I came to Ghana for a 6 week period in January – February to participate in the microfinance program. Not only did I get to really understand the microfinance process, but I also got to see the amazing results that VEG are reaching. In such a short period of time I was able to visit many surrounding villages, fill in assessment and screening forms, hand out loans, and receive principal and interest repayments, and much more. At these villages I was able to speak one-on-one to women aiming to expand their businesses, and increase the standard of living for themselves, their families, and future generations. While the program is based on quite simple principles, it was amazing to see the differences that even one loan cycle can make.
The microfinance program is still at the beginning stages, and I did feel that my work and help were appreciated. While I was provided with assistance along the way, I was given the opportunity to work where I wanted, and used my initiative in areas that interested me. This provided me with the flexibility I wanted while volunteering.
In my six weeks I met Queen Mothers and Chiefs, participated in a traditional ceremony, travelled most weekends and was really able to integrate myself into everyday life in Ho, where time slows down, but there is so much to see. Ho and surrounding areas are the ‘real Africa’, with children enthralled by the whiteness of my skin, goats running freely on the street, and 20 people shoved into a van. It also has its creature comforts, like the comfortable VEG house, amazing food, and some of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. Ghana is the gateway to Africa, and still has so many interesting aspects that all the staff and other volunteers are more than happy to point out to you.
VEG really does show what an NGO should be. The growth of VEG was evident in that they moved into new, larger premises while I was there, and I saw how business is booming in all areas, from organization of loans to increased sales of beads and batik. VEG’s commitment to empowering women in Ghana filters to all aspects of their daily running, with the NGO’s staff consisting of many Ghanaians, with the addition of French and Americans (and an Australian for a bit) adding to the mix.
Living in Ho for 6 weeks and working with VEG was amazing! Thanks!