1. What is the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana (VOLU)?

Voluntary Workcamp Association of Ghana (VOLU) was founded in 1956 as a non-political, non-sectarian or non-religious voluntary organization. Its membership is open to all over the age of sixteen, irrespective of nationality, religion, race, political view or educational qualifications.

Led by a British volunteer, Gordon L. Green, a group of teachers at Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, who wanted the youth, especially students, to use their leisure time on some useful projects, formed the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana (VOLU) in order to give them the opportunity to combat poverty, ignorance and underdevelopment.

  1. What is the vision of the association?

The vision of VOLU is to become the most versatile and trustworthy volunteering organization in Ghana and Africa as a whole.

  1. What is the mission of the association?

VOLU’s mission is to mobilize students and the youth to render voluntary service to needy communities through workcamping activities.

  1. What are the aims of the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana (VOLU)?

  • To organize and run voluntary workcamps in Ghana, either independently or in collaboration with other voluntary organizations or government departments.
  • To bring together all those interested in voluntary work either as active campers or as sympathizers.
  1. What are the key activities of VOLU?

Since its inception, VOLU has been organizing manual work programmes such as construction of school buildings, post offices, clinics and health centres, community centres, feeder roads and bridges, tree planting and forestation, as well as sanitation projects like de-silting choked gutters. Some of these workcamps are specific, involving experimental living with families or ecumenical camping, which are specialized workcamps for those inclined to Christian principles. VOLU has also been engaging in social service programmes such as adult education on HIV/AIDS, teaching physically and mentally challenged children, as well as organizing leadership training courses for its members. It also engages in cultural exchange programmes with its foreign counterparts.

  1. How does VOLU recruit its members?

VOLU members are recruited by engaging in membership drives in institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, banks and other workplaces. It also recruits local inhabitants from communities where workcamps are organized and all interested individuals above sixteen years of age without regards to sex, age, creed, educational status, political affiliation or ethnic background. Branches of VOLU are established in the institutions and communities.

  1. What have been some of the achievements of the association since its inception?

VOLU has achieved so much, which include the construction and social projects enumerated above as well as the establishment of a vocational and leadership training centre at Kordiabe in the Greater Accra Region. It has also assisted in establishing similar workcamp organizations in other African countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Namibia and had coordinated the provision of tools to communities in Ghana from Tools for Self Reliance, an organization based in the United Kingdom.

  1. How does VOLU finance its activities?

Funding comes from membership registration fees and dues, workcamp registration fees from both local and foreign volunteers, sale of VOLU T-shirts and ID cards, donations from patrons, VSO and individuals as well as bookings at the VOLU Training Centre at Kordiabe

  1. How can the association still be made relevant in volunteering in the 21st century?

The association can still be relevant in modern times by diversifying its activities to keep pace with the times by introducing modern trends such as ICT literacy, certificated programmes, cross cultural activities such as learning drumming and dancing, tour guidance and engaging in activities in connection with the millennium development goals such as environmental protection, child rights, gender balance and so on.

  1. What has been some of the challenges of the association?

The major challenge of the association is the absence of a dependable and sustainable source of income to allow long term planning, which invariably, has resulted in dwindling finances leading to borrowing and a mounting debt. This has culminated in the decline of active membership, reduced foreign participation, breakdown of workcamp activities and programmes, declining correspondence and so on.

The reasons for the above may include the curtailment of government subventions, changes in the academic programmes of second cycle institutions, a shift of interest from the traditional form of workcamping, proliferation of NGO’s, foreign partners turning their interest elsewhere to such regions as East Africa, Asia and South America and modern materialism.

  1. What has been some of the benefits to members of the association?

By joining VOLU, some of the benefits to members include making friends, knowing places, building capacity and leadership skills, acquiring technical knowledge and such qualities as endurance, tolerance, sacrifice, versatility, group living, sharing ideas, getting job opportunities for some members, interracial marriage, the joy of having accomplished some felt-need of a community, social networking and participating in cultural exchange programmes in foreign countries.

  1. How does VOLU see the youth of today and volunteering in Ghana?

The youth of today are seen to be very interested in material things and wanting to be paid for services they render, which might probably be due to the fact that opportunities are not created by the government and other organizations to rekindle the volunteer spirits in them.

  1. What is a voluntary workcamp?

A voluntary workcamp is a group of people living and learning together in simple conditions and working voluntarily, mainly by manual labor for the benefit of the community.

  1. What are the aims of workcamps themselves?

  • To encourage voluntary service to the community both among the campers and in the communities for which the campers work.
  • To bring together educated and illiterate, town folks and villagers and Africans and non – Africans (international) in a common respect for manual labor by doing useful constructive work in their spare or leisure time.
  • To help poor communities to do work which they would otherwise be unable to do by themselves.
  • To further international and interracial understanding by inviting people from abroad to attend camps in Ghana and by sponsoring Ghanaians to go to workcamps abroad.
  1. What kind of work do the campers do?

Campers spend about seven hours a day, offering mostly unskilled manual labour: digging, clearing bush, mixing of concrete, molding blocks or assisting in block laying. The projects are mostly roads, schools, street drains, latrines, hospitals or clinics, social or community centers, bridges, culverts etc. in the villages and the small towns, which the local people themselves are carrying out through offering voluntary communal labour. The girls may do lighter jobs on the projects and help in the kitchen.

Of late in most of the workcamps, the association has incorporated educational programs such as literacy education, AIDS Awareness Campaign work among the local community. The function of the workcamp is not to do the work for the people but to assist them by inculcating into themselves the spirit of self reliance by working with them.

In selecting and arranging the projects, VOLU co-operates closely with some government departments and agencies, especially the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, the local, district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies.

  1. Who comes to the workcamps?

The majority are Ghanaians, students and teachers with a sizeable proportion being volunteers from abroad. People of any profession are welcomed if they can spare the time and have the right frame of mind to endure the conditions in the deprived communities.

  1. What qualification should a volunteer have?

One should be in good health, be at least sixteen years old, and is willing to work hard at unskilled jobs and live with others in simple conditions.

  1. How many volunteers are there in a workcamp?

In a small workcamp there are about 10; in a large one, 30 to 45. An average sized workcamp has about 25 volunteers.

  1. When are the workcamps organized?

There are two main workcamp seasons, summer and winter or Christmas workcamps. The summer workcamps start from June to the end of October, while the winter or Christmas workcamps start from the second week of December to the end of January or middle of February. However, from time to time Camp Leadership Training Workshops are held in the Easter holidays to prepare future leaders to lead the workcamps.

  1. How long do workcamps last?

Between three to four weeks. There are also weekend workcamps at which only one or two days work is done.

  1. How long can a volunteer stay on a workcamp?

Each volunteer is expected to stay at least two weeks in a workcamp.

  1. How much does it cost to go on a workcamp?

Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana (VOLU) pays for the food, handle and arrange for the accommodation and administrative expenses during the workcamp. Campers pay their own travel expenses. Foreign or international volunteers pay a fee to help cover other expenses.

  1. What happens after work?

Each workcamp arranges its own programme of leisure time activities, which generally include: debates, discussions, talks, entertainment, dance, games, excursions and where possible swimming. Some evenings of each week are however, left free.

  1. How does one join the Association?

By completing membership application form and sending it with the required membership subscription fee to the headquarters in Accra. The annual subscription is GH¢10.00. Members, especially those who cannot have time to attend workcamps and can afford to donate towards the running and upkeep of the association are encouraged to do so. It is essential for Ghanaians to join the association (VOLU) before attending a workcamp.

  1. How is the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana associated with other workcamp

        organizations abroad?

VOLU co-operates with the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) of UNESCO and has for several years served as an executive member and vice president of the committee. Volunteers are exchanged between Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana and other organizations in Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America.

  1. What does one get out of it all?

Once you enter fully into the work and life of the workcamp and you put in your maximum effort, you are bound to have an interesting and enjoyable experience. You make friends from other countries, you will get to know other parts of the world quiet new to you and above all, you will have the satisfaction of having to work with others to lend support to other less privileged people in a community on a useful project for your fellow human kind. This brings to the fore the Motto of VOLU: Service to The People Is Service To Mankind written in short “…Service To Mankind”.

  1. What personal items should one bring to the workcamp?

Very essential items include mosquito net, malaria prophylactic medicine, water purifier and insect repellent.

Essential items are toilet articles, work clothes, shoes (work boots), water bottle, cutlery, cup, dish, flash light, raincoat, sleeping bag.

Optional items include musical instruments, swimming suit, indoor and outdoor games, camera, etc. for leisure time activities.

  1. What general advice can be given to the public?

  • Government should implement the National Youth Policy and provide the needed support to organizations such as VOLU in running their activities.
  • Parents should encourage their children to join volunteer organizations such as VOLU in order to benefit from their rich experiences.
  • Heads of institutions should encourage and revive the formation of clubs and branches of associations such as VOLU in their institutions.
  • Communities should collaborate with VOLU in the revival of the spirit of communal labour.
  • Corporate bodies and individuals should support VOLU and other similar organizations to carry on their activities.