Here, two of our current volunteers sum up their experience of living in Uganda for three months, getting to know the culture, meeting the local people and volunteering at the Charity Projects, in two short, but wonderfully written blurbs. Here’s a peek into Uganda and the UGM’s Charity Projects…
A big thank you to Steve and Tanya for taking the time to write these, and for all their hard work in supporting the UGM Projects! We really appreciate it!
Great local food from Rebecca’s café; glorious sunshine interspersed with full-on rain; crazy games of football where trees form natural obstacles, there’s an unknown number of players and you play until it gets dark; learning about farming pigs, chickens and mushrooms; jumping on the back of a bodaboda and being whisked down bumpy roads; receiving remarkable levels of hospitality…these are just a few of the experiences that come as standard when spending time with the Uganda International Marathon team in Masaka.
Possibly the standout memory so far of my weeks here is the visit to SNE, a local school for deaf children. The abundant joy of the staff and pupils is contagious. The choosing of my ‘sign name’ by which they will know me was an incredible experience: the pupils looking intently at my face and then seeking a feature that they can then assign a unique hand gesture to. Several different gestures are suggested but the class have to reach a consensus. It doesn’t take them long and my sign name will now forever be associated with my rapidly receding hair line. Being welcomed into their world was humbling and is symptomatic of the way that Uganda as a whole has greeted me.
Having travelled to Masaka to visit my brother-in-law, I had very little idea what each day would hold. I wanted to meet the people in his life, put faces to names and be able to picture him in the environment he lived and worked in. However, I quickly realised that you cannot have such a detached interaction with another person’s life, particularly in Uganda!
This country is beautiful; both the environment and people. As one bodaboda driver said “everything is possible in Africa” and in many ways this statement holds true. The Uganda International Marathon is really seeking those opportunities and enabling Ugandans to take hold of them by encouraging charities and individuals here to become financially sustainable. If you want to be inspired and challenged in the way you view poverty and charity, the Marathon team and all the partners they support and work with will do just that!
It is an unbelievable privilege to be here and share life with family and new friends. I know I have been changed; my heart has been touched, saddened and encouraged in equal measure! I challenge you to visit a family with a disabled child, who are struggling to feed themselves and yet who welcome you with open hearts and minds, and leave unchanged!