From Hampshire to Kampala

Hello! My name is Annabel, I’m 21 and from a small village in the New Forest. Having graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in economics, I applied from the ICSE programme as it would enable me to put my theoretical skills into practise and give me experience of working in a developing country. I will be living and working in Kampala, Uganda, along with 5 other UK volunteers and 6 ugandan volunteers.

We arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning and spent the day exploring the local area. We are staying in a hotel on the outskirts of Kampala, in an area called Bbunga, for the first week. We then ventured into the city centre on what is known as a ‘Matutu’, a sort of taxi/minibus that follows a preplanned route. The centre was pretty hectic – we would have been completely losses if it weren’t for Agbas, our Ugandan team leader.

On Sunday morning our Ugandan counterparts arrived at the hotel and we all went together to Kampala carnival. This only happens once a year so was very good timing on our behalf! There was a procession of floats down the Main Street, followed by crowds dancing along to the blaring music. One thing we noticed in particular was how commercial it was- the floats all belonged to big brands such as MTN (mobile service provider), banks and building companies. As if we didn’t already stand out enough, we armed ourselves with tacky Ugandan souvenirs (hats, flags etc) and followed the crowds. There were thousands of people dancing down the streets, many of who, seemed to want there photo taken with us or presented us with a small child to be photographed with ( the children generally seemed less happy about the situation). The overall experience was very fun, but also a little bit on the sweaty side – it was nice to be able to breathe again when we reached the end of the road.

From here, we went straight to a cultural show at a complex just out side the centre. The grounds were beatiful, and after a quick drink we took our seats in the open air auditorium. What followed was an amazing display of dance and music from all over East Africa. The dancers were in traditional costume which looked incredible! They were also clearly talented and appeared to have endless energy- they were dancing for nearly 4 hours! And so ended our weekend of cultural immersion – we were exhausted already and were yet to start our week of training!

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