In 1991 a Dutch doctor was travelling through Ghana and saw how mentally handicapted children were treated here. She was shocked to see this and immediately was determined to do something about this. In 1992 she founded a project together with 3 Ghanaians and called it Operation Hand-in-Hand.
In the town Nkoranza they built their own paradise. Around a central lawn, they built small bungalows where the children and the personnel sleep, and where all the activities can be done. In between this circle of buildings they built a swimming pool, a playground and most important a place where they can all eat, dance and sing together.
Throughout the year, more and more children were welcomed in Operation Hand-in-Hand. At this moment more then 40 children stay at the project. The stories of the children are very diverse. Some are brought there by their families who couldn't take care of them anymore, some were taken from shelters all over the country and some even were found, like a boy named Peace, who was found in a radio-studio of Peace FM.
Because the Operation is relying on money from charity, they have established a lot of different activities to get this money. The children at the project make jewelry that is sold, the children can be financially adopted by hostfamilies, and very important: they have built some bungalows that can be rented by visitors to the project. You are warmly welcomed to come and have a look at the project, and you will be shown around with all pleasure.
At the website of Operation Hand-in-Hand you can find much more information about the history, the children and how you can help.
If you are looking for a quick and cheap lunch, you should really have a look at one of the many chop bars in Nkoranza. I had my lunch at a chop bar right next to the entrance of the central Tro-Tro station. Here you can choose between (local specialty) jollof rice with chicken and fried rice with chicken. And besides this you always get a little bit of salad too.
A meal costs 10.000 cedis ($ 1,-) and is very nice. You get the food in a little plate and you get your knife and fork too.
A good place to eat when you stay at Operation Hand-in-Hand, is their own restaurant for volunteers and visitors. This restaurant is situated directly next to the reception, at the entrance gate.
If you want to have dinner here you can just ask to lady at the reception, called Charity, to cook for you: that allyou have to do. There is no menu when you can choose from, but the food she prepares is good and more then enough. Dinner normally is served around 18:30, but if you want it at a different time, you can just ask and it won't be a problem.
After dinner you can stay at the restaurant for a drink, and the bill will be added to you bill for the bungalow. A dinner costs 30.000 cedis ($ 3,-)!
It is also possible to have your breakfast here, although is walked to the towncentre to find something to eat there.
To get to Nkoranza, you should always go to the nearby town of Techiman first. Techiman is situated along the mainroad from Kumasi to Tamale and is an important transport-hub to all the nearby destinations.
There basically is ony one way to get to Techiman from Kumasi, Kintampo, Tamale, Sunyani, or whatever place around: and that is by Tro-Tro. A Tro-Tro is the most important way of transportation in Ghana. It is cheap but it is very uncomfortable. Normally a Tro-Tro is a mini-bus that is packed with at least 18 people. From all the named places you can get a direct Tro-Tro to Techiman. From Tamale that takes 3,5 hours and costs 38.000 cedis ($ 3,50) and from Kumasi the price will even be a bit lower.
When you arrive in Techiman, you arrive at the central Tro-Tro station, the next step is to find a shared taxi towards Nkoranza. As soon as you leave the Tro-Tro, there will be at least 10 taxi-drivers offering you a direct ride to Nkoranza, but DON'T DO THAT! The price they ask is always way to high. You should always ask for a shared taxi. A shared taxi to Nkoranza costs 9.000 cedis ($ 0,90) per person, so with a full load of people the driver makes 36.000 cedis.
When you arrive in Nkoranza, at the Tro-Tro station, you can easily arrange a taxi to go to the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. To go to the Operation Hand-in-Hand it is a 10-minutes walk from the station. Ask for the directions to the hospital: it is right behind this hospital and is easy to find. People will be very willing to help you.
There are to ways to get your breakfast when you are staying at Operation Hand-in-Hand. The first way is to ask Charity to prepare you a breakfast. The second way is much more fun and the nice thing is that you never know what you will have for breakfast on forehand.
If you want to take care of your breakfast the adventurous way, you just walk to the Tro-Tro station and find everything there. During my stay in Nkoranza I had a great breakfast with fresh bread, nice omelets, Ghanaian donuts, and fresh mango and pineapple. In the bungalow at Operation Hand-in-Hand I could make some tea, so I had a great, complete breakfast.
And the best thing is: all these thing cost completely nothing at the Tro-Tro station. A pineapple is 6000 cedis ($ 0,60), a a piece of bread with an omelet is 8.000 cedis and a donut is 2.000 cedis...
A very important income of the project Operation Hand-in-Hand is taken care of by the children theirselves. At the project a lot of beautiful jewelry is made by the children.
For a long time the project bought a lot of beads to make bracelets and necklaces with. Al lot of these products were transported to Holland and other countries where they are sold in jewelry shops. With the profit they make with these sales, the children are being fed, the houses can be built and the personnel is being paid.
Today the Operation Hand-in-Hand also is able to make their own beads. Glass is melted and made into a lot of different, colourful beads. And since 2007 they even are able to make beads out of used plastic. With a new technique plastic things like used plastic chairs, are melted and beautiful beads are made with it. All this bead-making is also done by the children of the project.
In the little workshop at the project you can see the children working at week days (in the weekends the workshop is closed) and here you can buy some of the products too. At the necklaces and the bracelets there is a label that not only says that it is made of this project, but also give the name of the one who made it.
Prices vary from 25.000 cedis for a simple bracelet to 120.000 for a nice necklace.