As someone who has always wanted to volunteer in Africa to leave something tangible behind, I initially thought the volunteering opportunities offered by EAP may have been too good to be true, as I had found many suspicious charities. EAP go above and beyond with the work that they do. With EAP, you don’t just volunteer abroad to become a 'hero', you actually make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of children. For me I have always wanted to volunteer abroad, and in the future hope to travel and see more of Africa, EAP gave me the chance to not just visit Africa but to be able to give back. It was so rewarding to be able to see the project through from start to finish and see the impact that it had in the community.

Every morning on project in Uganda, my team and I worked on building the playground, then in the afternoons took part in creative play sessions with the children at the school. Building was a lot of hard work, but to see the finished product and how grateful and happy the teachers, children and local community were made it all so worth it. Creative play was a great way to engage with the children within the classrooms, working as a team on creative games and arts and crafts activities. On my weekend off I was fortunate enough to go on safari to see the Big 5, which was a once in a lifetime experience and something I have always wanted to do!

Fundraising had many ups and downs, but all the hard work I put in was worth it to see firsthand the impact that the money I raised was having. It taught me to never give up at the first hurdle and to always keep going. I found that one way for people to be even more willing to donate was to do something for them in exchange for a donation. I found myself doing many little odd jobs for people like; cleaning out cupboards, organizing wardrobes and even walking peoples dogs. For me, this was very successful as I was giving back to them for the generosity of their donation.

Overall, my experience with EAP was so incredible that I am heading back this following year to volunteer again! It has made me want to look into international volunteering even further with the hopes to potentially one day work for a charity like EAP. I had such a joyful once in a lifetime experience, why would I want it to end?! Being able to go back to Uganda for the second time is so rewarding and sentimental to me, I love that I am pushing myself to improve as an individual whilst also being able to give back to see that happiness and joy it brings to children's lives.

I highly recommend to friends and family to volunteer with EAP, as it is such a rewarding experience and a great way to experience a new culture. EAP has big plans to expand and work in more countries and refugee settlements as well as schools in the coming years, and volunteers will help turn these plans into a reality! To anyone who is considering volunteering, don’t hesitate, get involved!

Inspired by Lucy's story? Sign up to become a volunteer on one of our international volunteer projects and have the experience of a lifetime with East African Playgrounds! You never know where it's going to lead you...