Alumni Spotlight: Ellen Gahigi

Ellen Gahigi is from Canada, and graduated from the University of Winnipeg. She is currently working at a non-profit organization, dealing with homeless individuals and families, as the Tenant Support Coordinator. She values diversity and working with people from different cultural backgrounds.

Some of Ellen's young students in Uganda

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with GVN in Uganda?

Ellen: I personal chose to volunteer abroad with GNV because it caught my attention with its mission and vision on volunteer work abroad. GNV makes it safe, easy, and affordable to connect with its staff while you are still in your home country and while abroad. Everything is handled carefully and professionally.

In addition, Uganda is a country known as the victim of HIV/AIDS, as some villages were wiped out by these diseases in the 1990's. I had wanted to visit Uganda to meet and help the affected children and families. GNV was the only ideal organisation that could take me there.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Ellen: My day to day activities in the remote area were full of emotions, as I saw loving children, affected by HIV/AIDS. On any given day, I was teaching in the classroom, playing games, or singing and dancing in the Ugandan style. It was amazing and encouraging to see the talent in the children. The relationships that were built during this time became an unforgettable adventure for me. It was amazing to see how these little children, from different parents and villages, live together in peace and how each of them use her/his skills to aid one another as if they were truly brothers and sisters. This encouraged me more to go out and make a change.

Ellen assisting one of her students with her coursework in Uganda

Ten years from now, what’s the one thing you think you’ll remember from the trip?

Ellen: I will remember the bonds I built with all these children and the rest of the community. I will also remember that even when life is tough keep pushing until the end, because there will always be someone there, who is relying on you to keep going on, no matter what the obstacle is!

What's something interesting about Uganda that the average person doesn't know?

Ellen: In Uganda, it was very interesting to observe how a child was able to mature at a rapid rate during a very difficult time. A seven year old child is likely to become a parent of his/her younger siblings when he/she has their own dreams.