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Julianna's Gap Year in Uganda

On my project trust gap year I was working at the Budaka Cheshire Home for disabled children. My project was based in a place called Budaka; Budaka is located in the east of Uganda. Budaka is about 200km from the capital Kampala and its nearest big town is Mbale which is about 27km away from Budaka. Budaka is a district and within the district are villages. My project was based near Budaka town in a village called Namengo. In Budaka district they speak Lugwere, and the main religion is Christianity.

All the land in Namengo is owned by the church so the schools, clinic and Budaka Cheshire home were not only owned by the church but run by religious people. The boy's primary school was run by a brother called Brother Prosper, the girl's primary school was run by a sister called Sister Grace and the technical school was also run by a brother. The local clinic was run by a sister called sister Marcilina and the Budaka Cheshire home was run by a sister called Sister Mary-Florence who was also my host.

Within Namengo there was also a church and this was where the Fathers lived: Father Steven and Father Leo, and a convent where the sisters lived.

Budaka town wasn't too far from the village of Namengo, it was about 2 km down a dirt track. Budaka town is the nearest place where people from Namengo could buy basic food and house hold items, like tomatoes, onions, egg plant cabbage, matooke, greens, eggs, soap, washing powder, tea and many more items. It's also the nearest place to get air time for your phone, collect post and buy cold soda when there was power. Budaka town is also the nearest place to get a taxi to Kampala or Mbale or get a Boda-Boda back to Namengo.

In my last few months in Uganda it was time to pack up and leave the place tidy for the next Project Trust Volunteers after us. There was much rubbish to get rid of, things to give away and things to leave for the new volunteers. Saying goodbye to the children and the workers in the home was not easy; we made them a cake that we made in the new bakery oven, gave the kids sweets and gave each a face cloth. We also blew up balloons, and gave them to the kids to play with.

The children sang songs to us which were songs to say goodbye with lyrics like' God bless you because we will never see you again1 and 'we will miss you when you are gone', which gave me a lump in my throat.

The last week and half I spend saying goodbye to my good friends in a place called Jinja, these people were my best friends in Uganda and it was also very hard to say goodbye to them.

My year in Uganda is year I will never forget, it will be something that will stay with me for a life time. It was probably the most amazing adventure I have ever had and ever will have as it was my first time abroad on my own.

It was not something that was easy as it had both it's up and down moments. There was even a time that I was going to come home. However I didn't and I would have regretted it if I did. I am so glad I stuck it out.

The project wasn't easy, as you had to be motivated to be able to have an active role in the home. It was a project where you quite easily could have done nothing, as you could have stayed in your house all day doing nothing. However I think we (meaning me and my partner Emer) made some impact on the children we were looking after. We made them feel loved and looked after. We made the children feel like they had parents that loved them. We also made an issue of beating children as it is banned in Uganda however in the villages it still carries on. The children are now beaten less we couldn't stop it completely as it is still part of their culture. I always loved coming back to the home after being away after a holiday or a few days away as the children would have big broad smiles on their faces and they were so happy to see use back again. They would always ask are you going away again.

We even got a secondary project in the local primary school Namengo Boys Primary school run by a Brother that looked like the Demon Head Master!! The first class I took I will never forget it was the scariest thing I have ever done, standing in front of 70 students waiting for the new young teacher to teach them English. My first lesson was bad but I did get better with time as my confidence grew.

I am so glad I did a project trust year I just had the most amazing experience and gained so much from it.

I just want to thank all those who made my year away in Uganda possible those people who gave me money to get to Uganda

To all those who made my year such an awesome year while I was out there, including my host Sister Mary Florence.

I want to say thank you to the volunteers for being a good bunch of people. I also want to thank my partner Emer for putting up and being able to live with me for the year.

I finally want to thank Project trust for making the year possible, with out them I can safely say the year would have not happened.