It’s the end of another year and The Real Uganda wants to spread some good cheer!

Before sharing how we spend Christmas in Uganda, here’s what happened at The Real Uganda in 2021:

The Real Uganda Year in Review

As can be expected, it was another quiet year. Just as Uganda’s economy was opening up in June, the Delta variant of COVID-19 hit. We had to cancel the 9 volunteers set to travel over the summer as government put us in another full 6 week lock down. For now, we wait and see as Omicron takes hold of the world.

We have about a dozen volunteers actively planning their trips to Uganda in early 2022. All incoming travelers to Uganda are currently required to show a negative PCR test with sample taken within the last 72 hours, and take another COVID test on arrival. Our community members are also getting their COVID-19 vaccinations. We’re doing all we can to ensure we pursue community work as safely as possible.

We also made new partnerships with international organizations that source volunteers and funding for Africa: Travolucion and Luena Foundation. Exciting!

Further, WeAreBamboo are fully committed to supporting our Culture-Adventure tours as soon as it is safe to do so. Our profile on GoAbroad.com gets tonnes of attention from post-pandemic travel planners, thanks to a number of great reviews from and interviews with our lovely former volunteers.

The Real Uganda offers 2 – 12 week locally-led communty-based volunteer programs.

Most of our 2021 excitement is around the launching of Girls Get Skills. Originally our COVID-19 response for girls, it has turned into a full-time practical and transformative skills training program for teen girls.

So far, 47 girls have attended our open-air beauty school and 38 are currently attending our open-air bakery. As schools are finally set to re-open in early 2022, we are happy to be in place to support those teens that don’t make it back to formal classroom education.

The aim is to bring practical and relevant hand skills to out-of-school teen girls that will enable them to begin earning money and building confidence as they transition to adulthood. Hairdressing, baking, and vegetable gardening are all portable skills that can be easily incorporated into marriage and family life.

All practical skills are accompanied by social skills mentoring and sexual reproductive health lessons. 

baking donuts in Uganda

Another amazing success story?

Our long time sponsored student Nantale Carol joined university at Makerere University Business School, studying a degree in Business Administration, on full government scholarship. Her older sister, Nakalema Christine graduated Uganda Christian University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She’s a busy entrepreneur these days, working in telecommunications and small business. Christine is also an asset to Girls Get Skills as a social skills mentor.   

teen mentorship in Uganda

While The Real Uganda is still actively seeking volunteers for our variety of programs for 2022, the pressure is officially off for the holidays.

Let’s talk about what it’s like to spend Christmas in Uganda.

Help The Real Uganda bring practical and transformative skills to teen girls in Uganda

christmas in uganda

How we do Christmas in Uganda is a wonderful example of the ‘true spirit’ of the holiday. It’s not about consumerism. It’s about food, family, friends, and God. Uganda has a healthy Muslim population to keep everything going, so getting a week or more off work for Christians is usually no problem. Christians reciprocate during Eid holidays.

Ugandans work hard all year to get this week of rest, and typically rush out to their home village to get it. They arrive with city treats like bread, sugar, cooking oil, fancy mobile phones, and other fun stuff. In return, they’re treated to piles of mangoes and avocados, and tonnes of fresh slaughtered chicken. Days are spent digging in the family garden, preparing slow-cooked fresh meals, and swapping stories of how life has been the past year.

Christmas in Uganda is an annual family reunion.

Cooking Christmas lunch in Uganda

Christmas day is feast day for sure. After a few early morning hours in church, the entire family gets involved in lunch preparation.

Forget the one-carb rule. On the table you’ll find a bit of everything: matooke (steamed banana), yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, kalo (pounded millet), rice, pumpkin, and posho (maizemeal). For the relatively well-heeled, beef, goat, and chicken may also be on offer. For the vegetarians (full disclosure: I’ve not met a Ugandan vegetarian in my 17 years here) you’ll find g.nut (peanut) sauce, beans, and sautéed greens.

All Ugandan foods are steamed inside banana leaves over a wood fire for hours. The taste has a depth you won’t find anywhere else.

We feast in good health, as family, for the upcoming year.

Happy holidays from The Real Uganda – looking forward to an energized 2022!

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