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Service Programs

Youth Service Initiative Project in Ghana

Tamale, Ghana - Europeans participating in the Youth Service Initiative raised funds and went to Ghana to help build a resource center to give children and youth opportunities for recreation, personal development, and access to books and other educational materials. We also organized a variety of learning activities and practical projects. In addition, we held forums in various locations on religion, discovering one's talents, life planning, and cultural differences between our countries.

In Frankfurt, Germany, people who have spent time in Africa led an orientation program; we also learned about cross-cultural communications.

After a six-hour flight to Accra, we stayed at the Salvation Army for one night and left by bus the next morning for a 10-hour trip to Tamale in northern Ghana.


We were welcomed by the Community Partnership for Youth and Women's Development at their office, and everybody introduced themselves. This is the third time Youth Service Initiative has worked with them on a project in Ghana.

We stayed at a house in the village where we were building the resource center. We slept on mats on the floor. Three or four people cooked our meals, which consisted of typical African food such as yams, fufu, plantains, beans, and guinea hens.

For most of the first week, we were busy building the resource center together with the local helpers in the village of Katariga next to the school. Without modern tools, we started by uprooting plants. The visible part of the plants was very small in relation to the massive root which penetrated deep into the soil. After digging a one-meter trench marking the perimeter of the building, we mixed cement, sand, and water to prepare a level foundation on which to lay the brick walls. We also laid a floor. We accomplished what we aimed to do during our time there. Besides the main building, we built two summer huts in the same order. We managed to finish these together with the local helpers within our time period.

Our other main activities were the forums, which people attended out of curiosity. Our first forum was on religion. We invited people from different religions to participate, including youth group leaders. We paired up with the local people and introduced ourselves and then discussed our perspectives about religion. It was very interesting to get a sense of the value that people see in religion and learn about the major role that religion plays in the life of Africans.

Another forum was held with students from ages 14 to 17. We talked about life planning and talents. We began with some ice-breaker games, which included music and movement. Then we sat together in groups and talked about our interests and the kind of work we want to do after we finish our studies. Each person made a drawing and explained it to everyone.

One of the most productive forums was at a college campus in Bimbilla. After icebreaker activities by teams, everyone wrote down their typical school day and explained it to the group. This was the foundation for an exciting discussion in which we shared about differences in our school systems and countries. We learned that the Ghanaian students were eager to have access to computers and practical training. Each group gave an interesting presentation.

In Bimbilla we also visited the beekeeping project started by Community Partnership. It benefits the community by giving women an opportunity to earn an income by selling the honey produced by the bees. We were given an amazing welcome by the whole community and even people from a neighboring village. We felt that the beekeeping project has made a positive impact.

Our most unique experience was a trip to Mole National Park in northwest Ghana, where we could see animals such as elephants, baboons, and crocodiles living in the wild. In Europe we only get to see such animals in a zoo.

We enjoyed learning each others' dances. People performed traditional dances for us, and we had the opportunity to dance for them as well. The variety of drums made a very unique sound and created a very good rhythm.

Looking back on the project, we accomplished our goals of laying the foundation of the resource center and building two summer huts. We are grateful to those who supported us by buying Easter eggs and also to Emmaus, Resto Van Harte, the Yoo family, Klaus Hartman, Isaac Gibson, and all the others who helped make this experience possible. We also thank Maartje Bos and Jonathan Palombi, who were our project managers and made our stay a unique experience.

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