West African Cultural Immersion Teen Volunteering Program in Ghana

Embark on a West African cultural immersion adventure while making a direct contribution to ongoing community development projects in the region.

Program Information

Experience the unique sights and sounds of West Africa and visit a rainforest wildlife reserve. Journey to Ghana’s Southern Coast to join other teens from around the world in contributing to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals numbers #3, Good Health and Well-being, #4, Quality Education, and SDG #5, Gender Equality.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals


Jaw-droppingly spectacular, palm-lined beaches, wildly tropical rainforests, and home to a bustling West African metropolis, Ghana is an adventurous destination not for the faint-hearted. Our volunteer opportunities in Ghana for teens are based in the town of Elmina, three hours from the capital, Accra.

Here teens will work with local organizations to improve awareness of preventative healthcare practices, access to education for young learners, and gender equality in the small seaside town. Throughout the program, teens will have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the Fante culture of the region. Time for relaxing on the beach, exploring the beautiful Kakum National Park, and shopping for one-of-a-kind cultural pieces in the local marketplaces is also included in this trip.


  • Surf the waves of the Atlantic ocean and visit the rainforests of Kakum National Park.

  • Experience the dizzying diversity of truly African cultures first-hand.

  • Contribute directly to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals numbers #4, Quality Education, and SDG #5, Gender Equality.

  • Work with local organizations to turn Elmina castle, a tragic site and historical outpost of the transatlantic slave trade, into an empowering space for local women.

  • Learn to speak an authentic African language, Fante, one of Ghana’s many many dialects.

  • Earn your ILM Youth Leadership Certificate.

Program Details

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Project Life


Participants live in dormitory style accommodation, with shared bathroom facilities that include running-water showers and western-style toilets. A laundry service is available at a reasonable cost, either directly with the accommodation or through a  local community service. Keep in mind that many participants choose to embrace local culture and hand wash their clothes, providing themselves with a more authentic experience.


All meals will be provided and are included in your program fee. Breakfast is available at the accommodation and usually consists of oats, eggs, and fruit.  Lunch will be prepared at the accommodation and taken to the project site each day. Dinner will sometimes be provided by a member of the local community, while at other times it will be via a local restaurant. Many of the dishes will include rice, fish and beans, which are staples in the region. Fresh fruit is plentiful in the region and will be readily available at meals and snack times. GVI is also happy to cater to special dietary requirements, with advanced notice.


We recommend that participants invest in a Ghana sim card. There is good signal in most locations, but bear in mind it might not be as fast or reliable as your wifi back home.


Commuting to project sites will take anything from 15 to 30 minutes. Reaching the site may involve a combination of walking and using public transportation. All transport, including excursions and airport transfers, will be provided by GVI.

Medical Facilities

Should a participant fall ill, she or he will be taken to the local hospital, which is approximately 30 minutes away.

Project Details

GVI’s base in Ghana was set up as a result of an invitation to support education, gender equality, and community development programs in the region.

Participants will assist local partners by teaching English, mathematics or science to primary and secondary school children or working with gender equality organisations that promote women’s social and economic advancement through educational workshops. Public health also plays a huge role in educating the local community about how simple lifestyle changes can benefit their well-being in the long run.

GVI Cape Coast, Ghana’s Long-term Objectives:

  • To support local communities in Ghana by working through grassroots NGOs on community led women’s empowerment and education initiatives, in order to help empower and increase employment opportunities for women in Ghana.

  • To place a renewed focus on training over funding, in order to equip local communities with the tools they need for creating and maintaining lasting and sustainable change.

  • To continue a successful teaching program which aims to empower teachers and students.

  • To work closely with local project partners to run workshops with students to help them perform better in school, as well as also assisting local teachers.

  • To empower local women by providing a platform where they can gain the skills, resources and confidence that they need to continue working towards achieving their personal and professional goals (employment, income diversification, alternative revenue streams and more).

All of GVI Ghana’s program objectives are aligned with, and fit within, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework. This enables us to more effectively report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. In the long term, this will not only help us to measure our impact, but will also help our local partners, and the people we support, to measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

Our 10 Ethical Commitments


Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)



  • Elmina Castle - The oldest European construction in East Africa, Elmina castle holds a significant, yet tragic place in the consciousness of both African and world history. Originally established as a trading post for gold by the Portuguese, it became a key location for those engaging in the slave trade. Today, it is a UNESCO Heritage site, and local organizations, like our partners, are hard at work turning the space into a more empowering one.

  • Kakum National Park - About an hour’s drive from Cape Coast where teens will be working and staying, is Kakum National Park, one of the most popular wildlife reserves in Ghana. Covered in tropical rainforest, the reserve is home to forest elephants, unique monkey species, hornbills, and the African grey parrot.

  • Surfing The Gold Coast - The appropriately named Cape Coast is home to long stretches of pearly sanded beaches bordered on the one side by palm trees and on the other by the Atlantic Ocean. Depending on the weather, teens will be able to participate in surfing lessons on the local beach.



The Team

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Select a Start Date

  • 2019

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+ £145

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.