My first week in Uganda was very exciting. I have to say that there were especially tense and stressful moments about the housing arrangements for my stay in Lira, where my internship takes place.
My fellow students and I all arrived safely around midnight on the 24th of January in Entebbe. It’s nice to travel in group knowing that you’re not alone travelling (even though I’m also used to travelling by myself). It was my first time experiencing this.
Later we were all picked up by drivers from ViaVia Hotel in Entebbe, hosted by a Belgian couple. We stayed at the hotel in quarantine for a week. We all booked rooms in groups of 4, 2,2. On our first day of stay, we were given a tour of our hotel. They gave us information about the hotel and their projects. Then we went to the Shopping Mall in Entebbe to withdraw or exchange money. We bought our new Ugandan SIM cards for our mobile data.
While we were in quarantine, we were given tasks to work on a project with the staff. We were all grouped and worked together on different projects.
A fellow student and I were both responsible for a project about ‘plants and compost’. Others had to deal with ‘bicycles and chickens’, create posters / brochures and improve the system by working with Microsoft Excel.
I have to say that I am not alone in feeling this way that it was a hectic period with many uncertainties that required the housing arrangements from some of us … It was a bit stressful not to have the full extent of the information for our accommodation .
After working on our individual projects, we did some activities. We first started with boxing. Let me tell you this … it was pretty extreme. During our warm-up session, almost everyone felt exhausted and out of breath. The boxing teacher was not kidding and forced us to work to the limit. But we somehow survived!
The day after we danced some African. That’s my favorite part of sports 😀 Because I used to take dance lessons, it gave me the opportunity to move again, even though we had muscle pain from boxing.
We had the privilege of seeing some wildlife close to where we stayed. We woke up to see a velvet monkey up close. The monkey was sitting on the deck opposite our room. During the night we caught a glimpse of a wild cat (genet cat).
Then we visited the Oriental Garden and then Lake Victoria. We did Lake Victoria by boat. It was a beautiful journey. We saw different types of birds. Fortunately, we saw the Shoebill on Lake Victoria. It was one of the most beautiful scenery! We got to see the sunset up close ❤
Finally we went to the landfill where the Ugandan woman who came to talk to us after our boxing session about the waste recycling. I have to say it wasn’t the best scenery to look at, but it was an eye opener. Then we rode mountain bikes around Entebbe. We stopped at the Reptile Village and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center – Zoo. We have seen monkeys roaming free in the zoo.
In ViaVia Hotel we completed our projects after intensive work and several meetings in combination with guests who came to talk about Uganda. The Belgian ambassador spoke about diplomatic relations between Uganda and Belgium. A guest speaker, one of my fellow student’s mentors, came to talk about the history of Uganda. Another mentor from one of my fellow students recorded a video about ‘Volunteering and Internship’. It was interesting to understand more about Uganda.
There were days during lunch and dinner when we ate delicious local food. The food we ate was ‘Matoke’ with beans, groundnut sauce, nakati, rice, cassava, etc. I really enjoyed it! Especially the beans are one of my favorite food! 🙂
On January 31, everyone left for their own region, where they do their internship. This will be a new challenge for everyone in my group. It will be worth it, I am so excited to see what kind of experiences I will encounter! 🙂