I have traveled and volunteered with this school for seven years as the coordinator of a university study abroad program. During that time, I also was able to take my pre-teen children along. The hosts are flexible in designing opportunities that help you meet your specific service goals, challenge you to grow, and provide a chance for you to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. It quickly elevates from a service project to a shared experience, working alongside friends who have invited you into their homes and their lives. The environment is safe as long as you follow common-sense traveler guidelines like don’t flash cash around and don’t walk alone at night. Your hosts are living out their life’s passion to create a brighter future for the children they serve and that passion shines through in how they make you feel like an integral part of the pursuit of that dream. The country itself is absolutely beautiful. Be sure to take advantage of opportunities to go on safari, raft the Nile, and eat new foods. The host is able to help you arrange any of those excursions and experiences which makes it one-stop-shopping for the experience of a lifetime.
My wife and I traveled to Uganda to work with YOFAFO for our honeymoon. We had an incredibly memorable experience spending time with the students we sponsor who attend a YOFAFO school, Hopeland High School. Our stay at the YOFAFO volunteer headquarters with Valence and his family was wonderful – I still dream about the homecooked meals we enjoyed each night! This trip was such a great way to bond with my wife and give back to a non-profit that is doing amazing things for their community.
I traveled to Uganda to teach at a YOFAFO school (Hopeland Primary School) in 2013. I stayed in the volunteer quarters in Lugazi, with Valence (founder of YOFAFO) and his family staying at their home right beside us. I taught students in primary 5-7 (equivalent to 6th-8th grade in the US). My experience with the students was one of the most memorable of my life. I brought my laptop, and for most students it was their first time touching a computer. We studied, learned new material, talked, made music videos, sang under the trees outside the school, played soccer in the cow pasture; it was like a wonderful dream. At risk of sounding cliche, I left Uganda as a very different person – more full of life and appreciative of every experience I am offered. I was able to bring so much to my classroom in America and I feel like a different, and better teacher. I returned to stay with Valence with my husband after we were married, and after three years the students called my name when I came back to their classrooms – it was so emotional and I carry their faces in my memory always!