Gap year student Patrick expects trip to Ghana to be mind blowing

Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society stage the 2013 Christmas panto: Snow White and the Magic Mirror
Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society stage the 2013 Christmas panto: Snow White and the Magic Mirror

A Duns youngster is settling into his home for the next two months after journeying to Ghana on a volunteering


Patrick Watson left for Africa on Saturday, January 18 as part of a 21 strong group who will educate primary and secondary children in a small Ghanaian fishing village on health, hygiene and sexual health.

And there will also be opportunities to involve the youngsters in extra curricular activities, which Patrick is particularly looking forward to, given his keen involvement with Duns Players, Duns Operatic Society and Duns Rugby Club.

But despite being involved in a diverse range of activities back at home, Patrick told ‘The Berwickshire’ he knew his experiences in Ghana would very different to what he’s used to in Duns.

“Compared to other African countries Ghana is quite politically and economically stable,” he explained during a break in packing for the trip.

“But in its rural areas people are very poor and there is a severe lack of education.

“On the country’s south coast the people are very self-sufficient; there isn’t a focus on education or a mentality of people wanting to better themselves.”

Patrick travelled to Ghana after enrolling with the International Citizen Service, a UK government-funded development programme that brings together 18 to 25-year-olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities.

He was chosen to go by Latitude Global Volunteering, an international youth development charity which offers overseas placements to youngsters.

He was selected after impressing at an interview down in Reading and wasted no time in swotting up on what would be his home for two months.

“I wanted to do some research on what life is like out there but I knew there was only so much preparation I could do.

“Rather than staying in a hostel me and the other volunteers be living with a local family. I’ll eat with them, socialise with them so it’ll feel like we’re sharing their lives rather than just doing something then going away to do our own thing.”

Patrick has established himself as a talented actor on the local theatre scene in the last few years, last seen in Duns Operatic Society’s Christmas pantomime ‘Snow White & the Magic Mirror’.

And he took a play over to Ghana which he hopes to involve the local youngsters in.

“Eleanor Crawford (Duns producer) recommended a play about water to me which I thought was really good as water hygiene is a big issue over there and it involves a lot of movement so should be a fun one for the kids to do.

“I think the main reason I was chosen by Latuitude was due to my work with youngsters at the Rugby Club so I’m hoping that will stand me in good stead.”

Unfortunately being out in Ghana, Patrick will miss out on being in Duns Operatic Society’s spring production of ‘Me and My Girl’ and seeing friends when they’re home from uni but in his own words: “there’ll be other shows and plenty more opportunities to see my friends.

“I wouldn’t want to miss out on this experience; it’s going to be mind blowing.”

To get to Ghana Patrick had to raise £1,500, the majority of which came from a successful quiz night he ran at Duns Volunteer Hall earlier this month.

He would like to thank everyone who has donated.

Patrick is keeping a diary while out in Ghana and plans to share his experiences with others when he returns home.