Perhaps the most striking thing I gained in Uganda was perspective...
In this second part of his two part blog, Nurture Africa Student Ambassador Gavin Quinn takes a retrospective look at his 3 week volunteer placement in Uganda in summer 2016.
"It’s been nearly 5 months since I returned home from Uganda but I still remember it like it was just yesterday. A lot has happened, a lot has changed, time keeps ticking but as time goes on I realise just how great of an experience I had in a town called Nansana.
Picture: Myself, Siobhan and Emily working on the Construction of the Nurture Africa IT Learning Centre
I spent most of the month of July on a volunteer placement in Nansana, Uganda with Nurture Africa. As a student Ambassador, I was well trained and educated about what I would be doing. Working in the general skills programme, every day was different; different work, different people, different experiences.
Perhaps the most striking thing I gained in Uganda was perspective. Perspective of what the real problems really are. Not to worry if you didn’t get the present you wanted for your birthday, or worry about what new phone you can’t afford. Other people have to worry about simply putting food on the table or shoes on their feet.
Contrary to some opinion, you’re not going to change the world spending a few weeks volunteering, the initial impact is quite small. Don’t be disheartened though, it’s the little things. What you do is like planting seeds, empowering and giving people the tools to learn, grow and thrive. Nothing reflects this more than Nurture Africa's Sustainable Livelihoods programme. Providing financial assistance through micro-finance loans to families benefiting from their HIV healthcare and education projects; enabling them to build a business and flourish.
Something as small as a visit to a school had a massive impact. The children are very keen to learn, a contrast to some in this part of the world! Even on a national holiday, we travelled to a local school for a sports day and were met by over 100 excited pupils eager to get involved on a rare day off school!
I miss Uganda, it’s such a beautiful country with amazing people. A walk to Nurture Africa’s Health Centre every morning was an experience in itself. Almost every child on the street would wave and greet you while a lot of adults would also do the same! I could walk around Dublin for hours and not a single person would say anything to me so it was a surreal experience in that regard.
I would love to return someday. I would to meet some of the Ugandans I met while on my placement and also to say how Nansana has progressed. It’s inspiring to see the tremendous work being done both on a large and small scale. I’m glad to say I was a part of it and look forward to seeing it all pay off in the near future."