Volunteers for Soft Power December 2005 to January 2006
My husband Mick and I arrived on Boxing Day 2005 – an anniversary trip, as we’d met in Africa 10 years before! We had planned on working with Soft Power for a week, then having a week’s holiday, but in fact we worked the whole time – weekends excepted – and we’d be back tomorrow if possible. It was just fantastic!
We saw first hand how the money is going directly into the local economy, and into the refurbishment of the primary schools in the region. They are a small charity and every penny goes to buy materials in the shops and markets, and employ local builders. To get to work we’d hop on the back of a boda boda (moped taxi), and bomb along the gorgeous red earth roads. We were constantly covered in red dust! We did some varied work: painting exterior and interior walls of Kyabirwa’s new Medical Centre and Kyomya school; painting blackboards and teaching aids onto the walls of classrooms; and Mick helped knock down an old mud house, and install solar panels and a water tank for the new Medical Centre.
The wonderful kids were the highlight. They were on holiday from school so would stick around us the whole time, watching, trying on our sunglasses, hats etc… wanting suntan lotion if we put some on… singing and playing! And sometimes grabbing a paintbrush to try and help, which wasn’t always welcome, colour matching and straight lines not being their strong points. They were aged about 1 to 10, always really sweet and ready to laugh – and ready to pose. If a camera was produced they would all rush into a group and stand still, often quite seriously, then scream and shout and laugh when you showed them the pic you’d just taken on the screen!
Uganda is such a lovely place, so lush and green, and the people are just wonderful – so open, friendly, funny, welcoming. This trip was the best thing we have ever done; we really enjoyed it all, and we hope our donation (thanks to all our family and friends) will help with the construction of the new Education Centre. My advice to anyone dithering is, just go for it!