|Volunteering in Ghana
Read this if youíre interested in becoming a volunteer.
We are looking for volunteers who are interested in bicycles and
development. We value the bicycle as a practical, enjoyable,
emission-free mode of transportation, and a serious contender for moving
people and goods in the poorer countries. Experience with mechanics is
a plus, but isnít absolutely necessary. Experience and interest in
working with community development projects, preferably in
less-developed countries is just as important as knowing how to fix
bicycles, no its even more important.
The general picture in Ghana is that bicycles help people save money on
transport, save time that they would spend walking, help kids reach
school on time so they arenít punished by their teachers for being late,
farmers can get their produce to markets that are farther away than if
they were walking, people sell their wares off the back of their bikes,
old ladies send their grandchildren on errands for them, multiple people
travel to funerals/weddings/town/market on the same bike at the same
There are new bikes coming from Asia that are simple and many people
know how to work on them. There are also used bikes from Japan. These
are almost all one-speeds. Lately there have been some new mountain
bikes with gears that come from China and they are very low quality.
The derailleurs break really fast and the tires burst, rims bend, etc...
Our bikes are used (often really really used), but people still prefer
them over other bicycles and they have gears, which makes people's lives
easier when they're riding through sand, up and down hills or carrying
loads of produce or people on their bikes. And they're recycled. We
like the idea of people in Ghana using bikes that people in
US/UK/Australia don't want anymore as opposed to manufacturing junky new
bikes to send here while American's bikes are rotting in landfills or
Here are some potential roles for international volunteers:
VBP is trying to learn more about what has happened to our bikes and
program participants of the last 7 years. Essentially this research
amounts to using lists of workshop and/or Earn-a-Bike participants to
find people and their bicycles, conduct interviews and take pictures.
The purpose of this research is to uncover successes, shortcomings and
unintended consequences of our programs. That information can then be
used to revise old programs, design new ones and make VBP more
effective. Furthermore, we need to make sure repairers know how to work
on our bikes and have access to tools and replacement parts. We are
serious about creating self-sustaining networks to disseminate materials
and information and to do so we need to fully understand how current
Bicycle Business Research
We see that bicycles are big business in Ghana. Not only do they help
the poor get around, reduce oil imports, and protect the environment,
the bicycle sector employs tens of thousands of people in Ghana alone.
Bike business research would help make the case to other African nations
about the benefits of pro-bike policies.
Womenís Program Coordinator
The Village Bicycle Project is dedicated to closing the gap between men
and womenís access to technology. Women do a lot of work in Ghana and
we want to make sure that they also have access to technology and skills
that will make them more productive and improve their quality of life.
Furthermore, we believe that improving the quality of life of a woman
affects families and communities in a profound way. Our womenís
programs are varied and flexible, as we identify the needs of women in
different communities. The Womenís Program Coordinator has the exciting
job of recruiting and training interested women to work for our program
as instructors. It also includes conducting follow-up research focusing
on our womenís programs. Ultimately, Ghanaian women are able to identify
the needs of other Ghanaian women better than a foreign volunteer and so
we hope to bring more women into the project as instructors and
The time commitment for volunteers varies. My first response to that
question is that a volunteer should stay as long as possible. I think
six months is a good amount of time but a year is even better.
Depending on your level of experience, it will take the first 2-4 months
to get oriented and learn how to function in Ghana and understand the
big picture of the project. During this time you can do things like
attend workshops, see containers get unloaded, practice living in Ghana,
cook, make friends and learn some of the language. Hanging out is
really important in Ghana. The more you hang out, chat, sit quietly
with people, join them in whatever they're doing, etc., the more they
will trust you and be frank with you.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at
info@VillageBicycleProject.org. Tell us about yourself, your skills and
experience and why you are interested in volunteering with VBP.