Volunteering in Uganda: What an epic, humbling experience

Posted by Tiger Marketing on 06 March 2024

Managing Director and Head Tiger Louise returned from her trip to Uganda in February and says it was “inspiring, humbling and absolutely epic”.

For the first part of the trip, Louise worked with a team of 65 volunteers who she now calls friends, at the One Love Project school and orphanage, and then experienced several ‘once in a lifetime’ adventures with gorilla trekking, land & boat safaris, quad biking and white water rafting through the rapids of the River Nile. (To find out what initially inspired Louise to take this trip, read our first Uganda blog post here.)

Louise’s 12-day trip included time spent in the Kabale District where the One Love Project school is located, then visits to the city of Jinja and Murchison Falls. Louise and the One Love group started their time in Uganda making improvements to the school and orphanage buildings, and the school for children with special needs, ‘Our Little Tribe’. The team repainted classrooms and built a fantastic new play area for the children, complete with a trampoline, climbing and swing frames, obstacles and slides. Several volunteers taught in the classes and there was lots of dancing and singing. Each volunteer had brought an additional 25kg suitcase full of much-needed clothes, shoes, musical instruments, stationery, and toiletries, and the team sorted through the thousands of donations and distributed them to the wonderful children and caring staff at the school and orphanage.

Among the donations were 92 football shirts, collected by 9-year-old Teddy Bond from Littlehampton, West Sussex to be given to the children. “As soon as I heard mum’s friends were going to Uganda to help the children there, it was my mission to get as many football kits, shirts and bibs as I could,” says Teddy. “Kids love football, and I wanted the children in Uganda to enjoy playing football with their friends like I do.” The children did love them and sent a video back to Teddy to say thank you.

The group of volunteers also spent a day handing out bras and period pants to girls and women in the wider community. In a region where disposable sanitary products and bras are prohibitively expensive yet hugely important to self-esteem and necessary for everyday life, underwear is also a crucial lifeline from rape and sexual subjugation as a lack of underwear is seen as a sign of vulnerability and puts women at risk.

Louise says: “This day was emotional for many reasons and was extremely humbling and rewarding to see how happy these items made the young ladies and women, what we take for granted and deem as a necessity was a luxury to them.”

“This day is also where I met 5-year-old Amos and his grandma. They were hungry, dirty, had bedraggled clothes on (the grandma barefoot), and whereas all the people we’d met to date were smiling, happy and talkative, Amos didn’t smile and had a haunting sadness in his eyes. His grandma begged us to take him as she was struggling to look after him and was physically pushing him towards us. I really wanted to help and with my friend Maxine, we went back to the orphanage to see if there was space for him to attend school and possibly board there – luckily there was. Max and I went back to the community to tell Amos and his grandma, we invited them to the school for lunch, gave them new clothes and shoes and helped settle Amos into his new classroom. His grandma asked if he could board there and so Max and I decided to sponsor him for the year so he could have regular hot meals, gain an education and play with his new friends. Within half an hour the sad eyes were smiling, and we were rewarded with a very special hug.”

For anyone wanting to sponsor a child, please get in contact and know that your sponsorship will go direct to the school to buy a child such as Amos essential items: bedding, mosquito nets, toiletries, shoes and school supplies, and well as covering school fees and the cost of uniform.

Being able to see exactly where the funds and donations go and the instant impact they have on young lives is not only heartwarming but immensely reassuring, because corruption in the governments and institutions of developing countries is extremely common. A 2021 report by Uganda’s Inspectorate of Government found that eradicating corruption would save the country at least 9.1 trillion Ugandan shillings – approximately £2 billion. Charities and not-for-profit organisations must therefore tread carefully and take the time to understand the environment they’re operating in before they start trying to make changes. The team behind the One Love Project who organised Louise’s trip spent many years immersing themselves in the culture and learning how everything worked, so they are transparent about where money and donations go and can make a tangible difference in the most ethical way possible.

“I had a wonderful, fulfilling time in Uganda and feel very privileged to have had the experience,” says Louise. “I made friends for life on this trip, saw wonders beyond words, experienced high-adrenaline activities and witnessed true goodness in humans – I will treasure forever the incredible memories of my time there.”

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated – your contributions have already made a clear difference to the community. We’re still accepting donations, so if you’d like to extend your support, you can do so here.

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