Uganda: A volunteer's experience.


I’m Giulia, I’m 22 and I’m studying biotechnology in Milan and Paris. I’m studying malaria, a big deal in Africa. The past summer I’ve been in Makondo and Ondati as a “Teach a Man to Fish” volunteer, teaching the secondary school students a health course and running computer training.

I arrived in Makondo on 16th of July and I taught for two weeks the health class for two weeks, before the students went for their summer holidays. I spent the other two weeks of the month teaching the students how to use computers, in particular the use of Internet and Microsoft Office. In Kyamukama, a village close to the school, there is a computer centre, managed by Sanya Teddy. During the summer holidays, the students had the possibility to go in pairs to learn how to manage the computer business. I concentrated the computer class on the use of Internet, how to get and use an e-mail, how to search in Google and getting an account on Facebook. There has been good results with many students, and I often keep in contact with them by mail and with some of them also by Facebook. They love use the computer, every time they’ve free time at school they go to the computer classroom using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, programmes of music or to watch videos.

In the health course, I wanted to focus on the most widespread diseases in East Africa: Malaria, HIV, Yellow Fever, Cholera, Rabies, Tuberculosis, Ebola and also cover some facts about personal care. My goal was to have an open discussion with the students and to try and make the lessons as interactive as possible. It was a great success because the students are ready and willing to learn new concepts. They were pro-active learners!

After one month I moved to Ondati in Kenya, just for 5 days and also there I did my health class, teaching mainly HIV and Malaria. In Ondati the experience was a bit different due to the location of the village and at the school. The village is extremely rural, that’s Africa. I think it has been a really good opportunity to visit another place, an other country and an other way of living. Kenya and Uganda are different but neither is better one than the other. Different people, different culture… everyone is amazing! Unfortunately I stayed there just for 5 days, then I had my flight back to Italy. I moved from Uganda to Kenya by bus and it is so unbelievable how all the people try to help you!

The village of Makondo is bigger then Ondati and they’re more developed and the structure of the school is in better condition. In Makondo at the school there is the electricity, a science lab, a computer class, and a staff room where they eat lunch. . In Ondati they have 3 classes, the fourth one is going to be built. The life in Ondati is more rural and there was no electricity at all. In the school of Makondo I really felt comfortable, as with the students and staff were all extremely friendly, especially the secretary Betty, the headmaster Charles and all the teachers.

The students are amazing too, they want to learn new things and they love to talk about Europe, trying to understand how things are in a developed country. How is Italy? Where do you live? In a house? Do many people have a car? What is the price of your laptop? The cost of life is totally different beause we get much money from our work but the cost of living is also so much higher. 

In the school of Ondati I had at the same level a really good time. It is a female school and so the relation with the students that you have is of course different. The questions posed by the students were different and to be honest more impulsive; talking with female of 14-17 years old about HIV is normal to have some questions. 

There’s not really and reason why I ended up in Africa the past summer, I just decided to have a volunteer experience and so I left to have this amazing experience in Uganda and Kenya. Of course you cannot expect to change peoples lives in a short time but I think that every little helps. Volunteer work is not useless and it is so exciting to know people that are completely different from you with a different culture, way and style to live. Everyone is extremely relaxed and if there is a problem, don’t worry, be happy, tomorrow we’re going to think about it.

The people there are really open, and when you walk into the village you can stop to talk with everyone. I was particularly impressed by people's open behaviour with the outsiders. Some students invited me at them houses and it was amazing to meet their family: mum dad and many children!

So, if you have in your mind the idea of volunteering and want to help this amazing country, don’t think about it too much, just go!

(If you want more information about volunteering at a Teach A Man To Fish project, please email lindsey@teachamantofish.org.uk)

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