This is it. I’m going to Africa.
Not just Africa – Uganda. The 25th poorest country in the world. Where roughly what the average American makes in a bi-weekly check, the average person takes home all year. What’s more [or in this case, less..] is that income is seldom guaranteed to come in regular intervals.
This isn’t poverty. This is extreme poverty. In 2013, 34.6% of the population survived on less than $1.90 per day.
Why am I going? What will I be doing? Keep reading and you just might find out!
Living On One Dollar is a short documentary about extreme poverty. For the sake of context, four college students travel to rural Guatemala to document their experience surviving on $1 per day, per person for 8 weeks. Seeing the stories of the locals and learning about how they overcome their daily challenges inspired me to learn more.
After navigating through the site, I followed a link to The Global Volunteering Network, which offers 63 different volunteering opportunities in 14 different countries across South America, Africa and Asia. As soon as I saw there was an opportunity to work on an Organic farm in Uganda – I was sold.
Have you ever been moved by someone’s story? By what someone has endured or overcome? It shouldn’t surprise you that the world is filled with these types of people. In the West, we’re generally protected by a bubble of privilege that we seldom acknowledge, and many of us don’t even realize it’s existence. It’s not necessarily our fault – how could we be expected to understand something if all we have to base our lives off of is the summation of our experiences and the stories of others – but I feel very strongly that it is not just a civic, but also a moral duty to increase our knowledge of the world around us.
On May 27, 2017 I fly out from NYC and finally arrive at Entebbe International Airport just outside the capital city of Kampala, Uganda in the early morning of May 29. Until the 31, I’ll be staying at a hotel in Kampala and exploring the city and learning as much as possible about the urban culture. From June 1-15, I’ll be just miles from the source of the Nile River on Lake Victoria, in a rural part of Uganda near the Mabira Rainforest.
I’ll be working side by side with Ugandan farmers helping to promote better nutrition, sustainable farming methods, and income generation.
One point that stood out to me was that I am going to help “chase pests”.. My first thought? What in the world kind of “pest” is large enough to have to CHASE away?! What am I getting myself into???
Being a part of the program, I’m given a private room and meals at the headquarters of the organization. Electricity is intermittent and there is no running water.
To decompress after such an engrossing experience, I’m going to spend the long weekend in Cape Town, South Africa before returning stateside on Monday June 19.
Many ways! I want to bring you with me. The whole reason I’ve set up this blog is for you to be able to follow along as I prepare, travel to and from Uganda, and to give a glimpse into life below the poverty line. This won’t be the first time I’ve seen poverty – but this will be the first time I’ve been immersed in it. Follow me, share my stories, and share in my experiences with me.
If you want to become more involved, I’ve also set up a GoFundMe page for this trip. 100% of the funds go directly to this experience only (I am personally financing the South Africa stint), and anything raised above and beyond the target I’m bringing with me to pump into the local economy during my stay. While there are many large organizations you can donate to, I firmly believe there is no better way to help than to physically become a part of the economy.
In closing, I have to admit I’m half excited, but the other half of me is scared out of my mind. As the date inches closer, I find myself reading and re-reading the advice from a former volunteer named Tia:
This is Africa. Expect heat, rain, sweat, tears, LAUGHTER, exhaustion, lots of walking, and the time of your life. Jump in head first, and even when you are scared push through it. Be yourself but 100 times louder!
This is it.