ZF Takes Students on Service Trip to Ghana – 2013
Going to Ghana gave me a grasp of what Google’s endless search options never can.” -Muryem Quadri
A group of high school and college students from the USA embarked on a service-immersion trip to Ghana West Africa with the Zakat Foundation of America (ZF). The trip was held June 23, 2013 to July 7, 2013. .
The student travelers joined hands with Ghanaian villagers to construct a water-well while learning about the global water crisis. The community in which the well was built did not have enough water to drink, and the water they did have was so contaminated that it caused them to develop poor vision and in some cases blindness, as is the case with the imam of their mosque.
The students also worked at a ZF sponsored cassava farm co-op for agricultural development and economic empowerment of women. There the students rolled up their sleeves with the village women and harvested, peeled and processed cassava vegetables so that the villagers can take it to the local market for profit.
At an Ivorian refugee camp in Berekum Ghana, the ZF students sat with the village chiefs to plan a community fair. Tug o’ war, carnival games, bubbles, poetry, team challenges – these were just some of the activities the ZF students offered to the children at the camp. The ZF youth were regarded so highly by the village elders who listened carefully to their ideas, offering feedback and support with such graceful deliberation.
At a Sunyani village Islamic school, the ZF students ran educational and recreational programs that shared unique aspects of the Muslim American cultural experience. In exchange, the Ghanaian school children had prepared their own dynamic cultural performances to share with the ZF students including drumming, traditional dance, drama, and Quran recitation.
Historic museums and ecological tourism helped to wind down an intense service immersion in the last days of the trip. The students hiked through the Kakum national rainforest reserve. They visited slave forts used in the tragic transatlantic slave trade where they walked the same steps taken by at least 12 million Africans forced off the Cape Coast shore to be enslaved on America’s plantations. They visited several national museums, tried some kente cloth weaving, and more.
Each day began with the early dawn prayer and a brief spiritual talk to foster a meaningful context for our work; and each day concluded with a language lesson in Twi, and a group reflection to help process the intense but incredible experience.
Contact us to stay informed of future student service trips with ZF.
Youth Reflections From Ghana
Zakat Foundation of America’s student travelers share thoughts on their service-immersion experience in Ghana, West Africa:
Going to Ghana gave me a grasp of what Google’s endless search options never can. An idea of community so strong, that I only perceived it to exist in movies….All the cliché phrases you would expect to hear from someone who “spent time in Africa” have stumbled out of my mouth upon returning home. I really do “feel more grateful when I realize what endless opportunities I have, and plethora of knowledge I am privy to.” The exception is that I am now apprehending what those cliché phrases actually mean and what consequences are linked to them. -Muryem Quadri
Going to Ghana was truly a life changing experience, alhamdulillah. Till this day, not a minute passes without me thinking of all the wonderful most beautiful men, women, and children I’ve ever met. They are always in my thoughts, and with that I appreciate even the most single drop of water or piece of shelter and clothing I have. I learned that sometimes you have to throw yourself into a new experience, open up and step out of your comfort zone, and you truly will be changed. It’s the small gestures that mean the most. -Ayat Musleh
There is something very solemnly impressive and benevolent when it comes to the spirituality and devotional beliefs of the Ghanaian Muslims that I met. Free from the distractions of technology–of iPhones and iPads, the busy 9-to-5 Western career lifestyle that limits family and personal time, and, perhaps the biggest distraction of all, laziness. Amal, during our trip, pointed out the importance of family in the co-op that we visited–where nursing mothers and toddlers and teen-age children all spent the day at the co-op in the proximity of their loved ones. It was a life that I was very fond of–and slightly jealous of, considering the degree to which we spend our time away from our families in the U.S. even at very young ages–away at college, at work, at internships, after-school activities…our personal career values and the developmental privilege of the countries where we reside certainly advance us technologically, but leave us impoverished, disconnected, and unfulfilled spiritually and emotionally. -Noor Hassan
Going to Ghana is one of the most beautiful memories I will ever know. I say this firmly because I truly believe that Ghana is a starting point, a launching pad to fulfilling my individual and unique potential to change and be changed. -Hannan Ouyoun
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