For two people who have a tendency to plan to meticulous excess, our time away has been an exercise in letting things just happen. In Greece, nothing would ever take place in the way, or at the time, we expected. Everything is in constant flux, with projects, camps and activities opening, shutting and changing completely from one day to the next. Can’t move whatever it is you’re doing 10 miles down the road at no notice, you’re not going to be much use when the tents and people suddenly move on!
In Athens, with nobody telling us where we needed to be and when, we embraced the lack of planning. Interesting projects and ways in which we could be useful always turned up just at the point at which we weren’t sure what we might be doing the next day. And it’s in that vein that we wanted to let you know about a pretty unexpected change of plans for the rest of our time away.
As many of you know, we considered a number of options before deciding to spend time volunteering with refugees. One of the alternative plans involved applying for roles with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) but these didn’t come through… well, until now!
In the last 3 weeks, we have been offered a very big and very sudden change of plans. VSO has found us both roles in Northern Ghana and, after plenty of consideration, we decided to go ahead and take them.
Subject to references, visas, medical checks and a whole lot of admin and training we’ll now be living in Tamale from October for around 7 months, working to support the development and accessibility of education in the region. Tom will be implementing an IT programme in schools to give teachers access to better resources; I will be getting involved in communications, fundraising and research for a different education project focused on maintaining school attendance of adolescent girls and disabled pupils.
It’s with real sadness that we won’t be going back to doing more voluntary work in support of refugees now. It was a tiring and difficult experience at times, but something that we have been so glad to be part of and an area we hope to stay involved in even if we can’t be working on the ground. It’s also with excitement that we now get ourselves ready to head out to Ghana – knowing that for the whole time in Greece, it was the projects we never ever planned to get involved in that turned out to be the best!
For those of you who kindly donated to our fund, there is some remaining money received after we left Athens, which we promise will be spent as soon as possible on projects working with refugees. We hope to make a short aid trip out to France in the coming weeks if we can. We will also pass some donations on to a few of the amazing organisations we were associated with in Greece.
Now (sorry!) we need to ask you for money again. To help VSO to get us trained up, sent out and supported in our new roles, we need your help. We know so many of you have already been incredibly generous in supporting what we’ve been doing so far. But if you can donate to help us reach our target of £1600 for VSO, we would be forever grateful!
A few more blogs on our time in Athens will follow in the next few weeks. After that, we hope you’re looking forward to hearing news from Ghana.