It has been a year since my most amazing experience volunteering in Kampala, Uganda. I traveled there with my daughter, Pia, and her partner, Mitch. None of us had done anything like this before, so we were quite nervous, but felt well supported by IVHQ and IVN Uganda before we left Australia, so hopeful of a good experience.
A "good" experience was an understatement of the year! It was an unbelievably wonderful experience!
We were met at the Entebbe airport and driven to a motel for an overnight stay, as the road was cut to our accommodation. We were taken the next morning to our volunteer accommodation house for orientation with about 10 other volunteers. This was so useful and beautifully presented by Ugandan coordinator, James and his wife/secretary/treasurer Joyce, and other helpers. Some volunteers left for Fort Portal, while 7 of us stayed in Kampala. There were 3 doing orphanage work, 3 doing construction and myself doing nursing. We all became very close and worked well together. Both the orphanage and construction volunteers worked at an orphanage, walking distance from the house. I traveled daily into the city clinics and hospitals with a most amazingly supportive fellow worker, Florence. She was my guide, my safety support, my translator, my friend and my educator with a heart of gold. Thankyou so much Florence! James was also extremely supportive and helpful way beyond the call of duty, showing genuine caring and supportive help every day if required! He is an absolute gem!
As an unexpected and added bonus, I also had the pleasure and honour of assisting at the orphanage after hours and on the weekends if I so wished. The children were so delightful and thankful to have us there. We were all able to help in so many ways ... repairs, activities, education, administration, health care/records, clothing, mosquito net and water filter donations, fun and games, and of course, lots of love and cuddles. They will all remain in our hearts forever. It was a time of extreme emotions.
As a nurse, most of the illnesses encountered in Uganda are very uncommon or non-existent here in Australia. It was a steep and fascinating learning curve for me in that way, and I was able to impart my knowledge of other areas to fellow workers in Uganda. I was so thankful that we had raised some modest funds before our trip, which miraculously turned into a fortune in Uganda, so we were able to donate much needed basic equipment/supplies etc for the people and orphans of Uganda.
James and Joyce were also masters at organizing discounted, amazing, fun and safe experiences for the volunteers. White water rafting, bungee jumping on the Nile, safaris, etc. as well as supplying a vehicle and driver at no charge for a day looking around the city, just to name a few!
Uganda is a most beautiful country, with beautiful, friendly, helpful, caring, patient and gentle people who have very little, expect very little, and give very much. We are so fortunate, have much, want more, and are often thankless. We have much to learn from them. I would very much recommend anyone to volunteer in Uganda for a most amazing and unforgettable experience!