Greetings from Indonesia!
I’ve been in Uganda for roughly about two and half weeks and I have to admit that I have been charmed thoroughly. She is a beautiful country bursting with African energy and this is captured perfectly by fun-loving friendly locals.
I spent my first few days acclimatizing with local habits and cultures, but did not encounter the culture shock that I had been expecting. Local staple foods are not much different than in my home country, probably due to similarity in climate. Almost everyone in the cities and towns are able to converse in English, hence eliminating the problem of language barrier. In fact, my colleagues and I learned a few tricks or two in haggling with the locals! What really struck me in awe though, is the degree of friendliness displayed by many locals—adults and children alike—to “mzungus” (foreigners). You get the real sense of being welcomed and embraced in Uganda, and this totally makes a lot of difference.
My first working week was used up almost entirely in Arise & Shine Care Home in Jinja. I have to say that I have always been terrible in dealing with babies and pre-nursery kids. I presume it has something to do with me being the youngest in the family. Admittedly, the night before I was horrified with the idea of dealing with tens of babies and kids crying and kicking and swarming and climbing all over me. However, within a few minutes at the home compound, I realized it was not all that bad. The babies were all lovely! I had initial difficulties in recognizing each one as they all looked the same to me. Did I mention twins and triplets? Luckily enough, after spending a few days getting to know their different personalities the task became so much easier. This first week has been a great learning curve, and yet it has been a lot of fun as well.
My colleagues and I went to Kibuye village the following week for the much anticipated community education projects. Some of us were assigned to meet-and-greet sessions with the villagers while others were appointed to help teachers of AASU primary school in classes. The meet-and-greet sessions which also served as Q & A sessions were particularly interesting and enlightening, as we have had the opportunity to learn more about the general situation of the village directly from the locals. Many of the villagers readily voiced out their aspirations as well as conveying the difficulties they faced in daily lives. These meet-and-greet sessions will hopefully provide for the current and future volunteers’ teams sufficient data to carry out the various relevant community education projects.
Overall, in my opinion these last two weeks have been very productive yet challenging. Going overseas with totally foreign culture and background was by no means a new experience, and I felt excited as well as empowered to make a difference for the local community. I hope that I won’t disappoint.
Stay tuned with the AASU blog for further insight into the exciting lives of international volunteers in Uganda!