On a road trip ... to AfricaHome » Blog » Siobhan Leathley » On a road trip ... to Africa
When one of Aucklander Liz Robinson's friends told her that he'd bought a 20-foot container to take clothes, furniture and books to orphanages in Ghana, she never dreamed she'd be in West Africa to welcome its arrival. A couple of months and a one-way plane ticket later, Liz's life is looking very different ...
My friend, Heta Hema-Mann, wanted to honour his recently deceased wife by donating clothes to underprivileged children in orphanages and villages in Ghana. When he told me that he'd only been able to fill half his 20-foot container so far, I asked everybody I knew to donate items which could be suitable for these children.
Within days I'd had an overwhelming response from family, friends and work collegues – and the container was bulging at the seams with cots, highchairs, car seats, clothes, bedding, toys and books.
My job at Image Centre, the company which publishes Good magazine, meant I could convince its largest packaging supplier to donate cartons, which we used to pack the donations inside the container for shipping. Image Centre itself donated half a pallet of desk pads for kids to use.
After explaining to Mainfreight why there was so much gear, it offered to sponsor the shipping costs of five more containers over the next 12 months provided the delivery of this one is successful!
My friends started to suggest I go to Ghana to ensure the donated items reached their intended destinations. It was a no-brainer. I knew it would be the opportunity of a lifetime and too important to let it pass me by. I also decided I'd volunteer at an orphanage to try and help improve the lives of these children.
I started researching volunteer work online and discovered that volunteers pay for the privilege of working in orphanages. This is because orphanages receive no funding from the government, and find it difficult to raise money themselves.
Orphanages, schools and institutions across the world cannot afford to pay volunteers, therefore volunteers pay for their own food and accommodation during their stay. This means orphanages rely on volunteers to help improve the welfare and development of their children. This trip to Ghana will be the first of many, and give me the chance to create on-going relationships with the people I will be working closely with.
I've resigned from my job of seven years to totally commit to this journey. I finish work at Image Centre on July 27, and I plan to leave for Ghana on August 7. The only way to make this journey possible is to fundraise and gain sponsorships from outside sources.
Good magazine will be following my journey here and doing what they can to support it. This blog will be the first in a series of many telling my story!
To get in touch with Liz, email her at email@example.com