During the first week of July, 2016, The Real Uganda hosted its first ever Global Youth Ambassador (GYA) field tour. GYA is a leadership program designed to empower teens to create change in the world. Any attempt at building culturally sensitive global citizens, aware of their privilege, is a good thing in my books.

While the program regularly does field trips in south east Asia, we were happy to be their first foray into Africa!

volunteer in Uganda

Our global youth ambassadors

RELATED: Discussing international volunteer impact in Uganda

The Real Uganda was tasked with organizing activities on the ground for a group of 16 teenage girls and 2 GYA reps from Australia, England, New Zealand, and USA.

The group visited four of our partner programs. They got dirty and had fun joining in on the daily lives of rural Ugandans.

Alongside Ugandan women, teens, and children, our group planted greens and eggplants (which have now all germinated!), fetched water, built a mud rabbit hutch (which is almost dry and ready for use!), learned how to make kabalagala (banana pancakes), played more than a few games of football, drummed, enjoyed entertainment from school choirs, mingled with Ugandan teens, and took part in a spontaneous village dance party.

Zip-lining in Mabira Forest was rad too.

Each evening the girls shared their highs and lows and talked about what they had seen and done, and how they connected in the community. It was great to see teenagers reflecting upon this cultural exchange experience.

At first, many were a little shocked at the physical conditions in Uganda, and wanted to pity the people they met. However, by the end of the week, most of the group understood that Ugandans are working hard to build their futures and communities. Everyone left understanding that Ugandans are strong, capable, and engaged  citizens who also want to interact with those from other cultures.

How’s that for a quick re-education?!

Mutual support and encouragement go a long way to build self-esteem and create awareness in people, no matter where they’re from. Thank you GYA Program for including Uganda in your curriculum.

Thank you Hopeland Junior School (Kitoola and Najja campuses), Grace Daycare, Mabira Forest Integrated Community Organization, and Hopeline Mayindo Women’s Group for welcoming our team into your daily lives.

Thank you Alexa, MacKenzie, Sarah, Alannah, Amanda, Brix, Marima, Fay, Bridie, Jodie, Breahn, Grace, Te Puwai, Emma, Umbar, and Attiqa for coming out and getting to know Uganda with open minds. Thank you Caitie and Alice for leading the GYAs on their self-reflections. I hope to see at least a few of these fine women return to Uganda for longer than a week!!

Sadly, the GYA program ended in 2017. However, we still offer plenty of ways to join us in Uganda.

Want to learn about the reality on the ground? Want to meet amazing people and sweat it out together? Think about volunteering. Want to be a part of a group like the one above? Join a 7 day culture-adventure tour.

We’re looking for people interested in self-reflection and cultural exchange. If that’s you, apply today!

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