Back in 2003 I discovered Operation Crossroads Africa. The program offers a three-month volunteer project in West Africa where participants integrate themselves into a local village by providing them with a variety of services. As an avid traveler, I was particularly intrigued by the idea of being part of the community and not just a tourist passing through. Months later I was on a flight to Ghana towards a journey that forever changed the lives of many others, including mine.
My days consisted of some of the hardest, yet rewarding, labor I had ever done in my life. Every morning at sunrise a team of volunteers, using machetes, would manually clear out a large field where a school would eventually be built. My afternoons where equally as rewarding, spending time teaching English to a group of children.
My stay in Ghana was an eye opening experience. The scenery was majestic and the culture was fascinating but what stayed with me the most were the people I met. I was able to see my life in contrast to theirs. Basic things I took for granted, like running water and proper shelter, were barely available. Despite challenges like that, the people of Kakumdo Village were some of the most positive and kind people I had ever encountered. My perspective on life had changed and it inspired me to continue to give back buy becoming a part of several other volunteer projects.