Many of the volunteer organizations that are active today are concerned with a variety of projects in a variety of places. In many cases, this is because they want to appeal to a variety of volunteers. Indeed, volunteering with a large organization like Cross-Cultural Solutions or Habitat for Humanity means you have a lot of choices about where you go and what you do. You can volunteer with the same organization many times and each time, work with a different community on a different project. I think this does appeal to volunteers and I understand why. But there is also something to be said for the focused organization with a single community in mind. Focused organizations put down roots in one place. They have lasting relationships with local people and they do sustainable work that builds over time. Volunteering with an organization like this means you get to participate in enduring change. You get to see how that change has affected children, children who are now thriving adults. You witness the good an organization can do in ten or twenty years. I think, of necessity, this is missing from a lot of volunteer opportunities and I think seeing this kind of change can really inspire in a way that more transient projects just can’t.
G.R.A.C.E or Ghana Relief Agency for Children and the Elderly, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization comprised of staff members that have been working in the communities of Ghana for over a decade. Their founders aren’t from Ghana but many of their staff members are, working to help their own communities and to educate volunteers about the history of the region—the poverty, hunger, and fear of the people. Their mission is to “support the members of [their] community in their time of need, and to work towards a greater good.” Their projects include bringing educational opportunities to children in rural areas; exposing, promoting, and exchanging the beauty of Ghana’s culture and traditions to break down cultural barriers; and creating awareness of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other health-related challenges in the country.
G.R.A.C.E always welcomes volunteers and the cost of participation is extremely low compared to other volunteer opportunities. Volunteers that stay for longer than four weeks pay only $77/week thereafter. I think G.R.A.C.E provides an incredible service to international volunteers. It is remarkably rare to find a small-scale volunteer non-profit with this level of community commitment and history. I get the impression that each volunteer with G.R.A.C.E really becomes part of a vibrant family and can really see the impact of her work.