You cannot come to Africa and expect things to run as they do at home, that is the first most important thing you take from your experience here. It is a whole different way of doing things, and on very different timekeeping scales. Life is relaxed, work is relaxed, and the people are just as relaxed….always smiling and never in a hurry.
I spent my two months here at Kitega doing something a little different. Rather than working hugely with the children, whom I must add were lovely and would often greet me in the morning running out from the centre to hug me (I definitely wouldn’t get this welcome back at home going in to work), I got involved with one of the local village banking groups instead, and helped them set up a piggery. This was started very much from square one, from discussion to construction of the shelter, to piglet delivery. Each week I went to the village and lent a helping hand, digging soil and using soggy mud to create mud walls. The shelter was created from local materials which the village group organised, and a week before I left, I travelled back to Kampala to choose two piglets which I donated to the group along with a big sack of food. I had much fun doing this with the help of Daniel (a Kitega staff member) and it was very rewarding to return to the village with an excited group awaiting us. In time the piggery will adopt a natural farming method using IMO (indigenous microorganisms) and will give the group much needed income as well as distributing the generations of piglets to the group members.
During my involvement with the piggery group I became hugely fond of the chair person, a wonderful sixty-five year old man called Mr Kafeero. Full of an inexhaustible supply of energy, motivation and determination he is an absolute credit and inspiration to his people. I have nothing but admiration for this man who at his age is still keen to learn and keen to better his life and those around him. He will definitely be my most memorable person and with his involvement and business experience I have every faith the piggery project will be a success.
I met many people and many children who will be remembered for different reasons, and I have plenty of memories that will stay with me for life, most notably riding a boda boda (motorcycle) back through the sugar cane plantations during sunset! Volunteering at Kitega and having the opportunity to live with a host family gives you so much more than many volunteering experiences I know are out there. Sure, trying to get things done does not always go to plan and there are many challenges, but one thing I can safely say I’ve had is an African experience…and an incredibly valuable experience at that. The people here have never disappointed me in their spirit, and it is that that inevitably wins out. It is what keeps the centre activities going, it is what makes them succeed, and it is what will keep volunteers like me coming back to Africa time and time again.
Sophie Gauss – UK