Quick Q&A with volunteers Lisa and Patrick
This month, I travelled to Karamoja, Uganda to visit our health and education programmes and speak with volunteers on the ground about their experiences. Here's what Lisa, a primary school teacher from Sligo, and Patrick, a community development expert from Belfast, had to say about their time in Karamoja so far...
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering in Uganda?
Lisa: For me, it’s definitely going out to visit the schools and seeing the situation on the ground in Karamoja. It’s so completely different to schools in Ireland and it’s an amazing experience.
Patrick: Yeah, and also the people of the region. There’s a lot of very interesting people to meet. The work that goes on here is also really enjoyable, particularly in this region which is one of the poorest, not only in the country but on the continent.
What surprised you about Karamoja ?
Lisa: I think the remoteness and the distance from Kampala – it’s about an eight hours’ drive. When you get used to it, it’s lovely but I didn’t quite expect that at first. It just means that it’s not really possible to go far, even at weekends, because you usually have to go to Kampala and travel from there.
Patrick: I’d never been to the African continent before so, obviously, at the start it was very different culturally and even landscape-wise. That’s been a very rewarding experience in itself though.
Have you learned anything since you came here?
Lisa: Good question. Maybe patience. The Ugandan people are so warm and welcoming. You learn to have more time to just take things easily, and to have patience with people and new surroundings.
Patrick: I’ve definitely learned to relax a bit more. In Ireland, things can be very stressful for no real reason other than a stress that’s created by a work environment and people. Here, people go with the flow a lot more which I really, really like.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking about volunteering?
Lisa: Do it! It’s a totally different experience. Being in Karamoja right now is ideal because it’s very safe in comparison to how things were in the past and it’s going to develop a lot more in the future. You have to expect challenges, like electricity cutting out and missing the food that you’re used to, but overall it’s worth it.
Patrick: I would definitely recommend volunteering to other people. The experience is very unique, particularly in this area in comparison to other places in the country. VSO looks after you very well and assists you with as much as possible in the work that you do. The work is extremely rewarding as well.
Interested in joining Lisa and Patrick in Karamoja?
Then please get in touch! We have plenty of opportunities for health, education and community development specialists over the next three years. Here are our current vacancies in Karamoja:
- Nurse/Midwife Mentors
- Nurse/Midwife (Sexual and Reproductive Health)
- Neonatal Nurse
- Teacher Educator
- Community Development Specialist