14 hours spent travelling half way across the world is bound to generate apprehension in most people: “Will I be able to survive 3 months?”; “Will I make a worthwhile impact?” but perhaps most importantly, “Will I be accepted by the people?”
Luckily, this question was swiftly answered. The cohort of Ugandan counterparts warmly welcomed us with a skilful rendition of their traditional ‘Gishu’ dance – an energetic performance aptly demonstrating Uganda’s love of music. The intricacy of their routine accompanied by personal letters addressed to every UK volunteer made us feel truly humbled and celebrated the commencement of our Challenges Worldwide ICS programme in 2017.
In-Country Orientation / Business Training
It wasn’t long before we got down to business – quite literally. A string of six 9am-6pm training days comprised our crash course in business training, or more formally “Professional Consulting” (as accredited by the Chartered Management Institute), preparing us for what we were to face in the coming weeks. Group discussions concerning case studies undertaken by previous volunteers enabled us to understand the ins and outs of a business, and subsequent presentations pushed us to organise our ideas and develop practical responses to problems an enterprise may face.
Luckily, it wasn’t all business. We had time after the training to relax and get to know each other better. The night time was the fun part. We got to get competitive by participating in quizzes that helped check whether or not we had actually learnt what we had been taught earlier in the day. The fun games were also an opportunity to have deep belly laughs and get to enjoy each other’s company.
Finding our feet in Kampala
One day we had a scavenger hunt where we had places around the city to look out for on a map and take pictures at those particular areas and landmarks. We got the chance to move out of the training centre and the UK volunteers could finally get to see Kampala city and get familiar with the places we would be using for our daily travels to and from work. Needless to say, it was an exhausting, fun and informative experience all rolled into one. The last Friday was one of those bittersweet moments that you read or hear about. It was the last day when we would all be sleeping and living in the same place all at the same time. The next day we would all be moving into our host homes. So what did we do to celebrate and not cry? We got the speakers out, went to the rooftop, played music and danced some of the night away. It was fun seeing everyone just laugh, dance and enjoy themselves. We made enough memories to last us until the next time we would meet, which was thankfully only the next day.
Written by Tara and Lynna