Volunteer Name: Jessica Shockley
Project Location: Bulenga, Uganda
Volunteered at: Orphanage / Child Care
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local ABV Coordinator was amazing. Derrick and George Michael we saw almost on a daily basis and helped us with whatever we needed. When even had a situation with receiving fake money and he went to great lengths to fix the situation, all the way to the police station. He always loaned us his SIM card so that we could make calls and contact him at anytime.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Being called Mzungu where ever we went by the children. While I expected to be treated differently, was not quite ready to be made that much of a scene of. One child would see us and yell Mzungu, then all the neighboring children would come running and start yelling it too. This kind of made it feel like we were on a parade every where we walked. Mzungu is usually a white person, which is assumed they have money to give out or to help in another way, its hard to explain.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The children everywhere were always asking for money and that was hard to handle, especially since they were asking because of my skin color. I knew that I wasn't going to be treated as a normal person in their community, but I did not realize this would be how I would be treated. Do not get me wrong I loved this experience, and wouldn't trade it for anything!
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
1) Don't bring more than 2 pairs of pants, it is too hot for that, even in the rainy season. 2)The kids loved finger painting, but make sure you can make your activities a learning lesson too. 3)We waited to do our activities till our last week so the kids wouldn't expect them everyday, unless you are there for a longer time that might not be ideal. 4)We also did our activities with each class, which made it easier to keep the class under control as they were very excited to have fun activities.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
1) We had the kids write their names on the stuff they got to make (which they loved to know and see their work!), then the teachers wanted them to keep them in the classroom so make sure you bring tape so that put it up on the walls to show off. 2)Don't forget to take toilet paper everywhere you go.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
I am very thankful for this whole experience as it taught me a lot about myself, and showed me how amazing people are all the way on the other side of the globe. The people I met changed my life for the better which included the natives of Uganda and the other tourists I was able to meet. They showed me a different kind of lifestyle that works, but that can be made better as a community as a whole and that there are wonderful people out there doing just that!
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Our accommodation was better than expected, better than most in the area. We shared our little house with the maid (beware she can't sleep unless the light is on) ans she was good. Don't be afraid to tell her you don't like something, then she wont keep making it for you. We always felt safe, there is even a night guard (he wasn't just for us, he was also there for the solar panel) who loves to talk and play cards. The meals were at different times than we are used to, so just communicate with the maid when you would like to eat and make sure you communicate what you don't like!
8- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
My favorite memory of this trip is when I was able to meet and talk with Hydyn and delver solar lights. Hydyn works for the solar light distribution organization and he shared with me his life story and why he works for the solar light distribution company. Along with his story the actual giving of the solar lights was an amazing experience, the families were so appreciative. When we delivered them in the rural parts where there is no electricity, it was hard to see such living conditions as if you wanted a flashlight you had to walk 10 miles there and 10 miles back, so the people receiving the lights were very thankful and we had a great time making them smile and dancing and hugging. It was a well rounded amazing experience.
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
ABV USA support was great prior to traveling. ABV was right to cancel our trip to Kenya due to the safety issues. After canceling the trip they were amazing in working with us on making sure we were still able to go with their program to a different country. ABV was good at answering all of our questions through email with a quick responses.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes! This would be wonderful.