It is always said to get involved in club’s and societies when in college. In third year, I made the decision to get involved with one, Global Brigades DCU. It was easily one of the best decisions I made, and here’s why….
Ghana 2014 (Microfinance/Business)
As powerful as social media and posters are, I actually signed up for this brigade through word-of-mouth. Of the picture above, 4 out of the 9 of us were in the same class. I didn’t know anybody else, today, approaching two years later, I speak to most of the brigade on a regular basis. I made friends for life on this brigade.
Volunteering abroad is something I have always wanted to do and when the opportunity came up, I was on board. €1500 fundraising target was set and without doubt it was a daunting prospect raising that amount.
Fundraising came from a Sponsorship card, a Raffle, Secondary School donation and random donations. No matter what the fundraising target is, you will always manage to achieve it one way or another.
Once the fundraising was in, I was set to board the plane to Ghana via London. One of the most exciting moments of the trip was the morning of departing, in the airport holding the Ireland flag and wearing our Global Brigades t-shirt. I had no idea of what was going to happen over the next 10 days and set no expectations, little did I know they would be some of the best 10 days of my life.
Such is the tight turn-around at Heathrow airport, we missed our flight. This meant a 10 hour layover wait in the airport which was a blessing in disguise as the brigade got to know eachother before we stepped foot in Ghana. On the way down to the terminal we were approaching none other than Michael Buble. We caught his attention and he had no issues in getting not only a group photo but also individual photos. Half the group got individual photos and after we (eventually!) let him go we went back for some more, which he was absolutely cool about.
Finally, we were Ghana bound for the experience of a life-time…..
I will never forget the morning we arrived in Ghana. The heat was immense, it was 6am, like nothing I have ever experienced. It beats a summers day on curracloe beach hands down! Once we met our in-country coordinator, Gordon, we were on our way. A 2 hour trip beckoned on some of the most dangerous roads I have ever seen! Our driver was mental – overtaking whilst driving uphill with a bend approaching. The back of the bus was also in no way what-so-ever connected to a suspension.
For the entire duration of the brigade we worked in the community of Ekumfi Egyankwaa on both a Microfinance and Business brigade, split 3 days each. We went door-to-door in groups of 3 to get to know the community on a personal basis seeking to gain their trust before conducting financial accounts for them personally/for their business. We also prepared and held community workshops teaching financial literacy. Finally, we conducted market research into a potential soap business which through our fundraising, would contribute to the foundation of the project. The foundation of a soup business would not only be an investment in the community, it would create jobs and increase prosperity. One of the many insights I gained from this brigade is that we were not there to change peoples lives, we were there to improve their lives. The people of Ghana are humble with what they have and grateful for having it. It is a lesson that many of us can learn.
Other activities that took place on the brigade included celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, visiting the opening ceremony of a church, attending a market place in Ghana, visiting a crocodile farm, driving around Ghana at 10pm in the middle of no-where looking for a lost phone that wasn’t actually lost, visiting cape coast castle, having a meal beside the beach on one of the last nights, the list can go on and on and the stories are endless.
When we all came back from the brigade a reunion was in order. Most of us could make the A&F Great Gatsby themed ball which was so good to catch up with everyone.
Then again, around this time last year after a summer away on J1’s and working, those that could, met up once again for a catch-up.
At this point I think it is important to point out the contribution of three key people to making this all happen.
- Cody, Chair of Global Brigades DCU, oversees all brigades that go out from Ireland. His contribution to the society is unmeasurable.
- Ellen, Microfinance/Business Brigade co-ordinator, turned what was an idea into reality. The amount of planning, motivation and stress involved in organising a brigade was only seen when I decided to lead the brigade this year. The role the brigade leader is often overlooked, but credit is due to Ellen for organising a fantastic brigade.
- You: without your donations and encouragement none of this would have happened. I am forever grateful and will always return the favour. Your donations have improved the quality of peoples lives less fortunate than us.
If you are interested in volunteering with Global Brigades please click here.
If you are interested in volunteering with Global Brigades DCU please click here.
Interested in volunteering? Just do it, and don’t think twice.