By Barnabas Nyaaba, 2011 Greenheart Club Winner and Summer Work & Travel Participant.

Barnabas was a Summer Work & Travel participant last summer who volunteered the most for the Greenheart Club. Barnabas shared with us his experience as a Greenheart Volunteer in the USA and then earned a grant to do a Greenheart project in his home country. Below Barnabas describes how he applied his Greenheart grant funds to instill the spirit of volunteerism in Ghanaian youth.

I am really excited that my Greenheart Project dubbed, “The Young Volunteers” Project specifically targeting junior high students was executed successfully and thus ended in May of this year.

Being involved in volunteer activities for quite some time and also admiring how young people were willing to volunteer during my volunteer activities in the U.S, I decided to use this opportunity of doing a project to whip up such interest among young people in Ghana. The idea was to spark the interest of charity, initiative and mentoring among young people. The low level of volunteerism could gradually improve when we engage young students through projects like this. The youth represents the future, and inculcating the desire to volunteer will be best at this level. “The Young Volunteers” Project therefore had the following objectives

  • To instill the desire to volunteer amongst young students through creating awareness on the importance of volunteering in the society.
  • To impact the community or school where these students live/attend through the students themselves.
  • To help students discover new interest areas and hobbies doing extra-curricular activities which may lead in the long term to boosting their career options.

With the above being the main objectives of the project, we decided to hold seminars in various schools to interact with students on the issue of volunteerism and environmental sustainability (Green practices). These seminars offered us the opportunity to hear from the students concerning the subject as well as share our experiences with them.

After speaking on various platforms and introducing our topic, we settled on running the project in three schools (De Youngster’s Int. School, “Tot to teens” School and United Staff School) since the authorities in these schools agreed with us on the terms of the project.

United Staff School was to benefit from the full package of the project which involved the series of seminars and an essay competition to be taken by the students. Since this school was a deprived school, the aim was to catch the attention of students hence our decision to concentrate there.

The other schools were also engaged and enjoyed our interaction with them during the seminars and meetings at their club level. As we met fortnightly for about five times before the close of the project, a lot of them expressed the interest in volunteering during their break from school and we expect to hear their experiences pretty soon. We also explored other platforms on my University campus to speak to students when there was that opportunity. This appeared a more difficult challenge than dealing with the junior high students. All the same, we got the message across quite well.

It was a wonderful event at the United Staff School. The students were tasked to write on the topic: Volunteerism, my way of contributing to societal development”. We received entries from the students and it was interesting reading their views on the given topic. Though their teachers were allowed to assist them with some guidelines, the students wrote the essays by themselves. They also had clues from our discussions with them at the various seminars during the course of the project. Since the essay contest was the last event before the end of the project, the award of prizes to students who excelled marked the closing ceremony of the Young Volunteers Project in the United Staff School. Our top 3 students were given fantastic prizes comprising of note books, Greenheart T-shirts, dictionaries, novels etc. All other participants of the essay competition were however given consolation prizes of stationery to help in their studies.

Barnabas, third from the left with Ghanaian volunteers.

We left them with a quotation by John Ruskin, the famous English critic:  “The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it”. They were charged to contribute to their communities through volunteerism. We believe strongly that the necessary impact was made through this project and I will want to extend my sincere appreciation to CCI and the Greenheart Club for the support they gave this project.

Also to Adjwoa and Dora, who delivered letters and got the schools on board and Andrews for helping me run the entire project successfully. As I always maintain, One’s cultural exchange experience is not complete without a volunteer experience. If you find yourself in the U.S. or any foreign country for an exchange program, do well to volunteer and you will be amazed at what you’ll learn through such activities.

I extend to you all warm greetings from Ghana, and if CCI has any volunteer abroad program in Africa, then Ghana is a wonderful destination for you. I’ll be here to welcome you.