The Pearl of Africa: Uganda
This time last year I was landing in the beautiful Uganda and honestly I'm so jealous of the year below me that are making that same journey. They have so much to look forward to and it just flies by! Its honestly hard to put into words how eye-opening and all-round amazing the experience was. My heart and thoughts are out there and so often I wish I could jump back to that happiness and the fantastic people we met there.
The journey for us started off months prior with a hell of a lot of fundraising and a lot of kind people showing their support! Our four schools: The Ferrers, Huxlow, Rushden and Kineton. All of us in our little groups working our hearts out to help the children out in Uganda aswell as pay for the fellow Ugandan students to join us at the conference.
Fundraising ideas included:
|George completed a Tough Mudder with friends!|
|Caitlin abseiled down the National Lift Tower in Northampton! (418 FT HIGH!!)|
|We all completed the Northampton Fun Colour Rush with Holly and James joining in too! |
|All still smiles by the end! What a good bunch of mates aye!|
|Oh...and I hosted a house party where I charged everyone to enter haha...bit unconventional but aye it worked didnt it!!!|
So after all of these activities alongside a few quiz nights and bake sales we were off! Vaccinations and bags all packed we set off far too early in the morning on the best school trip of my bloody life!
We didn't get off to the best of starts with the plane losing Caitlin's bag (always pack some spare underwear among other things in your carry on lads -we learnt why!) We were taken to The Discovery Centre and so much happened in the following two weeks I could be here for two weeks telling you about it all! I will take you through some of the amazing things we saw and did aswell as things you must do if you ever get the chance to travel to this beautiful and clearly under appreciated country! Firstly, a few tips if you're ever there:
Try everything! This includes food (Jack Fruit or Matoke) learning language, dancing try it all! You will be thankful for it. This is a piece of advice my parents have brought me to know very well. 'Dont knock anything till you try it' should ring true with everyone wherever you are or whatever you're doing. Immerse yourself and give it a god damn go.
Put yourself out there to allow for new experiences. Now I'm not the most confident chick but this trip helped me realise the importance of travel and how it is so good for your mental state. All teachers there thought I was a different person compared to the girl struggling through the pressure of exams. I was truly happy. So many of us grew in confidence aswell as happiness and its easy to see why with all the gorgeous things we were shown in the surrounding area and the hilarious people we spent time chatting, blowing bubbles and dancing with. It was hard not to appreciate the world when you're seeing all these fantastic Ugandan's who have a lot less than you be so positive! I'd never seen girls so happy to recieve mango body wash until I'd handed a bottle to my new friend Esther, wish I could've jumped home and handed her everything I'd left lying around in my bathroom back home to see her smile like that.
|This young girl has my sisters floral headband on that was just sat on a teddy bear back home.|
On the note of giving, be kind. If not giving the left over shampoos and t-shirts you wont wear back home, leave them behind for someone to appreciate and enjoy. Being kind doesn't necessarily mean giving your possessions away. It does mean however, be thoughtful and considerate and give your ears to listen to the locals and hear about their lives and their wonderful language. Take it all in because when I was back home I missed playing new card games, learning Lugandan (one of the many languages peole speak in Uganda) and meeting new friends.
|Hatim who loved to teach me new games|
|Godfrey who taught me lots of important phrases!|
|Hope, Daniel and I tearing up leaves*|
|Daniel was has the loveliest smile*|
We visited the River Nile's source by climbing into two long wooden river boats. We saw beautiful wildlife and gazed out at all the peaceful trees that grew either side of the glistening water and the bright sun that shone on us all and made the experience something to behold. The River Nile is 4,160 miles long making it the largest river in the world. You'd be surprised to know the source even had a little trinket shop for us to buy ourselves mzungu bracelets and traditional ugandan shirts.
|Jack, George and I*|
|The long river boats holding 1/2 of Team Uganda|
|The gorgeous river|
|George and I modelling the neon orange lifejackets about to set off!|
|Caitlin, Jess and I giggling over something daft*|
|Getting in the obligatory tourist pic by the source sign*|
|Ugandas beautiful wildlife in action*|
Trips by boat were a popular one as we got on another, much longer trip across the equatorial line to see the famous Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Ngamba Island. Home to 49 orphaned chimps rescued from Uganda. We heard amazing stories of cheeky monkeys on escape or the surprise of life from a mother chimp that shouldnt have been expecting until she tore her implant out...of course the baby was named "Surprise". We all got the opportunity to understand and observe them interact with one another and the change in dynamic as fruit was thrown to them.
|One chimp was even named Megan..apparently she was very grumpy..*|
|So similar yet so different*|
We clearly all were very tired out by this point as several of us fell asleep on the boat ride home...
|I was exhausted|
|Then it was Jess' turn|
|Oh and here's Barnes having a go with all of us giggling around him|
We also had extraordinary mornings. Many thought it was worth waking up earlier just to witness the sunrise above Uganda and the vast plain infront of us.
|My very early in the morning, happy, make-up free, sunrise face|
This day then continued into witnessing a local school gathering to sing hymns and we handed out dresses made by our school to young girls. This is where I met Marissa, a young girl who sat on my lap and found my hair to be the funniest thing in the room as I placed it on her head and it tickled her. Words cant recreate how much laughing went on between us all and this continued with everyone as we took out bubbles and chaos begun.
|A sunglasses theif on the run haha!|
|Wish I had a way to jump back and check on Marissa|
Another day we planted orange trees as Isaac told us how he cares for the garden. He discussed his dream to someday own 50 cows and help others learn to care for animals just as Richard (the fab owner of The Discovery Centre) had given him the opportunity to learn new skills. Ugandan dirt, let me tell you now...that stuff gets everywhere. Its bright orange and there is no way you can avoid it covering all your skin and clothes but it was 100% worth it. Just something worth remembering if ever you get the chance to visit.
|Isaac "Cowman" and I|
|Classic Ugandan dirt getting everywhere with daft Jack|
|One of my many little Ugandan orange trees|
|My lovely team|
I enjoyed every second of this trip as I know everyone else who joined me did. It was a once in a life time opportunity that I'm ever so thankful for. This trip helped me to realise what I want to do in my future. I decided I wanted to study Geography at degree level so that I could go on to further understand and help in other countries similar to Uganda. I was so happy out there and I really do encourage anyone who gets the chance themselves not to over look lovely Uganda or volunteering in another country. So many amazing experiences that have shown me whats truly important.
* These asterisks indicate where I did not take the photo but the amazing Barnes Battison did, without him many of us would not be fortunate enough to have some unaware in the best kind of moment shots, so thankyou so much to him! So click the link and follow his instagram to see more of his fab photography!
Thankyou if you've made it to this point, means a lot having your support in my witterings of my amazing adventures. I'm really enjoying documenting my travels and I definitely will continue to do so! If you have any feedback on anything I can improve or just let me know what you think it would be super helpful! Oh and follow me on my new instagram that'll have all the photos I can't fit on here: @travelhappymegs