A group of 10 local transition year students attending Dunshaughlin Community College have volunteered to travel to Ghana in west Africa to work for two weeks in August, along with two of their teachers.
While in Ghana, they will be involved in a care project and a community farming initiative.
The care project will involve working in orphanages. One, the Good Shepard Orphanage, where they will be volunteering, was set up in 2002 by Bishop Addei with just 10 orphans; three years later, the orphanage had 54 orphans who live there on a permanent basis.
In 2004, Bishop Addei opened a school beside the orphanage, providing free education to 200 local disadvantaged children up to the age of 14.
A typical day at the Good Shepard Orphanage includes washing and feeding the children from 6am every day. The children then attend school. The students from Dunshaughlinwill help with schoolwork and assist with homework. Many of these orphanages have less than one staff member to 20 children so volunteer assistance is heavily relied upon.
Many of the children in the orphanages come from very disadvantaged backgrounds some with parents living below the poverty line and many without parents at all. Many children will have psychological problems and learning difficulties.
The community farming project which the Dunshaughlin students also will be working on is based in a rural part of Ghana, in the Akuapem Hills.
This project was set up in 2006. Initially, the farm was a place where children from the local care centres and schools could learn about the environment. The farm now hosts a large fruit and vegetable plot and produce from the garden is distributed among various schools and local communities.
On the farm, the students will start their day early in the morning. Daily chores will consist of feeding and cleaning the animals as well as tending to the crops.
The project is currently being developed into a sustainable, organic farm working closely with the local community, passing on vital awareness of conservation issues to a new generation of children. The students will be very involved in this as all work carried out on this project relies entirely on volunteer participation.