Ever wanted to travel? Or use your skills to help African communities? Then being part of Global Brigades is for you. The Soton Tab had a chat with society president George Emmanouli to see what this unique volunteering opportunity is all about.
Firstly can you tell me a little bit about your society?
Global Brigades is the largest student-led volunteering organisation in the world. The aim of the society is to plan 10-day brigades to communities in Ghana. There are 9 different skill-based brigades, which all contribute to different problems in the communities.
When and why was the society set up?
The society was set-up a few months ago. I went on a water brigade last summer and I had to join a brigade from King’s College. We built a rainwater harvester that has a lifetime of 20 years, which was exciting! We really worked hard to make it happen. But seeing the people’s gratitude made every drop of sweat count. When I got back, I was so inspired by the work I did there that I wanted to get involved and give Southampton students the opportunity to experience what I did.
Can you describe a typical volunteering expedition for us?
There are communities with different needs so not all brigades go on the same ones. First there is ceremony led by the chief, where they welcome you to the community. It is a great experience. Children are fighting over who will sit on your lap and then you get involved in dance competitions, so you have to be ready to show all your big moves. It is a nice way to develop an initial bond with community members. Then for about a week you go in the community every morning, work from 8am-4pm with a small break for lunch and go back to the lodge that you are staying and relax by the beach. Everyday there is 1hour discussion session to plan the next day’s work and discuss on important issues such as sustainable development etc. Then dinner and chilling with some drinks. After completing the program there is a closing ceremony, a one day visit to the capital Accra and then back to the UK.
Any funny traveling stories?
It was my birthday when I was there and they told me to sit in a chair. They blindfolded me, and my friends started singing the happy birthday when one came threw me a big bucket of water and I got soaked! I learned the hard way about this tradition. Thank god it wasn’t beer!
Now for the most important questions, Chic-o-Land or Manzils?
I’ll go with Manzils. It was our sponsor in the engineering football team and if you are going to Ghana, you need to start appreciating spicy food!!
Soton Tab or Wessex Scene?
Wessex what?… Soton Tab of course!
To find out more about Global Brigades, join their .