The prospect of volunteering in Africa is a little overwhelming for many people. Or, maybe I should say for many people’s parents! An important part of what we do is talk to parents about their adult child’s wish to travel to Uganda and spend a few weeks volunteering with The Real Uganda. While only about 50% of our volunteers fall into the 20-something category, we love them. They bring enthusiasm and persistence to our programs. They’re not afraid to jump in where they’re needed (that pre-frontal cortex is still developing!) and don’t judge Uganda based on a lifetime of negative media exposure.
These open minds are begging to learn the reality of life around the world. The Real Uganda helps to make that happen.
WE LOVE 20-SOMETHINGS!
In an effort to assuage fears and be accountable, The Real Uganda is listed on GoAbroad.com. It’s like Trip Advisor for volunteer abroad programs. Anyone who has worked with us can leave a quick review or give an in-depth interview about what life and volunteering is really like at our programs.
I thought it would be fun to compile some links here. Click the highlighted text below and be taken direct to an interview with one of our 20-something former volunteers. NOTE: This is not a paid service and we have no control over what GoAbroad.com publishes. Want to read ALL our reviews and interviews? Tap the link above and scroll down. You’ll also find an interview with me, the founder and managing director of The Real Uganda.
4 IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS WITH FORMER VOLUNTEERS
Nandini spent 6 weeks with us in 2016. She had just completed her first year of university, studying public health, and was itching to travel internationally and use some of that new knowledge. I remember when Nandini arrived, she was so proud she made it from the United States all the way to Uganda with no issues. She laughed when admitting that while she had traveled all over the world, it was always with her parents. In the end, Nandini learned tonnes about the meaning of community in a resource poor environment. And she introduced us to the most AMAZING Indian restaurant in Jinja! We now recommend it in our weekend getaway guide.
Roy spent 2 months with us, also in 2016. He’s a young lawyer from Mexico who spent the year traveling and volunteering around the world. He worked in our agriculture and conservation program. While he did sweat it out in the fields, he also watched critically how things were done out here. When he felt conflicted, he asked questions and listened to the answers. He left Uganda with an appreciation not for what makes cultures different, but for what makes them complementary. *Rad*
Fernanda was with us in 2015 for 1 month. She immersed herself completely at the boarding school where she lived and worked. Daily, she helped out in the classroom, the kitchen, and the garden. Also from Mexico, Fernanda has a deep sense of the importance of family and loves kids. Key features of Ugandan culture. It’s no surprise she rocked it. In fact, she’s returning this July with 3 friends!
Kristen is a volunteer from 2014. An American teacher, with previous volunteer abroad experience, she stepped easily into village school life. Like Fernanda, the classroom, kitchen, and garden were her favourite places to share life and culture with Ugandans. Also like Fernanda – she’s aiming to get back here when her busy schedule allows.
A MESSAGE TO THOSE WATCHING FROM HOME
It has just occurred to me that it’s not only parents who worry when their kids travel and volunteer abroad. We’ve actually had a number of parents out to volunteer, whose kids were forever checking on them. Aside from the words of our former volunteers, here is some additional info that may help you keep your cool when someone you love makes the (totally rational) decision to volunteer in Uganda.
- There are daily flights in and out of Uganda from major cities like Amsterdam, Brussels, Dubai, and Doha. That’s a lot of people coming and going. Uganda can’t be all that bad.
- All our volunteers live with families. Families who love, cherish, and feed your kid as their own. We have a deep sense of hospitality in Uganda.
- Crime comes from disconnection, not poverty. Ugandans are connected people. Most would rather have a conversation than steal an iPhone.
- Since 2005, The Real Uganda has hosted over 800 volunteers of all ages from around the world. And every one of them returned home with all their fingers and toes.