Milembe everyone! (That’s hello in Luhya, the language of our wonderful Ugandan locals). Another year in Uganda has come and gone and the successes of the most recent expedition are exciting in the least. The team of nine young, talented volunteers whose accomplishments affected over two hundred locals our fresh in our minds and in our hearts.
Our expedition began in the community of Bududa, a mountainous village set along the South Eastern border of Mt. Elgon National Park. The sounds of drums and the sights of colorful dancing welcomed us into the village and soon after, we felt as if we’d come to find a new home. We began our work with the implementation of a Family Support Program, a program designed to support the health and well-being of twenty-one families whose needs are very simple: nutritious foods, reliable shelter, clean water and the opportunity to receive an education. The volunteers began by identifying secondary school (high school) students whose annual school fees – the equivalent of less than $150 US – exist beyond the capabilities of their familes, students whose livelihoods are confined to taking care of younger siblings, caring for the home and tending to the shamba (family farm) in place of earning an education. In total, over thirty students were identified and sixteen chosen – five of which were young women – to be welcomed into the newly established GOA-Uganda Scholarship Program, each very excited about the newly possible opportunities ahead.
The volunteers then moved onto teaching proper health, hygiene and nutrition both in and out of the home. They discussed the importance of clean water, proper personal hygiene practices and a balanced diet in fostering holistic health. The nutrition segment of their teaching concluded in the giving of 12 new seed types, followed by a lesson in sustainable sustenance gardening. Principles included crop rotation, inter-cropping (or mixed cropping), composting and erosion prevention. Outside of direct home visits, the volunteers spent many hours teaching and training our ambitious locals through various group sessions. As part of the GOA Skills for Self Reliance Curriculum, the making of bar soap, liquid soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, chlorine disinfectant (for water), yogurt and cake baking was taught. Each of the skills served two purposes:
- The creation of these goods in the home serves to better the health and hygiene of the family within that home and
- The creation of these goods may serve the purpose of generating income for the family outside of the home through the identification and usage of locally available resources and the introduction of home-made products into pre-established local markets.
Training regarding midwifery was also conducted alongside local midwifes and nurses for the purpose of introducing practices of healthy pre-natal, birthing and post-birth care. In conjunction with the Skills for Self-Reliance curriculum, a GOA-Uganda Cow Breeding Project was introduced to the community of Bududa. Five locals were identified to be recipients of a mature, dairy-producing cow. This project serves two purposes:
- It enables the recipients to generate income and better health for their families through the harvesting and selling of milk and
- The offspring of the cow will be given in a merry-go-round fashion to another in-need recipient over and over and over again without the maintenance or repetitious funding.
Concluding the trip was the GOA-Uganda Community Day, a day dedicated to art, games and the building of long-lasting, meaningful relationships. Unity and closeness were at the core of all interactions while cultures were shared in a creative manner. The products of the art project will be put to use in a fundraiser for the newly established scholarship program and the knowledge and love obtained about and for the beautiful people of Uganda will forever be shared in the stories told by our volunteers. Volunteers learned the importance of relationships inclusive of trust, respect and love in the empowerment and development of a community.
Lastly, nightly Lessons for Volunteers were completed for the purpose of educating volunteers about the importance of responsible community development. These discussions assist volunteers in the identification of their passions and how best to fulfill their potential as lifetime volunteers of the global village, as was proof by their expedition testimonials (see “About” section of the webpage for more details). For more information about the projects mentioned, please visit the “Projects” section of the webpage. For more photos, please visit The Global Outreach Alliance on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/globaloutreach. Wanting to join us next summer in Uganda? Please take the time to complete a Mentor Application – it’s the first step in creating a meaningful service-learning experience you’re sure to never forget.