One of the biggest challenges in preparing to volunteer abroad is battling a fear of the unknown. No matter how much you read online and talk to your friends, you need assurance that all will go well – from actual people who lived it. Well, The Real Uganda has had over 800 volunteers in the past 12 years. Turns out they’ve got lots to say! We’ve even got a page on this website dedicated to volunteer testimonials. You can read it here.
In an effort to delve deeper, we’ve been asking former volunteers to reflect on their experience volunteering in Uganda. Stories are starting to trickle in. The first one was presented on our blog just last week. Click here to read it. Carolina Vila volunteered in Uganda in 2009. She says the experience is still with her. Incredible.
What of the other 799 of you?! We want to hear from you! Please send your anecdotes and photos to [email protected] and I’ll share with the world. Perhaps your words will inspire someone to take the plunge and volunteer in Uganda themselves.
A current volunteer speaks
I was talking to a current volunteer, Zan, yesterday. She was here in 2014 for 3 months and has been here now for the past 2 months. She’s a well established early childhood development educator. This was her input:
“In 2014, I came with hundreds of games that have worked well in every school I’ve taught. I brought them to Ugandan schools and instructed teachers and engaged kids. There was no quick uptake, but slowly I could see that there was some interest, from some people. Coming back this year, I was happy to see one school still carrying on with my methods. However, for this trip, I decided not bring more materials from home, but rather sit in with teachers and slowly get to know their job and challenges before offering instruction. I’ve found a much more enthusiastic response.”
Way to go Zan! Looks like you’ve learned a very important lesson in cross-cultural exchange. You can’t force change, but you can be an integral part of it. Volunteering in Uganda is about joining in on the work, offering advice when asked, and leading by example. In reality, Ugandans are happy to host people from all over the world – who doesn’t love meeting new people and showing off their homeland? What skills volunteers bring will be adopted if Ugandans see the benefit. Creative ways to demonstrate that benefit are hard to come by. One thing is for sure, respect for local ways will get you much further than standing on a soapbox!
Think you want to try volunteering abroad? Interested in learning a new culture and meeting confident, able people who are improving their lives daily? Have a read through this website. Check out our blog. If you like what you see, fill in the application form. We’re looking for volunteers with 2 to 12 weeks to invest in providing encouragement, creativity and love to everyone they meet!