Wooster students volunteer in Ghana

Eleven students will spend two weeks of winter break assisting with the Akaa Project

Wyatt Smith

Staff Writer

This winter break, 11 Wooster students, lead by Lauren Grimanis ’12, will go on a volunteer trip to the Akaa community in Eastern Ghana. The trip will be approximately two weeks long and is run through the Akaa Project, which Grimanis founded.

Those going on the trip will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of projects. For example students interested in education will be able to run a classroom in the local school, even if they’re not education minors. Grimanis said that the teachers aren’t trained, so they appreciate the help. “We’re really looking for new, creative ways to teach the kids,” she said. Boo Flynn ’12, who went on the trip last year, has spent a lot of time since creating lesson plans with the help of the education department.

The volunteers will also help with health care, agriculture and construction projects. Specifically, the students will be giving out deworming pills, going with the women of the village to the market to sell their produce, and building walls for the school.

During the two week trip, the participants will predominately be staying in the community chief’s compound. “It’s the mud houses, tin roofs, that kind of structure,” Grimanis said, “[we’re] going to be staying in houses that are the houses that everyone else lives in.” She also reported “there’s no electricity, no plumbing, no running water, bucket showers, that kind of thing. So, it’s definitely going to be a unique experience.”

There will also be time for fun on the trip. The group of students will visit Cape Coast, a city on Ghana’s southern shore, and Kakum national park, which is located in a tropical rain forest.

Grimanis stresses how the trip leads to the mutual benefit of all involved. Volunteers get to learn both about the community and themselves, while the villagers learn about America and American culture. “I think that’s something really special,” she said, “particularly because we’re going to be living in this community, fully engaged with the culture, which is not something that you get to do all the time.”

The Akaa Project is a non-profit organization unaffiliated with the College. It is run by a group of 25 Wooster students, who each base their involvement on their own talents and interests as well as the project’s needs. Most recently, the group created a giving catalogue to help raise funds. The Akaa Project also sponsors events on campus, such as the Rave under the Stadium on Nov. 19. Grimanis said that the group is “open to everyone who wants to participate in their own capacity. If they want to fully be involved in it, that’s fine, if they want to help out with some of the events or help out in certain ways, that’s fine too.”