If I count, I've been volunteering with Ghanaian charity Ashanti Development for 4 years. I've organised sponsored walks, helped to promote their amazing annual Gala Ballet and taken minutes in Trustees and Doctors meetings. But I've never yet been to Gyetiase, the village in the remote Ashanti region that the charity was set up to help.
Ashanti Development was started when Ghanaian Martha Boadu moved to London to work and save money to install piped water into her home village of Gyetiase to prevent the local women having to walk for 4 hours/day to get collect water.
After getting a quote that was much higher than she had thought possible, Martha and her neighbour Penny contacted Water Aid and solicited donations. Because they set up the organisation as volunteer-only and spent their initial grants exclusively in Ghana with no money spent on administration or UK helper's salaries, one of the corporate donors extended their initial grant to an ongoing £10,000 annually. This meant that Ashanti Development could help the village in even more ways including water and sanitation, healthcare, education and income generating activities.
And finally, after 4 years, I'm off to Ghana tomorrow. Unlike the UK doctors who regularly volunteer I don't have any special skills, so we've agreed that I'll probably be teaching English or computers or helping out with simple jobs like hammering up mosquito nets. I don't know what to expect.
One thing that I'd really like to think about while I'm out there is how technology could be used to improve standard of living. This is a really difficult challenge when there is so little infrastructure - (unreliable) electricity has been brought to the village since Ashanti Development started in 2005 but high-speed internet is a long way off.
I'd like to thank Softwire Technology for supporting me with charity matching holiday for this endeavor and for all their support of Ashanti Development in the past via matching money raised and choosing them as charity of the year.
Managing Director of Softwire, technology and backgammon presenter. Plus a little bit of new music radio.