, tactile cues can help effectively engage children. For example, giving them a soft blanket or plasticine can capture their attention and help them focus.
When rules are implemented for the group, it's important all children abide by them. Consistency is key if you want children to feel safe, comfortable, and encouraged, as well as for teaching discipline. So, don't backtrack on rules already set or change them from one day to the next. For children with disabilities (especially those with autism or other cognitive or sensory impairments), consistency and discipline will help them thrive in learning environments. Remember, when working with children with disabilities, it's your job to give them dedicated attention they may not usually get. Focus on the individual and adjust your approach as needed. For example, if a child has poor motor skills making a certain activity difficult for them, you may need to work through the steps with them together. While it's good to encourage children to challenge themselves, you should also be aware of their limits.
Volunteering to help children with disabilities is a meaningful and rewarding experience. By being prepared to provide the best support possible, you can better help this vulnerable group succeed and thrive.
Source: Jennifer Orson