Oddly enough, what definitively prompted my decision to take the voluntary plunge this year was a proposed jaunt to Turkey this Easter falling through. Switching my attention to the summer, it dawned on me that I'll be turning 30 by then. Now, I have achieved some things in my life, but I honestly don't think anything matches up to doing voluntary work in a third world country that needs all the help it can get. Which is why I've decided to go to Uganda this summer.
Hills of Western Uganda (Photo Courtesy of Rabble)
Why Uganda? Well, it wasn't an easy choice. Neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania were two more obvious options. But I suppose that's what swung it in the end: they're going to be more overrun by tourists. Uganda is more of a hidden jewel of the Nile. Lonely Planet, who every worldly wise traveller knows are the authority on all things travel, named it their number one destination in 2012. Now that Idi Amin is thankfully gone, stability has largely returned to the country (the Northeast is a notable excetion, but I'll be going nowhere near there). But mostly, with the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaging what is already one of the poorest countries in the world, it feels like a country that needs all the help it can get.
So what am I going to get out of this? An unforgettable experience that I will look back on as one of the best things I've ever done, hopefully. I'm really looking forward to it, but naturally my bubbling excitement is tempered with a little apprehension. All those innoculations and malaria tablets I have to get! The fact I've never done anything like this before! Will I get used to the different standard of living? And then there's a slight feeling of guilt that I'm worrying all those who care about me, my parents in particular (they've given me their blessing, but I know there's a part of them that wishes I wouldn't do this)...
The pros, though, do heavily outweigh the cons. I'm out there for four weeks, and I am sure I'll come back with many stories to tell. This may be the only time I get to do this, but I'm hoping I enjoy it so much that I'll volunteer overseas again at some point in the future. The company I'm with, IVHQ, have been amazing so far and I have no reason to doubt this will change. I'm going to keep a blog on their website in the build up and while I'm out there (dates yet to be fully confirmed, but I'm more than likely flying out on 14th July), though will try to post on here as well about it all naturally.
Thanks for reading, and if one person reading this feels inspired to do something similar...well I'm happier than words can describe.
If you would like to help me cover the costs of this trip (and in no way should you feel obliged to, especially if you haven't met me!) then feel free to e-mail me here and I will get back to you ASAP.