Settling In: building an NGO in Ghana

It’s been nearly two years since I arrived in Ghana, with the intention to open a backpacker’s hostel/guesthouse. Over the time I’ve been here, that idea has morphed and turned into something much more aligned with my values.

I realized that by making it non-profit, I could funnel proceeds into community development work, which is something I’ve been trying to trying to do for years. I always shied away from taking on my own project, because I never felt like I was experienced enough not to make all the clichéd aid work mistakes. I wanted to learn from the “pros” before I ever considered tackling something on my own. And then I realized that actually, at this point in my life, my hyper-awareness and sensitivity makes it highly unlikely that I’ll make any of those mistakes. I’m sure I’ll fuck up along the way, but I have faith that I’ll catch it quickly and be able to pivot. I’m not tied to any corporate structure or project guidelines, so I have the freedom that big NGO’s don’t have. Plus, I’m not expecting to change the world. I am not solving world hunger. I’m simply taking my skill set, which I acquired through a ton of privilege, and sharing the wealth. Extra bonus is that I’ll pay way less for my work permit! Win-win idea.

However, through some naive decision-making along the way, I have tied up a lot of my capital in my personal house. Long story short: I now have rented two apartments for one human, each for four years. One of which will soon be on AirBnB, the other where I actually live. It’s been a long and stressful experience and up until the last few months, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull off the actual project. I knew for sure it wasn’t going to be a “built-from-the-ground-up” kind of plan anymore, nor was in in the position to buy anything outright. I knew I had to rent, but was having a tough time figuring out where or how to do that.

The money-sucking house in question. Please don’t ask about the red and blue driveway; I have no explanation for it. The rent I paid went to completing half of it originally, but over time and with ongoing sketchy landlord behaviour… I’ve now paid to complete the whole thing and have this entire house to myself.

Then suddenly, in the midst of a lot of turmoil and conflict, the solution appeared… a huge house with a massive studio-sized living room, 8 bedrooms, a spacious kitchen, and a beautiful veranda… just a three minute walk from where I live! I could not have asked for a more perfect space.

Now we are doing some minor renovations to the place and will begin hosting (hopefully) sometime in February! I’ve decided to shift the concept a bit as well… instead of a full-time hostel with a yoga vibe, I will focus primarily on yoga and meditation space with a retreat vibe. This will allow me to concentrate my energy on a few key offerings, with more dedicated time and energy for community projects, and ample time for me to enjoy my own life! It’s bound to evolve as well as time goes on, but for now, it sounds pretty damn good to me.

Speaking of my own life, I’m about to head into a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Previously, I attended a Goenka course, which was completely managed by the centre, but this time I will be following a Yogilabs course on my own, at my house. I’m taking advantage of the calm before the storm; while my new landlord completes maintenance on the new house, I have a little window where I can sneak this in. Plus, all the tiny humans who attend the kindergarten across the road are all on vacation now, so it will actually be quiet around here for a couple weeks. Let me tell you: it is remarkably difficult to maintain your zen when they are butchering the abc’s right outside your door.

If you’ve read this all the way through, thanks so much! I’d love if you could follow my project at Settle In Ghana on Facebook or Instagram.

If you’ve received this because you followed my blog a decade ago and no longer want to hear from me… so sorry! Definitely feel free to drop me like a bad habit – I will not be offended. Honestly I don’t even know how to find out.

Anyway, that’s my update for now. Take great care and enjoy your holidays wherever you are!

Love always,

3 thoughts on “Settling In: building an NGO in Ghana

  1. I’ve followed your blog for a long time.
    I worked in Ivory Coast, and then Mali from 2011-2019 but only 4 months each year in Mali.
    I’m back in Canada now. Lobster Fishing captain now.
    I sent you a few comments years ago. All but forgot about your blog.
    Got a notice today of your post.
    What a story…
    Congratulations…. love your story still. ❤️
    Wishing you the best.


  2. Great to hear about the project, best of luck. Are you on the West Africa Travellers FB group? As you’re a non profit enterprise I’m sure it would be ok to mention it on their page when you’re up and running


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