So this one is a major throwback to when I was 16!
Our schooling was trialing out a new project in Uganda and so I jumped at the chance!
As part of a school volunteering project, 15 of us, had the opportunity to volunteer in two schools in the slums of Kampala, Uganda.
It was exactly like the image you imagine when you think of slums of Africa. Dirt, bumpy roads where you can see the heat coming off the buildings, overcrowded and a smell that can never be forgotten. I can remember the locals shouting out ‘Mzungu’ which is the Swalhi version of ‘gringo’!
I arrived, guitar in hand, ready to do something great and make great memories.
We had one room between 15 girls to share! Cramped was an understatement and the mosquito nets were more holes than net. A group of us had such a fun time and we became really close.
The hostel also turned into a nightclub at night, so when lights were out a group of us would sneak out and some of the older girls would smoke.
We split into half where one half of the group would teach and paint in the bigger school whilst the other half would do the manual labour work in the smaller primary school. The primary school was nothing but a little wooden shack, falling apart and there were lots of kidnappings going on, so this was our biggest task and main goal.
After breakfast, our minibus driver, George, would take us to pick up supplies such as tools and paint brushes before taking us to the schools. Here we had to learn to haggle for a good price, to which I seemed to have a knack for it and was awarded ‘best haggler’ by our group!
Being 16, and my first big trip away it was so eye-opening to see how people lived in the slums. It was smelly, dirty, and children would be walking on the rubbish pile bare foot. However, the locals we met were the nicest people we had ever met, happy and kind people. They really inspired me to travel more and continue volunteering projects through my life.
To start, we tore down the shed school and began constructing the new classrooms. We would stand in a line and pass bricks from hand to hand, singing songs as we did. I remembered laughing so much, despite the heat and manual labour- what we thought was the short straw turned out to be my favourite activity. I spent almost my whole project time on the building team.
The primary school transformed:
In the other bigger school, we painted the outside, ran English classes and also sang songs! My favourite song being ‘Shake shake the Mango Tree’ which the children sang on repeat!
Time to go:
We ate huge samosas, chapati’s and a daily dose of mango by a local guy who would ride a bike passed us everyday selling fruit of the back of his bike.
We tried new foods, including goat which at the time was new for most of us.
We all cried when we left and the children chased our bus as we left the slums.
There was a leaving ceremony, where we were presented with gifts of fruit and the school sang us a song. In return, we also prepared a song and performed it to them.
After we finished our volunteering part of the trip, we did some fun activities with our time left in Uganda. We went on a 2 day land and boat safari, where we saw Elephants, Hippos, even Pumba! It was such an amazing experience!