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Volunteering to make a sustainable difference......

On 16th April 2015, Billy O'Donavan arrived in Uganda for the second time in 6 months, accompanied by his girlfriend AnneMarie Broderick. Billy's volunteering journey in Uganda began in October 2014, when as part of a larger team of volunteers from Deloitte, he worked to capacity build local organisations in areas of finance. This partnership between Nurture Africa and Deloitte, is now in its third year, and has a strategic focus of building on the gains being made year on year by Nurture Africa and our partners in Uganda. The impact upon local orgainisations is immense.... 2 weeks of full-time consultancy would cost a local community based organisation close to €1000. The focus upon capacity building, is for Nurture Africa an important display of the impact that we strive to achieve through our volunteer project.... The sharing of skills, for the betterment of the communites within which we work and the opportunity for our volunteers to gain a greater understanding of the commuities too....

"On Wednesday 15th April 2015 I arrive back in Uganda, only 5 months after leaving. After my experience of Uganda last October, I truly believe that I will be returning to Africa for the rest of my life!

I will be here for one week, before setting off for a five week spell in Malawi with my girlfriend AnneMarie. It is her first visit to Uganda. We are back in Nansana, completing some follow up work with Nurture Africa and doing some preparatory work for the October 2015 Deloitte volunteers, who will continue with the work that has been put in place over the last two years by previous volunteers from the Dublin and Cork offices of Deloitte in Ireland.

After a long day of travelling we disembarked the plane in Entebbe airport at 1pm – the wonderful smell of the Ugandan air perked us right up. On entering the airport the health screening process was just as strict as last October. All be it just a hand wash, filling of a form and temperature check, it is still great to see that they haven’t relaxed the Ebola screening controls that are clearly working.

A quick queue at passport control (visa is free for the Irish!) and we are oficially in Uganda! Bags came through quickly and off we went out to be greeted by Alex, the very friendly Nurture Africa driver whom I remember from last October and Peter, our volunteer co-ordinator. We are lucky to be the first Irish volunteers to arrive under Peter’s tenure and he is very motivated to do a good job and he really is doing one!

Billy and Anne Marie arriving at Nurture Africa Headquarters

Being my second time arriving in Uganda and making the hour long journey from Entebbe to Nansana what I realised immediately is that the culture and way of life in Uganda no longer seems strange. It IS different as is the culture everywhere around the world... The people work differently but to achieve the same goals – happiness, healthiness and a positive future for themselves and their families.

Peter brought us to the Ivory hotel where we are staying – it's in Nansana close to the home that I lived in last October. The hotel spans across 3-4 different area’s on either side of a road just off the main road. It is lovely. There are some open gardens where it is great to relax and watch the sun set over Kabulengwa and write a blog!! Of course we were lucky enough to be found by Fahad our chef from last October (a chef whom quickly became a great friend!) on our first night – although we had no means of contact! That’s the beauty of Nansana!

On Wednesday morning and we had hoped to walk to the centre. However, as it was lashing rain and luckily we were collected by Nurture Africa driver Alex. The fact that I remembered that he was an avid St. Patrick's Athletic supporter (from 1999-2003, Ugandan international footballer Charles Mbabazi Livingstone plied his trade and was a cult hero with supporters at St. Patrick's Athletic) earned us some brownie points the day before! When we got to the Nurture Africa Centre, I quickly realised that the show doesn’t just go on when the groups of Irish volunteers arrive. The centre was a hive of

activity, everyone with their head down getting the job done. There are over 50 Ugandan staff working for Nurture Africa here. All experts in their relevant fields of work. We were lucky to be given a similar orientation to last year as all the team heads were happy to update us on projects and happenings within the organisation.

They described their roles and achievements with pride as so they should. As if I needed it, the huge development of the new extension to the health centre was hard proof of the continued progress of Nurture Africa. The Nurture Africa Health Centre offers free Primary Healthcare for orphans and vulnerable children ranging from malaria, pneumonia and measles to TB and diarrhoea. All potentially live threatening and all treatable. Within the HIV Clinic, HIV+ children and their parents/guardians can access treatment, care and medication, which can enable them to regain their health. The new phase of the health centre will have a strong focus of preventing the spread of HIV to new born children too...

We spent the day working with the finance team of Nurture Africa. What was clear is that the organisation has really focused on ensuring that the work completed by the Deloitte team in 2014 was carried onwards. This is brilliant to see. It is why we are here! Nurture Africa doesn’t do things by halves and have taken on board all of the feedback which we gave last year.

After work we walked with Fahad to Crane House (where I called home for 2 weeks last October) for a look. It was great to see was that the roads down to Crane House have been improved. While not yet tarmac, they are no longer the bumpy, pot hole ridden, dirt roads that they were before. Clear evidence that the country as a whole is determined to develop – however slowly but no doubt as fast as it can.

On Thursday morning and we visited UYWEFA (Uganda Youth and Women’s Empowerment Fighting AIDS). They have a primary school on the outskirts of Nansana. It was great to see how they had taken the advice from Deloitte volunteers in 2013 and now have a great system of manually recoding transactions and keeping day books. Now they are ready for the next steps and are incredibly looking forward to the arrival of the next team of volunteers in October. What really struck me was the discussion with the director after our finance meeting – they are currently trying to raise funds to buy the premises and stop the crippling rent expense. They need to raise £15,000 GBP. They currently have exhausted all avenues to raise £1,000. But they have not given up hope. They will buy the premises. They will save the rent expense and put it back into the betterment of the school and organisation as a whole.

So now, I am just after moving under the patio of Ivory as the rain threatens again. Ronny, the grounds keeper at Nurture Africa, will be arriving shortly to take me to the gym. If I survive that I may continue the blog later in the week!!!

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