Sixth Form trip to Little Roses School, Ghana

Early morning on the 8th July 2023, nine Sixth Formers and two staff left Rossall to travel to the Volta Region, a beautiful agricultural and fishing district in East Ghana, on the border of Togo. Ten days of teaching, building, coaching, craft-making, singing, dancing and travelling were in stall, and our team, supported by African Adventures, were raring to go (if a little tired on account of the 1am departure time). 

After two smooth flights, we touched down in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and were met by the smiling faces of our local support team, captained by the legendary Elulu, ably supported by his colleague and brother Destiny, and we were whisked away for our first dinner in a mall, where we were introduced to the project Director, a man named Siva. After a quick dinner, we headed to our accommodation for the night, taking the ‘short’ drive through the backstreets of the city. For anyone who has ever visited Ghana before, you will understand exactly what we would have seen: people everywhere, market stalls, goats wandering across the streets, women carrying extraordinary loads on their heads, football shirts, noise, vibrancy. Welcome to Ghana. Our team stared at the spectacle, a long way away from the Fylde Coast, whilst Emma passed the time counting the number of car horns she could hear as our driver weaved skillfully through the seemingly non-existent rules of the road. But arrive safely we did, and into a little pocket of paradise with palm trees and a few local lizards scattered through the picturesque guest lodge. A good night’s sleep followed, and then our first day – travelling East to the volunteer lodge and Little Roses School. 

After another beautiful and enthralling drive, during which the landscape transformed from the built up city outskirts of Accra to the idyllic green trees and rich red soil of the Volta Region, we arrived at our main base for the trip: a volunteer lodge built on the sands of the nearby beach, founded and run by Siva, as a way of supporting his own charity, The Young Shall Grow International. As soon as we stepped out of the bus, we were greeted by smiling excitable children, who immediately took us under their wing and wanted to play football, dance, sing and ask endless questions. It was a wonderful introduction to life in the Volta Region, typically one of the poorest areas of Ghana, but also one in which education is taken so seriously – it is their ticket to success. Whilst we waited for dinner, we took a community walk through the local village to a lighthouse – one of the tallest in Ghana – which we climbed to witness the most spectacular views of the ocean on one side, and the lagoon on the other. A quick dinner followed, and then it was down to some lesson planning as we had been told that the next morning we would be teaching for the first time. 

As a School, we had chosen to partner with Little Roses for a variety of reasons: it shared the obvious connection to our own Rose House, as well as our School’s emblem; but, it is also one of the least supported schools in the area and is in need of significant financial injection if the students there are to receive anything like the education they desire. In Ghana there is little to no free education – even the government schools require payment – and as such, a number of families cannot afford to send their children to school. We saw this first hand back at the lodge with a number of ‘street children’ spending their day in the immediate area, rather than heading to one of the many schools that surround the place. But despite Little Roses’ lack of investment, it was a beautiful school in many ways – again, built on the sand, under the shade of stunning trees, the open classrooms and metal-sheet roofs add to the character of the setting that was our base for the next week. But the buildings are just a superficial way of describing this place; what makes this really special is the people. The welcome we received from the school will stay with us forever – we were treated to drumming, singing and dancing, from students dressed in traditional Ghanaian clothing, and then invited to join the students by dancing as well. Let me tell you this… we were not quite as good as them. But in this moment, communities from two continents, separated by thousands of miles, were joined together and we felt so incredibly humbled by their generosity of spirit. This continued throughout our time and the happiness and warmth these children showed was infectious – you could not fail to be uplifted by even ten minutes in their company. Over the coming days, our students taught a range of fantastic lessons: James led in Mathematics; Chris taught Shakespeare; Emma illustrated the muscles and bones of the body; Sophie took on Psychology and long term memory; Alice explained the working of the heart; Martina bravely explored political thought and doctrine; Suzanne presented the ethics of the Trolley Problem; Leona introduced German, whilst Anna took on the challenge of Chinese – indeed it was both impressive and surreal to walk around the school listening to children repeat phrases, sing songs, and demand more teaching, all on the account of our own students stepping outside of their comfort zone. This was a real challenge – some of the classrooms had over forty students in them, no whiteboard, no electricity, and in a space significantly smaller than what we must take for granted. And to control a group of this size, with no formal training, in 30 degree heat (with extreme humidity), is no easy feat. I cannot tell you how proud Miss Goodes and I were. 

On our penultimate day at the school, we took a break from teaching to help build part of a classroom that needed urgent attention on account of damage caused by flooding. This was gruelling work, but together we mixed concrete, lifted heavy bricks, helped lay foundations, and all had a go at building a wall (we were not very good and the local builder decided he would take over), but by the end of the day, the school had a fully equipped classroom and we had laid the foundations for an enduring link between our two schools. On our final day we organised (a word that juxtaposes the chaos of the event) a sports day for the whole school, consisting of football, netball, egg-and-spoon races, sack races and general relays. And then it was time to say goodbye, but not before the traditional send-off and it was back to singing, drumming, and more dancing. I have been told never to publish the video footage of this, but I make no promises. 

As a team, we donated school supplies, clothing, sports equipment, and craft materials, but the biggest donation came from our students directly. Through fundraising from the Beavery (Rossall’s Sixth Form Bakery), and other charitable events (including the 24 hour Sporting Event), we were able to donate five whiteboards to the school to help the teachers in delivering education. With more money raised we hope to continue to support the school in other ways over the coming months. A massive thank you to all those in our community who helped to contribute to this project. 

Outside of the teaching days, we spent time at the beach (much needed after the physical fatigue on show after a day’s teaching); took a tour around the local market; received a drumming lesson and even learnt some of the local dialect. Our evenings, back at the lodge, consisted of local Ghanaian food and entertainment, and the group were such good company to be around. On our final night at the lodge, Siva organised a special send off to say thank you, and he hired a famous drumming and dancing troupe who performed for us, before making us dance once again. Yes, there is footage. Again, I make no promises. 

Siva then took the time to tell us the history of his charity and a bit about his life. I cannot stress this enough, but at the very heart of this community is Siva. He is the figure who is determined to change the lives of those children who grow up in difficult circumstances. Siva’s mother was wife number four of sixteen, to his father, and when the family hit financial difficulty, Siva was abandoned at age 6 and forced to live on the street. After some incredibly tough years, he had found work on a farm and by the age of 13 had been given his own piece of land and had even employed two other street children to come and work with him. It was around this time that he met a British man who took him under his wing, eventually flying him to the UK aged 18 and encouraging him to tell his story at schools and businesses across the country. This raised enough money for Siva to return and to increase the size of his offering, eventually building the volunteer lodge we stayed in on this trip. Siva’s charity focuses on providing food, clothing, shelter and education to street children, orphans and any children who grow up in hardship. He is determined that no other child should go through the challenges he did. As such, his long term aim is to build an orphanage, with a classroom attached to provide free education to the children who need it the most. This is a fifteen year project and one predicted to cost around £150,000. We were fortunate to see the plot of land that this building will eventually be built on, and it is a stunning place to be educated. With the proposal that this trip will become an annual venture for Rossall, it is our hope that the links between Siva and Rossall will grow and his kindness was an inspiration to our team. 

As we said our goodbyes to Siva and his team, we were presented with yet more gifts – this time in the form of personalised and embroidered sashes (once again, their generosity was truly humbling) – and then it was off to the other side of Ghana to take in some cultural and historical landmarks. The first came in the form of Cape Coast’s Slave Castle, a hugely significant landmark in the history of Ghana and the United Kingdom. The statistics around the castle are staggering, and the atrocities that occurred there are truly shocking. I know how powerful the team found this experience and it was a vital part of the trip. After our final dinner, and a few awards, it was off to Kakum National Park and a Canopy Walk. By this point, tiredness and a little bit of illness had crept into the group, but we all successfully completed the hike through the trees and then slept most of the four hours back to Accra to board our flight home. 

The trip was a huge success and it could not have happened without the brilliant attitudes and genuine good company of the students we took. Special thanks must be given to Miss Goodes who accompanied the trip, but led from the front in all that she did. We will launch the Ghana Trip 2024 early in September and I would encourage anyone in the Sixth Form to apply – it is a physically and mentally demanding trip, as far away from a holiday as you can get, but it will provide you with life-long memories and cultural understanding that belies your years.

View our photo album below.

Sixth Form trip to Little Roses School, Ghana, Summer 2023