Read below about a student volunteer’s experience of joining the Uganda volunteer project:
Naturally when travelling solo as a young adult, parents have concerns surrounding a whole range of things. For me especially my mum has 1000 questions about every aspect of the trip, and I feel by the end of it that I’d just about reassured her before flying out! From a practical perspective, there are a lot of logistics that parents worry about such as flights, transfer, travel documents (the list goes on), but both myself and my parents felt that the charity as a whole had a brilliant support system to guide us through the whole process. For example, the partner company Trailfinders was a big reassurance, especially as I was travelling solo. I was able to ask the staff if other volunteers on the trip had booked onto the same flight as me, which makes the travel itself slightly less daunting! When I then arrived at the airport I immediately saw the group of people in bright yellow PAI t-shirts and wasn’t alone from that moment on! On top of this, the charity team have reassured us that we’ll be collected promptly from the airport in a private transfer, so another daunting part of the trip is ticked off the list (I can confirm that on arrival at the airport someone was waiting with a safe transfer for us as a group)!
The communication from the organisation was really second to none. Throughout the whole process at any point if I had a question they would reply quickly and helpfully, not to mention all the information readily available for us on the app and in emails. Parents also like to know as much as possible so sending my mum all these resources was a big winner…
“every nerve you are feeling will be worth it for the incredible experience you’ll go through.”
From a social perspective, no parent wants their child to be alone in Uganda and this was a big one for me, but the way that the volunteering expedition is organised, revolves around teamwork with a group of likeminded uni students. Before the flight the Facebook group for our trip was a brilliant way of communicating (and of course easing my parents nerves). Just seeing a group of Uni students who are all in the same boat as me seems to put the trip into perspective. My team and I then met at the airport and spent the entire of the flight and transfer getting to know each other.
Culturally, Uganda is a big shift from day-to-day life in the UK, but PAI were with us every step of the way to ease this transition. The pre-departure training provided all the information we needed to know for the trip and answered a lot of unanswered questions. Things like reassurance that we have a professional chef with us at all times and all dietary requirements will be met was a brilliant reassurance (we even had a coeliac in our group and all went down well with the food). However, no matter how big mine or my parents nerves are around logistics, socialising or culture shock, its important to remember that the experience is so worth it in the long run, it really is an incredible opportunity. I hope that this blog in itself will bring reassurance to future parents of volunteers, as well as future volunteers themselves, whilst also providing reassurance that every nerve you are feeling will be worth it for the incredible experience you’ll go through.
Special thankyou to one of our previous volunteers Beth Mesher for writing this brilliant blog post!
If you’re a student at a UK university and are interested in volunteering with us in Uganda next summer, please get in touch with Jess at jess@jack