Volunteer Work in Bolgatanga June-December 2016, Valerie Mense

How did I hear about the Youth Harvest Foundation?

I searched the Internet for NGOs that offer voluntary service in Ghana for a flexible period. I knew for myself that I would like to support a project in Ghana for about 6 months and did research on it. I came across the JPG or YHFG and quickly realized that I find the projects very interesting and would like to support them. Thereupon I was able to quickly establish contact with Julia and in one phone call I simply informed myself about her work, her experiences and the general conditions.

I immediately liked that it is not a large NGO, but that I was supported as an individual volunteer very individually and could work independently.

How did I like Ghana and working with YHFG?

Ghana is always called Africa’s beginner’s country and rightly so! Many people, especially my generation can speak English, the country is safe – even to travel around alone is no problem, it is rather an emerging market and the people are very hospitable and helpful! I’ve never felt lonely here.

The city of Bolgatanga, where the YHF has its projects and I have lived, offers a nice home. It is clear, not too big, so not too much hustle and bustle and traffic and still you get everything you need. I was happy to get a good insight into the Ghanaian culture and life in the north of the country. I felt very comfortable in my host family and now I have found a second family in Ghana to which I can return again and again. They welcomed me warmly, took great care of me and supported me where necessary.

Also all colleagues in the YHFG are very nice and showed me their projects on request and simply took me along. I have always offered help with questions and problems and have always received new suggestions.

What have I done in my project?

I opened a smoothie bar in Tamale, the next bigger town south. YHFG already has a bar in Bolgatanga and wanted to bring the concept to Tamale. The goal is to support the NGO with the profit, but the bars are still too small and at the beginning. The primary goal is to spread the idea of healthy food (which is also big in Germany at the moment) and to enjoy not only rice and cereal products but also fruit. They also offer bars to young locals a permanent job with constant wages. These will receive additional training.

When I arrived I had an empty container, which I could then design by myself so that we could finally move in with the smoothie bar. At the same time I supported the interviews and trained the new employees. On September 1st I organised the grand opening and then I had to supervise the café, above all financially and to solve the work of the staff and all problems that arose. At the same time, of course, a new shop also needs a lot of advertising. In both smoothie bars I introduced new products to make the range even more versatile.

I really liked my project, because I was allowed to make many independent decisions, I always had support and through the recognition of my work I always had new motivation. Of course it was not always easy, because I had to discuss a lot with local craftsmen and things were not always the same as in Germany, but in the end I have only grown and would not want to miss this experience! I am now curious how the bars will develop when I visit them again in a few years!



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