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Make your own international volunteering

May 21, 2023 | 0 comments

You can create your own international volunteering as your own without Worldpackers or Workaway platforms.

Hello everyone, a month ago I was in Uganda doing as a personal project my own volunteering in an orphanage, as I wanted, in my own way and you, if you want, you can do it too…

Well, I work as an IT guy in a company, but I also do commercial photography work for some clients… But as I always have to be doing new things, I decided to study videography as well…

To practice, I decided to make a documentary; and what better way than to do it as a volunteer and create multimedia content for the host at the same time.

Yes, I talk about host because I was looking at platforms like worldpackers and even talking to an NGO in Spain that support an orphanage in Uganda.

I saw many positive comments, but also many negative ones… And in the end the only thing they offered me was bed and food, which in these countries is very cheap since the trip, which is the most expensive thing, is not paid for.

And I understand that volunteering is not traveling for free, it is living the experience of feeling useful for someone… Because you never travel for free, if you don’t pay for it, someone else is paying for you.

So, after following this Spanish NGO, several orphanages in Uganda popped up in my networks and talking to one of them, I told him about my project and they agreed to collaborate; So, there I went… That if, taking advantage of the trip to take all the clothes I could bill for the children.

So I want to thank all my friends for bringing me almost 100Kg of clothes and toys.

And of course, to Ibrahim and Haruna, my hosts for join me 24/7 in Uganda.

Volunteering in Ugandan Orphanage

But let’s go to the trip…

I fly from Madrid with a stopover in Turkey and Rwanda, a slow passport control… and an altercation at customs, they discover the drone and confiscate it at the airport until my departure from the country…

After all the altercations, I leave the airport, I have breakfast and wait for them to come and pick me up…

Several hours of driving in hellish traffic to reach the hotel, take a shower and go straight to the orphanage.

There are no words to describe the reception, just one of those smiles is worth the effort, and there is no money in the world to pay for just one of those hugs.

After showing me around the orphanage, we went to dinner and went to bed early… We had days of work ahead of us.

The second day there was Sunday and we went to buy food because on weekends they cook meat or fish at the orphanage.

So we start filming in the market and in the butcher’s shop.

Back at the orphanage, it’s time to record how the food is cooked, how the food is distributed and I am surprised that there are many more than the 43 children they told me they were taking care of; and that is because they cook more than enough to feed the children of the neighbors who don’t always have food at home.

I am more and more glad to have come and to know all the details in person. Learning about the culture, how different religions live together, how the neighbors help each other,

The next day we met at 5am to record how the children get up, have breakfast and go to school.

We also took the opportunity to visit children who are sick and are helped from the orphanage even though they live with their parents.

And then came the long awaited moment for the kids, which was the distribution of clothes and toys, another exciting moment because things that are simple for us mean a lot to them.

A used T-shirt when you only have a torn one means a lot to a child.

There is also time to discuss future projects such as the purchase of land to build a new orphanage, away from the road and closer to the school.

In short, several days documenting in photo and video all the activities of the orphanage to have digital content for them and for me. In the evenings we reviewed the content and edited photos and videos to post on networks. I possibly worked more than if I had gone through a platform, but I did what I wanted to do.

We also had leisure time to visit a gorilla reserve and the source of the Nile River.

In short, doing your own volunteering is possible, away from the usual platforms if these do not convince you, you are afraid of being exploited, or because you have a different project in mind.

Just look for who you would like to do it with and talk to them clearly, they are usually willing to collaborate if it will bring them a benefit in any way. Of course, think about them and how your project can help them.

Always do the planning with them. They will help you find a place to stay or offer you to stay in their facilities, and discuss how to get from the airport to the destination, they will certainly come and pick you up.

Look for information about security in the country, usually rural areas are quiet everywhere, but big capitals always have dangerous areas, also in Europe or the United States.

Whether you go with an organization or on your own, I advise you to go with an open mind, without prejudices and adapt to their culture and customs.

Remember that you are the one who has gone there, observe, learn and do not meddle.

You can ask questions, give advice, compare cultures, but never think you are morally superior, because you are not, you just think differently because that is what you have been taught.

Well, I hope I have helped you, you can ask me anything you want in the comments and I will be happy to answer you.

Ibrahim Kisoko Orphanage


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