Partner West Africa: Protecting children through shared responsibility & collective action

What is 'Partner West Africa'?:

Partner West Africa (PWA) - incorporating our dedicated international volunteering department; 'Volunteer West Africa' - acts to protect the rights of children, both as an ultimate moral imperative but also as the most necessary and effective method to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing the international development community today. With offices in the UK and an operational HQ in Ghana, West Africa, we are a young but well-established, community-focused, grass-roots, 100% not-for-profit, Non Governmental Organisation (NGO).

By providing vulnerable West African children with a safe & caring environment, nutritious & hygienic food & clean drinking water, access to effective & holistic healthcare, the freedom to nurture their creativity through a progressive & inclusive education, and the opportunity to engage with peoples and cultures who are different to their own, we create contexts in which cycles of poverty can be broken, isolation & fear cannot take root, and the inequalities which prevent many families from securing a a brighter future can be rebalanced.

PWA's ethos owes much to the well known Africa proverb "It takes a village to raise a child". Although we recognise that we now live in a 'global village', and so, to protect the rights of children, PWA works tirelessly to bring together local families, traditional community leaders, local charities & development actors, local & national government institutions, and volunteers, groups and organisations from the international community. The 'Partner' in Partner West Africa therefore describes the collective responsibility and shared knowledge and experience that sits at the heart of all of PWA's strategic alliances and partnerships. 

Whether you are a local community leader seeking support for your people, a West African charity looking for a project implementation partner, a school or university from the international community looking for an academic project support partner, or an individual or group seeking high quality volunteering or work experience opportunities in an active and ethical NGO: Partner West Africa will work with all those who have the aptitude and motivation to deliver real, positive, ethical and sustainable change for the children of West Africa.

Our Aims & Objectives:

Partner West Africa, as per our constitution, has a highly complimentary set of aims & objectives, that, when viewed collectively, provide vulnerable West African families with the support and assistance they require to change their circumstances for the better and to build stronger foundations from which their children can flourish and prosper.

Partner West Africa: 
  • Works closely with underprivileged West African communities to identify local development needs that can be addressed through strategic partnerships to protect the rights and future of children;
  • Forms partnerships and alliances that promote a sense of local ownership without fostering a sense of donor dependency or reliance on third parties;
  • Delivers projects & programmes that are primarily focused on sharing knowledge & expertise to empower local people to become their own agents of change and to build local capacity that can protect the rights and future of children;
  • Reduces child mortality in underprivileged communities, through culturally sensitive interventions that promote responsible family planning and engaged parenting;
  • Promotes children's rights & gender equality, in-particulur to prevent child exploitation and empower mothers to achieve social and economic equality;
  • Provides critical respite to vulnerable families, by offering access to essential life services, in order to create opportunities and space for change and positive development to take root;
  • Fosters local and international partnerships that allow individuals, volunteers or organisations to access and assist West African communities in a culturally sensitive, engaging and ethical manner;
  • Prevents prejudices and misconceptions from passing from generation to generation by forming cultural & educational partnerships between children from the international community and children from West Africa.

Our Current Projects & Programmes:

Our annual portfolio of projects & programmes is always based on the highest developmental priorities of the communities in which we live and work year round. At present, our services are focused on the traditional fishing communities which make up the sub-district of Kokrobite, Ghana, and to a lesser extent, the community of Agbogbloshie, Ghana; a vast and highly contaminated waste dump which is home to an estimated 30,000 underprivileged West African children and families.

Partner West Africa's current projects & programmes include:
  1. The provision of 100% free placements for 70 vulnerable, pre-school children at the Partner West Africa Daycare & Nursery Centre, Oshieye, Ghana, providing each child with a nutritious feeding programme, safe drinking water, daily healthcare support & health insurance, a creative pre-school education & social development curriculum, and a safe & caring environment that provides parents with the opportunity to seek employment & economic advantage;
  2. A broad range of complimentary, international volunteering & work experience, knowledge sharing programmes, - delivered through our internal volunteering department 'Volunteer West Africa' - providing members of the international community with the opportunity to engage in genuine development work that protects children's rights, from pre-birth to pre-school. Specific current volunteer programmes include: contraception & family planning; home birthing & prenatal health; nutrition & hygiene; immunisations & healthcare; Malaria prevention & treatment; early-years education & creative learning; gender equality & female empowerment; and the prevention of child exploitation;
  3. A Schools Partnership Programme, to connect schools from the UK with schools in Ghana, providing shared cultural and academic learning experiences and the opportunities for field trips and direct communication, designed to break down prejudices and bring children together;
  4. Ad-hoc 'capital projects', delivered in partnership with a broad range of donors and partners, to address specific local development issues, and which currently include: the funding & construction of a medical bay for children from our local community; a water harvesting project to provide filtered and safe drinking water to local children; the refurbishment of a community children's daycare centre in one of West Africa's largest 'shanty towns'; the refurbishment of a local community CHIPS health compound; and the delivery of multiple, community-wide healthcare & Malaria treatment campaigns.
Our small but experienced team of local and international experts design and implement these well-planned, inclusive, community-based programmes and projects that allow our local staff - alongside appropriately skilled & qualified volunteers & partners from the international community - to share knowledge or resources that will empower local people to provide their children with a brighter future.

Volunteering with PWA's 'Volunteer West Africa':

Central to our ethos of inclusion, partnership and collective responsibly, is PWA's internal dedicated international volunteering department: 'Volunteer West Africa' (VWA). VWA is not a volunteering agency or gap-year travel organisation, or a commercial travel or 'voluntoursim' company, but a 100% not-for-profit provider of well-structured, rewarding yet challenging opportunities for suitably skilled and experienced volunteers to undertake meaningful work experience placements in West Africa. 

As a VWA volunteer, you become a member of our team, you participate in a range of challenging development work, you help shape and deliver our programmes, you undertake a role that carries a rich variety of responsibilities and duties, and you live and work alongside our full-time and local staff in our purpose built offices and guest house complex in the beautiful and colourful fishing village of Kokrobite, Ghana.

Unlike most volunteering projects that are available through the mainstream volunteering sector, our programmes are designed to comply and compliment the aims and objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2015; the ethical framework agreed by the international community to guide all best-practice international development work until the year 2030, and as a member of the 'Better Volunteering Better Care' network, in partnership with Save the Children, we are committed to avoiding and preventing volunteering practices which exploit or destabilise vulnerable children, in particular we do not offer volunteering placements in orphanages or children's homes that can often disrupt already emotionally insecure children.

As a Volunteer West Africa volunteer you can live and work year round in the communities we serve, working closely with community members to understand and prioritise their needs, and designing and delivering programmes which put local people first and protect the rights of children. And, in most cases, your volunteer placement will see you working closely with the 70 children who attend our Daycare & Nursery Centre for vulnerable children, located within our compound, and placing you at the heart of the PWA and VWA family. 

So whether you are a graduate exploring a career path in development, an entry-level professional looking to broaden your experience in your chosen specialist field, or a seasoned expert seeking to share a life-time of expertise to achieve serious and high-impact aims & objectives; Volunteer West Africa can offer you a range of unique volunteering opportunities that all have one thing in common: they genuinely address the complex needs of the children we support while truly embodying our ethos of partnership, collective action, and shared responsibility.

Why Choosing the Right Partner for your Volunteering Experience is so Important:

As a key part of PWA's focus on effective partnership, the Volunteer West Africa model has been designed as a response to the volunteering, or 'voluntourism' sectors, which have in recent years become the subject of much controversy and legitimate criticism for treating volunteers as privileged tourists or visitors. From multi-national commercial volunteer agencies which profit from the good will of volunteers, to ineffective projects designed at distance with little understanding of the complexities of the local community the volunteers are trying to assist, to the most distressing examples of children being placed illegitimately in orphanages simply to attract paying volunteers... there are many reasons to be extremely cautious when considering which volunteering organisation you join, or even whether volunteering abroad is the right choice for you at all.

Before you commit your time, money or energy to any volunteering organisation, please remember that you have a responsibility to ensure that you have thoroughly researched and assessed the issues and answered the right questions: Are you qualified and capable to undertake the volunteer placement in question? Will that programme have a lasting and positive impact? Does the organisation you are joining profit from your hard work or only from the fees you pay? Will you be undertaking work that could just as effectively be completed by a local community member? 

To learn more about the issues surrounding poor volunteering & NGO practice please read VWA's guide; 'Be a Volunteer, not a Voluntourist'the Tourism Concern sponsored brochure Ethical Volunteering or familiarise yourself with the library of valuable information located on the 'Better Volunteering Better Care' website.
Copyright © Volunteer West Africa 2016 
                                         VWA Volunteer West Africa is an officially registered Ghana Non-Governmental Organisation: Registration No: D.S.W/5707