I haven’t written anything about my travels yet. I’ve decided it’s finally time to get around to writing something down, especially for the people who donated to my fundraising and helped me go to volunteer. Yesterday, we had a debrief about our trip to Uganda. We talked a lot about how to express your trip to other people. It’s so hard when you come home and you’ve had the craziest whirlwind of a month to answer the question ‘How was it?’. Hopefully this post will help me awnser that.
Rewind to 22nd July – We have landed in Uganda, Entebbe airport, and we’re driving to our accommodation. Driving through busy African areas is crazy if it is your first time travelling there but I felt settled by the beeps, the bikes and the hustle and bustle. I missed this crazy atmosphere from my previous trip to Nigeria. It was good to be back in Africa.
I was volunteering with VMM and we were extra hands within two primary schools. In one we facilitated some outdoor P.E sessions and in the other we helped with informal English sessions to boost the children’s English and dialogue. P.E, in the first school, was on the curriculum. However, class sizes of 60+ made it difficult for one teacher to take the class. So generally, aside from a small break and lunch time, these children were in the classroom from Monday – Friday from 6am – 4pm. Not doing much, if any physical activities throughout the week. We made sure to see as many classes as possible through our stay and did 1hr sessions of circuits, netball, football and games for the younger children. Strenuous in the heat but worth it as the children were active and enjoying themselves. Education there was noticeably taken super seriously (understandably) so it was nice to see the students letting go for a little while and having fun.
In the second school, the Headteacher wanted to focus on English and dialogue. These classes were of a much smaller capacity. It was nice to get to know the children by name, as there were a lot less than school 1. This school was more rural and a lot more stretched for resources. Infrastructure was pretty dire, but the children were more than eager to learn. It’s easy to forget the luxuries we have coming from the United Kingdom. Education is key and it’s easy to take it for granted. Yet these children, with the most basic education available, appreciate it so much. Perspective is so important and with these experiences I’ve had mine is ever adapting. Within this school we helped with conversation and comprehension, even just talking to the children whilst they asked questions about home was helping their language skills. We talked about possible construction teams helping the school in the future and I think this school has a lot of potential to progress.
Something that really stuck out to me and something I struggled with in Kampala was the wealth disparities. One minute we’re in a fancy shopping centre eating well, then on the drive home 5 mins maximum away from this consumerism, there are people clearly struggling to make ends meet. How can there be such a contrast on such a massive scale within minutes? This then hits home and I felt bad for giving into it and buying from the fancy shopping centre. I think if I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that I really struggle now to not look behind the bigger picture. My thought process always looks behind everything now. ‘Will people suffer from this?’,’Will this keep funding this wealth disparity?’. It’s annoying at times but I think if there was no concern from me after seeing these things, if there was no feeling it’d be a lot more worrying.
I’ve taken a lot of positivity from this experience and a lot of learning too. Africa is not what you see on the television, not everybody is drastically ill. The media portrayal of never-ending horrors is distorted. The two African countries I’ve visited have been full of happiness. Yes, they might need help. Yes, they might have less. However, they are happy and beautiful countries that have my heart and hopefully hold a small piece of impact from my volunteering experiences. This has only reitterated my love for development and confirmed how excited I am to start my degree in development.
Here’s something I found too that will help explain my experience too.