Volunteer Name: Adam Farber
Project Location: Bulenga, Uganda
Program Dates: July 2013 (2 weeks)
Volunteered At: Orphanage and school
What was your favorite memory of this trip? The kids. They're so great and so excited to have a guest teacher. Getting to know them over time and watching them learn was a great experience.
What was the most difficult thing you experienced? Figuring out how cautious to be with safety at night. As time went on it seemed fine to be out for a couple hours after dark if walking with a group, especially if with a local. For a later night in Kampala it was also easy to arrange a private driver for a reasonable fee.
What was the one thing you wished you were better prepared for? Understanding what to worry about safety-wise. The quick answer is don't worry in Bulenga unless its been dark for a while and all the people have gone home. Of course there is no need to take unnecessary risks either, such as walking alone anytime at night or carrying lots of money or expensive things with you at night. Kampala and taxis are a little different and of course have pickpockets, but it's easy to avoid all that by just walking with your hands in your pockets when you're in Kampala, especially whenever it gets crowded. Kampala is a great experience that should be done via taxi at least once (but probably more), just don't take more than you need, try to be aware of pickpockets, and enjoy the sights, sounds, stares, and congestion.
Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, sightseeing etc) Everything will get dusty, but it all washes out. I was more comfortable at the school and around the village in travel pants and shoes rather than shorts and flip flops, but it seems you can wear whatever you're comfortable wearing. Bring ear plugs. There's a school next to the volunteer house and the kids sometimes play loudly early in the morning, but I found ear plugs made sleeping through it super easy. If you want fruit and vegetables they're easy to get, I ate a lot of them and had no problems at all. Weekend excursions or short safaris are also easy to arrange through tour companies if you're interested in that.
How would you describe/rate your experience working with the ABV staff in the USA? Sarah & the ABV staff were always very responsive and patient with all my questions.
How was the local ABV Director and the support provided in-country? Good.
Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial): If you've got the time and money to visit these kids you should go, it's going to be a great experience.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Yes. I spoke with two past volunteers before I signed up and found it helpful.