Our latest blog post is written by Helen Thorogood, who spent four weeks volunteering with Kids Club Kampala in Uganda this summer. Here she tells us about her experiences:
“This summer, I traded four weeks at home in London for four weeks with Kids Club Kampala in Uganda – and it was the best decision I’ve made. Before travelling, I was met at the airport by a lovely lady with a donation bag of knitted children’s clothes, made by the generous ladies of her parish Church. Arriving in the early hours of the morning after a long flight, I was anything but tired. I couldn’t help but take in the first sights of my new home for the next month during the whole car journey across Kampala from the airport to the Kids Club Kampala guest house.
My first week was spent settling in with the other volunteers, trying the tasty Ugandan food (Rolex is a personal favourite), meeting the inspirational staff and children and visiting some of the many projects that Kids Club Kampala run. I felt so welcomed by everyone at Kids Club Kampala who all made such an effort to teach me about the projects and life in Kampala. I visited the more rural community of Namavundu where I got to meet the some of the amazing women in the women’s group alongside the cow (which somehow managed to eat a bit of my hair!) supporting the community in the long term with the milk it provides – a manageable sustainable project. In my first week, I visited two of biggest projects that Kids Club Kampala runs, the Kids Clubs in the slums of Kivulu and Katanga. The Kids Club at Kivulu is such a wonderful place for children to retreat to away from the stresses of everyday life in the slum and is run by the amazing women, Teacher Sylivia and Teacher Annette who work effortlessly to teach the children English, Maths and Science as well as teaching children to have fun and to love others through music, dance and playing. The teachers at Katanga slum – Juliet, Rita and Sarah – work just as hard also and from my first time in Katanga, I saw that they never failed to provide hope and love to the children who may have so many troubles.
Katanga is where I spent much of my time with the other volunteers, spending many afternoons in the classroom or out on the field playing all the games we could remember from our childhood and teaching the children how to play them. The children also taught us many games (most of which we were terrible at to begin with, providing much amusement to the children, teachers and bystanders). We mostly ended our day volunteering at Katanga by helping with the daily feeding programme, where the children in the Kids Club receive a nutritious meal which is both a slightly chaotic but rewarding experience when you see many happy faces with a bowl of food. For me, moments like those represented the real positive work the Kids Club Kampala do day in, day out to help vulnerable children.
After a week of work and volunteering, we spent the weekend visiting somewhere and definitely involved some rest and relaxation. For our first weekend as a small team, Sam took us to Entebbe where we visited a wildlife park where I met an adorable baby (although not so small) Elephant named Charles as well as feeding a Giraffe before spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the shores of Lake Victoria. Another real highlight was our trip to Jinja with Sam, where we took an evening boat ride to the source of the River Nile before returning to land to watch the beautiful sunset. It was so great to get to see such beautiful places during my time in Uganda which left us refreshed for another week of volunteering.
Although some may think four weeks is a long time, it certainly wasn’t and I couldn’t believe how soon it was that I had to leave and head back to London! My four weeks on the ground with Kids Club Kampala has taught me so much just through talking to people and people sharing their stories with me and I shall forever be grateful to everyone for sharing that with me. Although there were some challenging times being exposed to the poverty in Kampala, I found I was able to cope knowing that the work of Kids Club Kampala really is changing lives of people in vulnerable communities in Uganda every day. I would like to truly thank everyone at Kids Club Kampala for allowing me to be a part of this family, all of whom share the same vision of bringing hope and love to vulnerable children.”