A group of students from the University of Northampton are due to return from Uganda this weekend, where they have spent a month volunteering in Wabulungu.
The group of seven students have helped to build a playground for a local community, in support of the East African Playgrounds charity.
The students were recruited from across the University by Esther Gittoes, a third year Arts student who volunteered in Uganda last year. Esther found the experience so rewarding and inspirational she decided to return this year as a Team Leader.
Esther said of last year’s experience: “It was amazing, the children were so curious about us and wanted to touch our skin and hair. The food took a bit of getting used to and our accommodation was literally a mattress and a mosquito net on the floor of one of the school rooms, but it was so rewarding to see the children’s joy when they were finally allowed onto their new playground. The experience definitely had an impact on me and my studies and I jumped at the chance of going again in a leadership role. You learn so much by doing this sort of thing.”
While in Uganda the students have been getting to know the children and assisting with arts based activities, and with the development of play skills. At weekends the students have had the opportunity to explore other areas of Uganda and take part in activities such as white water rafting, land and river safari, rhino sanctuary and horse riding.
Linda Davis-Sinclair, head of ambassador engagement, said: “We are exceptionally proud of our students who have worked so very hard in Uganda. This unique experience has allowed them to make a positive change to the community they visited for the benefit of local children, and their work will leave a lasting legacy. The students have had the opportunity to develop their empathy, teamwork and leadership skills, which will ensure they stand out in the employment market as Changemakers of the future.”
Each student had to raise a minimum of £700 for East African Playgrounds to cover costs, and this was done through a variety of fundraising activities including raffles and cake sales.
The students also had to fund their own travel to Uganda and inoculations, accommodation and food. The University of Northampton’s Chancellors Fund provided £1,500 which was split between the team and provided them with a boost to their own fund-raising.
The group will return to the UK on July 6 fter celebrating the opening of the playground with the local community and dignitaries.