My name is Teresa Schimmels from Germany and I have spent about 11 months in Ghana and worked as a volunteer at Centre for Social Innovations. The work at CSI was the major reason I was here and I’m sure we did a great work all together. The beginning was a little difficult because I didn’t know what I what to expect so I couldn’t prepare myself for it. As I arrived here it took me quite a while to get to know CSI, the programs, the structure and background behind it. But the team helped me a lot and we turned from a group of staff into a family.
My major tasks were to work with Shaibu, and later Priscilla, on the Young Social Innovators Program and also support the team with different things, for example with graphic designs, like flyers or certificates, or accompany a staff to a meeting or one of his/her programs. I´m very happy that I could use my in school acquired knowledge about it for the work here and I really appreciated the variety of the work at CSI.
It was very interesting to work on the YSI program. Visiting the schools, working with the kids, sharing knowledge and seeing how the children came up with their own ideas was overwhelming. We always had to put in a lot of work, we rushed through Kumasi, met a lot of people, struggled to get the funds, but when you saw the result and the smile on the kids’ faces, you knew that it was worth it.
Beside the work, I got the possibility to experience Ghana. I fell in love with the food, the people, the markets and the life here. And I will definitely try to cook some Ghanaian dishes in Germany!
Luckily I was able to travel a lot, so I have been to nearly all regions. I slept at the Wli Falls, climbed the Afadjato Mountain, swam in the sea, partied in Accra, stood with an elephant face to face, rode a canoe to the most southern place called Cape 3 Points, visited the slave castles in Cape Coast and Elmina and so on.
Every day here in Ghana was so filled with new, interesting and exciting things, but also exhausting and difficult situations. As a white person (and especially as a girl) it has a lot of advantages and disadvantages, such as you get marriage proposals from complete strangers, everybody wants your contact and to be your friend (which is nice, but can also be very exhausting), few bad people try to outwit you on pricing and different other thing, but generally it was a really good experience.
But I will definitely miss it! I am so grateful for everything I learnt, for the friendships I made, for the possibilities that were offered to me and for the open arms, with which they have welcomed me here in Kumasi and especially at CSI.