Age at time of volunteer work: 22-24
Length of stay: 6 months
Location: Rural Uganda
Currently working in Ireland as Physiotherapist
1) How long ago did you go to Uganda?
12 months ago.
2) How did you find the process of preparing to work in Uganda?
The process was very easy. I got all the things required together and just went. I was volunteering in a developing country so I did not require much in the way of accreditation, etc. It was an easy process: just like working at home
3)Were you able to choose to work in an area that interested you?
Yes. I worked as a hospital physiotherapist, gaining experience in all areas.
4) Did you find it easy to integrate into your work environment?
Yes it was very easy. The local people were very welcoming.
5) What differences, if any, did you find between working as a physio in Ireland and Uganda?
Very few differences, really. The structure and type of work is the same. There are human differences between the patients and staff with whom I worked. Cultural variations are the main differences and some different conditions/pathologies.
6) Do you think you had sufficient free-time to travel during the year?
7) Could you work with sports teams while living there? If so, what sport, and at what level of team?
There weren’t any opportunities to work with sports teams.
8) On return to Ireland, do you feel working in Uganda helped or hindered your search for a job, in a way that gaining experience in another country would not? Was it significant from the point of view of your CV?
Yes, it most definitely was beneficial to me in improving my CV and also gave me a lot of relevant experiences to talk about in interviews.
1) What part of the country did you live in?
The rural South-West.
2) How would you describe the weather in comparison to Ireland?
It was like a really good Irish Summer. Generally very warm, but sometimes the rainy season lasts longer than you’d think, extending into June.
3) Would you recommend going over with friends or by yourself?
Bring friends if possible – you will feel less isolated, and also have more hands to work in the hospital!
4) What did you make of Uganda’s culture when you first arrived?
Very different to Ireland, but fantastic.
5) Did you have a good social life while there?
Yes, particularly when there were other volunteers staying in the guest house.
6) What are the most popular past-times in Uganda?
Socialising and playing sport – football is very popular over there, and a lot of people follow English Premier League teams, which is good fun.
7) In comparison with Ireland, is it expensive to live in Uganda? What did you find was the most expensive aspect of living there?
No, it is not expensive at all compared to Ireland. The most costly thing was credit to phone home.
8) What are the worst things about living in Uganda?
Frequent lack of internet, and the poor phone reception.
9) What are the 3 best things about living in Uganda?
Freedom, the culture/friendships and the overall value of the work you do.
10) Why did you return to Ireland?
I came home to search, successfully, for employment and to increase my experience working in the Irish health system. I also wanted to learn from more experienced physiotherapists, a resource not really available to the same extent in Uganda.
And finally, the big one…
How would you rate your experience overall (both professionally and personally)?
9/10: Would not change it!