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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Very Warm Amaraaba (Welcome)

After a very long flight from the UK, and journeys from across Ghana, the next cohort of International Service volunteers finally met in Tamale. At first, we were greeted by an environment and culture that not many were used to. However, by the end of our first week and after helping each other a huge amount to adapt to the expectations of our new roles, we are now ready to work incredibly hard for the Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems (RAINS). This entry will describe the first experiences of ICS and the RAINS project by UK volunteer, Lewis and Ghanaian volunteer, Jacob.

Lewis (age 23) Doncaster, UK.


Touching down in Tamale was a surreal moment and the atmosphere among the UK volunteers was very excitable. It was amazing to finally experience a landscape and culture we had been waiting so long to see. Our first day of training was on the 12th of January after spending our first night in a hotel where we got our first taste of Ghanaian cuisine.  We were happy to find what we thought was rice and chicken, but it was actually guinea-foul! It is very tasty and my new housemate Nuhu has explained that it is an expensive bird to feed so we felt very honoured.

Whilst we were excited, there was a level of apprehension that surrounded meeting our host families, our in-country counterparts, and what our work would entail in Ghana. We quickly learned that there was no need to be worried as our in country volunteers and specifically those in RAINS, were fantastically welcoming and we quickly started to erode any barriers between us to become good friends. Together we have learned what we will be doing for RAINS, which is a charity that “works with communities and development partners to improve the quality of life for vulnerable groups…”

Team RAINS hard at work training at GILLBT Guest House

At the end of our first of three days of training, we met our host families but before that we were treated to an amazing performance of Ghanaian drums and dancing. We all agreed that this was a fantastic experience and many of us were persuaded by the dancers to participate. Unfortunately for everybody, I was one of them! It was evident that the Ghanaians can dance much better than us but it was a huge privilege to be involved and the entire audience got up to dance at the end.

Today, on Friday 15th of January, we have finally completed our training that involved everything from cultural awareness, mapping our skills and a free Dagbani lesson from our more local, multi-lingual colleagues. We have now arrived at the RAINS office in Tamale. After another warm welcome from the RAINS staff, who we will be supporting for the next 3 months, we are settling down in our project with new friends, new ideas and a long standing desire within RAINS and International Service to make not only Ghana but the world a better place.       

Jacob, (age 18) Sandema, Ghana.        


Sunday 11th January 2016 was the official beginning of my International Service-ICS Program journey at the GILLBT Guest House. I met a lot of friends who were both in-country and UK volunteers. I had a mixed feeling. I hoped everything would go as I expected and perceived that I would be able to contribute to changing my world positively. I spent my first night at a guest house where I shared a room with three UK volunteers. It was fun living with them. We got along better than I expected and we became friends.

Later at night, all the volunteers on the ICS program met and played a lot of games and had fun. That was the first time I played ‘Truth or Dare’ and I really liked it. It was the following day that I gained an in-depth understanding of ICS and my project “Safe Choices” by its local partners RAINS and we were also taught a little Dagbani. I made several friends during the three days of training. Our first day of training was even completed with a grand performance by a traditional cultural troupe. There was the playing of traditional Ghanaian drums and dancing. After they had finished, they taught us how to dance as well. It was fun dancing but I am really bad at dancing. However, I didn’t let this dancing opportunity pass me by and did my best to improve upon my traditional dancing steps.

Action shot of the traditional dance troupe 

After the wonderful cultural display, we were informed about going to our host homes. I was then paired with an in-country and a UK volunteer. I was very anxious and wondered about my host home. Questions such as “What would my host home be like?” “Will I get along with my host home counterparts?” These were a few of the questions I asked myself. We had our host parents come for us at the GILLBT Hotel. Unfortunately, my host parents could not make it which heightened my anxiety. We were sent home by Piso, one of the International Service staff, to meet our host parents who were waiting upon our arrival by the road side. They took our luggage and showed us our rooms. They were really welcoming. Our host mother, Madam Kate, and her daughter, Sandra, made sure we had everything and a comfortable night. We had an unfamiliar but wonderful dinner. They are a really tender and caring family and I enjoy living with them.

After two days, it was then time to meet our project partners and to start work. We were welcomed and shown around as we were introduced to all the staff. I really like the project and I hope to learn a lot from it as I partake in educating the local community and Ghana as a whole.

ICS - RAINS volunteers January 2016



Team Rains
Back row left to right: Charlotte S., Jacob, Edem, Terry, Abdul Latif, Lewis, Derrick
Front row left to right: Alice, Jenny, Sandra, Maria, Huzeima, Simran, Charlotte L.       

A very warm Amaraaba to our blog.

Please expect future posts that will chart our efforts and successes of RAINS in Ghana.

Posted by Lewis Ancrum and Jacob Ayang