Bethan Dear

Volunteer May – July 2005 and November 2005 – April 2006
Having spent six weeks in Uganda during May and June 2005 I returned in October 2005 for six months, and it was the best six months of my life so far!

Uganda is beautiful – its scenery, the people and the culture all contributed to my return (not forgetting the fantastic parties and all the great volunteers, travellers and residents that you will meet)!

The best thing about volunteering for Soft Power is that you get first hand experience of Uganda’s unique village life, the culture and daily involvement with some of the most welcoming and friendly people that I have ever encountered.

During my stay I was involved in a variety of wonderful and exciting projects, some of which are ongoing long term projects and some were personal projects I had been inspired to create following my first visit.

Each project I was involved in presented different challenges and each was rewarding for different reasons. If you are motivated and enthusiastic then as a volunteer there is no end of things to keep yourself busy with and you are guaranteed to have a fantastic, fun experience that will stay with you always.

These are some of the many things that I got up to during my stay;

Painting schools with overland truck groups (always messy but good fun)! Throwing a Christmas party for 240 pre-school children (absolute chaos, but one of the best parties I have ever attended).¬†Creating a performance piece for a Soft Power fundraising video (with loads of adorable pre-school children singing their little hearts out). Going out into the village to do Malaria awareness talks (an educational experience for all involved). Having cooking lessons in traditional Ugandan food (including how to prepare a chicken – not something I’ll be doing in a hurry again)! And finally my biggest project was writing, rehearsing and performing an educational play about HIV/AIDS with a group of primary school children. This was a six week project that was very draining at points but proved to be the most rewarding, entertaining and memorable six weeks of my life.

In a nutshell, I had countless amazing experiences that will stay with me forever and I came away with a real sense of achievement, knowing that I had contributed something to a great organisation, a very special country and most importantly to people who are continually appreciative and grateful of the work that Soft Power and its volunteers achieve.

Having returned to England I miss Uganda dearly and I would encourage anyone with a sense of adventure and a desire to do something constructive, to get involved, get out there and have the time of your life!

Bethan returned again in 2008 with 6 friends from Middlesex University. This marked the start of an annual trip of volunteers from Middlesex University who continue to join us year after year!