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Columbus, Ohio 

Akumanyifoundation@gmail.com

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© 2018 Copyright The Akumanyi Foundation 
 

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Hear It from Our Volunteers

"I had an amazing experience on my trip! I would really like to go on another TAF trip to Ghana when I have the time/money. The whole thing was really well-organized (especially for a smaller organization), and I am so happy I went on my trip."

"I really enjoyed when we had conversations concerning stereotypes, inequality, the white savior complex, or really anything pertaining to our trip or life in general. Usually everyone is so preoccupied in their phones or daily stress that conversations like that don't happen often. To be with 12 or so other passionate in the moment thinkers led to some really meaningful conversations."

"Go to Ghana. A trip like this is something that will stick with you for the rest of your life – five months later I still find myself reflecting on it every day. The Ghanaian people you will meet during your time abroad will be the hardest to forget; both children and adults give you an entirely new perspective on what it means to be successful and happy. So many people imagine a trip to Africa as being a depressing experience, designed to open your eyes to how disadvantaged much of our planet is. I won’t pretend that there were not times that I felt sad while on my trip, but much of it stemmed from realizing my own ignorance about the world. I had never really stopped to imagine what it would be like to grow up somewhere like Ghana, and I certainly had never imagined the ways in which living there could have made me a better person.

This trip specifically is something I would highly recommend because of the emphasis on learning, rather than it just being a ‘service’ trip. While volunteers are primarily there to help the people of Ghana in some way, this in no way means that Ghanaians are helpless. Learning is a huge part of this experience, whether it comes from group discussions about colonialism and sustainability, a friendly neighbor helping you tie a laundry line on a plantain tree or children teaching Oware, “the game of Africa.” It is crucial to remember that service is not about ‘saving the world’ or acting as a hero to a group of people. Service work is about doing as much as you can, within the time that you have, to help people in some way. It is about realizing your own privilege and building the foundation for future work to be done.

A trip like this is not something that most Americans will be able to relate to, which can be really frustrating after you return. For this reason, it is beneficial to go with a group such as TAF because it gives you a network of peers who know exactly what you may be feeling. Having these contacts will allow you to fully process your experience abroad, and will also help you remember the little moments on the trip that you may have forgotten. In my experience, going to Ghana with The Akumanyi Foundation was the most life-changing thing I have ever done. I remember the names, faces and interactions of nearly every person I met while there, as well as the small moments of solitude where I reflected on how much I felt I had already changed as a person. I have dreams about returning to Ghana constantly, and I am certain that I will make that happen at some point in my future."

"I believe that the most impactful parts were visiting the seamstress program and the other villages to see the first hand how service can have a long lasting positive impact without imposing our own cultural values. Also, being able to interact with Ghanaian culture and lifestyles as much as possible."

What were the most essential parts of your service-learning trip experience?

"I am so grateful for the cultural immersion that we experienced. Everyone was so welcoming and eager to involve us. I also loved every chance I had to talk with Prince, Patrick, and Tina."

"The required trip meetings before traveling, the living arrangements, and visiting the project sites should not change because each of these three components to the trip added to the greater sense of investment to our purpose that I feel."

"Having full days at the children's home was great, because we got to spend a lot of time with the kids, while also being able to help with chores from morning until evening. Having a side project to implement, like painting the school house, was also very beneficial. I appreciated traveling to Cape Coast, and visiting the seamstress program/water sanitation program."

"For me, the people were definitely the most essential part of my experience serving abroad. Being exposed to such a strong sense of community impacted me in an incredibly large way. Also, the people I lived with in the house were definitely a huge part of the trip for me. We communicated with one another, and criticized each other when necessary. I really feel like we all acted as a family in the volunteer house and I am so grateful for that. The group discussions in the evenings got me through a lot of different emotions I was feeling during the trip and also opened my eyes to new perspectives. Finally, the weekend excursions are a must. They were both fun and educational. I was constantly being exposed to things I had never experienced before and that alone made the tro tro rides so worth it!!"

If you could share anything with potential participants about this trip, what would you want them to know about your time in Ghana with TAF? 

"If you think you can prepare for the experience you will have during this program, you've thought wrong. You will be coaxed out of your comfort zone, and you will expand your capacity to be able to understand different types of people and the things that unify us all despite the conflicting origins of where we were raised. It is my hope that any student considering this program in the future will choose to take the risk and do it. The experience will help the student, and others, grow in ways they never thought possible."

"It is worth every penny! I would go back in a heartbeat. This trip will change your outlook on typical ideas of the way that Africa is portrayed in the US. The relationships that you make on this trip will impact you for the rest of your life. It is impossible to put this trip, experience, Ghana into one word."

"This trip is more than just service it is a learning experience that has the capability to make you more deeply understand that our world is different in many ways but that does not make one way of life better than another. Learning about and growing to appreciate this fact is one of the biggest things I took away from this trip. TAF has many initiatives that cover more than just the children’s home and their presence in the community and surrounding communities is something that certainly is working for the betterment of Ghana."

"TAF is an amazing organization that is constantly supporting the communities it serves. I am so glad I was able to participate in their mission and their projects. My experience in Ghana changed my perspective on the country and the culture as well as my perspective on service learning. I am extremely happy with my experience and I would love to continue to participate with TAF."

"There is at least one aspect to this trip that every participant can find some connection with. Whether it is the kids in the home, the seamstress program, or the water project, the foundation is working in multiple areas that can be an interest a student already has or can be something new of interest as well. I can say that this trip has the ability to change your view on service, your values, and your cultural competency."

"My time in Ghana with TAF was beyond incredible. Because of TAF and it's leadership team I learned so much about the culture, the country, and myself. This trip challenges your mindsets and comfort levels while making you a better person at the same time. I've never connected with people so well and so quickly on any other trip or experience. Through experiencing the culture, doing service tasks, and interacting with TAF leadership team and other partnerships, I had the most transformative and liberating two weeks of my life and would go back in any instant."

"It really opens your eyes to how lucky we are in the US and how many things we take for granted, like running water, but the people there don't know any different and they're so happy with their lives. Everyone I met was so kind and hard-working it was incredible to learn about their culture. I would recommend this trip to absolutely anyone, it was the best experience I've had in a long time."

"I would want them to know that TAF truly focuses on sustainable service. Lots of foundations and service organizations say that they perform sustainable service but don't-- TAF is not one of these groups. TAF focuses so much on doing things that will not foster dependency between them and the communities they serve, and that will allow them to grow in the future even without TAF's presence. Not only did I feel like I was making , so to speak, on this trip, but I also felt like I made some personal growth through our group discussions and reflections. If you're considering applying, do it!"

"Before this trip, I was completely unaware of how expansive and impressive TAF is as a foundation. It was incredible to witness firsthand the amazing work that they do, and the impact they have on a variety of communities. The love and kindness that the people we met in Ghana have is overwhelming, and I felt so welcomed into their community. The kids that we worked with through the foundation are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have spent time with them."

"I would tell potential volunteers that the trip is 100% worth it. It might seem scary to be in a foreign country with more or less strangers and not being able to go on Instagram when you feel lonely or bored. Or it might not seem worth it to take bucket showers or have to bucket flush, or to have electricity randomly cut out, but you surprise yourself and adapt quickly. By the end of the trip, our living situation was completely normal to me, and I would have stayed there longer had it meant more time with the kids. It was a trip that definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I am forever grateful I had the opportunity to visit Ghana and meet the wonderful children we worked with. I find myself talking about this trip almost on a weekly basis or looking through my camera roll at pictures of the kids whenever I'm bored. The other volunteers, the staff, and the kids are all such special pieces of this experience and I would definitely do it all over again if money and time were of no concern!"

"To be fully involved and committed to their time spent in Ghana and fully engaged in what is happening around them. The time passes quickly and it would benefit them greatly to spend time with the people who live their , engaging in community activities, and traveling to other parts of Ghana if possible to witness the diversity within the country. Being fully present, even if that means taking time to yourself (journaling, reflecting, etc..) will not only benefit them and enhance their experience and knowledge about themselves , but allows one to be open to new and different perspectives and ideas that allow you to walk in another person's or culture's shoes for the short time spent abroad."

Please provide any additional feedback about your service-learning trip experience

"It was the best experience of my life! I couldn't have asked for a better organization to serve with or better people to share the trip with."

"The summer service-learning trip I attended in Senya Beraku, Ghana changed my life. It has impacted me in a very positive way and I could not be more grateful for my time there. I met some of the most kind-hearted human beings, I made friendships that I know will last a lifetime, and I experienced things that I didn't think I would ever have the opportunity to see or do. A LITERAL WILD MONKEY SAT ON MY HEAD IN THE MIDDLE OF A FOREST (I still can't get over that part). From the 5 AM mornings, to the bucket showers, to roosters, to the tro tro, to seven-up with the kids, to the rice balls, to the smiling faces, and to the sunsets, Ghana is amazing. The sense of community in Ghana is unreal. Ghanaians took me in as their own, accepted me, shared with me, and opened their hearts and homes to me. My time in Ghana was unlike anything I have ever experienced and I am still so grateful for that every day. My advice to anyone volunteering abroad -- Wake up every day with an open mind, be ready to face and conquer new challenges, and just try to take some time to sit back and realize what you're doing, why you're doing it. Just feel the sunshine on you. I promise you there is nothing like watching a sunset in Ghana with a couple of children on your hips :-)"

"I know that it sounds cliché, but volunteering in Ghana with the Akumanyi Foundation was incredibly life-changing. Not only did we get to work hands-on at the children's home and primary school, but we also had the opportunity to explore the hidden beauties of Ghana. Not a day goes by where I don't think about the children and staff at Achiase Children's Home. I CANNOT wait to go return!"

"I never imagined I could have such an amazing experience as this. I always dreamt of it, but never thought it could be a reality. Well, the foundation made it all possible. The steps that we were given prior to the trip were life savers, and everything on the trip was totally planned out. There was absolutely no stress of wondering if something would go wrong because you were in a different country. The environment is totally safe, and amazing. I felt like family when I first arrived, and now, they are my family. The volunteers and everyone at the orphanage have a special bond now that no one could understand unless they experience it for themselves. I cannot wait to go back. Not going back, is not an option for me!"

"The two weeks I spent at the Achiase Children's home were two of the most important weeks of my life. Before leaving for the trip, I was super nervous to be traveling so far from home, but from my first day there any discomfort I had was immediately put to rest. Hannah, Francis, and the rest of the Akumanyi foundation team were extremely accommodating and were willing to do anything in their power to make the volunteers feel comfortable in their new environment. The food was delicious and the living spaces were extremely comfortable, I felt right at home from day one. The time spent with the kids at the home is something I will never forget. Each and every kid put a smile on my face and left lasting memories for me. I cannot wait to make a longer trip back to the house next year and reconnect with all the amazing people involved in the foundation!"
 

"One piece of feedback is I really enjoyed when we had conversations concerning stereotypes, inequality, the white savior complex, or really anything pertaining to our trip or life in general. Usually everyone is so preoccupied in their phones or daily stress that conversations like that don't happen often. To be with 12 or so other passionate in the moment thinkers led to some really meaningful conversations (I think Dr. Mull played a huge part in this). I also really appreciated how open and talkative Hannah was about her experiences in Ghana because I learned a lot just from listening in during car rides or around the dinner table. Even though we had the booklet thing planned out, I think it was okay that the set discussions fell through because we were always having relevant on going conversations in its place."