Report on trip to Tamale: Should be useful for tourists, as real-life experience of volunteers being cheated was included (26/06/2010-30/06/2010)

From 26th June 2010 to 30th June 2010, interns and volunteers form Light for Children, Ghana went to Tamale for the Global Giving Meeting, an online fund-raising platform for NGOs which Light for Children is one of the members. Indeed, they went sightseeing in and around Tamale too. They visited the Mole National Park and the traditional community in Lorabanga. They of course have not missed the Chief Palace in Tamale. However, this seemingly utterly wonderful trip does have tears and blood behind.

The first destination for the volunteers was the Mole National Park, the largest wildlife reserve in Ghana. After 8 hours of exhausting Metro Mass Transit bus trip and a one-night stay in Marim Zakarib’s place, a friend of Sebastian, the volunteers traveled to the national park by a hired minibus. Though the minibus trip was long and the bus was too shaking, the volunteers were excited by their coming stay in the Mole Motel, and of course the Safari trip to see wild animals.

The stay in Mole Motel was almost the most wonderful time for the volunteers throughout the trip. They enjoyed life in the tranquil motel with beautiful natural environment, swam in the pool, and enjoyed the safari trip in the national park, as well as the delicious, albeit expensive Western food. Although they only managed to see wild animals from a long distance, they rather regard the safari trip as an excellent chance to stretch their body and do some hiking. Unfortunately, some volunteers were injured by plants in the forests. One of the volunteers, Mandy, even got her wound infected, and she was sent to the hospital after returning to Kumasi.  

The nightmare began at the morning when they were prepared to left, when they were approached by a Ghanaian who claimed he was the volunteers’ official guide for their trip to the traditional community in Lorabanga. Witnessing that the driver of the minibus allowed that Ghanaian to get on to the car, the volunteers thought at the time that it was normal.

However, after the visit to Lorabanga has ended and when that ‘official guide’ demanded, in an aggressive manner, the volunteers to pay a fee of 10 Ghana cedis, the volunteers realized that something wrong has happened. After considerable period of unfriendly argument, the ‘official guide’ seemed to have been tired of the volunteer’s insistence to pay only 5 Ghana cedis. Finally he asked the volunteers to leave rudely, an entirely different attitude to the volunteers while he was guiding the trip.

And when they returned to Tamale, they were told that the entrance and guidance fee to the trip was only 2 Ghana cedis per person. One day after, when they visited the Chief Palace in the downtown of Tamale, they were told by some Ghanaian straying in the front doors, who were obviously cheaters, that they were required to pay a tribute of 10 Ghana cedis to the chief to buy Cola, a raw material for making Coca Cola. Indeed, this time none of the volunteers listened. They almost left immediately after hearing such non-sense excuse.

The last destination, as well as the official objective for this trip to Tamale, was the global giving meeting which was held in the culture centre. Though a bit dissatisfied with a trip which is full of cheating, the morale of the volunteers to learn and exchange ideas about fund-raising with other NGOs remains high. In the meeting, the volunteers learnt about the criteria of entering into the Global Giving Platform, especially the details of the Due Diligence task of raising 4000 US Dollars from 50 different persons in 4 weeks. Inquires were raised among the volunteers concerning how Light for Children, Ghana, managed to complete this task. The volunteers also learnt to appreciate the importance of uploading work reports to web pages like facebook and blogs, and including photos into the reports in order to make them more eye-catching to readers. They recognized that writing reports on their work, a seemingly boring and routine task, is actually essential to the operation of a NGO as it is directly related to how many potential donors can be reached, thus affecting the amount of fund that NGO can be able to raise. Hopefully, volunteers would be more efficient and punctual whenever there are reports to be written afterwards.

Through the meeting, volunteers also recognized the importance of counting the number of beneficiaries whenever they have conducted a workshop or any other programme, as this is a measurement of how near the NGO is to its project goal, which would affect the reputation and the credibility of the NGO, thus affecting its fund-raising ability.

Overall, the global giving meeting is indeed a fruitfully learning experience for the involved volunteers. Indeed, challenges remain on the way. But work hard, comrades! Let’s work to build Ghana!

David Kong, Volunteer, Light for Children, Ghana

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