Traveling to Africa for the first time alone was new to me, along with studying abroad. Being exposed to another part of Africa I am unfamiliar with was an eye-opening experience. We traveled to various parts of Uganda and witnessed diverse cultures, traditions, and environments with each having in common the lack of resources and poverty. While some in my group saw poverty for the first time and were shocked, it wasn’t new to me. Alcohol consumption rates are very high in Uganda, and many children suffer from it. I learned that many come from families who have abandoned them to having family members addicted to drugs and alcohol. This substance has been detrimental to the country and effects many daily.
What was shocking to me was the small number of prevention initiatives and rehabilitation programs available. One organization I had the pleasure of visiting was Ring of Hope, a rehabilitation center, and a program for children. After learning how alcohol has been affecting the people in Uganda, visiting Ring of Hope gave me a first-hand look on how organizations were trying to solve the “alcohol epidemic.” The children in this program were so excited to welcome us with their songs, chants, and poems devoted to promising not to consume alcohol and the harms and effects of it. Watching them present with such joy and happiness warmed my heart, they face so many obstacles, and with the little they have, they remain happy and humble for all they have been given.
The lack of resources in programs helping to uplift the slum communities was common in the places visited throughout the trip in Kampala. I had the opportunity to travel through a health clinic known as the Family Hope Centre Clinic funded by the Children’s AIDS Fund (CAFU). This clinic doesn’t charge any client for their services ranging from HIV testing to counseling, they even had a pharmacy on the premises. I learned while shadowing in the pharmacy that access to various medications is limited, thus they can only treat so many health issues. With these medicines patients often experience unpleasant side effects. During this visit, I learned how privileged I am in the United States to have access to any medication I need; I never thought about how medicine was so easily accessible to me and limited to so many across the world.
Overall the program was an eye-opening experience I will always cherish. I will learn to be more appreciative for the little things I take for granted every day. I am grateful for this experience to be immersed in a different culture because not many people get these types of opportunities. I have a new outlook on life and am thankful for everything that I’ve been given. I plan on continuing to see how my efforts back home can contribute to the various projects and organizations throughout Uganda to help lower the prevalence of alcohol consumption and the effects that come with it.
I will miss being in Uganda and seeing such beautiful views. I can’t wait to come back again!
XOXO – Betty💋