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Have you ever had a baboon open your hotel room and sneak in to steal a biscuit? This was just one of the amazing experiences I had whilst travelling in Ghana for my internship! But the trip was about much more than just the amazing wildlife…

Upon my arrival at Kotoka International Airport, I was met by a Projects Abroad colleague who drove me to my host family. My host family were incredibly supportive and welcoming and included Mr Wulff who was 84 years old, his youngest niece Suzanne aged 16, his daughter Sheila aged 36 and her children Gurtrude aged 8, and Yamo aged 4. Like many local Ghanaian families, they were extremely religious and devout Christians. I gained so much from living and working in this community, including an understanding of how religion can impact an individual’s world and guide them in their practices.

My work placement was at the Shelter for Abused Children in OSU, Accra. I worked with children aged 7 to 18. The children at the shelter are mostly runaways or lost children, although there were also children and young people who had been trafficked, were seeking asylum, or had experienced forced marriage or child sexual exploitation. Social workers work to trace families or guardians, building relationships and sometimes trying to find alternative relatives or foster carers. The shelter also provides food and clothing. During the day children learn English, Maths, ICT, talent and creative arts, social and moral development and lastly health and growth sessions. I assisted staff by finding out about children’s backgrounds and delivering workshops for shelter staff about social work in the UK. I introduced different ways of working, including ‘Life Story Work’, ‘Signs of Safety’ and therapeutic approaches to trauma.

I travelled around Ghana, from coast to coast. In the North of Ghana in Tamale I visited the largest waterfalls in the region, monkey sanctuaries and the oldest mosque in Ghana. I also learned new things, taking part in local cooking lessons, local language (Twi) lessons and drumming and dancing sessions – truly immersing myself in the culture and spirit of Ghana.

Overall, my experience working abroad as a student social worker has truly allowed me to develop skills professionally and personally – I have increased my confidence and professional accountability which are key aspects of becoming a social worker, alongside multiple other skills to add to my toolkit. I was also able to successfully develop new ways of working within the shelter, helping other professionals to strengthen their skills and creating new opportunities for them and the children. I would like to thank the University for assisting me on making my trip a success.

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