As the winter chill hits England hard, I want to cast all your minds to the warmth of the summer months, and how you can spend these few months of your summer doing something really rewarding!
The University of York offers some really amazing volunteering opportunities that anyone can take part in! This gives you the chance to undertake the adventure of a lifetime. This summer (2016) I took off for 4 weeks volunteering in Uganda with the charity East African Playgrounds (EAP).
This charity, based in East Africa, builds amazing playgrounds at schools where children have virtually nothing. The fact that the right to play is a UN human right inspired this charity, and also hundreds of volunteers, such as myself, to head out to Africa and build playgrounds. It gives the chance for children to let off steam and energy, and also encourages learning and social skills; things that are taken for granted in our country.
Surrounded by other students from the same university (who very soon turn into your family), 4 weeks volunteering is something you certainly won’t forget, and I would encourage everyone to give it a go.
A week in the life of a EAP Volunteer
Monday & Tuesday
6AM- wake up! yes I know that seems like such an ungodly hour, but that beautiful Ugandan sunrise is something you certainty do not want to miss!
Breakfast- it varies from day to day. Everything is fresh and organic, and you will be surprised what you will be served: pancakes, eggy bread, omelettes! And the cook is very very good at careering to all allergies and diets!
7:15AM– BUILDING TIME! Once you have fuelled up on breakfast, plastered on sun cream, and got your boots on, it’s now time
to begin to build the playground! It may not be glamorous, and you will get very dirty, but it can be so much fun. It’s extremely rewarding, and the children and community love getting involved and helping you! Under the supervision of qualified builders, you will undertake numerous tasks such as:
- digging foundation holes
- sanding the metal
- collecting water
- washing the tires
- painting tires
- painting and designing the playground
10:30AM- Once rested and fed, we continue the joys of building!
Noon- LUNCH TIME! There are always lots of different foods on offer and also always a vegetarian option. Your diet in Uganda will mostly consist of carbs and vegetables, giving you the all needed energy to undertake the daily building. You will have options of food such as; homemade chips (my favourite!), beans, rice, mash, avocado, chicken, chick peas, wraps, just to name a few! And there will always be freshly purified water ready for you to drink!
1pm- 2:30pm- after lunch you are given free time! In this time, you can either relax, wash (with a lovely bucket in a handmade wash room outside- oh the joys of Ugandan living. There is no toilet, just a great long drop for you to use). You can also take a trip to the local trading centre to get fizzy drinks, snacks and all those other luxuries you have been craving!
2:30-3:30- This is where you will carry out arts and play activities with a year group from the school. This is a very fun session, allowing you to interact with the children, doing various arts and play activities!
3:30-6pm- We have more free time! Here our leader often organised actives for us to do such as yoga and bead making.
Evening- Once dinner has been eaten you can relax and unwind from the hectic and busy day, ready to begin it all again the next day.
After building in the morning, your afternoon is given off, allowing you to venture into yourlocal town (Usually Jinja), to explore, eat, swim and visit the souvenir shops!
Thursday & Friday
Back to a normal day structure- building in the morning and arts and play in the afternoon! However, on a Friday evening you will leave the school you are residing at, and travel to your hostel where you will spend your weekend, undertaking your various, super fun activities.
Here you have given the opportunity to step away from your volunteering duties, and be a real tourist! You will be able to do activities such as go on a safari at East Africa’s oldest and largest national park, bungee jumping over the river Nile, horse riding, quad biking, white water rafting, source of the Nile and much more! On Sunday evening you will return back to the school and begin the week again.
If this is something you are interested in, and/or would like further information, here are some useful links for you to look at: