How To | Make Red Red Ghanaian Dish

How To | Make Red Red Ghanaian Dish

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RED RED

One of my absolute favourite dishes whilst I have been away has got to be Red Red – the plantain goodness from Ghana. Like the name suggests, red red is made with a mellow red palm oil accompanied by black eyed beans and crispy fried plantain. It’s delicious and I had the amazing opportunity to learn from my host mum the whole process to make the signature Ghanaian dish. Now when I think of Red Red, I think of it with fond memories of my host family and the community of Afranse. When I first tried the dish I instantly loved it and began recruiting members (volunteers) into the Red-Red club! Here’s how:

You will need:

Plantain – how ever much you like! We used about 4 for 3 people

White beans or black eyed beans

Palm oil – the most essential ingredient

Tomatos x 2

Small Onion x 4 or Big onions x2

Chilli spice (add according to desired tolerance)

A few pinches of salt

Tinned fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines) – optional

Cooking oil – 2 tablespoons

 

Red Red Process:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boil a pot of water over a low heat

Add the beans into the pot and boil the beans till soft – add salt and stir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chop and peel onions and tomatos

Pour palm oil into a different pot over a low heat

When the oil is bubbling hot add the onions and tomatoes, salt, spice and mix well

Add softened beans to mixture and stir

Leave to simmer for a few minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chop plantain into thin slices and fry in the boiling cooking oil until golden brown and crispy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plate up the beans with plantain on the side and dive in, to be really authentic use the plantain to scoop up the beans, it’s messy but it’s great!

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What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

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UPDATE: 

What’s that I hear you ask? Where to next!? Well, for those of you on board or following my journey already and anyone ready to join me in 2017 here is an update; I am currently getting prepared for my travel/move to SHANGHAI, CHINA! That’s right I am heading to China next and the bustling city of Shanghai. I completed my TEFL qualification last year, which if you are thinking about doing the same, read how I got mine here.

I knew that when I finished the first half of my travel plans to Nepal, India and Ghana I would want to continue but I had to find a way of making some money; savings only get you so far! So I went about getting things ready to be able to look for teaching jobs in other countries. This is the perfect solution for me right now as I get to continue to travel, earn money, try a new career and move to one of the most popular cities in the world!

I’m so excited to get there to explore, work a new job and try a different lifestyle! I’ve been wanting to go to China for years and have my camera and phrasebook ready to pack.

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is: “How do you afford all this travel?”

The answer is simple really, I make it a priority. I don’t have endless savings and I’m not being funded by anyone other than myself. The thing is, if you’re passionate about something and you make it the focus, the priority then the rest is pretty simple. I work, I save and I don’t spend unnecessarily.

If someone asked me to choose between the newest phone or saving the money for a plane ticket – it’s a no brainer. And this can be applied to everything, not just travel. I get annoyed with people who complain that they can’t afford to do the thing they really would love to do or buy the thing they want; whilst they sip their £3 coffee and stare at their £40 a month phone…you can travel, or save for that dream home, car or whatever if you change your mindset first.

 

Another is: “How do you travel on your own?”

I get it, it is a scary thought, just going off somewhere on your own relying on no-one else but yourself. But it has been one of the best things I could have ever done for that exact reason. I overcame that fear and learnt to be independent, outgoing and confident – yeah that’s right you can ‘learn’ these skills by travelling on your own.

The best advice I could give for this is to just get out and do it. Make sure you research and have certain things planned beforehand if it is your first time travelling solo (flights, insurance, accommodation for the first few nights, general plan and contacts) but use the fear as fuel. If I’m completely honest and cliche, ‘you’ll never be alone anyway’ – because there are thousands of people you’ll meet out there doing the exact same thing, so get out and join them! You will go away on your own but end up having friends and family all over the world.

 

Another: “Don’t you get scared?”

And the answer is of course yes! I get scared about some of the places but it is part of the reason I love going. It makes you feel like you are actually living and alive – not a robot. I find the media and rumours all help to fuel the fear but really it’s never as bad as what you hear. There are obviously places to watch and be careful of but thats no reason to write them off completely. I always make sure I research before I go: from reading articles, to watching videos and collecting necessary contact details but never get put off from going somewhere.

 

Last one: “What’s your favourite place so far?”

This one is so difficult to answer because everywhere has been so different from the next. I never know what to say as some places have been more adventurous but others have been chilled and some have given me a home from home – what am I scoring it on if I am to name my favourite…

I guess a few notable (favourite) experiences so far have been:

  • Safari in Amboseli and seeing elephants in the wild
  • Riding through the desert for 3 days with nothing but 1 tour guide, 2 camels and endless starry skies (Shoutout to my camel Mr.Mogue)
  • Getting covered in colourful powders during Holi festival in India
  • Gaining 2 new families in Nepal and Ghana after living in host homes whilst volunteering
  • Skydiving over the great barrier reef in Oz
  • Selfies at the Taj Mahal!
  • Being a Team Leader for 8 months in Ghana on development projects

I could go on forever, I feel so fortunate to have had these experiences and hope to continue to add more & more. Experiences over possessions 100%!

I’ll be writing up about the preliminary process I had to go through – from my TEFL qualification, looking for jobs, interviews and securing a visa for China; along with all the requirements for the move very soon.

So right now I am getting paperwork ready, selling lots of my possessions and uploading content from my previous travels – there is still a lot of content to look forward to coming up, look out for it here!

If you would like to read about my travels so far you can of course find all posts here on the blog but here are a few quick links to some of the adventures I’ve had so far – come along with me and get inspired to go travel yourself 🙂

India @travelling_jackg updateIndia @travelling_jackg update

Ghana @travelling_jackg update

 

Continue to stay up to date on the journey by following my social links below,

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Being A Team Leader | VSO

Being A Team Leader | VSO

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Experience of being a Team Leader with VSO in Ghana

Context:

For 8 months I volunteered in Ghana with VSO as a Team Leader. I was posted in the Eastern region in Asamankese under the livelihoods project; working alongside a local NGO called FLOWER. The main aim of the project was to give the local communities access and training to alternate livelihoods that they could support themselves with.

Most of the community members were unemployed, high school dropouts or illiterate so the skills training by volunteers and FLOWER provided had to be simple, practical and realistic for them to put into practice. The livelihoods project had been running since September 2015 and I was on cycles 3&4. Cycle 1&2 taught skills like tie-dye, sandal decorating, liquid soap and beaded handiwork as well as some bookkeeping and marketing skills. Cycle 3&4 continued with beaded work, soap production and introduced new skills like hair pomade, animal rearing and fruit juice making. They also continued with developing branding and marketing skills.

All of these sessions and skills training combined aim was to make sure the communities have different options and are well equipped to manage their own businesses in the future.

Whilst Livelihoods was the main focus for the program the volunteers also run local reading clubs with the schools, help with infrastructure development – repairing boreholes, renovating clinics and cementing school floors, undertake personal projects and if you are pro-active you can also take on personal projects if you can fit it around your schedule.

A few of the success stories are featured on the VSO website, which you can read here

My experience of being a Team Leader:

“I’ll start by saying my overall experience and time in Ghana was incredible and I was able to gain so much from it. From management, interpersonal skills, community entry, networking and cross-cultural working these were just some of the skills I was able to gain from the role. It really is amazing to see a group of individuals from different backgrounds come together and help a community as well as develop themselves.

I felt like there were times where I was being held back a little from being more decisive as a leader; as the essence of the program is that it is ‘volunteer led’. This meant that I could not play a key role in the individual teams decisions and this was a big challenge for me as I had always been at the forefront of the work from the volunteering experiences I have had; I had to learn to be more in the background and let the volunteers ‘learn’.

It was a different approach of leadership to what I had first thought but I was able to learn a new style. To some extent you are allowed to be a part of the work by supporting, guiding and facilitating (I have never heard this word as many times as I did throughout my VSO experience – being a facilitator is a major part of the program) but you have to remember not to take over the volunteer’s work and just be prepared if someone needs anything.

From management, interpersonal skills, community entry, networking and cross-cultural working these were just some of the skills I was able to gain from the role

A lot of my experience was made up by making sure the team was healthy and able to work – whilst not getting sick myself – or if you do then putting it to the side. As much as everyones health is important, as the leader you have to prioritise the team, no matter what anyone said I felt pressure to remain at 100% for the team – even if the pressure was just from myself.

However, as far as an experience, it really was one of the best I have had. You get to completely immerse yourself in a different culture, live with a host family, taste the local foods, learn the language and interact with real people as well as manage different people, emotions and workloads. You also get to make great bonds and relationships with your volunteers and community members which helps you manage the ‘high demand’ days.

Teaching the kids useful stuff like animal sounds 👌#ttot #travels #travelblog #positivevibes #ghana #africa #volunteer #VSO #VSOICS

A photo posted by Jack ✈️🌎👌 (@travelling_jackg) on

Be prepared for anything. You’ll plan your days with your counterpart in the evenings and the next morning receive texts from sick volunteers, annoyed teammates and hear from just about every community member before lunch. You could be on your way to visit a head teacher of a school and then have to completely do a u-turn because there is a volunteer who thinks they have malaria 20 mins away and needs to go to the hospital asap. I could be invited to a meeting with a chief and before I even get there have to be in a different community because a host home needs to discuss an issue. It really is a juggling act but I loved the variety and challenge that came with it.

So I’d finish by saying prepare yourself for an incredibly dynamic role and to be tested – which I guess if your signing up to do this – you are going in with the forethought of ‘challenging yourself’….or at least you should be.

Prepare to be a leader, volunteer, friend, family member, supporter, networker, confidant, councillor, hospital chaperone and local celebrity – every role comes with its pros and cons.

Be ready for sick volunteers, tears, persuading people to stay, arguments, cultural differences and volunteers adjusting to everything (adjusting to everything yourself).

BUT

also expect welcoming friendly people, big highs, great people, diversity, talented volunteers, amazing culture, interesting foods, beautiful scenery and at the end of it all being so proud of your team (a little bit of yourself) for making it through, but more importantly making an impact on the community, each other and you.”

What VSO say:

How it works

Depending on the placement, you will spend four months living in one of the following countries:

  • Bangladesh
  • Cambodia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

ICS is funded by the UK Government, meaning all costs are covered including flights, visas, accommodation, food etc, and you will receive an allowance during your time on placement.

As with all ICS volunteer placements we will ask you to do some fundraising before you go overseas.

All volunteers have a target of at least £800, but you don’t have to start any fundraising until you are definitely accepted onto the programme and we will offer you 1:1 fundraising support.

No one is excluded from ICS for financial reasons.

You will receive training prior to going overseas, as well once you arrive in country, and once you return to the UK.

Requirements

Team Leaders must be aged between 23 and 35.

You need to have experience – either voluntary or professional – in leading and motivating young people, along with organisational and communications skills.

You need to be able to support young people both individually and as a team, and gain the respect and trust of others through leading by example.

You will also need experience in some of these areas:

  • Co-ordinating a project or initiative
  • Coping with change
  • Empowering and motivating team members
  • Managing a variety of projects in a varied environment
  • Understanding of volunteering
  • Living/working/volunteering in a cross-cultural environment
  • Committed to VSO for a minimum of four months

If you want to do something worthwhile whilst also developing yourself then apply to be a team leader today!

You can read more about my Life in Asamankese as a Leader here

Also check out what Ghana meant to me after being there for so long…

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Mole National Park | Ghana

Mole National Park | Ghana

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During my time in Ghana I had some free time in-between my two cycles. I choose to head north towards Tamale for one thing; elephants.

If you are heading from Accra then I’d advise getting a flight to Tamale or what I did which was to travel by coach. I bought my ticket with VVIP coaches costing 80 GHC (£19) and made my way 12 hours to Tamale. I stayed overnight in Tamale then boarded a tro-tro (bus) to Damongo which is about 4 hours from Tamale central. Once you get to Damongo you have to either hike (45mins/1hour) or get a taxi costing 30GHC (£6) to the Mole National Park.

Entrance Fee – Foreign: 40 GHC (£8) National: 20GHC (£4)

Mole Motel Bed/Breakfast Dorm Room – 60GHC p/night (£12)

MOLE MOTEL – prices

You can go on walking safaris and driving safaris – I opted for a driving safari to increase my chances of elephant exposure. I was there for 1 day and 1 night and unfortunately for me it was rainy season so chances were low as there was plenty of water around the park. I went on a 2 drives – afternoon and the following morning. We saw lots of Antelope, monkeys and birds. The scenery was beautiful but of course I had come to see one thing. Chances looked bleak but in the last 40 minutes of the drive our ranger spotted 2 young male elephants! We got down from the roof of the car and walked into the bushes where we got to get real close. Such an amazing experience seeing them in the wild and being so near.

During peak seasons the elephants can be seen as close as the hotels entrance to get to water and the numbers are greater. A definite must if your visiting Ghana and want a great nature encounter up close and personal that won’t cost you as much as other safaris.

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Gazelle II | Mole

Gazelle | Mole

Waterbuck | Mole

Elephant II | Mole

Elephant | Mole

Travel. Create. Be Nice!

 

Akwaaba Life

Akwaaba Life

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Ghana is known for its welcoming and hospitable people, which I am glad to say is incredibly true. From the moment you land, to the minute you leave, you will always be greeted with ‘Akwaaba’ welcoming you into the heart of the country. I wanted to briefly touch upon more of my experiences so far and start to paint a picture with the colourful palette that makes up this fascinating country.

FOOD

When I thought about what I would be eating when I came to Ghana; I’ll be honest my first thought was ‘great I’ll finally be able to shift the mid-way chub and have a serious detox’. Secondly, I imagined eating boring, repetitive and flavourless foods. This was of course based on no research or experience with the realities that I would actually face.

The Ghanaian dishes could not be further away from my initial thoughts at all. The meals here are packed with spices, flavours and colours that have had me eating double the portions I would normally. For the majority, I have loved all the new foods I have been introduced to whilst I have been here; apart from my relationship with fufu (a pounded cassava and maize flubber playdough like creation) I have enjoyed Baanku, waache, jollof and the almighty Red-Red plantain tastiness.

I have had the absolute bonus of having a caterer for my host mum throughout my stay here. She surprises me with new dishes and has given me the opportunity to sample a lot of the Ghanaian cookbook which I am very grateful for. From eto-eto to kele wele her culinary delights always deliver a satisfied stomach. I am also in awe of how she manages to get fried chicken to taste so damn good.

So far my food journey in Ghana has been a massive success.

MUSIC

It goes without saying that, as a whole, the African continent know how to make great sounds and put on a killer party. The music here is a colourful blend of hip-life and reggae beats. The music is always blasting from dusk till dawn. I’m now a passionate Shatta Wale fan throwing out ‘chop kisses’ everywhere I go and serenading people to ‘let me be there soldier’. It seems the chart here takes a little longer to change, so most of the songs you’ll hear, all year round, from every shop, taxi and phone; which you’d think gets repetitive but I see it as people really appreciate a great song.

There’s no slow songs for those moody, brooding days. Instead it’s upbeat and instant smile makers. Maybe that’s why I haven’t seen a sad face during my stay. The music is deep rooted into this culture and as well as a social outlet it is also an expressive art used to define regions, stories and the people.

DANCE

Being able to express emotions through dance is another integral part of the Ghanaian culture. Rhythm is everywhere you look here, from the pounding of the fufu to the intense tribal jama displayed through the beating of drums, clicking of fingers and unity of voices. Every part of the country has different regional dancing to express different stories, beliefs and celebrations.

Even the greeting handshake has its own rhythm and click that seems so strange to a rigid westerner’s hand.

LANGUAGE

What does language mean to you? For some its communication. For others it’s a sense of identity. My time here has led me to pick up a lot of the local language: Twi. I’ve learnt to slow my speech down to an almost grinding halt as well as incorporating a lot of the local clicks and sounds. I’ve always found the best way to learn a language is to be thrown straight into the deep end. In my case, 8 months in a rural community, living with a host family should do it. I don’t like to do things by halves.

I’ve ended up picking up a fair bit of the vocab and now things like ‘Ghanafuo pe kasa papaa’ just rolls off the tongue. More than anything, I found that even when I could hardly say anything at all the joy trying would bring to the locals faces was incredible. I guess it’s my way of saying I don’t want to forget your culture, your identity. Which is incredibly important today, when everyone is being pushed so hard to learn English; it is becoming harder and harder for people to hold onto their local dialects, heritages and identities.

LANDSCAPE

Bright sunburnt dusty roads contrasted by lush green jungles and mountain backdrops are some of the things I’m surrounded by when I wake up and drink my cup of coffee in the mornings.

Ghana is an incredibly diverse country in terms of landscape. You can go from the dry northern farming regions to the tropical south and infamous Gold Coast towns. There are the national parks packed full of wild gentle giants; as well as the lakes and waterfalls of the central regions.

An incredibly dynamic geographical landscape.

Reds, yellows and greens define this landscape.

This is Ghana.

 

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A Very Merry Ghanaian Christmas #BloggerBoxAppeal

A Very Merry Ghanaian Christmas #BloggerBoxAppeal

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BloggerBoxAppeal

I’ve teamed up with my good friend Lauren, otherwise known as Blonde Vision in the blogging world, to spread some festive cheer this Christmas. I am currently based as a Team Leader in Ghana – more specifically the community of Afranse. Our plan is to give out gift boxes to the children of the local school filled with gifts like toiletries, stationary and books in the form of the BloggerBoxAppeal !

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Photo Credit: Thomas Dodd Cycle 3 Asamankese VSO volunteer

Lauren is a lifestyle and events blogger with a passion for charity work; I have dedicated a lot of my time to volunteering projects and inspiring wanderlust via my own travel blog. Together we have pulled our resources together to create the #BloggerBoxAppeal that aims to provide Christmas present boxes to the kids, which will contain gifts that bloggers from all over the UK donate. We have created a crowdfunding page to try and help fund the postage costs involved in sending the boxes over; whilst any left-over funds will go towards buying more stocking fillers to give to the kids this Christmas!

Lauren’s expertise in events has led to the creation of a #BloggerBoxAppeal event where bloggers can come along to donate and package the presents up ready to send. She is an avid vlogger and will be filming the whole thing, once the boxes reach me in Ghana I’ll be filming the reactions this end.

There’s no better way to help spread a little festive spirit this year than helping those who are less privileged than ourselves. There’s numerous ways you can get involved from attending the event, donating, sharing or supporting the #BloggerBoxAppeal

If you’d like to donate then head over here

If you’d like to keep up to date with the #BloggerBoxAppeal event Go follow LDNMeetup

If you want to read more about my time in Ghana so far then check out my latest post about the past cycle, my experience as a Team Leader and Ghanaian life-style.

Thank you once again for all the incredible support and generous donations we have received so far! I know the kids will love it!

14483895_10153960612089205_1898773478_n
Photo Credit: @jaycornejo Jaidee Cornejo Cycle 3 Asamankese volunteer

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Life in Asamankese

Life in Asamankese

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So it’s been 4 months since I boarded the flight that would take me to my new home for the next 8 months, Ghana. When I cast my mind back to the first few days it seems bizarre to me that things like ‘Ghana time’ and ‘Obroni’ would become such a big part of daily life here.

I spent the first few weeks in team leader training, orientation in community and getting to know my counterpart – Hiki; a lady who knows her own mind, has a lot of passion and can stand up for herself. We instantly got along and I knew we’d become a dynamic duo to lead the team to the end.

Our teams of volunteers started arriving from early June and then we spent a few days training them all once again. It was intense long hours and already everyone was pretty drained. We finally made it to the end of the relentless flip-charts and later came to realise that nothing can prepare you for what happens in the field – not even conflict resolution technique no.14. We introduced everyone to their counterpart pairs and explained a bit more about Asamankese as well as the local partner F.L.O.W.E.R.

On the 12th of June we loaded our luggage onto the roof of the bus, said goodbye to the bathroom facilities of the hotel and started our bumpy journey to Asamankese.

Fast-forward the first few weeks in community where the teams were introduced to their new parents for the next 3 months and integration into the communities were underway. We were split into 3 communities around Asamankese the main town – Odjarde, Afranse and Oworam. The volunteers completed action research to identify issues that the people needed help with as well as get to know their surroundings and communities a lot better.

After a month our partner F.L.O.W.E.R came in to train the volunteers in livelihood skills – the main focus for cycle 3 was to teach bead making in purses, jewelry and hair pomade production. The volunteers would then train the community members in the hope that some of them might be able to make it a business or help to bring in extra income to support themselves.

One word that became integral to daily life was the loud shrill sound of ‘Obroni!’ everywhere you went. Obroni – meaning white person (but not in a racist way, more of an affectionate ‘notice me’) was something that was able to create an instant connection with a lot of the community members and if you spoke a few more words of Twi to them, then you’d instantly have made a new friend.

Having come from a place where everything was fast, efficient and strictly to schedules, it comes as no surprise that the introduction of ‘Ghana time’ had a massive impact on the team. It was a constant source of frustration and resistance throughout. Perhaps with hindsight something could be taken from the slower laid back approach to life; in the sense that if you turn up 10 minutes late the world won’t fall apart, but trying to tell this to frustrated emotional volunteers wasn’t the easiest.

A lesson that can be taken from living in a community and staying in a host home for a period of time is the sense of closeness. Everyone looks after one another and supports each other no matter what.You give the little you have and share it, you help one another get up and put each other in front of your own needs. The sense of community is something I’ve experienced many times before, but it always feels just as good each time you learn it again.

Life in community was upbeat, welcoming and a lot of fun, it came with its own challenges but overall it became like a second home or third maybe fourth; I’ve lost track of how many places I can call home now. I guess for me, now it’s the people that make somewhere home, not the physicalities of bricks and water.

I’m going to take a brief moment to give you an insight into a team leader’s daily life – of which can’t be narrowed down to a specific routine, as every day is like a lottery but here’s a few things that came our way during the course of the programme. Waking up somewhere between the hours of 5am – 6am to a message saying somebody is sick, wants to go home or wants more to do. This immediately creates a problem for your perfectly planned iteniary you did the night before, nevertheless adaptability comes into play. I’d go between communities, hospitals and the office to make sure everything ran as smooth as it could do. However challenging the programme was at times, the rewards far outweighed the problems. Getting to see a group of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and personalities grow and develop strong relationships to become a hardworking team, is the reward of having the perspective of the leader.

Coming back to here and now as I write this post. The volunteers have all departed back to their homes, reports have been written up and loose ends have been tied, I can’t help but reflect on the experiences and achievements we made as a team over the past few months. It takes a unique individual to decide to give up their own time and dedicate it to a cause. It is also an experience that not a lot of people realise will improve their own selves and developing a community is more of a secondary outcome to that.

I’m ending this experience with fond memories, lessons learnt and a team to be proud of. The bar is set high and I’m looking forward to what the next cycle can bring – even if it means I’ll be seeing my friends at the hospital once again.

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Travel Update – What Plane Are You On Now?

Travel Update – What Plane Are You On Now?

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Hello & Namaste!

A quick travel update to let you know what I’m doing, where I am and what’s next! I have just finished the first part of my travelling plans for 2016 with Nepal and India. Can’t believe I can add these to my travel history!

NEPAL

I re-visited my Nepali family & village which was an incredible trip being able to head back again to see them all. Most importantly it was good to see how relief efforts are going and to deliver the sponsored fundraising money! The homes are looking good and should be finished within a few months so they will be able to move out of the tarpaulin tents and back into their home.

For everyones continued support and donations – a BIG warm thank you from me & the children of Bhakatpaur Orphan Home. This is what we can achieve when we work together! I had such a great time with them all in Nepal and there will be more detailed blog posts coming up as well a few new projects I’m working on, so stay tuned!

INDIA

India is hard to sum up in one word. Unreal. Crazy. Beautiful. Chaotic. Awesome. It was everything I wanted from a trip to India and more. I met so many amazing people, experienced such diverse places and got a real taste of the culture. Although my time was short I managed to cram in so much and again I will be writing up some more detailed posts on my trip, along with reviews and some pretty epic photos! For now enjoy some of these…

GHANA

As you may know I am volunteering with VSO at the end of May in Ghana. I’m back in the UK for a few days to sort some things out for visas & work permits. However I am flying to Portugal for a week to soak up some sunshine & do some exploring! I’ll then come back for a Team Leader training weekend where I’ll find more out about my projects & meet some of my team hopefully!

You can still donate to my fundraising page and anything is very much appreciated – you’ll also be able to see the projects your money is going towards too!

https://www.justgiving.com/Jack-Gunns1

That’ll bring me to the beginning of May – where I have 3 weeks before I depart for my VSO program. I currently have some travel plans being arranged for that time and I’ll update as soon as I get confirmation, which is very exciting!

I also wanted to take a moment to just consider everything. I feel super grateful that I am able to have these experiences – I have created a lot of them for myself with dedication, handwork & persistence. But it just shows how you can completely change your lifestyle if you truly want to. This time last year I was in an office not enjoying it all, I took the steps to change that.

“If you want something badly enough. You’ll make it a priority.”

Stop dreaming and start doing.

Keep up to date by following my social channels,

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I’m Volunteering with VSO

I’m Volunteering with VSO

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VSO ICS

I have been wanting to share this news for a while but I was waiting on confirmation of my placement whereabouts! And I am very happy to announce I will be volunteering as a team leader overseas in Ghana collaborating and helping with local livelihoods projects, gender equality education and human rights! The program is 8 months long split into 2 cycles of 4 months and I’ll be starting the first in May 2016. I’m super excited to get involved with these projects and learn about ways to help the local communities in this area.

Before I went through the application process with VSO, I went straight to google to find any links or helpful reviews and when I was told I got Ghana I immediately did the same – but I didn’t manage to find much in depth info about either…so I’m going to document my journey with VSO and try to give a well rounded insight into what to expect from being a team leader in this program; whilst also sharing my adventures in Ghana!

To give you an idea of what I have done so far:

  1. Initial Application process via online form
  2. Acceptance on the scheme
  3. Assessment day at the Kingston office which involved some team solving problem tasks and a 1-1 interview. I found the day really casual and well organised. Try not to be too nervous for it, it’s not intense. You just need to show that you are capable of looking at a problem and finding a solution collectively. Our first task was to build the tallest giraffe we could out of newspaper and sticky tape!
  4. Acceptance!
  5. DBS & Medical Clearance – arrange these as soon as you can and get the forms sent back to VSO; so as to move your application forward as quickly as possible. All the costs of these things are covered by VSO.
  6. Clearance accepted and details of your placement confirmed!
  7. Start fundraising! As soon as you get your placement you can start the process of fundraising, all VSO volunteers are required to fundraise an amount (£800 usually) to begin the program. Get baking, selling, running and shouting about your placement & cause!

Here’s a snippet of my fundraising page bio which explains a bit more about what VSO ICS is and what my placement will involve when I get to Ghana:

https://www.justgiving.com/Jack-Gunns1

VSO GHANA

“In May 2016 I will volunteer for VSO ICS on a development programme in Asamankese, GHANA.

This is part of International Citizen Service (ICS), which brings young people together to fight poverty and make a difference where it is needed most. I’ll be working alongside volunteers, on projects within the community.

Through this project, VSO seeks to increase cocoa production, provide alternative markets for cocoa and other products and add value through income generating activities by increasing business and marketing knowledge skills among the target group.

VSO ICS teams will help improve livelihood conditions by supporting FLOWER (local NGO partner) to increase their support of community groups, and inspire an interest in agriculture amongst in and out of school youth.

In addition, VSO ICS volunteers will organise seminars for the local people for them to gain skills in bookkeeping and adopt innovative marketing practices to reach new communities not currently working with Cocoa Life.

ICS works with communities that have specifically requested their help. It also aims to inspire young people in the UK and overseas to become active citizens who are passionate about long term community development.

I need to raise £800.00 for VSO who are one of the respected development charities that deliver ICS. This will allow them to continue to bring about positive change in the developing communities where they work. You can check out their amazing work here http://www.vsointernational.org

I’m doing multiple fundraising activities and challenges and you can keep track of how I get on here on my Justgiving page or www.jackgunns.com. Any contribution from you will make a real difference to the lives of people in developing countries, so please dig deep!

Thanks for your support!”

My next update will be when I go for a Team Leader training weekend in April which you are required to do before you begin placement as it provides you with the leadership training and details of your role when overseas.

Hopefully you found this useful and keep an eye out for the next step in my VSO ICS adventure!

Keep up to date by following my social media channels as I post regular updates on there!

Travel. Create. Be Nice!