In 2017 I was part of a voluntary project in Uganda through Sponsor Light. The plan was to build a club house were meetings could be held and the children could be outside of school. I very much appreciate how much Harriet and I could influence the project and all our ideas were met with enthusiasm. We got some help to realize what was possible to achieve in the limited time frame and with the resources available.
I clearly remember our first meeting in Kasese with Moa and Simon. We were at a restaurant; Moa and Simon had to run an errand and asked us to come up with some ideas. Harriet and I started talking and came up with everything from wall paintings to papier mache planets. We used our experience from schools and preschools in Sweden and interrupted each other with new ideas. When Moa and Simon returned they were struck by how far our excitement had taken us. They explained which ideas were reasonable without taking away any of our enthusiasm. With only two weeks at our disposal they wanted us to have time to visit the schools and meet the children as well. Something I am very grateful for.
The best part of doing activities with the students was when the teachers got engaged. One teacher getting chased in a game of tag resulted in roaring laughter. In one of the schools in the mountains we even got the principal to engage in charades. We had a harder time getting through to the teachers when we demonstrated our word tiles. They were sceptic when we created silly statements but hopefully the idea that you can be silly and still grammatically correct got through to them, the children appreciated it a lot anyway.
That was perhaps the best part of the whole trip. Making those tiles from scratch and then seeing the kids moving them around excitingly and erupting in laughter. Writing and reading can be a lot of fun. Learning is fun.
I learnt a lot by participating in this project. Having the courage to speak in front of a group with authority. Believing in my own ability when putting the brush to the wall, painting something that will be there for a long time. Going out of my comfort zone and holding a live chicken (probably the scariest moment of the trip). And bridging cultural barriers by talking about differences with respect and a great amount of humour. I am forever grateful to Moa, Simon and Sponsor Light.