What were you doing before you volunteered?
I worked in an investment bank for more than 10 years. I am a qualified accountant, and most of my previous roles there were financial. There were many things I enjoyed about my time at the bank, but my heart wasn’t really in investment banking and the hours were extremely long, so I decided to quit and take some time out.
Why did you decide to volunteer in Uganda?
While in Rwanda, I visited a Ugandan teacher who lived in Gulu in northern Uganda. That visit made a huge impression on me and I just couldn’t believe the atrocities that had occurred as recently as 5 years ago and the impact it had on the community with nearly 2 million people in campsites. It was like there was a lost generation of people, who had been living in camps, missing their education and their livelihoods.
What do you hope to achieve in Uganda?
I am helping Passion 4 Community (Chance for Childhood’s Ugandan partner) to ensure their financial management, human resources and operational processes and procedures, are all appropriate for their expanded organisation. It’s an exciting time to be involved with an expanding organisation that is doing such great work in the community.
What do you find the most challenging about being in Uganda?
Many of the things I found challenging in Rwanda are the same here. Some of the challenges are even more extreme. Greeting a person whose lips have been cut off and not flinching or showing any horror is difficult. The poverty here is even more extreme – more than half of school children don’t wear shoes when they go to school and wear ragged uniforms and you see a lot of malnourished children with distended bellies.
There is often no power and no running water for days at a time, and even getting fruit and veg can be difficult. It is something that you do get used to. On the up side, the countryside is very beautiful and the people welcoming and friendly.
I consider myself very fortunate to have the amazing experiences that I have had. I was aware of both the Rwandan genocide and the war in Northern Uganda but am sort of embarrassed that before I came how little I really knew about the atrocities and the lasting impact on the communities in both countries. I hope I have provided some help to both countries and both experiences will have a lasting impact on me.