Since I haven’t written about travel recently here is a little throw back to a trip I went on a couple of years ago. This was NOT your typical fun fun vacation, although I did have a ton of fun, it was also a lot of hard work and an eye opening experience. I spent about 3 and a half weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda. For some reason I always wanted to do this, so I saved up my money, found an organization to go with and I did it, I flew all the way to Africa by myself and I am so happy I did. I did spend most of my time volunteering but I also got to explore a good amount and do some pretty awesome things while I was there.
This was my first experience over seas and I didn’t know anyone I would be there with or what to expect. I went with IVHQ, which is a program that places volunteers around the world, now I wouldn’t recommend this program because their communication about everything was HORRIBLE. What I didn’t realize is that IVHQ works with independent volunteer companies based in the country you are going to and they also charge a huge fee just for connecting you with this local organization. One of my friends went through this program to a different place and she said the same thing. However, I am thankful for the placement, the orphanage I was at and the people I met while volunteering.
The volunteer experience was absolutely amazing. I got the change to work with new borns to 18 year-olds. Each and every one of them had their own story and they were so thankful for all the volunteers. I recommend that everyone do something like this because it was an indescribable experience. I still keep in contact with some of the older kids I met at the orphanage via Facebook.
Although volunteering was what brought be to Uganda and the reason I would go back in a heart beat, I also got to do a ton of cool things while I was there. I went on a safari, I went bungee jumping and I white water rafted down the Nile River (which was way scarier than bungee jumping). I also got to explore Kampala, Entebbe and live like I was actually a member of their community.
Now, you’re probably wondering how hard it was to stay healthy in Uganda. Uganda is a great country but I would not go back for the food. There was a lot of fresh fruit options but the meat/ protein was pretty much nonexistent. I remember our hostess cooked all the volunteers fried chicken one night and it was pretty much just fried skin and bones of a malnourished chicken. Also, everything was cooked in so much oil, I ate so many eggs there that were just saturated in grease. Another thing is that the water isn’t safe to drink, so we needed to buy bottled water which added up pretty quickly. It was a challenging place to stay healthy, but it was worth it 100% for the experience.
I was able to exercise while in Uganda, which was nice. The house I was staying at was off of a long dirt road that another volunteer and I would go running on. One time we were running some of the locals started chasing after us, they thought it was so funny that we were running just for fun. It was on this trip that I thought it would be cool to go for a run or workout in every country I go to. I started by just saying I want to go for a run on every continent at some point in my life, but I really don’t want to run on Antartica so maybe I’ll just say I want to run on 6/7 of the continents at some point in my life! Who’s with me??
Overall, this was an AMAZING trip, and I would absolutely love to go back and volunteer again. Uganda is probably the most unique place I have been, it was a beautiful country filled with beautiful people.