Volunteers contribute a great deal to our organization. They not only provide practical help but, more importantly, they often forge deep friendships with Ghanaian friends, making it a mutually enriching experience. However, OCLF is a small organization, and we are only able to accommodate a few volunteers per year. Every person we place requires the following: arranging an appropriate placement that is beneficial for both the volunteer and the host library; ensuring that the timing details have been worked out; helping to prepare visa documentation; securing accommodation, and picking up and delivering at the airport.
Requirements of the Volunteer
Over the years, we have found that experience with young children is of paramount importance for working at the libraries. Teaching, especially at the lower grades, is a meaningful background or working at summer camps.
Volunteers require initiative. They are on their own, with the help of the librarians, to develop ideas to challenge and engage children. Some knowledge of literacy-based activities, educational games, and craft ideas is required.
We expect our volunteers to work full days – Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. plus travel time. If posted to the Kathy Knowles Community Library, the work week is Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday mornings. The libraries can be very busy places, requiring considerable stamina and patience to handle large numbers of energetic children.
Responsibilities of the Volunteer
Volunteers must cover the cost of their transport to Ghana, vaccinations, malaria tablets, health and evacuation insurance and all their in-country living expenses (approximately $150 per week, excluding private taxis).
Prior to their placement, we ask volunteers to raise or donate CDN$2,000 to the OCLF. This is not an administration fee but goes to supporting OCLF’s general outreach.
Some placements are in the capital, Accra, while others are in a rural setting. The decision depends on the volunteer’s preference, a suitable host library and appropriate accommodation.
The length of the placement is not fixed. Since it takes several weeks to adjust to the climate and the pace of life, we suggest a minimum stay of one month. Most volunteers find a term of three to six months works well.
Accommodation is arranged once the placement is decided. There is a welcoming but modest guesthouse in Accra and Joana Felih, OCLF’s head librarian, is a welcoming host. Like many areas in the capital, the water supply at the guesthouse is infrequent and there are occasional power shortages. The guesthouse has ceiling fans only.
There are significant risks to traveling and working in a tropical developing country. We expect volunteers to attend a travel clinic for recommended vaccines and malaria prevention medication. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for young people in Ghana and so it is important to travel during daylight hours only. We recommend the use of State Transport Company (STC) buses for out-of-town travel and not trotros.
Crime is a fact of life and Accra, like other major cities, has its share. By taking precautions, it is possible to minimize your risk.
Volunteers are required to sign the waiver on this website which absolves the OCLF of all responsibility relating to illnesses, accidents and crime. A copy should be sent to OCLF’s address prior to travelling.
Volunteers are expected to be ambassadors of their own country and OCLF. This means being punctual, cordial and well groomed. Women should dress conservatively and wear skirts/blouses or dresses and men should wear pants (no jeans) and collared or button-down shirts (no T-shirts) during their working hours. Volunteers should also be respectful of the library staff members who are paid modestly and work hard.
We do not allow dating, driving or drinking. Any sexually abusive behavior is strictly forbidden. Drugs are illegal and harsh penalties are enforced.
Since Ghana is a country where homosexuality is not permitted by law, volunteers must be very careful to respect this.
We have found that it is too disruptive to have family or friends visit during your volunteer placement. We suggest that they visit after your experience.
There will be no vacation breaks during the placement period, except for Christmas and Easter or national holidays. Any travelling should be done at the end of the placement or on weekends to avoid any disruption to the volunteer experience.
If you are interested in volunteering with our organization, please compete the application and email it to us, together with a copy of your resume and two references.
On returning home
We hope that volunteers will remain ambassadors for OCLF, providing their experience is a good one. Many past donors have continued their financial support and/or have shared stories with their families and friends, who in turn become donors.
It is expected that each volunteer send a letter of appreciation to his/her host and include copies of pictures taken. We also ask volunteers to write a short report of their stay for OCLF’s website’s Volunteer Reflection page. This should be submitted within a month of returning home, together with a head and shoulders photo and others, if desired. You may want to write an article about your stay for your local newspaper.
Thank you for your interest,