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RESCUE WIDOWS, ELDERLY, YOUTH AND ORPHANS WITH AIDS
(RWEYOWA)
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Volunteer Testimonies

The following are testimonies from volunteers who have worked with RWEYOWA. Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to contact previous volunteers to ask about their experiences.

Dana Le (United States of America)  

My volunteering experience with Rweyowa was exceptional. I’ve always had a keen desire to explore the world, and share what I have with others. A friend of mine recommends Uganda. I began searching for volunteer programs, I reached out to several organizations, none of them felt right. I came across RWEYOWA website, I interviewed former volunteers. That was it!

Most of my volunteer work was in the field. We visited the family homes of the children of special needs. We do sensitization program for youth. Those children are adorable. I look forward to be back again in the near future.

If you are looking for an authentic volunteering experience among people who fight passionately for the cause they believe in. Then, RWEYOWA is your home.

Email: le.dana@gmail.com

   
Suzan Coerts (Netherlands)  

Before I went to Uganda to volunteer at RWEYOWA, I only knew Africa from television and school books. Six weeks later I left with a better understanding of RWEYOWA's work, the experience of living in Uganda and priceless memories.

I loved the fact that every week was different and you never know what the day will bring. I got to experience so many elements of volunteering and stayed with an amazing host family who took great care of me. The volunteers at RWEYOWA will do anything to make you feel at home and make it the best experience possible.

I definitely recommend volunteering at RWEYOWA as I plan on coming back one day as well.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me!

suzan_coerts@live.com

   
Patrick Jonker (Netherlands)  

I spend nearly two weeks with RWEYOWA and it was unforgettable..  It was an eyeopening experience to see and experience their way of life and changed my view on things.

The small things we find normal back home, are not available to everyone here. They really appreciate it when you can help them with something small like clothes or a toothbrush. The local volunteers really appreciate your help as a volunteer which made it even better. 

The work was different every day which made it very interesting. Volunteering for RWEYOWA is very rewarding en I definitely recommend trying it . One day i'll come back again to see how they are doing and help out again.

patrick.jonker.89@gmail.com

   
Robin Schaefer (Germany)  
Robin Schaefer

I have spent five weeks from the beginning of August to early in September 2013 working with RWEYOWA. I came to Uganda with the intention of gaining some work experience in the field of public health, my specialization at University. What I achieved here with RWEYOWA, however, was far more than I expected before arriving in Africa. I did not only gain priceless insights into how HIV/AIDS affects people and how a small NGO like RWEYOWA operates, I also met countless incredibly nice people and made many new friends. All members of RWEYOWA – Kasamba and Tonny in particular as I spent most of my time with them – warmly welcome you and ensure that you can fully enjoy your time in Uganda. The same is true for your host family. They all make sure that it is very difficult for you to feel homesick.

The activities I have been involved in varied tremendously and the experiences I gained were manifold. From distributing condoms and helping at a local immunisation clinic to building chicken coops in order to empower families and walking long distances to visit affected families. RWEYOWA also always encourages you to integrate your own skills and expertise. I utilised my training in social scientific research to organise a research project to examine the levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS and the sexual behaviour among adolescents by using questionnaires and group discussions. The members of RWEYOWA immediately embraced my proposed project and eagerly helped to organise it.

In overall, there is virtually nothing unfavourable I can report about my stay in Uganda. You will gain the greatest experience and will meet the nicest people. I can only encourage you to become a member of the RWEYOWA family and to have, like me and I believe like all other former volunteers, a fantastic time in Uganda. I myself cannot wait to come back.

Robin
robin.schaefer@st-hughs.ox.ac.uk

 

Lindesay Mace (UK Volunteer, Sept. 2011)

 

Lindesay MaceVolunteering with RWEYOWA was a moving, fulfilling and potentially life changing experience. Regardless of your background, if you have a passion for humanity and transferable skills, both you and RWEYOWA will get a huge amount out of you volunteering with them. Unlike most volunteers perhaps I am not currently studying or working in the charity or development sector, I am an actor, but this didn't mean my skills weren't needed.

The month I spent with RWEYOWA was amazing, though I wish it had been longer. Kasamba, Tonny and Wilson looked after me like I was a member of the family and I felt honoured to share in both their lives and the lives of their clients. On a practical level, as well as taking part in and observing RWEYOWA’s programmes; I ran the reception at an immunisation clinic, using as much Luganda as I could manage; co-created the Volunteer Information Pack, the Fundraising Ideas brochure and a volunteer recruitment poster for Kampala hostels; and brought new ideas to weekly meetings. On a personal level I got to know a beautiful, welcoming country and its people ... and may even end up switching careers.

Despite now being back in the UK I continue to maintain a relationship with RWEYOWA as both colleagues and friends and to assist with online fundraising. Whatever your personal goal, as long as you are dedicated to the needs of RWEYOWA you will have a truly rewarding experience.

Lindesay Mace
lindesay_mace@yahoo.co.uk

   
Philip Nelson (UK volunteer, Nov. 08 - May 09)  

Volunteer Philip in the Community Outreach ProgrammeWorking with RWEYOWA has been an incredibly rewarding, enlightening and enjoyable experience. When I first applied to work with an HIV/AIDS organisation I was not entirely sure what to expect but my time with RWEYOWA has been everything I had hoped it would be.

My programme has been wonderfully varied, giving me an insight into every area of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, from prevention and sensitisation to treatment and care for those affected by the virus.

I have learnt a huge amount from RWEYOWA, both through experience and formally, having taken a course on HIV/AIDS and treatment at Mildmay Uganda, one of the largest HIV/AIDS organisations in the country and a partner of RWEYOWA.

Whether it’s been walking miles, weighed down by heavy rucksacks, to bring food and support to families affected by HIV and struggling to survive, immunizing tiny babies against polio in some of the most deprived areas of Kampala, or writing detailed proposals for project funding, the work has always proven both challenging and rewarding.

The greatest thing about working with RWEYOWA, however, is the people you work alongside. RWEYOWA’s staff are all dedicated volunteers who have guided, supported and inspired me during my time in Uganda. Not only highly professional and skilled, they are also unfailingly kind, cheerful and positive, even at the most frustrating of moments.

I will be extremely sad to leave but I will be taking with me a wealth of experience and knowledge, and some lasting friendships.

Philip Nelson
phil.nelson0@googlemail.com

   
Alena Mack (US Volunteer, Feb - April 2010)  

The people who work with RWEYOWA have taught me so much – about working with people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, about working with a local NGO, about compassion, and about life. I knew coming into this experience that I was going to learn a lot about the world of NGOs working in the field of HIV/AIDS; I didn’t realize that I would gain so much more than that.

It has been such a pleasure sharing my daily life with the people of RWEYOWA and the surrounding area. Our days have been widely varied – from hiking around Namasuba and other areas to bring supplies and support to our clients, to visiting local schools to discuss HIV/AIDS with the students, to conducting VCT (voluntary counseling and testing for HIV) in neighboring communities. I also spent quite a bit of time familiarizing myself with all of RWEYOWA’s programs in order to work on grant applications and organize a monitoring and evaluation plan.

I came into this trip with a little bit of knowledge to share and a lot of excitement – I left with a working knowledge of NGOs, a greater appreciation of the value of local knowledge and experiences, and a few great friendships. I look forward to continuing to support RWEYOWA’s work from home! Please contact me with any questions or advice about volunteering overseas. I would love to share!

Alena Mack
travelinlegs@yahoo.com

   
Michelle Workowski (US Volunteer, March - April 2010)  

My reason for volunteering with RWEYOWA was quite different from most. My reasons were simply to share a volunteer experience with my daughter, Alena, and to see, first hand what it is that she is pursuing as her career in international public health.

What I received was much more than that. To see the inner workings of a small locally run organization was an eye opener. The organization, determination, strength and compassion these young men have for their community is something to be admired.

Flexibility and adaptability are good strengths to bring along as every day with them is different. I helped organize and work at VCTs (Voluntary Counseling and Testing), and walked many miles to take food and medicine to community members. Part of my time was spent on Project Restore RWEYOWA, which enabled me to utilize my strengths as a craftswoman. By the time we were done, we had painted, patched and upholstered everything in the office. It felt good to give these young men the office they so deserve, as the work they do is important and necessary for the health of their community.

To work with such compassionate, humble and capable men has been life changing. To volunteer with RWEYOWA is one of the most rewarding endeavors in my life.

Michelle Workowski

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