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Volunteering with Soft Power Education

It was an honour and a privilege to work alongside such inspiring students, volunteers and teachers alike... 
Who are Soft Power Education

Soft Power Education (SPE) is a British registered charity and Ugandan NGO. Since 1999 we have been working with communities in Uganda with a mission of 

improving quality of life through education. And a vision for an empowered and self-sustaining society that takes responsibility for its own development. 

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My Soft Power Story
Originally my plan was to briefly visit Jinja to see the source of the River Nile, maybe go white water rafting and then continue. My plans very quickly changed as I say down in the bat at the Nile campsite after a long day on the road.
That evening I got talking to Sophie and Chris who were both volunteering for an organisation called soft power education. After hearing about all the fun they have had so far and the incredible work they're doing they convinced me to join them the following morning to have a look around the headquarters in the local Village. So the next morning I was up early and ready to go. During the walk to the HQ we stopped at the house chris and sophie were staying. The homestay was run by an elderly couple called Felix and Gertrude. Very kindly invite me round for dinner that evening which I was really looking forward to as I hadn't got to experience local Ugandan food yet. Upon arrival at the headquarters in the village I was introduced to the Volunteer coordinator, a local man called Aggrey. Following a quick tour of the headquarters I was convinced just spend the whole day with the team. We spent the morning helping out one of the teachers in a preschool run by Soft power education, which was a great experience. Most of the lesson consisted of dancing, singing and a few spelling games. It was such a positive environment to be in and it was so heartwarming to see all the kids enjoying their time at school. A quick sandwich at the campsite was followed by a bumpy car journey on the infamous Ugandan dirt tracks to a school in the next village. The school houses a residential special needs unit which is funded by Soft power education. Again I was absolutely blown away. I could sit down and talk for hours about how brilliant and inspirational the kids from the unit are. The majority of the children from the unit are deaf, however the unit is also home to children with Down syndrome and other various learning difficulties. We spent the afternoon playing parachute games dancing and of course very competitive match of football and as we drove away back to the campsite I was doing some serious thinking. Should I carry on with my cycle ride in a few days time as previously planned or should I take the leap and spend some time volunteering with soft power education for a week or two and then get back on the bike? Thankfully I made the right choice and decided to have an adventure with soft power education. So I packed up my tent and bicycle and moved in with Felix and Gertrude and their mad village house full of ducks, turkeys, chickens and cats!! 
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In the following week and a half working with the special needs unit (I say working, we spent the whole time playing games outside!). I also spent lots of mornings at the preschool assisting with one-to-one lessons with some of the children in an attempt to boost their confidence. And at one point I even found myself on my hands and knees covered in blue paint as we took on the challenge of painting a classroom. The top these incredible experiences of, I got to work alongside a great volunteer great team of volunteers with him I enjoyed some fun weekend activities and some funny stories at dinner times. This included swinging into the River Nile from rope, navigating the dusty town of Jinja, or simply relaxing at the nearby campsite with a nice cold drink. 

I would like to say a big thank you to my fellow volunteers for adding to the enjoyment of this adventure. So after staying in ginger for two weeks longer than I had planned, it was time to say goodbye to my wonderful host family and goodbye to soft power! I have way too many stories to tell volunteering and it would be impossible to include them all in this blog! It was an honour and a privilege to work alongside such inspiring students volunteers and teachers alike. Thank you to staff power education for such a brilliant unplanned experience... A real adventure!!

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The school where we were painting
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The team
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The blue paint is still on my shorts!! 
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Chris reading with some of the children from the special needs unit