The core of each SAVE project is the building work that we undertake in the village. This is the most tangible contribution that we make to the host community, and forms a focus for the group.
We try to plan projects such that there are a range of activities for volunteers to get involved in; those less keen on heavy building work usually take up the lighter, but equally important, work such as painting or plastering.
The key to any SAVE building project is the partnership between our team and the local community. As well as bringing essential funding to the project the presence of a team of volunteers in the village community can be a great motivator to local people. On every project, it takes time for villagers to get used to the idea that volunteers – especially girls – actually want to help with manual labour, and initially you will find people trying to do all the work for you. Once you explain that you genuinely want them to teach you the basic skills (eg. how to mix cement or lay bricks), however, the partnership really begins to develop, allowing everyone to get stuck in.
Village education in Uganda is of a relatively low standard, and usually follows quite old-fashioned methods involving lots of repetition. We will establish the routine at school, and it will depend on the schools timetable, resources and your travelling date/month.
Please be aware during school holidays or exam periods there will be reduced teaching opportunities. This can be the perfect opportunity to concentrate on the building aspect of your trip. Your usual working hours are 8am until 4pm with breaks during the day; the hours can vary from day to day and project to project.
Throughout the day we will rotate teaching as and when lessons are timetabled. When not teaching we can return to work on the building site or plan our next lessons. You may find that teaching is timetabled one or twice a week and will totally depend on how much time you would like to spend there, the schools timetables, exam or holiday weeks, and what stage your building project is at. Your Project Leader will set up a timetable to suit yours and the school’s needs. Just chat to them if you would like to get involved in more teaching, or are keen to set up summer teaching workshops in school holidays.
Tackling side projects such as educational murals or organising sports tournaments will inspire your community to work with you and achieve their goals that also become yours. Learning more about the wonderful Baganda or Busoga culture and local way of life will surprise and humble you as their fight for survival does nothing to diminish their resilient and cheerful spirits. “Africa time” is a wonderful spirit to embrace, pass a few hours sitting peeling vegetables or washing clothes whilst chatting with your neighbours.
The type of community projects we get involved in varies and depends on volunteer numbers. In the past we have helped to build sanitation blocks, water storage tanks, school classrooms, clinics, community halls, basic housing and much more. Depending on the seasonal climate, the number of volunteers and the funds available volunteering activities may vary from coaching sport, helping in holiday classes through to painting a classroom to building a school block. Building sites are a lot of fun and you will be surprised at your own capabilities and strengths. You will be instructed on building techniques by local professionals and your SAVE Project Leader.
In the classroom liaising with teachers and your Project leader you will have the chance to conduct classes individually (in which case you will need to ensure that we have your police check report for child protection) or under supervision in English, Maths, Sports, Creative Arts and other subjects, depending on the schools timetable. Additional activities include a range of sports depending on the needs of the school, timetables and resources. A lot of the village schools we work in teach on a blackboard with chalk, and share text books so it’s very much back to basics.