On 20th June 2010, I flew out to Uganda to take part in two one month long Soft Power Education projects based in the Murchison Falls area, as one of the leaders of the University of Leeds group.
For the first month I was working in a fantastic place called Nyamakuta that led onto a fishing village. The community here was very welcoming so it soon felt like home. The view of this valley was so vast and clear with a peaceful atmosphere.
In my second month I moved to a village called Kijumbya that was surrounded by lots of greenery and hills, in great contrast to Nyamakuta. Again, we were made to feel very welcome and worked hard to get the construction of the building finished.
Each day we would help with the preparation of the foundations, make bricks and teach children. This could be as basic as teaching beneath a tree with a blackboard as your only source.
The sun would rise at about 6.30 am – a great time to make the most of the fresh air and run along the dusty tracks to get your adrenaline intake for the day ahead! The local people are keen to teach you their local language; “IMA BEERE” translates to “Good Morning”; so i’m sure you can imagine how strange it felt running through the village at 6.30 am shouting “I’M A BEAR”!
After a long day of working, we would have dinner; usually consisting of some variation of rice and beans, then work on our evenings entertainment!
After working on the projects with Soft Power Education for two months, I had the chance to travel across eastern Uganda to Kenya for two weeks. My main highlights from travelling have to be the abseil down the waterfall at Sipi Falls and the bike ride safari at Hells Gate National Park in Kenya.
Some problems encountered in Uganda
- Running out of gas, we had to think quickly… learning from the local people we were soon cooking from an open, outdoor fire that worked a treat! From this we managed to feed 30+ hungry volunteers scrambled egg for lunch and then a huge hot pot for dinner.
- When there was a very fierce rainstorm we were not completely prepared as the rain flooded our classroom floor (where we were sleeping) at Nyamakuta, consequently soaking all of our possessions. Lesson learnt; cover windows!
Why other people should go for it!
Having the opportunity to work so closely with a community is very rare and I found it to be a most valuable experience. People work together for each other, and the friendships that grow in such an environment are like no other.