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Day in the Life of an Intern in Ghana

Interns Nora (left) and Camaro start their workday.

A play-by-play of an overseas intern's schedule.

After five months in Ghana, life has become fairly routine. That’s not to say that some days aren’t full of surprises, like the day I went into work expecting a regular day at the office and ended up in the hospital maternity ward with a friend in labour. But the nuts and bolts of my days are pretty consistent:

6 am: I wake up and get in a run before work in preparation for the Accra Marathon 10K. Right now it’s the rainy season so my run is more like a puddle jumping obstacle course down my dirt road.

7 am: Post-run, I get ready for work and am spoiled to have running hot and cold water in the shower. Bucket showers are reserved for when I travel away from home.  

7:30 am: I head out to wait for the first tro tro of my journey at the bus stop, conveniently located in front of the Obama Café. Before switching tro tros at the station, I visit my fruit vendor. Mango season has just ended and the papayas are here.

8:20 am: Arrive at work and get settled in my office, which I share with my fellow Canadian intern Nora. Our projects are very different—mine focus on gender and hers on civic competence—but we often consult and bounce ideas off of each other.

8:30 am: The first order of business every day is our morning devotion. The YMCA is a Christian organization and each workday begins with a gathering where we sing hymns, followed by a staff member leading the Bible passage reading and reflection for the day. Being a foreigner has not exempted me from leading devotion and I was quickly scheduled into the rotation.

9:00 am–5:00 pm: Most days my work keeps me in the office, but I have also had the opportunity to run gender workshops in the community and travel around Ghana to other YMCA branches.

Aside from actual work, much of my day revolves around getting food. My co-intern and I visit Adwoa for breakfast a few times a week. An egg sandwich with some tea or Milo is always delicious.

At lunchtime, we’re regulars at the canteen down the street where the servers refer to me by my Ghanaian name (“Akua”) and give me Twi lessons as they take my order.

5:00 pm: At the end of the day, when I don’t have plans with friends, I make my way back home traveling through one of the busiest transport hubs in Accra—Kwame Nkrumah Circle, which is known for being loud, crowded and patrolled by pickpockets.

Evenings in my neighbourhood are lively, and as I walk towards my house I am greeted by a chorus of akwaabas (“welcome” in Twi). The boys who I sometimes play soccer with call out “coach” and offer to carry my bags. Sometimes I stop at the shop next door to pick up small groceries for dinner. Coming home and feeling like a part of the community is my favourite part of every day.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Camaro West

Born on the island of St. Kitts and raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Camaro West is a self-described traveller, sometimes documentary filmmaker, published author and dreamer with a Masters in International Development. She is currently on a seven-month internship in Ghana, where she is working as a Gender Advisor with the Ghana YMCA and Youth Challenge International through CIDA’s International Youth Internship Program.

Website: collectingstamps2012.wordpress.com/

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