Alumni Spotlight: Jan and Jim Dunlop

Jan & Jim Dunlop are two volunteers from Queensland Australia who volunteered with IVN via IVHQ from October 21st to November 1st of 2013. They went to Uganda on the volunteer program as seniors (both a fit and healthy 72 years!).

What led you to join IVN's volunteer program in Uganda?

Jan and Jim and their class

Jan & Jim: Thanks to an earlier article in Eumundi Green by Jessica Constabe describing her Volunteering experience in Kenya we contacted an Organization called International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) an organization based in Hamilton New Zealand.

I became interested and managed to align a 2 week teaching assignment in Uganda following on from a small group guided Tour through Egypt, Kenya and Zanzibar.

Tell us about one person you met.

Jan & Jim: The Headmaster of Bwebajja School Mr. Patrick Lubwama owned and managed the school. Mr Patrick became a very special friend. During the two weeks we were there Jim and Patrick organized the building of a dividing wall between two classrooms to assist with a noise problem during classes. This was successfully completed before we left and the pupils and teachers were very grateful.

What was the best moment of the trip?

Our class proudly holding their finished books

Jan & Jim: Every day was rewarding and it is impossible to name one special moment - there were lots....After two weeks with happy, smiling children attending the St Andrews Primary School in Bwebajja, Uganda we look back at one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of our lives.

Before leaving home Jan prepared small art and writing books for Eumundi Class 1D to exchange with the children of a similar level from St Andrews School Bwebajja. Both classes were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the project.

Our days in the classroom were busy, challenging and fun. Jim would occasionally take the boys to a red dirt empty block for soccer practice while Jan drew on her art experience and mixed it with teaching English, spelling and maths assisted by Jim.

During the day for a change we would have singing and dancing. The children laughed at our disorganized attempts at the natural African rhythm.

If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be?

The hardest part was saying good-bye

Jan & Jim: We came to know and love the children who had really nothing but a small rough classroom, a desk, a pencil and an exercise book each. The very hardest part of the assignment was saying goodbye to the children of the classroom and if we could change anything it would be to stay for a longer period of time.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

Jan & Jim: The lessons we learned from both children and adults who were always smiling and always happy and have so little, is a lesson to be experienced and remembered fondly.