Stories from Volunteers with at Little BIG Africa
Everyone has a wonderful story to tell, and you will have your own too if you join us soon.
Story 1: "Memories of cold bucket ‘showers’, insect-infested
pit latrines, crazy larium dreams and well-improvised (mostly
edible!) culinary dishes loomed large on arriving in Uganda. Having
previously volunteered on development projects in Africa, I felt I
knew what to expect from the LBA project. I was ready to be a
muzungu once again!
However, living and working in Bunakhaima, a remote rural village, for seven weeks was unique. awaking daily to the piercing cluck of two Turkeys in our compound (if Bluesy’s sleep talking hadn’t already woken us!); joining the congregation singing and dancing at church every Sunday; exchanging stories about “there” with the locals whilst sipping malwa (the favourite local alcoholic beverage); and admiring the women and children who seemed to effortlessly carry 20 litres of water on their head – a feat none of us could master! Many of the villagers we met were truly inspirational characters. Clemencia was one of many: she had recently returned to the village following 20 years in exile in Kenya, and was eager to tell us her agonizing story, which made for a pensive, but unforgettable, afternoon.
Teaching at the local primary school was undeniably the most fulfilling aspect of the project. Swarms of children ran to greet us as we approached on our first day with a chorus of “muzungu!”, “muzungu!”. As we entered each class to introduce ourselves however, a sea of heads stared back at us, their voices suddenly silent, only the odd murmur in Lugisu could be heard. How on earth were we going to successfully teach them the importance of water hygiene and sanitation in English? Given the language and cultural barriers, the task was initially overwhelming. But increasingly, the proverbial “muzungu” greeting became “jerry can” or “water tank”; a sign that our message was being understood. On our final day, after six weeks of perseverance and lesson planning, we left school as the sounds of “jerry can, jerry can I wash my jerry can! I wash it well...” resonated from the school grounds. So long as they practised what they preached, I felt satisfied we had made a difference! Outside of the classroom, our sports day was a huge success. For as far the eye could see, the school field overflowed with children and teachers enjoying a range of sports; we even had the headmaster playing rounders!
Nearly a year since embarking on the LBA project, I continue to receive emails and texts flooded with thanks from the deputy headmaster and other villagers, illustrating the sheer extent of their appreciation. They tell me the water tank continues to operate successfully and the number of fuel-efficient stoves has increased, greatly improving the quality of life of many: unconditional proof that bottom-up, participatory approaches to development work."
Katy, Volunteer, 2007
Story 2: "My time spent in the Ugandan village was one of the
best experiences I’ve ever had. Often when you travel, you don’t get to
see what the ‘real’ country is like, you just get to see it from a
tourist’s point of view.
I think my favourite part of the experience was building stoves in people’s houses. It was so much fun to make the stoves, mixing together clay and sawdust with your feet and the splatting it onto the bricks. It was also great to spend the day in one of the villager’s houses, chatting to them and the people that had come to watch. It was music to my ears when they mentioned that it was time for a tea break, when they would bring out milky tea and chapattis, and then cook us a massive lunch. I think the highlight of my stove building was when we were having dinner at our neighbour, Davis’ house. We were talking about the stove we had built for him a couple of weeks earlier, and telling the next stage that he needed to do. He then announced that he had already done it and showed us. It made me so glad to think that the villagers were going to actually use the stoves and that it would make a difference to the women’s lives. His wife had also built another stove without our assistance!
Another highlight was after we had given goody bags to all the children at our school with cards to remind them about what we had taught them about moringa seeds, which could purify water. We had also taught the children a song about moringa seeds that they sang whenever they saw us. When the other children in the village returned from boarding schools, the song and news about the moringa seeds had spread to them as well, and they were very enthusiastic about using them the purify water.
All in all it was an amazing experience, and I would love to go back someday."
Sonya, Volunteer, 2007
Story 3: “I just want to say thank you again for everything you and the rest of LBA did while we were in Uganda, I absolutely loved being there and I would say that it was definitely the best summer of my life.
When we came back I missed Africa so much and it really got me thinking about what I wanted to do in the future when I leave university and I would really like to get involved in international development working for an NGO like LBA.”
Anna, Volunteer, 2007