Hi, I'm Ilaria, ever since first volunteering with East African Playgrounds, I had my heart set on doing the summer internship. Once I got accepted it had made my year and there was nothing else I’d ever been more excited about.

 

After booking my flights, visa and insurance I was ready to leave for Uganda! I arrived in June in time for intern training, this was while the interns got to know each other and settle before the first set of volunteers arrived. We were based in the EAP house where we shared a room with bunk beds and had a real toilet! But nonetheless, being on project was the best part. The interns took turns either waiting for the volunteers to arrive or to go and pick them up from the airport, which is what I did for the first project. It was exciting waiting in the arrivals at Entebbe spotting anyone wearing the orange EAP tops and welcoming them to Uganda!

A typical day in the life an intern on project would involve waking the volunteers up in time for breakfast, and making sure everyone had everything they needed for the day’s work. I’d have a meeting with the head builder/project manager where we discussed the plan for the day before telling the volunteers. Throughout the day, I’d make sure everyone stayed hydrated and protected from the sun. But most importantly that everyone was having the best experience possible! I would get a daily phone call from Rachel the volunteer coordinator where we kept each other updated about everything on project. It was also my responsibility to organize restaurant bookings and transport to and from places during our afternoons off and the weekends. After the building time was over, we’d have lunch and a break before helping to organize the Creative Play sessions where we got to spend time with the children! Myself and the group leaders worked together and would take turns doing the rota assigning the volunteers to different chores; having to especially make sure no one missed out on doing the washing up! A typical day ended with attempted showers, the best warm meal a volunteer could ask for, a hot drink and games before bed, ready to do it all over again. During the weekends and between projects I had the freedom to do anything I wanted. The other interns and I did things like exploring Jinja town, going to the pool or having a massage!

 

Before each project the interns would help the Ugandan teams pack up all the equipment and resources needed for project, and most importantly, to make sure we had enough beds and chairs for everyone! We’d go to the schools before the volunteers to settle in and make sure there was enough room for everyone, setting up their beds, nets and kitchen ready for their arrival. The school children and staff were always eager to help us unpack and show us around. We did this once again after the volunteers left, packing up the project and leaving the school with their new playground. This was actually much more fun than it sounds! Until it was the last one.

 

I had a beautiful friendship with my cook Sarah, who was like my mother for the summer. She made sure I was okay while I made sure everyone else was. The whole team was amazing! We became like a little family and they showed me how truly caring and funny Ugandans are. As an Intern, I learnt a lot, more than I thought I would. I learnt about leadership skills, welfare, logistics, but I also learnt about group dynamics and an array of interesting facts. I learnt a lot about people, but also about an incredible culture and a fascinating language. Another amazing thing about the internship was also being able to do it alongside the other interns with whom I formed a great friendship with. It was nice having them to spend our time off together. I got to experience being a part of the Ugandan culture and being a part of a charity that does amazing things for extraordinary people.

It felt like I was leaving home for a lifetime, and once I was settled and in a routine, I felt like I’d always lived there. Time flew by, but the memories never will leave me. A summer full of crazy BBQ’s, adventures on the Nile and remarkable people. I made friends forever and it really was life changing. It will forever be one of the best things I ever did, and I would do it all over again.

If you would like to be one of our summer interns 2018 then email [email protected] for an application form.