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11 days in, 10 to go.... My experience so far with Nurture Africa in Uganda

"It’s very hard to put my experience with Nurture Africa into words after just eleven days here. I’ve done so much, learned so much, gave so much and yet I’m still only at the halfway point of the placement. I’m so gracious to be given the opportunity to volunteer with Nurture Africa. The charity does so much good here in Nansana for people who truly deserve it and more importantly, they need it.

I chose to go volunteering with Nurture Africa for many of reasons. To try make a difference; their ambassador program made it feasible for me to go and of course to throw myself out of my comfort zone. Something a lot of us aren’t willing to do.

At the two training days with Nurture Africa, we learned a lot about the country, what Nurture Africa does and also what to expect. I have to admit I didn’t know what to expect, although their staff gave as much in depth detail as possible. I don’t think anyone can truly understand what a place like Uganda is like until you actually go there, we all develop too many misconceptions of what we think the developing world is like until we actually go there.

I think a lot of the programs Nurture Africa run are superb. Reading about them before I came certainly helped me understand them but they matched my expectations, if not went one better. In many ways, Uganda has also surpassed my expectations, the people, the environment and the lifestyle can teach Ireland many lessons.

The Ugandan way of life is very relaxed. Walking pace is about half of what we’re used to at home because what’s the rush? The food is great, I have to admit I was worried about food but in general it’s healthy and balanced. The country itself is beautiful, I didn’t expect it to be so green and tropical, hills make the landscape quite rugged but aesthetically astonishing. I always go to sit at the window while travelling just to see more of this country! They don’t call it ‘The Pearl of Africa’ for nothing!

The people are definitely the best thing about Uganda. I could walk through Dublin city for hours without getting a single wave or ‘hello’ from thousands but a walk to Nurture Africa’s Health Centre is an experience in itself. Adults and children alike will wave and ask how we are etc. In general, the people are very happy and friendly. Some of the Nurture Africa staff and local people are among some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

"Nurture Africa is not about giving. It’s about enabling people to help themselves. To nurture and to allow the people who deserve it to thrive and build a better life for themselves and those around them."

I’ve been very busy since I’ve arrived. We work Monday to Friday each week with morning and afternoon activities each day. Activities range from gardening to first aid, a wide variety of areas are covered in the general skills area I work in. We’ve helped in the building of an IT centre at the health centre, we’ve painted murals at a local kindergarten, visited local small businesses supported by Nurture Africa, participated in Library Outreach programs at local schools and much more. The programs are brilliant and the impact they have are unbelievable.

There are plenty of opportunities to experience the country during your spare time, Nansana is a lovely area to explore, we travelled to Kampala to watch a cultural dance show last week but last Saturday was the highlight. A day of White Water Rafting down the river Nile and it’s rapids was surreal to say the least and a safari in Uganda’s national park beckons this weekend also!

I’ve given a lot, I’ve gained a lot but most importantly, I hope that I’ve inspired, that I’ve enabled and that I’ve empowered. Nurture Africa is not about giving, it’s about enabling people to help themselves, to nurture and to allow the people who deserve it to thrive and build a better life for themselves and those around them.

I still have another eleven days here and I have already had an unforgettable experience. I would totally recommend Nurture Africa to those considering volunteering in the future. The work they do is sensational, the staff and programs they offer are superb and I can assure you it’s something you won’t regret doing."

- Gavin Quinn

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