My time in Kihembe: OPADS, football & community led projects
Updated: Sep 29
In this blog, CharityWorks alumnus Hayley Gardiner talks about her experiences volunteering in Kihembe, SW Uganda, and talks about how many of the initiatives supported by The Zuri Project are starting to have a positive influence on the lives of local people. We’re so grateful to Hayley for all of her hard work, and can’t wait for her to return to Kihembe next week. Here’s what she had to say…
I had spent 2 months in Uganda before taking a trip to Kihembe and i’d already fallen in love with the country. I was accustomed to the natural beauty of the place and the welcoming attitude, enthusiasm and creativity of it’s people. However, Kihembe somehow managed to surpass my already high expectations. The warm welcome was continued in Kihembe, with Herbert and Sarah, teachers and other members of the community all showing me unbelievable kindness and generosity (one evening I ate 3 dinners on a walk through the village!). The recognisable lush green landscape was exploding out of the soil in the West and I had many opportunities to appreciate it: stunning bodaboda rides; the agricultural project at the school; and the majestic hills of the Democratic Republic of Congo ever present in the background. More than anything, what shone through during my time in the community was the creativity and imagination shown in the projects I was visiting. To name a few: the dances and songs the children performed at school; skits sharing the experiences of puberty and growing up; rousing football anthems; debates.. wow.
It is clear that Kihembe is a place with a lot of potential. I spent a week in the area, staying with Herbert and his family, visiting and reviewing the projects supported by The Zuri Project; most of which were only a month or two from conception. It was really exciting to see the projects so early on, growing quickly fuelled by the contagious enthusiasm of each local project manager.
I hope it is clear how inspiring and educational this week was for me. It flew by, and I am pleased to say that I am going to go back to this wonderful community in about a month! It is a rare opportunity to be able to work with a charity which has laid such brilliant foundations for genuine community-led development, and which is so flexible and open to input from volunteers. I hope to do some more research on my return, have ideas about skills I may be able to share and contribute, and (of course) want to catch the Zuri All-Stars League! I want to thank everyone in Kihembe for making me feel so welcome and for sharing your stories and passions with me. I can’t wait to see you all again!