A search of our archives brings up feedback and advice from Megan, a volunteer from the US who was with us in 2015. She told us a little about what she did while volunteering and added some extra thoughts at the end. She basically killed it when she was here. Worked hard during the day and socialized with co-workers and fellow volunteers at night. This is a perfect example of what we’re looking for in an international volunteer. Thanks Megan! Looking forward to seeing you again some day.
WHEN DID YOU VOLUNTEER IN UGANDA?
I volunteered in February and March, 2015 at The Real Uganda’s Village Teaching and Community Outreach Program. I worked in a organization focusing on primary education, public health, and women’s empowerment.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID YOU DO AS A VOLUNTEER?
I primarily worked with women and children.
In the school, I gave the kids a rest from their usual rote learning and planned arts and crafts, and some educational games.
With the women, we shared our stories, worked on English (mostly focusing on market vocabulary), started a brick business with the Bulyantete group, and continued work on the Mayindo brick business. I also helped prepare the womens’ gardens for planting, and planted maize and eggplants alongside them.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN USEFUL TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ARRIVED?
I felt I was pretty well prepared. The Real Uganda’s information p acket was really helpful. Reviewing that helped to give me an idea of what to expect. The Real Uganda’s website provides a lot of helpful resources, you just have to take the time to read them.
I was nervous about boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) but they’re awesome. Smirnoff is pronounced ‘simeroff’ so don’t be confused when they don’t understand you when you say Smirnoff.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FUTURE VOLUNTEERS?
A lot of the women want to learn English. As a native speaker, it may seem simple to teach your language but I struggled figuring out how to break it down properly. I think a bit more research or training on how to teach English would have benefited me and the women.
Also be prepared to be challenged emotionally and physically. Uganda is full of strong, amazing and friendly people. Be open, loving and flexible and you’ll have an amazing experience. Also, make an effort to learn a bit of Luganda, Ugandans love to hear you speak their language!
Most importantly, don’t stress out too much, bring yourself and what you have to offer. You can’t bring something to the table that isn’t you. Be authentic in that you bring your strengths and interests that you think will benefit the community. Ugandans are easy going and love to laugh and have a good time.
Also, eat the roadside chicken. It’s amazing. I’m a vegetarian, for environmental and political reasons, but the chicken is fresh, local, and delicious. Not to mention buying it helps support local Ugandans!
THE REAL UGANDA’S CALL TO ACTION
Former volunteers! Want to submit a story, photo, or advice for future volunteers and our readers? Please do! Our ongoing Volunteers Reflect series is a perfect venue.
Submit to [email protected] today.