Why you should volunteer, including to #volunteeringh for National Volunteer Day (#NVDay) — September 21 in Ghana

Ato Ulzen-Appiah
4 min readSep 17, 2018

On Sunday September 16, I was added to the NUGS Volta Region Bloc Women’s Platform to share and discuss volunteering and volunteeringh. It was exciting to do this after Barcamp Ho coordinator Courage Christson Tetteh had done something similar with them earlier. Pamela Klutse is a young lady I admire and it was great to have this discussion with her, Makafui Tsey and other young tertiary level ladies based in the Volta Region, many of which have never been to Barcamp Ho. The various submissions I shared are important for National Volunteer Day so here is another #MightAfrican blog post :-) Remember to join us for NVDay18, see more details at volunteeringh.org

Sometime in late 2012 — in lieu of the elections — #GhanaDecides, some GhanaThink members and I were thinking about the lack of great leadership in Ghana. We believed that many of our political leaders didnt inspire confidence in Ghanaians or cause us to act. We believed that we needed to lead more as individuals, and the idea of volunteerism became very important to us. You see, volunteering involves taking responsibility, taking charge and getting things done, without expecting monetary benefit for the most part. Volunteering is very much about serving.

In 2013, we decided to institute National Volunteer Day — NVDay. This was to.encourage many people in Ghana to volunteer, make impact in our communities, help solve problems in ways we could, and help people. It wasn’t just to help people, but help ourselves as volunteers : in building skills — especially soft skills, gaining experience, networks, etc. See more about the first couple of years on Wikipedia. We chose Founders’ Day — September 21. This was a day the Atta Mills led government instituted as a day to remember the founders of Ghana (men and women) who did great things for Ghana. By volunteering around September 21, we would also be doing something for Ghana.

Volunteering through NVDay has enabled several people to gain leadership, teamwork, and other skills because they are given opportunities to learn on the job. This is similar for many Volunteeringh opportunities all year round for people in Ghana. There are so many examples of #volunteeringh activities one can do. Eleanor Asare (a member of the Ghana Volunteer Program team which runs NVDay) has leveraged it to build the CSR Hub. Kuukuwa Manful started SociArchi after leading about 40 people to build a playground for a school in Accra. Sampson Deklu (the Partnerships lead for Barcamp Ghana) started volunteering and is now running #ThousandFor1000.

Aside this, let me use myself as an example. I have been volunteering since my time in university, first degree. I had the opportunity to learn how to run training programs, work in teams with diverse groups of people, how to use different types of software, how to send better emails, etc.

By volunteering to run Barcamps in Ghana with others — I proved my ability to bring hundreds of people together who are tech savvy, influential, driven and hard working. Those types of people are valuable to many companies. When Google was hiring a program manager to work on programs for these types of people in Ghana, some of those hiring already knew me and my abilities due to my previous volunteering. So when I applied for the job, I was very confident I would get it, and surely I got it. I knew my experience was great for what they were looking for

Volunteering puts you in places that help you learn, gain information, form insight and produce intuition. It makes your interviews conversations instead of Q&A because you know what you’re about and can demonstrate your abilities. Because you’re not being paid while volunteering, you’re given some space to fail, and learn without major consequences. It allows you to try, figure out best things if you have an attitude of learning, and puts you in various positions. You’re given the chances to try your hands at different roles, if you succeed, you continue, if you don’t, you learn and everyone involved finds something else for you to do.

This year, GhanaThink ran Jobcamps in every regional capital in Ghana. Employers who were at the events were in unison about volunteering- they love it. Many employers would hire those who volunteer with them, show their abilities and qualities, and then bring them on for salary instead of others who they don’t know well — and don’t have requisite experiences to add value to their organizations. Ghanaian youth must actively seek out opportunities to volunteer or create their own volunteeringh activities. It shows and sows so many soft skills and builds skills that become valuable for work, entrepreneurship, business, etc. Certificates are not enough, and those are not what you should be chasing, chase skills.

Around September 21, 2018 brings more volunteeringh opportunities. I hope we all here take advantage of NVDay to add more value to our lives, continue to build our track records that would make our professional lives much easier due to built skills and excellent experiences.

Can’t volunteer? Support us financially by donating via https://expresspaygh.com/nvday or via mobile money — MTN-0245857061 (Midas Bambilla) | Vodafone-0207823076 (Eleanor Asare) | AirtelTigo-0267879382 (Ato Ulzen-Appiah). Register, join activities or find more info via https://volunteeringh.org



Ato Ulzen-Appiah

I’m part of @GhanaThink which runs @barcampghana @JuniorCampGhana @volunteeringh, etc & @Museke. Read #mightyafrican blogs & @Abocco’s @ #GhanaConscious.