MAJOR FAQ-GHANA

ABOUT IFRE'S GHANA PROGRAM (IN GENERAL)
How long has IFRE been working in Ghana ? Whom do you work with? Where are you located?

Our internship in Ghana programs have been up and running since 2006 . We are presently focusing on four major internship service programs: working in orphanages, teaching English, HIV/AIDS-treatment/awareness and healthcare. IFRE works with many local NGOs, orphanages and community projects in hopes of offering meaningful placement for our interns in Ghana

IFRE has a well-established office in Accra - giving interns equal access to numerous parts of the city. IFRE runs our weeklong Language and Cultural orientation in the Accra office. Interns' projects are located in Accra , Kumasi and (name).

APPLYING FOR THE GHANA INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
How can I apply? What happens after I apply? Do you guarantee placement? How long does it take to receive confirmation?

Please read IFRE's 4-step application process

•  There are two options for applying to participate in our Ghana internship programs. You can apply online ( http://www.ifrevolunteers.org/apply-now.php  ) or you can simply download an application form, fill it out and mail it into IFRE's offices. Participants are required to submit their application with a $349 application fee plus the program fee for the number of weeks you choose. However to simply start the placement process, all that is needed upfront is a $200 deposit which will be deducted from the final invoice. This non-refundable deposit from you is required to validate and initiate the application process.

•  Once IFRE receives your application, we immediately forward it to country coordinator for processing. The in-country coordinator reviews the application carefully to determine the most optimal project for you while you intern in Ghana . Decisions pertaining to room and board are made at this time - depending on the location of the project. The vast majority of participants stay in fully immersed in-home stays.

•  IFRE receives the details of the participants' placements from the in-country coordinator.

•  The information is then passed on to the prospective participants along with a final invoice. Final payment is due six weeks prior to departure and, in expedited cases, as soon as possible. The placement details contain local contact information to be used when applying for a visa and/or to get in touch with the local staff and host family.

Preparation for your internship vacation in Ghana should include reading about travel to Ghana , immunization, acquiring a travel visa and booking airfare for your internship journey to Ghana . If you face any problems, IFRE's Program Manager is always available for any assistance.

IMPORTANT: Once participants purchase airline tickets, we request flight information be forwarded to IFRE's U.S. office by fax or by email. Participants' flight information will then be forwarded to the in-country coordinator in Kenya , who will then arrange an airport pick-up.

Preparation for trips should include reading about Ghana , immunization, acquiring a travel visa and booking airfare. If you face any problems, IFRE's Program Manager is always available for any assistance.

AIRPORT AND ARRIVAL INFORMATION
Who will meet me at the airport? What should I do if I get delayed or miss a flight? When should I arrive?

All interns should arrive to the Kotoka International Airport (ACC) located 10k from the city center of Accra , Ghana , West Africa . Airport officials often require current immunization records from travelers arriving even from non-infected countries/areas. One of our representatives will meet you at the airport. Please provide your flight information to our offices to ensure a smooth arrival process in Accra . We also suggest a follow up call as your departure date draws closer.

If you are delayed or miss your flight, please call our office or coordinator (contact numbers are provided in your personal placement sheet and your pre-departure Ghana booklet) and communicate directly him. If you become lost in the Kotoka Airport , go directly to the pre-arranged contact hotel using a secured Taxi service, these cars are marked accordingly. Please do not use outside taxis until you are more familiar with the area. Contact telephone numbers and addresses of our hostel and contact hotel are available in your personal placement sheet and your pre-departure Ghana booklet. Once you connect with our Ghana representative or coordinator, you will be transferred to our offices and then on to your host family. You will meet staff and fellow interns along the way.

Interns coming to Ghana are advised to arrive one day before their program start date. The program fee includes expenses beginning of the first day of the program (Usually first or third Monday) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program and/or stay beyond the last day of the program (the last Sunday), expenses are the intern's responsibility, approximately $30/day for hostel room/food).

ROOM AND FOOD
Where do I stay during the one week language program? Where do I stay during my internship program?

IFRE manages living accommodations, provides meals and supervision for interns for the entirety of their stay in Ghana . We offer a “ homebase ” in Ghana .  Our homebase is about an hour drive from Accra . We try to create a “home away from home” for interns staying at our homebase. It is a perfect situation for interns to live safely and comfortably while making many new friends and sharing experience every day. Most of interns project in Ghana are located within 1-20 KM of our homebase so you may walk or ride a local bus to your project. In the evening when you return to homebase, you can relax, eat dinner, explore local areas or simply share experience with intern comrades.

Occasionally if a project is located far from the IFRE homebase or when our homebase is fully occupied with interns, we will place interns with host families. Our host families are carefully screened, socially respected and experienced with hosting international interns. Wherever you stay, your accommodation with IFRE is safe, clean and comfortable. In most cases, you will share a room with interns (of same gender). In Ghana , our field staff is an experienced team comprising of country coordinators, assistant coordinators, managers, cooks and field assistants. Our field staff visits interns regularly and always happy to help our interns in any way needed. We offer 3 meals a day of local cuisine. Typically, interns eat breakfast and dinner at the homebase (or host family) and have lunch at their project. We offer fresh, nutritious and safe local foods to our interns to eat. We also work extremely hard to maintain our facilities in a positive condition.

VISAS
We require interns to obtain a tourist visa in their home country before departing for Ghana . If you delay acquiring your visa, we will not be held accountable for potential delays and possible trip cancellation. Please confirm once you have received your visa. Interns work with a tourist visa. Please use the name and address of our in-country coordinator and office (provided your personal placement sheet and in the Ghana pre-departure booklet) as a contact address in Ghana (for visa application purposes.)

http://www.ghana-embassy.org/

HEALTH AND SAFETY IN GHANA

Accurate information is your first defense against disease and safety risks. We recommend visiting some of the following websites for health and safety information:

WHO website for international travelers (  http://www.who.int  )

General Health/Safety Tips for Ghana

• To avoid being a target, dress conservatively.  Don't wear expensive-looking jewelry.  A flashy wardrobe or one that is too casual can mark you as a tourist.  As much as possible, avoid the appearance of affluence and try to mirror those around you.

• Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip and plan places to conceal them.  Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe

• When you leave the United States , you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. 

•  Be especially cautious in or avoid areas where you are likely to be victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and problematic areas of cities.

IMMUNIZATIONS/VACCINATIONS
We use the Center for Disease Control traveler's health recommendations (www.cdc.gov.) Consult a travel doctor about current epidemics and health risks before you travel.

Recommended

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to West Africa including Ghana . Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Malaria
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid

Required

  • Yellow Fever

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into Ghana . For detailed information, see  Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country  . Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

MONEY MATTERS
You might need $5-10 per day for personal expenses like water or soft drinks, taxi and shopping. The best way is to carry a Debit card as ATM machines are available in local bank where you can withdraw local currency. Another alternative is traveler's checks which are secure and can be cashed in local banks during business hours. In Ghana , people of U.S. or European decent are considered rich no matter what the true circumstances are. This makes you a target for pick pockets and scam artists ('fly catchers'). Participants are required to be smart about their money matters when traveling through Ghana . Please be advised to pay attention to these suggestions.

•  Avoid external money pouches, dangling backpacks and camera bags, limit jewelry.  

•  Don't flash money or your wallet.  

•  Travel in pairs or groups to the ATM.  

•  Remain aware of the exchange rate and cost of items.  

•  Take requests for 'donations' with a grain of salt  .

•  Store money in a secure, well-hidden place or safe.

•  Carry money in different pockets and places.

FIELD SUPPORT AND SUPERVISION
>How does IFRE help me when I am in field? How can I maintain communication? Do you visit me?

Once the internship program start, our local staff stays in touch with interns. We visit our interns every 2-4 weeks (if possible) and you are always welcome at the office. Your project will have local staff as well, though not our own. The local doctors, nurses and administrators on your project will be there for you throughout. If your project is very far, then our local staff maintains communication by e-mail and phone.

Communication
How do I communicate with my family? IFRE staff? Is there internet access?

We suggest that interns bring an unlocked mobile phone. Once you arrive in Ghana , you can change your SIM card and use your phone. This is the perfect way to stay in touch with your family and IFRE offices in Accra . Internet access is available in Accra and nearby areas at Internet centers. Most locations are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday. Prices are very inexpensive. International phone calling is easy in Accra with phone card or at communication centers. You can buy phone cards from stalls around town for the Ghana Telecom offices in Central Accra .

Please see your placement sheet to learn detailed information about the availability of telephones, internet, etc. in your placement areas.

Climate in Ghana
Yahoo Weather forecast ( http://weather.yahoo.com )

Weather channel (  http://www.weather.com  )

Weather Underground ( http://www.wunderground.com )

Ghana has a tropical equatorial climate, which means that it's hot year-round with seasonal rains. In the humid southern coastal region, the rainy seasons are from April to June and during September and October. Throughout the year, maximum temperatures are around 30 ° C (86 ° F), dropping about 3-4 ° C (to approx 77 ° F ) during the brief respite between rainy seasons). The humidity is constantly high, at about 80%, which can make the temperature appear hotter. In the central region, the rains are heavier and last longer. In the hotter and drier north, there is one rainy season, lasting from April to October. Midday temperatures rarely fall below 30 ° C , rising to 35 ° C and higher during December to March when the Harmattan (a dry and dusty wind) blows in from the Sahara . At this time, dust particles hang heavily in the air making it constantly hazy and temperatures plummet at night.

Source: Lonely Planet West Africa

Items to Bring:
.  Camera
.  Unlocked Mobile phone (you can use mobile phone after changing SIM card)
.  Sleeping bag
.  Mosquito repellent
.  Insect repellent 
.  Sun block (SPF)
.  Some books about Ghana
.  Map of Ghana
.  Toiletries
.  First aid kit
.  Flash light
.  Electricity adopter/converter
.  Sunglasses
.  Footwear (for work and travel)
.  Towel
What gift should I bring for my project/host family?

It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for the staff who will be your hosts. You are not required to do so, but if you choose to bring a gift it can simple. We suggest a box of chocolates, a t-shirt with a hometown/country logo, pictures of your family and local post cards.

If you want to bring gifts for your project and if you are working for an orphanage or a school, please bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and construction paper pads, as well as games for the children to enjoy. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring enough for a number of children.

MORE ABOUT GHANA

CULTURE AND RELIGION

The extended family is the foundation of Ghanaian society and is usually matrilineal. You belong to your mother's clan; clans are grouped under a chief, who answers to a paramount chief, who is the political and spiritual head of his people. Visitors are generally welcomed with friendliness as politeness is a shared value among Ghana 's people. Greetings, handshakes and courtesy are very important parts of this value which makes Ghana 's people so well liked by her visitors. This trademark politeness is given credit for stability in the country through some tough times.

Ghanaians will find any excuse to dance and can turn the most dull moments into a dance party. Some of Africa's most well known musicians are from Ghana .

But Religion remains the pillar of Ghanaian society. Worship is evident in all aspects of culture and society. The majority of the people practice the Christian faith, about 70%, which was introduced by European missionaries. Pentecostal and charismatic denominations are well-represented, as are the Protestant and Catholic churches. The second largest religious affiliation in Ghana is the Muslim faith practiced by 15% of the people who reside mainly in the north of the country. The rest of the people practice other traditional religions, which generally include a belief in a supreme being, as well as in spirits and lesser gods who inhabit the natural world. Ancestor veneration is an important part of traditional beliefs. Most people retain their traditional beliefs alongside Christian or Muslim beliefs.

HISTORY

Present day Ghana has been inhabited from 4000 BC or longer, although little evidence remains of its early societies. Successive waves of migration from the north and east resulted in Ghana 's present ethnographic composition. By the 13 th century, a number of kingdoms had developed, influenced by the Sahelian trading empires of the northern regions of Ancient Ghana (which incorporated western Mali and present-day Senegal ). Fuelled by gold, of which Ghana has substantial deposits, trading networks grew, stimulating the development of Akan kingdoms in the center and south of present day Ghana . The most powerful of these trading networks was that of the Ashanti , who by the 18 th century had conquered most of the trade routes to the coast.

The Portuguese arrived in the late 15 th century, initially lured by the gold and ivory trade. However, with the establishment of plantations in the Americas during the 16 th century, slaves rapidly replaced gold as the principal export of the region. The fortunes to be earned in the slave trade attracted the Dutch, British and Danes in the late 16 th century.

By the time slavery was outlawed in the early 19 th century, the British had gained a dominant position on the coast. The Ashanti continued to try to expand their territory and protect their interests and as a result the coastal Ga, Ewe and Fanti people came to rely on the British for protection. Conflict between the British and Ashanti continued on and the British established a protective territory over Ashantiland, which was expanded in 1901 to also include the northern territories .

Under the British, cocoa became the backbone of the economy and, in the 1920's the Gold Coast became the world's leading producer. By WWI, cocoa, gold and timber made the Gold Coast the most prosperous colony in Africa . By the time Ghana won her independence in 1957, the Gold Coast was also the world's leading producer of manganese. It had the best schools and the best civil service in West Africa , a cadre of enlightened lawyers and a thriving press.

In 1979, in the midst of serious food shortages and demonstrations against army affluence and military rule, a group of young revolutionaries sieved power of Ghana . Their leader was a young, charismatic, half-Scottish 32 year-old Air Force flight lieutenant, Jerry Rawlings, who quickly became the darling of the masses. Although Rawlings never delivered on his promised left-wing radical revolution, under his colorful leadership life became better for most Ghanaians. He yielded to World Bank and IMF pressure and carried out some tough free-market reforms, which included floating the cedi ( ?) , removing price controls, raising payments to cocoa farmers and disposing of some unprofitable state enterprises. In return, the World Bank and the IMF rewarded Ghana amply with loans and funding. For a while, in the 1980's Ghana was lauded as an economic success story, with an economic growth rate that was the highest in Africa .

During the 1990's Ghana made mixed progress. On the one hand, Rawlings seemed to have achieved a respectable democratic mandate, economic growth was maintained and Ghana continued to attract praise from the IMF. On the other hand, however, all was not well with many Ghanaians. Lack of improvements in social services, rising inflation and increasing corruption led to major civil unrest. However, Rawlings' personal popularity was relatively unaffected and in December 1996 he was again elected as president in an election acknowledged as free and fair. At much the same time, the appointment of Ghanaian Kofi Annan as UN secretary general boosted national morale.

Ghana today is on the upswing, with a slowly growing economy and a government cautiously joining the ranks of emerging African democracies.

GEOGRAPHY

Ghana is about the size of Britain . Its landscape is generally flat or gently rolling, consisting of low-lying coastal plains punctuated by saline lagoons in the south, wooded hill ranges in the center and a low plateau in the northern two-thirds. Keta Lagoon east of Accra , near the Togolese border, is Ghana 's largest lagoon. Dominating the eastern flank of the country is Lake Volta , formed when the Volta River was dammed in the mid-1960's. It's the world's largest artificial lake, about twice the size of Luxembourg . The highest hills are part of the Akwapim range in the east, which runs from just north of Accra , then east of Lake Volta and into Togo .

Much of Ghana 's terrain consists of wooded ranges, wide valleys and low-lying coastal plains. Logging, mining, the use of wood fuels and deforestation for agriculture have reduced Ghana 's forests by 75% in this century. Marine and coastal areas are threatened by high erosion and population concentration. Ghana has five national parks and nine protected areas and different species of protected wildlife like the elephant and baboon.

CUISINE

A typical Ghanaian meal consists of starch staple such as rice, fufu (mashed cassava, plantain or yam), kenkey (similar to a sourdough dumpling) or banku (fermented maize meal) eaten with a sauce or stew, sometimes served with a side of goat meat or fish. Ghanaian soups are typically made of groundnuts, palm nut, okra and other vegetables. It's good, sturdy food that will fill you up. Common sauces or soups are made from greens, egg, tomato, fish or meat. Other menu regulars are fried rice with chicken or vegetables, bean stew with meat or fish and fried plantain. Meat in Ghana is usually chicken, goat, or beef. Fish that is dried and smoked is also an important part of many meals. Omo tuo, a special dish served only on Sunday, are mashed rice balls with a fish or meat soup.

Breakfast is usually iced kenkey, a sort of liquid porridge made from fermented maize, with a hunk of bread, or bread and an omelete. Ghanaian bread is soft, white and sweet.

In Accra and other major city centers you'll find a variety of cuisines, commonly Lebanese, Chinese and West African, but also Italian, French and Indian. Western fast food is hugely popular and there are plenty of outlets in Accra and other centers in the south.

Top destinations