I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived in Uganda to spend a month at the Kitega Community Centre. The first thing that you notice when you arrive at the centre is how happy the kids are. When the car pulled into the centre all the kids crowded round to see the new ‘mzungu’ that had arrived. They all want to give you a hug and hold your hands.
After a few days at the centre you start to get used to the routine of the centre and realize that everything runs on African time! Helping the children in the class is defiantly a test of your patience as most of the children are so mentally disabled they are just learning how to write the letters over and over again. Despite this they are all so keen to learn and will bring you their jotter over and over so you can give them more work. In the afternoons I loved playing with the kids with the parachute I took, or listen to them singing or doing the papyrus weaving.
I was also involved in judging the songs for the album which the centre is going to be launching later this year, so that was good fun. It was really uplifting to see and hear all these people sing about the benefits they have personally had from the centre.
I think the main thing I have been challenged with since coming back home to Scotland is how happy everyone, and particularly the children at the centre are, despite their circumstances. The way of life there is much more basic compared to home and there aren’t nearly as many choices of food, clothes, even channels on the radio or telly, but everyone does seem happier. You can’t walk down the road without being greeted by nearly everyone you pass and have ‘mzugnu’ shouted at you from the kids. During my time at Kitega I also met a lady called Matieda who lives on less than $5 (£3.20) a month! She also has 3 orphans to look after and due to health problems can’t work and earn any money. Despite this she still continues to praise God and thank Him for everything in her life. I bet not many of us would be able to do that if we were in the same situation.
Do not expect to come back the same person that you go as you will be challenged both mentally and physically, but you will be all the better for it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kitega and miss everyone at the centre very much. I am hoping to return one day and see how things have changed.
Amy Kirkwood – Scotland