What is a typical day like as a Help International volunteer in Uganda? As a group of volunteers ranging from ages 19-24 this summer, it would be a very easy question to answer back in the States. The responses would likely include classes at the local university, a coffee or FIIZ break, a part-time job, and then maybe hitting the gym or hanging out with a significant other. Back home we are accustomed to routines that structure our daily lives as college students. However, when asked about a typical day in Uganda, it’s a completely different story.
So, what is a typical day like as a volunteer in Uganda? You may be able to note some basic things like daily breakfast in the morning, or your routine shower at night before bed. However, I can assure you there is no typical day as a volunteer in Uganda. Each day is filled with excitement, unexpected challenges, and learning opportunities. Every day you are traveling new places, meeting new people, and brainstorming new ideas. Getting thrown into situations that challenge you, make you uncomfortable, or push you to become more of a leader are common occurrences here in The Pearl of Africa.
So, what makes it so difficult to have a routine day in Uganda? I would state that time and understanding are the biggest barriers. As a group of volunteers living in Mbale for only around three weeks now, it is obvious we would need at least a couple more months to get completely comfortable with how everything operates here. You cannot learn or understand how even the simplest tasks work in another country, across the globe, without a great deal of time as your companion. Trying to compare cultures or norms in the U.S. compared to Uganda is like trying to compare a peanut to an orbiting satellite. There is no easy answer—but with time comes understanding. Whether it’s learning to negotiate prices with a boda driver, or planning extra hours on a project because you know there is a good chance you’ll be stranded in the rain, time is a crucial aspect of understanding here in Uganda.
However different or unpredictable life might seem out here on a daily basis, there are a few certainties I’ve discover thus far. First, the people of Uganda are extremely kind and welcoming. It seems wherever we visit we are greeted with kind greetings, big smiles, and open arms. Another certainty is our group will start each day with a determined attitude of positivity along with help and support for the people of Uganda. We are each here for the sole purpose of utilizing our unique skillsets to provide support for those in need. The last certainty is that as a group, we can accomplish anything. Whether it’s brainstorming ideas for raising funds for an impoverished community, or providing support for one another after a hard day, we know our group has the power to accomplish great things.
Craig Broderick, Uganda Team Member
*All HELP blogs written by volunteers reflect the beliefs and thoughts of that volunteer and do not necessarily reflect the organization's outlook. For any questions about HELP International's official stance on any topic, please email us directly