Gould Are Supporting Steve Pickett on his Trip to Ghana

Gould Publication Papers are proud to be sponsoring Steve Pickett, who will be volunteering in Ghana as part of a philanthropy project. Here is his story...

My name is Steve. I’m a fresher (1st year student) at Bournemouth University. I am Studying Product Design, which I am passionate about. However during my first term I discovered Higher education is not only about lectures, seminars, nights out and hangovers.

During Fresher’s Fair I was introduced to the RAG Society (Raising-and-Giving) as part of the Student Union, which gave me an insight into different projects taking place in over the year. These include; hiking, trekking, fundraising and volunteering in aid of charities across the globe.

My Journey to Ghana

The Student Union (SUBU) at my university is giving me the unique chance to immerse myself in a new culture, whilst making sustainable and long lasting improvements in a community far less fortunate than mine.

In April 2014, I will be flying to Accra in Ghana for 2 weeks to help renovate a secondary school through a team led project of students to improve the learning environment of its pupils.

Guided by friendly and skilled local tradesmen, daily tasks will involve painting walls, plastering, planting trees, mixing cement, brick laying, carpentry, decorating and maybe even a bit of welding.

I will be living in the heart of the project’s location, sourced and identified by local experts as a place that will benefit most from renovation work. This will involve sleeping in shared tented accommodation on the school grounds, eating food prepared by the local people, and spending time getting to know the pupils and teaching staff of the school I will be helping.

The project work is not only a life changing experience, but will hopefully allow me to make some life-long friendships, incredible memories and will truly expose me to what Ghana has to offer.

In order to take part I have covered the trip’s cost and fundraised £1580, which is split between the cost of building materials and the buildings maintenance in years to come.

Why Undertake the Ghana Project?

There are many factors that lead to my decision to participate in this project.

I have always had a caring nature as a child and keen to support charities close to my heart like local hospitals. Previously, I have been turned down from volunteering projects at my old school as I was labeled ‘too young to participate’ and chosen over other candidates. However, this only drove my determination to make an impact on the world.

I enjoy a challenge and after battling with life threatening illness over several years and receiving support from family, friends, doctors, teachers and neighbors and having a long road to recovery. I now feel I am in a position to give something back and nothing is getting in my way!

Living With a Brain Tumour

I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005. Treatment consisted of surgery, radiotherapy and various types of chemotherapy over a two year period.

After being a healthy child, with the potential to progress far with my footballing passion it was absolutely heart-wrenching being dragged into a small, dark room to be told your life will change forever; that I was going to go through years of hell… and not just me, but my family too.

I was told that I would never ride a bike and I would need help in all aspects of my life. To be honest I did need help with everything and life was like a game of snakes and ladders - except snakes were at my every step.

Recovery was tough - really tough. So I set myself tiny goals to take life step by step and rewards for when I got there; for example my trip to South Africa to meet my adopted Leopards was my biggest benchmark. And I made it!

Life now is very different. I’ve learned to embrace my past by making the most of every opportunity and I am now enjoying university life in Bournemouth.

The Highs and Lows of My Condition

It’s hard to see on the face of things, however my illness has opened up doors in my life I would have never imagined and I am thankful for it. I have met some inspiring people and had a chance to see life from a different perspective. I have had the chance to prove doctors wrong and show the world I am a force to be reckoned with. Being told I would never ride a bike and rising to the challenge has helped me realize my true potential and helped me set goals and challenges in life.

There have been many low moments, including the time wasted in hospital, the pain of every needle I had, the continuous feeling of nausea, each and every operation, the times I’ve had starring cold faces of those in the chemo ward, losing close friends from hospital, waking up in the night to be rushed to intensive care units, being told at the age of 10 that I could lose my life.

Worst of all was losing my Nan, who had been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks after my diagnosis. She kept her clock ticking just to see me get better and she is a reason I fought so hard.

What Will You Gain From This Experience?

By taking part in this project, I’m hoping I can contribute to improving the quality of life in Ghana.

I really hope my impact can make a true difference in the lives of those in the community we visit and that I can make lasting friendships.

From this challenge, I would also like to develop my team-working skills, my knowledge of third world and what I can do to help and finally achieve a sense of self-actualization that I can use to my benefit in the future.

I will be able to benchmark this as a conclusive step towards my recovery and I am eager to get on that plane!

If you can support my efforts you can visit my fundraising page, or alternatively contact me if you would like your money or gifts to be donated to the community.

A big thank you to those who have made this possible. Now I cannot wait to depart this Easter!

Steve