Frequently Asked Questions
There are two ways to submit your application to volunteer with the VPWA.
You can either submit an application form online or you can download the form, fill it out, and mail it to us. We do not charge a fee for processing an application. You are expected to pay a deposit towards your accommodation and food and this has to be reserved early (within 14 days of confirmation of placement).
Once we get your application, we will process it immediately. We will read your application carefully so that we can find the project that matches your experience and best suits you. Our volunteers either stay in home stays or with other volunteers in a volunteer dormitory.
We will send you the details of your placement. The placement details include local contact information which you can use as the contacts for your Visa application. You can also use these to contact us about your placement if you have any questions.
Your preparation for the trip should include reading about Ghana, receiving the necessary immunisations, obtaining your travel visa (entry permit), and arranging your own flights. Our coordinators are on hand 24/7 to assist you with the process.
Once you have purchased your flight tickets, email the flight information to our office. We will then arrange your free airport pick-up.
Though volunteers can get a visa upon arrival in Accra, we strongly advise volunteers get a tourist visa in their home country before departure. This will save you the time and hassle of filling forms on arrival.
Health and Safety
Volunteers should be familiar with health and safety advice before travelling to Ghana. Below are some suggested websites:
- WHO website for international travellers
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Health Canada Online
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Travel Report
- U.S. State Department & Consular Information Sheets – (202) 647-5225
- Travel Health Online
- Travelers’ Health
Ghana is generally a very safe country but here are some general tips for keeping yourself and your possessions safe.
- Dress conservatively and don’t wear expensive-looking jewellery.
- Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip and plan a place or places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in your large bags.
- When you leave your home country, 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. On arrival, VPWA will take you through some orientation.
For advice on vaccinations you can refer to the Centre for Disease Control traveller’s health recommendations.
The following vaccines might be recommended for travel to West Africa including Ghana. You should consult a doctor to discuss your travel plans and personal health and to determine which vaccines you will need.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever – a certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into Ghana, or for onwards travel or return to your home country.
What is the exchange rate?
- The exchange rate will vary.
Can I use debit card to withdraw from ATMs?
- It is safe to use your VISA ATM card at ATMs in Ghana to withdraw local currency. However, you are recommended not to use it for payment in shops. It is best to pay in shops with cash. When visiting an ATM, it is a good idea to bring a friend with you and travel directly from the bank or ATM back to your home to put your cash somewhere safe. You can give money for safekeeping to the Director of VPWA. When you are carrying a large amount of cash, divide it up into different amounts and keep it in different pockets so if something happens you will not lose everything.
Can I change traveller’s cheques?
- If you have traveller’s cheques you will be able to exchange them for cash at the local banks. Traveller’s cheques are a safe way to carry money with you but it can sometimes take weeks to get your money from the bank and you need to ensure that you record the cheque numbers and contact information in case you need to cancel any stolen cheques. Different brands of traveller’s cheques work better in different countries. Consult your local financial institution about which company you should buy your cheques from.
Should I bring a credit card?
- Travellers should bring a credit card for large or emergency purchases. If you’ve requested a pin number for your credit card, you can also use it to get cash advances at the ATM.
Field Support and Supervision
We are a local, hands-on organisation and your safety and comfort whilst you volunteer in Ghana is our priority. We contact our volunteers everyday. The VPWA office is close to where volunteers work and is always open to offer help, listen to your suggestions or provide assistance. We strive to maintain highly cordial friendships with our volunteers and consider you a partner in the work we do. This is what sets us apart from many other organisations.
How do I communicate with my family or friends from home?
Volunteers are requested to bring their mobile phone with them to Ghana. VPWA can provide you with a SIM card (Micro or Nano are available) to put in your phone which you can use to stay in touch with people at home, as well as VPWA contacts in Ghana. Making international phone calls is easy – you can buy a SIM card in Accra or use the one provided by VPWA. VPWA will show you how to load credit onto your phone during your orientation.
Volunteers can also buy a wireless internet modem for around 75GHS from a service provider to use (such as Vodafone, Tigo). There is also an internet café in the suburb of Pokuase, and others within Accra. Most internet cafés are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and are inexpensive.
You can see the current weather in Ghana by visiting:
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 30Celsius, dropping three or four degrees during the brief respite between rainy seasons. The humidity is constantly high, at about 80%. 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 30Celsius, rising to 35Celsius and higher during December to March when the Harmattan 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.
What to Bring
Most items needed on a daily basis are available in Ghana cheaply. However, we suggest volunteers pack the following items:
- Mobile phone (you can use the phone handset after changing the SIM card)
- Bed sheets
- Insect repellents
- Working gloves (if you are joining conservation or construction project)
- Some books about Ghana
- Map of Ghana
- First aid kit
- Flash light
- Electricity adapter/converter
- Footwear (for work and travel)
It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for the family that will be hosting you if you are allocated to one. You are not required to do so, but a simple, small gift is always well received. We suggest a box of chocolates, a t-shirt with your hometown logo, pictures of your family or postcards from your home country.
You might also want to bring gifts for the people you meet during your project. For example, if you are working for an orphanage or a school it is a good idea to bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and paper pads as well as games. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring a large number of one item.