JASMINE IN UGANDA
My name is Jasmine and I volunteered with a NGO in Uganda called the Kiyita Family Alliance for Development (KIFAD) on a 3 month placement.
MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Passing through Kampala for the first time was quite intense due to the sheer number of people but you get used to navigating your way around town pretty quickly. The west of the country is particularly beautiful.
KIFAD works in a community called Nansana which is near Kampala, the capital of the country. KIFAD carries out HIV counselling and testing and assists people who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.
MY ROLE IN KIFAD
My role was varied and I could be doing any number of tasks over the period of a normal week. From visiting clients in the field, giving presentations to other NGOs or planning a large HIV counselling and testing event. There was always a challenge to take on.
MY HOSTING SITUATION WAS…
I lived with a host family, which I can recommend as the best way to learn about the culture you are living within. My family was large, loud and busy with every extended member of family you could imagine.
A TYPICAL DAY FOR ME WAS…
Waking up at 6.30am and collecting water to bathe. Grabbing some breakfast whilst making my way over to the office and finding out what was on the agenda for the day. I might have worked in the office for the morning and then spent the afternoon visiting clients at home or in hospital and writing lots of reports! Coming home after work I might go into town and meet some other volunteers for dinner or just spend some time with the children in my family before heading to bed.
WHAT I DID WHEN I WASN’T VOLUNTEERING
Travel! On the weekends I took the chance to travel, visiting Jinja, the Ssese Islands, Kisoro, Rwanda and even taking the chance to see some wild life at Murchison Falls. In the evenings around Kampala there are lots of bars and nightclubs to visit as well as events at the National Theatre.
THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT LIVING & VOLUNTEERING IN UGANDA WAS
Working with the clients in my project could sometimes be difficult especially if they were very ill. Learning to have a sense of professional distance was hard, but necessary in order to be able to work well with KIFAD’s clients. Getting used to Ugandan time keeping was also quite challenging as everything moves at a much, much slower pace.
THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING AND VOLUNTEERING IN UGANDA WAS
The chance to travel around the country was an amazing opportunity and the majority of people I met and knew really enhanced my experience. Working with KIFAD and their clients was a unique chance to see how a national NGO functions in practice and being able to support their work through volunteering was really rewarding.
FROM MY VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT I LEARNT/GAINED
I learnt about the realities of the working life of a NGO and the difficulties faced by these organisations in countries like Uganda. My belief in the importance of volunteering was definitely reinforced by this placement and I have been encouraging anybody I meet who is thinking of doing a placement to go for it!