Meet the Edinburgh girl who moved to Ghana during the pandemic

A young Edinburgh woman who has been travelling back and forth to Ghana since she was 17-years-old finally took the plunge and moved for good – in the middle of the pandemic.

21-year-old Pippa Watson from Edinburgh
21-year-old Pippa Watson from Edinburgh

Pippa Watson, 21, grew up in Duddingston but now lives in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. She works in a preschool, rents a three-bedroom house and says one of the only things she misses about Edinburgh is the ‘chippy sauce’.

She first visited Ghana when she was 17-years-old as a volunteer and returned the following year having taken to the culture. It was on her second trip that she began to realise that she could have a much more positive impact if she travelled alone and spent money locally to support the economy. She left her volunteering group and began talks with Ghanaian teachers to find out what resources were in high demand and how she could help.

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Pippa partnered up with a local school in Kumasi and while still living in Edinburgh fundraised to buy essentials, such as desks, so that the children didn’t have to do their exams while lying on the floor.

The three-bedroom house Pippa rents in Accra, Ghana.

She also worked and saved up so that she could personally subsidise school fees for the families who couldn’t afford to keep their children in education.

Since personally investing, 78 new children have enrolled in the school.

Pippa said: “I do it because I am so aware of the impact that education has had on my life. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had with Scotland providing free education.

"The desire to go to school and learn here in Ghana is immeasurable, so helping is honestly a real privilege for me.”

Desks and chairs Pippa donated to the school she supports in Ghana on her 21st birthday while she was stuck in lockdown in Edinburgh

The pandemic caused Pippa to have to reschedule her flights three times but the school she was going to needed her urgently so despite travel restrictions being tight, she managed to fly over in mid-September.

When moving, Pippa also had to take into consideration an extremely rare skin condition that she suffers from, Aquagenic Urticaria, an allergy to water.

She said: “It was actually one of the biggest deciding factors in my moving so soon. I was miserable in Scotland and the reactions were just getting worse, so I thought, if it’s going to happen here and the healthcare can't help me, then I might as well be there in the same situation.

"My skin reacts to my sweat and the humidity in Ghana more than it would in Scotland but there’s also a lot less rain, so it’s six and half a dozen.”

Pippa started an Instagram page in summer that is rapidly growing, currently sitting at almost 3,500 followers, where she shares the ins and outs of being a resident in Ghana

rather than a visitor. Posts include how to navigate the rental market and what it’s like to be a young woman living alone.

She said: “I get a lot of engagement. Quite a lot of people that contact me have roots in Ghana and want to plan a way back home.”

She added: “Too many people still think of Ghana as a country for donations only. It would have been nice to know when I was younger that it’s completely acceptable to come to Africa because of what it has, rather than what it lacks.”

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