My name is Michal and I’m a second-year student of BA Politics and East European Studies at University College London. I’ve come to the UK from Poland to challenge myself in a new cultural environment and get a valuable degree and, as a result, a rewarding job afterwards. Now I’ve finished my second-year of university and look forward to having amazing and challenging volunteering programme this summer in Africa.
I’m leaving for Uganda tonight. Even though this seems to be unbelievable, I’m going to work as a business assistant for SMEs in the agricultural sector in the city of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. I’ll be volunteering with a UK-based NGO, Challenges Worldwide, which is a social non-profit enterprise which tries to support local business in developing countries. More about the organisation here. My 10-week volunteering programme is a part of a broader, UK government-funded scheme called International Citizen Service (ICS). More about some volunteering opportunities for young people here. I heard about the programme from my friend who volunteered last summer in Malawi with another ICS organisation called Progressio. I was really excited when I heard her testimony about working in the field and international development projects I could be a part of. And I’ve decided to apply to ICS and got a place with Challenges Worldwide. The programme itself is not holidays; there are several requirements that volunteers must follow such as e.g. a fundraising part. Even though ICS is funded by the government, volunteers are still asked to fundraise at least 10% of the cost of sending one volunteer overseas which is approximately £8,000. More about my own fundraising campaign for Challenges here.
Uganda, some can say, where is this? Well, in order not to be too patronising (as you know Uganda is somewhere in Africa), I’ll just say that this medium-size country is located on the banks of Lake Victoria. Surrounded by Kenya from the east, Rwanda and Tanzania (the latter only borders with Uganda merely on the surface of Lake Victoria), DRC from the west (it seems to get more dangerous), and, the youngest state in the world, South Sudan from the north (now the story got even scarier), Uganda is a fast-developing country with a great natural and human potential but it still suffers from the difficult legacy of Idi Amin’s regime and the civil war.
I’m going to this landlocked country neither for 5-star-hotel holidays nor for the backpackers’ trip. I’m going to Uganda to discover work ethic of local business, meet amazing people and African culture and, above all, try to understand the character of projects in international development.
Why I’ve decided to start this blog? I reckon journeys to Africa have already been covered by dozens of explorers, travellers and adventures seekers starting with a Scottish pioneer in the exploration of inner Africa, Dr David Livingstone.
Nevertheless, I do believe every journey is different and is worth to be captured individually. I found the following Ugandan proverb which explains the necessity of blogging/narrating:
One who sees something good must narrate it.
I do hope the time in Uganda will be a rewarding experience both in terms of career goals and cultural awareness. Now I need to leave you for a couple of days because I’m hurrying up to get to Heathrow on time.
See you in Africa!