It was the summer of 2009, just after the completion of my "cow" (junior) year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and I was living in a former brothel turned volunteer house, complete with a bucket shower and machete-wielding "security guard." We were in Cape Coast, a fishing port city along Ghana's coastline in West Africa. I had journeyed there with a small group of cadets to volunteer for the summer with a organization called Global Mamas.
On weekends we ventured throughout the remarkable country, hiking to the highest point in Western Africa to swim in the Wli Waterfalls, canoeing to visit the Nzulezo community that lived in a village on stilts, and encountering beautiful elephants on our walk through Mole National Park.
During the week, we were each assigned projects geared towards educating and empowering women who owned local businesses supported through the Global Mamas program. For my assignment I was partnered with an incredible woman named Esther, the proud owner of a roadside tailor shop that trained and employed women from all over the city. I spent my weekdays imparting my limited business knowledge from my courses as a management major in an effort to develop her skills as an entrepreneur. We opened her first business bank account, developed the branding for her line of handmade traditional Ghanaian apparel and wrote a business plan for the school she wanted to establish for girls and women to learn traditional artisanal skills like batiking, sewing and jewelry making.
It's been nearly 10 years since that summer in Ghana, but the incredible people, culture and memories made there have kept it close to my heart and on the top of my must-return-to list since.
Volunteer with Global Mamas
Global Mama's mission is to create prosperity for African women and their families by teaching fair trade practices, offering business education, and providing a global marketplace for women to sell their handcrafted products. To learn more about volunteering, click the button below.