Tim in Tamale

Every life matters

I was a VSO volunteer working in the town of Tamale in northern Ghana for a Ghanaian NGO called ISODEC. I arrived in Ghana September 2007 and was with ISODEC nearly two years. This blog catalogued my experiences.

My background is in IT.  I’ve been a computer programmer for most of the last 18 years, mostly in the banking sector. In Ghana I worked as an IT trainer, trying to increase the effectiveness of the staff of the NGO by helping them use IT more efficiently.

I chose to leave a job with a huge multinational bank in London’s Canary Wharf district (one of the worlds wealthiest places) to work for a tiny NGO in northern Ghana (one of the worlds poorest areas) for a number of reasons.  Partly because I wanted to work for an organisation whose values I share, although I accept I didn’t need to go to Ghana for that.  Partly because I wanted to be able to feel that I’m doing a job with meaning and value.  Partly because I wanted to be able to feel that I’ve done more with my skills and training than help make rich people richer. Partly I wanted to see and experience more of the world. Partly I was bored and wanted a challenge. Partly because I never thought VSO would accept me.  Partly because I don’t want to look back on my life and think “if only…” or “I wish I had …”. Partly because I think the poverty in places like Ghana is morally wrong and it is morally wrong to do nothing to try to correct it.

Did I achieve anything?  Can one person make a difference?  Probably not, but at least I’ve tried.  If I can learn something about life for Ghanaians, if I can communicate that to people in more developed countries, if I can persuade friends, relatives and strangers to take more interest in the poorer world, if I can make a small positive difference in ISODEC then maybe my time here won’t be a complete waste.

Colonial Tim

Sharing skills, changing lives


14 responses

27 08 2007
Kate Vanston


I have just come across some of your images on Flickr. I’m the production manager for a student short film in Melbourne, Australia and would love to use one of your photos from the album ‘dad in Malaya’.

The scene in our film depicts a photographer flicking through a photo album looking at his images from the war. This is a new scene the director has only just put into script so we are frantically searching the internet for the images he requires. If you can please get back to me asap, if you give us permission to use this image.

Please email me back on my email address – katevanston@yahoo.com.au. I can send though any information you would like about the film, including a script.

Thank you


18 05 2008
Cheri Wright

Hey, I came across your blog as I was searching for more information on Tamale. I’ve been there, but only as a visitor once-in-awhile (I lived in Navrongo a few years ago). I’m a Canadian volunteer who is supposed to start a contract there in July. I’ve just heard that there is no housing provided by the partner organization, and I’m looking for ideas of affordable housing options. Any ideas? I’m not too picky, but ideally we’d (my husband and I) would have our own little house but we’d settle for a large bedroom with a bathroom – one that is either ensuite or at least shared with a minimal number of people. Anyway, I’ll probably meet you one of these days! :-) Hope you have time to drop me a line!

Cheri Wright

18 05 2008
Cheri Wright

Oh, I guess you might not see my email address:

I see you’re working with ISODEC, so I’m sure I’ll find myself in your office one of these days as I’m working with NNED. Looking forward to hearing more about your work and experience there!

30 06 2008

Hi Tim

I’m not sure how often you check this website but I was unable to find any direct email address for you and therefore resorted to just commenting. I recently moved to Tamale and am going to be around for the next ten months or so. Thought it would be neat to meet up with someone here who knows the place. :)

Would be great if you could send me an email.


30 06 2008

oh and I forgot to mention I’m a CUSO volunteer and currently working for Maata N Tudu.

30 06 2008
Tim Little

Hi Saira,

Would more than happy to meet up. The only other CUSO I know lives in Bolga, but I guess we’ll all be one happy family soon

11 01 2009
Jason Burwen

Hi Tim–

I’m an American grad student living in Tumu for the next few months, doing a field evaluation of an improved stoves program. I found your blog when searching articles on Tumu.

Know any folks to connect with here? VSOs, Peace Corps, other such wayward Westerners?


30 01 2009

hi tim,

can you drop me an email? would like to include your blog on aidworkers.net…

tnx Peter(a)theroadtothehorizon(dot)org

14 05 2009
Paul Rose

Hi Tim

I’m going to be heading out to Tamale area from the UK next month and was hoping to ask your advice on a few things if possible. I’ll be conducting a bit of preliminary research for an NGO with the hope of establishing a new project out there.

Please drop me a mail if you’ve got a moment.


13 01 2012

Hi, I came across your blog and I was wondering If you had any recommendations for places to live in Tamale? I am going to be living in Tamale for the next 4 months, and am looking for a house to live in, if you have any suggestions it would be amazing!
Thanks so much,

13 01 2012
Tim L

Andi, I’m afraid I left Tamale in 2009 so probably wouldn’t be much use. Good luck though

4 12 2012

please my name is NAAH AKILOS CONTACT ME ON 233269009612 OR SEND ME AN EMAIL: akilosnaah@gmail.com

6 02 2014

I’m a student from Frankfurt, Germany and will be taking part at study trip from our university to Ghana in February-March. For three weeks we will be travelling through Ghana and look at different projects. In specific my group is focused on international youth volunteering in Tamale. We would like to know more about the volunteer’s expectations, interests and personal gains. Do know any volunteers/projects that are currently in Tamale? Would be great to hear from you! (emsoellner@web.de)

6 02 2014
Tim L

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for the interest. Unfortunately it’s more than 4 years since I left Tamale so have lost touch with any one I knew there (and I wasn’t a “youth” volunteer, the average age for a VSO volunteer was 38). You might try contacting VSO directly. Good luck.

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