With less than a month to go in Uganda already, this week saw my first playground opening, my first set of volunteers leave & my first proper night out, making me feel like I’m starting to truly get to know EAP and how to run in-country projects.
UGANDA WEEK 3
Day 15 (July 14th): After a brief visit to the EAP office in Amber Court to sort out accounts and prepare for the final few days with the first gorilla trek group, I headed back to the house with Laura & Nyma, taking a quick detour via an abandoned hotel. Burnt beyond use in recent decades, Laura told us the history of the hotel – which had once hosted the Queen – as we walked across ceiling beams in the upper floor to see different parts. Eventually managing to put my foot through some of the remaining flooring, we decided to leave the hotel as we found it – abandoned – and head home, with both legs still safe.
Day 16: with many of my close friends graduating in the UK, I headed with all the volunteers to St. Patrick’s school to open the playground we had built. This day cannot be put into words: with incredible music, dancing, the widest smiles and the cutting of a ribbon, it was a true taste of what everyone had been working towards all year. A slide, built from the ground up, covered in smiling children as it would be for generations to come.
The teacher’s race of sports day, interrupted only by a child presenting me a picture they had drawn of myself and the other intern. The presentation of the goat that the school had purchased in celebration of the day. These are memories that will stay with me – and the other volunteers – forever. The evening saw us back in campsite, washing down our goodbyes with a few beers.
Day 17: A long drive to the airport and a goodbye gift from my volunteers later – hand drawn portraits and touching goodbye messages compiled into a small makeshift notebook – I headed back in my first public matatu (small bus) from Entebbe back to Jinja, with a long drive and many people trying to sell things to me through the window. Home safe, I had an early night, and tried to work out what I would do in the free week and a half ahead of me.
Day 18: The day that I myself should’ve graduated, or at the very least been there to see my brother do so, was filled instead with western food (smoked salmon, you say?), a house party and a sweaty Ugandan club with good music but too many Americans. It was very odd to receive a snapchat of graduating names, my own drawn on, and know it would be a few months before I received my certificate.
Day 19: A slight hangover day, I spent most of my time reading Game of Thrones before heading out to a bar for the evening, where I took a much more relaxed route of a chicken burger, a single beer and a few cokes whilst talking to people it’d been too long for on wifi. It occurred to me that I would have a lot of wifi (slow as it may be) in the next few days and was slightly sad of the fact, not something I’d expected at all.
Day 20: An uneventful day in which I learned about how EAP had managed to get takeaway delivered to the house in Uganda – by paying a boda (motorbike taxi) driver to place and pick up the order, usually adding less than a pound to the cost. Amused to no end by this, the majority of the house ordered pizzas, but I ended up going into town to get money out anyway.
Day 21: Back to the office to fill my time in between projects, I decided to get a head start on sorting everything out – including my job contract to work with EAP on the gorilla project full time and confirming my return flight dates, meaning that I can now guarantee I will be at RAG conference 2015! With this excitement tiding me over, I started the week of learning systems and copywriting, getting more hyped all the while.