Lattitude Blog

That one question.

My aim is to understand that one question. The question that consistently irks me and changes with the prime intention of catching me out. The question that wherever I go arises to greet me and knock all linguistic confidence from my inner being.

It’s a Friday evening, I’ve cycled from work, soaked by the rain, keen to escape to the safety of my apartment -but the supermarket draws me in with the promise of sugary goodness and reduced labels. I walk to the till, clutching my Japanese treats, the cashier scans my items in a flash of lightening, I slowly look up and it’s then- that she mutters those inaudible words. The ones I try so desperately to comprehend. She looks at my expectantly. I’m a deer caught in the headlights. ‘Sumimasen…’ I pause anxiously and questionably answer “Hai” (yes). She nods and proceeds to put my purchases in a bag. Today I have won.

Tomorrow I may answer ‘hai’ again and a bag might not come my way, I may have to boldly ask for one directly, or cowardly walk away with my arms grasping a mountain of shopping, but today… today I have won.

I felt a similar feeling a few days ago in the hospital canteen. For the small price of 300 yen we can get a really nice Japanese meal at work, there was just one problem. Cabbage. For my placement partner (a renound cabbage lover) it was a dream, a delicious mountain of cabbage salad. For me it was a mountain I was not keen to climb. Every day I faced the cabbage challenge, I tried adjusting my tastebuds, pouring a variety of sauces over it, not eating it at all. But it still bothered me. So I learnt how to say politely in Japanese “only a little please, I don’t like cabbage’ and so long behold. I no longer have the cabbage challenge… happy days!

The smallest achievements are often the ones that get me through a week of Japanese lessons, make me less afraid to go shopping and order a meal in a language a world from my own. Sometimes it feels like you’ve been pushed into the deep-end and it’s easy to forget that it was you who did the pushing. You have to be prepared to put yourself out there and understand that people admire you trying.

First update.

I’ve been in Japan for a couple of weeks now and have been super busy but now that my schedule is sorted I finally have some time to go over everything that has been going on! On orientation all the volunteers (from Canada, Australia and the U.K.) went to Tokyo and explored a bit. I ended up with an Australian tinge to my accent when I left! Sometimes there’d be language barriers between us despite all speaking English! My top event was going to Karaoke because there’s nothing better than 16 people all belting out to classic songs- All Star by Smash Mouth being my favourite.

I had a bit of culture shock when arriving (the Japanese style communal bathroom in the hostel being the first) predominantly due to the fact that no one speaks English and tourists (even in Tokyo) are still a bit of a rarity in retrospect to other countries I’ve visited. Being blonde I am very evidently foreign and stand out. In Kumamoto (where I have been placed) it is very residential and I have yet to meet another foreigner besides my partner and I. Because of this I’ve come to realise two things here. People either assume you speak no Japanese at all. Or that you speak it fluently. Often Japanese people have no recent English to back on so can only speak Japanese to you regardless. This often allows for awkward moments- in these times the word ‘hai’ (yes) becomes your best friend. If ‘wakarimasen’ (I don’t understand) gets you no where.

People are very helpful if you don’t understand and trust me when I say hand gestures get you a long way. Yes, you may feel like a complete idiot but you see yourself doing it more than once. Trust me. So far I’ve been studying Japanese in the hospital and although daunting I’ve found perseverance is the key. My teachers are very helpful and put up with me when I just don’t get it, supporting me all the way! Manners are very important here and I was given comprehensive details about Japanese customs both at orientation and the first few days on placement. Often when meeting important people from the company e.g. The president the manners and introductions I’d learnt were beyond helpful in presenting my respect and gratitude.

Although it is easy to get frustrated by language and culture barriers so far I’ve found looking at the funny side of mistakes makes it easier. Because there have been a few times, normally when shopping, where no matter how hard you try- there is NO way you’re going to find which aisle the flour is in. Oh and smiling. People can never get mad if you smile at them.


Today was our first day back in Abrobiano, after an enjoyable weekend spent in Cape Coast with the other volunteers; we had the last week of summer school to complete. The summer school has been a massive success and a focal point in our programme which I’m sure we all will sadly miss.  Straight after summer school we had rehearsals for the end of summer school show which was being held on the Friday coming (12th September). The children gathered outside the office to practice their performances; poetry dancing and singing. We previously held auditions and already started rehearsals the week before but already its amazing how much the children are taking in our comments and working so hard on their pieces. After lunch we came back to the office for Jenny and Musa’s Active citizenship day which was on peace and conflict. We also had a meeting based on our personal and team case studies which we will need to finish by next week. Our first official weekly newsletter which we created came out today and it looks amazing! The newsletter includes topics such as various health issues, questions and answers, pictures of the volunteers and the community, upcoming events and jokes. We should all be proud of what we have done and hopefully it’s an ongoing accomplishment for the next cycle to carry on.


The first lesson of summer school today was planned and taught by the peer educators, sadly two did not show up due to farming, but the peer educators who did teach executed a well thought out lesson which the children enjoyed.  After the first lesson the children and all volunteers had to clean the schools in preparation for the return of school next week. The children showed all of the UKV’s up with their impressive weeding and sweeping skills!  Following Mondays plan we carried on with rehearsals and planning a general overview of how our event was going to run on Friday.



Today was officially the last day of summer school; however as the village was holding an annual boat race, we were informed to close school as no children will turn up and to attend the event. We all headed to the lagoon midday to be greatly surprised by the amount of villagers who showed up- it’s the busiest we’ve seen the community! The organisers agreed to Sir Henry (country manager) and Sir Paul (our community liaison) that ICS can get involved with the boat race just before the final. We created two teams with a mixture of boys and girls to take part which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. The overall winners of the day were awarded 200 Cedi from Lattitude global volunteering. Generally the day was enjoyable for all people watching and taking part.



We spent all of Thursday organising the end of summer school show. Sarah (ICV) went to cape coast to buy mosquito nets, books and pens, refreshments and snacks in which we were giving out at the event. We had the last rehearsals with the children and we can honestly say the children have worked so hard on their performances that we just hope the event has a great turn out! As a group we devised a performance based on Ebola and cholera and two volunteers made a speech on sexually transmitted diseases which will be performed at the event to raise awareness of these important health issues. After lunch we came back to the office for Amy, Amber and Patricks My Culture Day which was based on the Christmas period and how in the UK, we celebrate these festivities.


After all of our hard work we previously put in, the day has finally arrived for our end of summer school show! We started our day early collecting chairs and cleaning out MA Primary School to set up for our event. We created summer school show flyers to hand out in the street walk we were holding later in the day. People went home to have lunch and then came back early to the school to carry on setting things up. Following the completion of our event layout, we marched down the streets of Abrobiano handing out our flyers and informing all villagers of the event we are holding. The street walk worked really   well and many people followed us to our venue. When planning for this event, we considered how long it will take the community folks to arrive and told people we were starting at 1pm even though the actual time of starting was 3pm. All the children performing or collecting awards showed up and waited quietly in the halls of MA primary awaiting the start of the show. The show started just after three- which is an achievement in Abro! The Mc’s introduced Lattitude and then the chief’s linguist gave a speech to the audience about children, encouraging their kids to work at school and the rewards will follow. The show got off to an exciting start with the dancers taking the stage and doing an astounding performance! All the acts were amazing and really showed how much hard work and time the children put into their pieces and was appreciated by everyone involved. After the performances we held an awards ceremony and gave out prizes for the children who were punctual and worked hard at our summer school. The overall event was a success and a fantastic way to end summer school! We finished off with the DJ playing music for the children to dance until close. The volunteers ended the day off in Abro’s bar to celebrate the end of our events.

The children from our summer school watching the performances

The children from our summer school watching the performances

Awarding some of the students for their participation in the summer school

Awarding some of the students for their participation in the summer school

Saturday and Sunday

We spent the weekend soaking up the beautiful weather at the beach. The weekends are usually pretty chilled and they allow UKV’s and ICV’s to bond in a non working environment and to just have fun. 

Charlotte and Sarah

Frank Andam Baiden, Week Eight`s Blog Plost

We were at the football for hope center that beautiful Saturday morning, the 6th September, 2014, when the Abro team joined the Cape team on Friday 5th September, 2014. The intention of Abro team being in Cape Coast on Friday was to join the Orange Friday for FETU Afahye. We had a football match which is a return match, we had during the visit to Abro. It was in fact a fantastic game we had.DSC_0331
The first game which was played between the Abro and the Cape ladie`s team ended with 3 goals by of Hannah, Gertrude, Hannah Marshal-Leo, Charlotte Healy and Princess to defeat the Abro team.

The boyz team also surprisingly defeated the Abro team by five goals to nil with four brilliant goals from Oliver, and William with the finishing goal. It was indeed a fantastic play from the Cape team. Lukman Khalil our captain made productive passes to his players to achieve this success.

There was this plan that all of us meet at Goil filling station for a live band at 6:00pm and to the Oasis beach at 11:00pm.
We started home work club which was initially vacation classes again from Monday the 8th of September, 2014.
The mysterious team ABRA-CADABRA, which is being managed by William Clare, (the coach) Frank Andam(team manager), defeated the LATITTUDE FC by 9 goals to 2. We were able to give them 4 goals for the first half and added five in the second half, and managed to score 2 goals out of it.
The media team was at live fm on the 12th, September, 2014, to create awareness about the health screening which will take place on Saturday, the 13th September, 2014.

BY: Frank Andam Baiden

Blog week 7 from Abrobiano :)

We are now into week 7 of our placement with only 2 weeks left in Abro! We only had a four day teaching week ahead before we were to set off to Cape Coast for a fun weekend, so everyone’s spirits were high but we also had a lot to do this week.

Monday started like usual; summer school from 9am onwards, followed by rehearsals with the drama school children to prepare for our last event. Seeing the children rehearse has been entertaining, watching them do the Azonto and sing, they have definitely improved the more we see them. We had ACD with Eric, Amber and Charlotte on Globalisation and Interdependence, which focused on how we can make the world a better place through recycling and being more resourceful. It was a really fun session which involved team games and winning lollipops! We ended the evening by going round the community with our counterparts completing a survey on water; how the community got their water, where from and the overall cleanliness of it. The focus of this research is to use the data to highlight the desperation and the need for clean running water in Abrobiano. We are hoping to influence Lattitude to help us improve Abrobiano by funding a development plan of providing clean water for the community.

We continued our Summer School teaching as usual and headed home for lunch whilst some carried on their water survey in the community; we had to ask 50 people in different areas of the community to get reliable data. We returned back at the office shortly after lunch for basic French lessons kindly taught by Sir Samingo and Alex. We learnt how to ask basic questions and respond, such as what is your name and how old are you/ where do you live? Some of the community members can speak French so hopefully it will come in handy at some point. Following that, we had a beading class with Abigail a previous volunteer. We each got to make earrings which were fun to do and not that hard, it was a creative day! It was a busy one too as we also had football training and volleyball afterwards ready for round 2 at Cape Coast at the weekend.

On Wednesday the Summer School routine as usual occurred followed by the group being taught Fante by Fati and Jutta; we learnt the alphabet which was interesting, I think the group agree we should have started Fante lessons from the first week of being here, but better late than never! Another beading was next, this time the girls got to make pretty anklet bracelets whilst the boys got to make bracelets, so now we are all walking round sporting our latest accessory. Football training and volley ball was on the agenda again until the evening as we all had to get home for dinner and be at Sarah and Lizzie’s social on the beach for 8. We all arrived at the beach not knowing what to expect, but the night turned out successfully; we had chocolate ice cream! And games with prizes, I won the prize for the musical status one (Rachael). The social was a really good turn out everyone came and had a laugh.

Fati and Jutta teaching the rest of the volunteers the local language Fante

Fati and Jutta teaching the rest of the volunteers the local language Fante

Everyone was excited for tomorrow so the atmosphere was good all round,  We had MCD presented by Musa and Fati which was focused on the different regions of Ghana and migration, with emphasis on the Northern/ Volta region. We also learnt which region each of the ICVs comes from. Afterwards we had our weekly team meeting.

Friday finally came; we all got to the office at 7am to head to Cape Coast for our final football match against them. Our first stop was Kakum National Park where we did the Canopy walk. We stopped off at Hans cottage on the way to Cape Coast, where we got to see crocodiles being fed. We finally got to Cape Coast football for hope centre where we were met with an excited welcome from the volunteers, we went out to see the festival and experience Orange Friday and played our match the following day.


Jutta and Rachael

Patrick and Gloria, ICS Abrobiano

Monday 25th August 2014

The Lattitude team started the week with a morning of teaching in our Summer School.  Today’s lessons included Maths, English And Art.  In the afternoon the team regrouped for our Active Citizenship Day.  This week’s presentation was on Globalisation and Interdependence and was presented by volunteers Catherine, Lizzie and Mercy.  It was a lively discussion as the group tackled issues around trade and consumerism, fair trade, transnational corporations and sustainable development.

Tuesday 26th August 2014

Today the team met at 8am for a street march around the village.  The aim of the march was to give more exposure to our summer school program in order to encourage as many pupils as possible to attend for the final few weeks of summer.  The team also used the opportunity to promote our upcoming events which include a football and volleyball gala as well as an end of Summer School performance.    After the street march the team headed to classes which today included ICT, Maths and English.  The team regrouped in the afternoon for a team meeting regarding the weeks activities and organisation of events.  After the team meeting volunteers had volleyball and football practice ahead of the weekends volleyball and football gala.  In the evening the football gala team met with the village gang leaders in order to discuss and finalise plans for the weekend.

Wednesday 27th August 2014

The day started with more teaching at the Summer School.  Today’s lessons were Art, ICT and English.  After lunch the football gala team met to further finalise the plans for the weekend’s events.  Other volunteers met with the Peer Education team, going over teaching skills.

In the evening the team met for ‘social night’ at Jenny and Faustina’s house.  We played lots of games like pin the tail on the goat, 2 truths 1 lie and the guess the person hat game.    It was a fantastic evening and another great opportunity for the volunteers to get to know each other.

Thursday 28th August 2014

The morning again started with our Summer School .  Today’s lessons included Art, English, and ICT.  At 2pm volunteer Sam taught the first French Club lesson, which is going to take place every week for the pupils from summer school.  In the afternoon volunteers Rachael and Sam presented their My Culture Day.  They chose to focus on Multiculturalism in the UK and the issues surrounding it.

Friday 29th August

Today was a bit different.  Instead of our usual classes we used the opportunity to weed the football  pitch into pristine playing condition.   Under the watchful eye of the super awesome infrastructure team the school roofing project was completed.  It was a huge success for the team.  In the afternoon the team met again for our weekly meeting. Volunteers Amy and Gilbert spent the day in Cape Coast collecting equipment for Saturdays event.

Saturday 30th August

It was a gorgeous morning in Abrobiano as the team met at 9am in order to collect the canopies and chairs for the football gala.  Once the pitch and posts were arranged the team had lunch and then returned for the event.   The day was a huge success with all 5 gangs arriving and playing the tournament matches.  During the matches Lattitude volunteers recorded information from a survey on the issues within the community conducted with the spectators of the football matches. The data collected will be hugely beneficial for the volunteers in the next cycles, to help shape the project for the future.  Each gang team received a shovel and the winning gang also received a head pan, to help with community labour.  After each match, teams were given watermelon, oranges and water. In the evening volunteers headed to the local bar to celebrate the days success.  On Sunday volunteers rested on the beach and recharged their batteries in expectation of another fun filled busy week.

ICS Volunteers caarying out a survey with the spectators at the Abrobiano football gala

ICS Volunteers caarying out a survey with the spectators at the Abrobiano football gala

Patrick and Gloria

Apologies for the lateness bloggers! Lots of Abrobiano posts coming your way!

The Mid Placement Review (MPR) was the talk of the week as everyone in the team was looking forward to the trip to Kumasi. On Monday, 18th August, volunteers attended their daily summer school classes which started at 9.00am and finished at 12.00pm. Later on in the day, the team met for our fourth ACD presentation which was facilitated by Patrick and Gloria. As before, the ACD was made interactive as volunteers, aided by Patrick and Gloria, delved well into the topic “Social Justice and Equity”. Indeed it was a battle of knowledge as well as a trade of ideas. There was a short meeting afterwards of which we deliberated on upcoming events which included the MPR and the schedule for our one to one the following day. We ended the day with a movie night in Alex and Eric’s host home.

It was the usual summer school classes on Tuesday 19th of August. This was coupled with our one to one talks which stretched from 8:30am to 4.30pm. Earlier, the infrastructure team had kick started with the roofing of the M.A primary school classroom, a course which all volunteers had agreed to make happen, by making individual contributions. Again the Day was ended with a movie night in Eric and Alex’s host home.

Day three on week five, 20th August, was again met with our usual summer school classes. This was followed by a team meeting. As part of our preparation for the MPR, we made a video shooting in which every team in the group briefly spoke about the progress of their projects. In the evening, every team member in the group was looking forward to be wowed by Amy and Fati as it was their turn to surprise the group on their social. We convened in their house and we had fun.

Day four, 21st August was the last summer school for the week. Subsequently, the team met for an interesting MCD presented by Eric and Jutta on the topic “naming ceremony” and Fetu Afahye respectively. This was immediately followed by a team meeting of which the group was reminded of our trip to Kumasi for our M.P.R. everybody went home happy in anticipation for Friday’s trip to Kumasi.

Day five, 22nd August, 2014, the long awaited day finally due. We all convened at the concourse of the office to wait for the bus. An hour later, all the volunteers from Abrobiano and Cape Coast set off to Kumasi. It was an interesting trip full of sessions focusing on each other’s experiences so far on the ICS programme and it was great to hear what the other group in Cape Coast have been up to on their project.

Amy and Gilbert :)

Jutta and Eric's My Culture Day

Jutta and Eric’s My Culture Day

Stefan UK Volunteer, Week 8

So, last weekend saw Cape Coast hold its annual festival. This meant there was a very lively atmosphere around town. I would say the best British comparison would be a bank holiday weekend, in that everyone here seemed to spend all day/ night drinking and eating BBQd food. One difference though, was the massive soundsystems that even the most lowly noodle shop seemed to have, all blasting out a load of Ghanaian music (a tad annoying considering their playlist consists of about six songs).

Also, our colleagues from the sister project in Abrobiano came to visit us, which meant two good nights of partying (definitely no excessive drinking) On Friday, we had a pool party, which was good fun. On Saturday, we had the football matches, which I am proud to say Cape Coast breezed through, barely even breaking a sweat, with the girls managing to make up for their embarrassing first-leg defeat. In the night we went to Oasis (basically the western club/ bar here) where we all got nice and merry. IMG_0716[1]

Nothing particularly noteworthy happened in the week.

Week 7

Bho Bho,

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, they also say brevity is the soul of wit, and here on team Mzuzu we happen to agree. To that end our journalistic enterprises will remain meagre whilst our photographic opus will, we hope, give you a greater feel for life out here in Malawi.

In brief, it is now week 7 here in Mzuzu, and we’ve all found our groove with our partner organisations, we’ve both gained momentum and lost it with our projects at various points throughout our tenure here. Work can be as frustrating as it is rewarding, when we’ve had a bad day or a good one; such are the vicissitudes of working in a developing country where disorganisation rules supreme. The path is never simple working here and to suggest that all things go smoothly at all times would be to do prospective volunteers a disservice.

That said, despite the challenges it takes only one good session, a thankful remark or sign of appreciation to remind us why we all want to be out here in the first place.

We’re now post halfway point, which, mercifully, was spent in Nkhata Bay, a beautiful lakeside area, where we were able to enjoy a little bit of downtime, swimming and canoeing in that famous lake, and lounging in the bar enjoying a few shandies and some palatable grub!

Our latest newsworthy happenings are that we are currently organising a talent show for the gifted amongst us in Mzuzu with a view to promoting all of our partner organisations and what they, and we, do. The auditions are through and the running order is finalised with a line up of poets, dancers, gymnasts, martial artists and singers taking the stage this coming Saturday, lets hope it goes off without a hitch. It’s clear from the amount of interest we’ve had in the town that events and activities for young people are lacking out here, which goes to show how worthwhile something like this is for Mzuzu.

That’s all for now.


Team Mzuzu

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International Day of Charity


Today is the International Day of Charity, established with the objectives of getting people together from all around the world, to help others through volunteering and acts of kindness.

The 5th of September was chosen as it marks the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa; a woman known for her nurturing character, love of humanity, and hard work to over come the struggles of poverty.

Some may see charity as purely a monetary donation, but charity is much more than just this and comes in many forms. Giving your time is perhaps the greatest form of charity because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back. Another aspect of charity is that of raising awareness of local and global issues, such as those highlighted by the Millennium Development Goals, which leads more people and organisations to act charitably.

Here at Lattitude Global Volunteering, charity is about volunteering to help those in need around the world, about raising awareness of global issues and our common humanity, and above all it is about empowering young people through the beneficial experience of charity and volunteering; developing skills, meeting new people, and opening our eyes to the world we live in.

To get you thinking about charity, here are some quotes from some of the most inspirational figures in our history:

“It’s Not How Much We Give, but How Much  Love We Put Into Giving” – Mother Teresa

“Charity sometimes gets dismissed, as if it is ineffective, inappropriate or even somehow demeaning to the recipient… Let us recognise charity for what it is at heart: a noble enterprise aimed at bettering the human condition.” - Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

“The Best Way To Find Yourself Is To Lose Yourself In The Service Of Others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“No One Is Useless In This World Who Lightens The Burden Of Another” – Charles Dickens

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important.  You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power; may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result”  - Mahatma Ghandhi

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

“Not until the creation and maintenance of decent conditions of life for all people are recognized and accepted as a common obligation of all people and all countries – not until then shall we, with a certain degree of justification, be able to speak of humankind as civilized.” - Albert Einstein

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go” - Mother Teresa