I purposely made the attempt to have no expectations of what my experience in Uganda was going to be like. I had heard many other people’s experiences with their experiences on service trips and they weren’t as they had wanted. They had explained to me that they had a desired experience they expected to have solidified in their head before the trip had even begun and it didn’t turn out they way they wanted. My idea was to go in expecting the entire spectrum of things that it could possibly be. I told myself that I would see and do as much as I possibly could and make the experience for myself, and that’s exactly what I did.
We have been back for a little over two months and many people ask me how my trip was. The first thing that I always say is, “ as cliché as it is to say that it was life changing experience there is no other words that I can put to it”. For me, it has been pretty difficult to describe the trip because there were so many things that I took note of and it’s hard to remember everything. What I find hard is that people don’t have the expected reactions to what I tell them. To me the experience was one of the best I have had in my life. It was very eye opening and humbling to be a part of a culture for two weeks that operates very differently from that of the United States. Words just do not give the experience a fair description of how it was for me.
The first week home was sort of a struggle for me. I started to compare everything in my head. When I say I compared everything I mean everything; food, weather, and mostly the attitudes of people. It was hard for me to see little children talk back to their parents on Christmas day and just being brats.
What I feel that I got most out of the trip was that the amount of patience I have has grown to a whole new level and it brought me to the ground. It made it easier to put myself in other people situations and really understand how other people live. It’s hard to read about things that are happening in the world in magazines and books and not actually seeing them and trying to put yourself in their shoes. This is what I learned most.
Interested in volunteering with us? Summer 2013 applications are due on February 28th. Fill one out today! http://www.pangeaeducation.org/volunteer/
Thank you to everyone who joined us at our mission statement video premiere last night! As always, we sincerely appreciate your support!
For those of you who couldn’t make it, please be sure to watch and share our mission statement video. You can also help make education accessible for children in underprivileged communities by pledging to Raise Your Hand with PED.
If you’re interested in getting more involved, we have some great initiatives happening this spring. Join the PED teams participating in the Bikes for Books, Chicago Shamrock Shuffle (8K), and Bike the Drive! Email Volunteer@pangeaeducation.org for more information.
Happy New Year from the PED family! We hope you all enjoyed the holidays and that 2013 is off to great start for you. We’re ready to kick 2013 off with a bang and appreciate your continued support as we make this our best year yet.
On January 26, we’ll be hosting a premiere for our very first PED mission statement video, which provides an in-depth look at the education system in Uganda. This premiere is incredibly important to our 2013 programs and we hope you’ll join us! Mark your calendars and bring your friends and family!
When: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 7-9 pm
Where: Instituto Cervantes Chicago, 31 W. Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60654
and visit our Facebook event page
In the meantime: If you’re already part of the PED family and want to demonstrate your continued support, please visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and download our “Raise Your Hand” cover and profile image – then, upload it as your own profile picture with the caption provided.
As always, we appreciate your help!
I can still remember the look on my friends and family’s face when I first told them I wanted to travel thousands of miles to work with kids awaiting trial for various crimes. I can also remember the first question I’d get: “Why?”. I wasn’t always sure how to answer that question when I got it (which was at least 5 times on Thanksgiving alone), but after 7 days at the Gulu Remand home I think I finally have a response. These boys aren’t social outcasts or criminals; most of them aren’t even guilty of their crime and are just simply awaiting their chance to prove that. They are kind, caring, and hardworking young men with aspirations and goals just like the rest of Uganda’s youth.
When you first come through the gate of the Remand home you’re likely to see boys in groups working together on various tasks, from chopping cabbage for lunch to sweeping the grounds. If they aren’t working then they’re probably playing a game of scrabble together or the drums. One thing you never see is one boy by himself, or secluded. They’re a brotherhood in that way; a very dynamic one. The remand home has a hierarchy of its own within it. There’s a president, which at this point is Dennis, and other positions below him. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible hand guiding them through the day because at no point have I seen any figure of authority give instructions. They know when it’s lunchtime and the posho needs to be made, or when the millet needs to be picked in the fields. It’s clear that these boys take pride in the remand home, and all the work that goes into its upkeep. One of the most fascinating parts of the remand home, in my opinion, is the classroom. The walls are lined with drawings from the kids. No one picture is the same; some contain scripture while others are simply super-hero like figures. This isn’t the only part of the remand home that shows the kid’s artistic side. The room they sleep in is lined with cots and has one big mural on the back wall. The mural is a hand with Africa etched on it. Surrounding the hand is a quote from scripture “I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.”
I think the decision to include this specific passage speaks greatly about the overall attitude of the remand home. Their trust not only in God, but in each other is apparent and definitely admirable.
Phoebe Van Hoof
Although out numbered and possibly outskilled, the Mzungu’s came out with a victory against the Awach students today!
After 30 long hours of traveling, we have finally made it to Uganda! On our first morning here, we awoke to the sound of chickens and roosters, much different from the sound of sirens and cars that we typically wake up to in Chicago. Our first breakfast consisted of fresh fruit and eggs, all of which was noticeably different in taste from the food we have at home. That day we made the six-hour trek to Gulu where we began work at the Gulu Remand Home the following morning. Although initially shy and reserved, the boys at the Remand Home have begun to interact with the volunteers much more. Every day around lunchtime, I’ve found myself competing in a game of scrabble with the boys and fellow volunteers. Over the course of the four days that we have been working at the Remand Home, we have been able to start and complete the foundation for a building to house chicken coops. Although my manual labor skills cannot compare to those of the boys we are working with, I’m proud of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time! Our next step is to continue laying the brick walls before installing the roof for the chicken coop. We only have three workdays left, but I’m sure we will be able to complete the project. Tomorrow morning, all of the volunteers will attend church before playing soccer with the students of Awach Secondary School; wish us luck! At the end of the week we are able to go on both a land and water safari, an experience that I’m sure will be one of the many highlights of my trip! Stay tuned for more blog posts and updates as we near the completion of our project!