When volunteering in Uganda with African Volunteer Aid you will be placed in a local village spending time getting to know the locals, helping them build a sustainable life, learning their culture and seeing how beautiful their country is.
Of course, the number one reason people volunteer in Uganda is to improve the quality of life for the local people. That you will most certainly do. I will guarantee that the work you carry out there is important, relevant and life changing to the people you meet and work alongside. However, theirs is not the only quality of life that sees improvement.
There are six very special things you will learn on your journey. These things possibly won’t go on your resume, these ones go on your heart and soul, however, they are deeply valuable and will last a life time.
Here are six things you will learn in Uganda that will make you’re a better person and improve the quality of your life.
1. To be curious
You are in a whole new world so different to home it might as well be another planet. During your stay in the village in Uganda you will see and learn some incredible things about the people, their culture, their systems current and planned. You may even choose to work in an area you have never experienced. In order to cope with all the newness you will need to be curious. Ask questions, get involved and figure things out. The rapid personal growth might make your head spin momentarily but the more questions you ask the more you can achieve. The locals will love your curious mind as well. They will adore sharing their knowledge, give you information and opening you to their world. Staying curious is so important to good mental and emotional health so an environment that encourages and supports this is a great platform for setting you off on the right future path.
2. To share your story
Want to really have something to say when you get home? This is an experience you can talk about. Your story starts well before your return. It starts with the village and the people there who want to know all about you. Suddenly everyday things will become spectacular. Your life at home will seem like a fairy tale to those listening and the things you do on auto pilot will require explanations. Why do you do what you do? As you answer their questions you will also discover more about yourself. As you experience another life, you will also uncover hidden patterns inside your own. This is where you start to know your story. Through talking to others and speaking about your experiences you will start to uncover where you come from. What defines you, what really matters. When you get home your story will be about the world you just witnessed. The world you just changed. The lives you have touched and the people who have forever been etched in your heart. You will experience so much in that short time it’s best to keep a journal. Keep notes on what you see, hear, smell and taste so that when you read the notes, even in 30 years time, you will be instantly transported back to that place.
3. To be resourceful
It’s not your resources, it’s your resourcefulness. Learn how to see different ways to get a job done, communicate or get through a challenge. Understand that simplicity and basics are everything you need to get moving, give you choice, and create flexibility. Away from the world where everything is ready-made at your fingertips, you will gain a deep understanding of how creativity and culture grow from the smallest places. This lesson will enable you to find elegant and quick solutions and think outside the box to meet a goal, to solve a conflict or rise above a trial.
4. To dance like no one is watching
When you feel that authentic rhythm and energy all around you, it won’t just be your toes that are tapping. In Uganda dancing is not for show or prettiness, however you move is perfect. You will learn how to just let loose have fun and be part of the moment. Dancing is pure energy in motion. You simply can’t resist, especially when you see the giant grins that light up the villagers faces when you join in. It’s something that you will be part of forever.
5. To laugh
This is not the same as laughing at a structured joke, this is a deeper kind of laugh that flows naturally. Learn how to laugh all the way from the pit of your belly and feel it roll through your body. The people of the villages in Uganda love laughing. They have the most beautiful sense of humour and will let lots of laughter over the most amazing details or incidents. Being around them, you can’t help but be caught up in it. It’s infectious and even though you may be in the simplest surrounds, you will feel rich.
6. To be free
Free of judgment. Free of prejudice. Free of scarcity. Volunteering in Africa teaches you that you are enough just the way you are. Yes there is so much to learn, yes there is so much to do but there is freedom within yourself to do it and be authentic on your journey. This is the place where you give yourself permission to let go of the constraints and labels, the rules and the restrictions and just be yourself. When you understand that you are a small piece in a large puzzle you can change the world.
So if you are looking to change the word, I’d say that volunteering in Uganda is a great place to start. A place that will build strength and love for your journey and stay with you forever.