Rosie Coleman recently contacted us to let us know about her time volunteering in Ghana. We are delighted to share her story here on the Hills Road Alumni network.
I left Hills Road in 2010 and took up a place at the London School of Economics. I studied International Relations, in large part inspired by the fantastic Modern History A Level course I completed at Hills. Three years after graduating from LSE I decided to pack up my London life, put my business experience and IR background to good use and become a voluntary Business Associate in Ghana for three months.
Rosie with her main client, Eric Amankwa
My main client, Eric Amankwa was a Ghanaian University graduate turned professional tailor. His business, Callex Clothing, makes beautiful handmade shirts in traditional African prints. But the business had been born out of necessity rather than passion. Struggling to find full-time employment after graduating, Eric had bought himself a sewing machine, taught himself to sew and turned his bedroom into his workshop. Just twelve months on and his enterprise had four members of staff and a loyal customer base. I joined Eric last September to determine his growth opportunities, conduct business analysis, and build a savings plan that would help him take the enterprise to the next level. By the time I left just twelve weeks later, Eric had saved enough money to move into a fantastic new workshop and storefront, right on the main highstreet. We’d nearly doubled his monthly profits and Eric can now take a salary from the business he’s worked so hard to create.
Rosie with Nyameye, one of the children from her host family in Ghana
But it was living in a host home with a wonderful Ghanaian family that was my most rewarding experience. At 24, and the youngest in my family, I’ve never spent a lot of time with young children before. So living with two small boys was initially a very daunting prospect for me. And yet, becoming Kwoadwo (8) and Nyameye's (5) friend was by far the most inspiring aspect of my time overseas. We started a homework club and the boys would rush home to show off the great marks they’d got from their teacher. Every evening we’d eat dinner together and they’d compete for who could clear their plate the fastest. They soon learnt that I was quite good at drawing animal cartoons; they’d put in their requests and then colour the drawings diligently. By the end of my time there, we had a wall full of beautiful pictures. The boys transformed from hard-to-reach kids to expressive, artistic and calm children. And me? Well I learnt more in those three months from spending time with those incredible young boys than any adult could have taught me.
The entrance to Kumasi's Kejetia Market, Africa's largest marketplace containing more than 45,000 stores and stalls
I’d encourage everyone I know to take some time to live and work overseas. I volunteered with Challenges Worldwide, part of the International Citizenship Service, a government funded programme that prioritises cross cultural exchanges between young people around the world. My three months in Ghana came at no financial cost to me but was an incredibly valuable experience both personally and professionally.
Thank you Rosie for writing this article! If you would like to be featured on the network, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org