Uganda Rainbow House Volunteer Program
Volunteer, Simon shares his experience
Six weeks ago, I boarded a plane from the UK headed towards Kampala, Uganda. Having never visited Africa or done any volunteering work before, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But I had tried to prepare myself for what I was sure would be quite the cultural shock.
Being an English teacher and having found myself with a few free months between positions, I decided that I wanted to do some volunteer work and began looking for suitable opportunities. Having come across the Ashinaga Rainbow House volunteer program, I put myself in touch with the course coordinator to see if I would be a good fit for their needs. After some informal online interviews and discussions about how the volunteer program is run, I was confident I had found the right project for me.
All the staff seemed very friendly. Helping children who have lost one or both parents and who had dropped out of the state education program for financial reasons seemed like a worthy project to dedicate my time to.
Since my first day at Rainbow House, I haven’t looked back. I was instantly welcomed with open arms and smiles from all the dedicated staff and students and felt very much at home amongst everyone. The children see and treat the Rainbow House as more than just a school; it’s a refuge and safe space for them. Their reverence for this institution is self-evident in their behavior, manners, and thirst for education.
My role has been giving daily English classes to around 20 students during the morning. Then, during the afternoon, I run an extracurricular reading class for some students who find themselves a little behind the literacy curve compared to their classmates. On Friday mornings, I have also been helping to plan and run the weekly PE class for all 100 students, which takes place on a large football field near the school. I had no previous experience with teaching this type of class, but I absolutely loved it due to the contagious energy of the students. I was also fortunate enough to spend my 30th birthday with all the teachers and students at the school, who took great pleasure in introducing me to a Ugandan birthday tradition.
I have found Kampala to be a very safe and livable city outside of work and have spent some great weekends with new friends. Traveling outside of the city, I was blown away by the outstanding natural beauty of Uganda and the friendliness of the Ugandan people. It has truly been an unforgettable experience that I would recommend to anyone.