Maddie Roberts, GapBreak, Ghana
I didn’t take a gap year because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at University, I knew, I’d known for years. I took a gap year to find myself, to learn to appreciate what I have and to find happiness again. When I left for Ghana I was angry at the world for all my problems and what I found half-way across the globe was the means to put that behind me. I’m not saying every person should take a gap year to a developing country if they are going through some emotional issues, because it’s not for everyone.
I am saying that if you are willing and ready to change your life, no matter who you are or what state of mind you are in, I can guarantee that a trip like this will do that for you, even if it is only in the smallest of ways. It’s hard to convey three months of extreme emotions, eye-opening experiences, unforgettable new friends and amazing travel destinations in a short story, but here we go.
I’m Maddie Roberts and in September of 2011 I travelled alongside eight amazing girls from all around Australia on the gap year of a lifetime. We left September 7th, some of us had met up to leave together from Australia, but we all met and took the same flight to Accra from Dubai. I had never left Australia, this was my first trip overseas and sitting in the airport in Dubai I was terrified. I kept asking myself why I would want to do such a long trip as my first internationally, especially to a developing country. Why didn’t I go to Bali or Europe like the rest of my friends? I kept questioning myself, telling myself I was going to fail, that I wouldn’t last three months and to be honest, for the first two weeks I genuinely didn’t think I would.
I could tell you about how many days I was so homesick that all I wanted to do was get on the next plane and go home. I could tell you how scary it was getting separated from the group in the middle of Kaneshie bus terminal. But, when I was homesick, I walked outside my bedroom door and found the most beautiful family waiting in the lounge room, with two of the kindest Antips volunteers smiling at me with open arms. When I was lost in Kaneshie a local woman left her stall, grabbed my hand and led me through the winding, loud, fish smelling markets to the tro-tro where the girls were waiting for me. The whole time this stranger from the markets kept telling me “Stop crying, you are safe”.
When it came to the children at the Helping Hands Orphanage, twenty minutes out of Agona Swedru, I could have seen myself living there for years. The children there are the happiest most care-free people I have ever met. I guess you would expect that from children, but from what we know here to what they know there, most would imagine them to be miserable. It’s the complete opposite, their joy is unfathomable and two weeks with those children is sure to change you from the inside, out.
As I said at the beginning, I can’t explain this trip in a short story, I probably couldn’t even if I was standing in front of you with all of my photos. It would take for you to go there and experience what I did, through your own eyes. Take a chance, experience something completely different and let Ghana change your life.