Arriving in Busembatia – First impressions as a WIL UGANDA intern

Arriving in Busembatia – First impressions as a WIL UGANDA intern
5th April 2018

Training with WIL Uganda team in the new office location, Busembatia


A smile, that’s what greeted me as I walked out of Entebbe airport undoubtedly with worried eyes, pushing an incredibly heavy suitcase. I had arrived and so had he: Joseph, volunteer coordinator and community mobiliser, and there he was. Happy to help, answer any questions and already, evidently equipped with a wealth of knowledge on the task I was about to undertake and on all the emotions that were running through my head as an international intern.


After a gruelling journey from the UK, with a stop over in Ethiopia, I was keen to make the journey to my placement location. I had so many unanswered questions and thoughts I had constantly pondered during the weeks in the lead up to my departure. Will it be a bucket bath or shower? A long drop or toilet? Will I make an impact? Will I feel like I have accomplished something? What will it be like working for such a small grassroots organisation? How will this differ to academia and previous experiences of working within international development in other countries? Was I making the right decision? Could there ever be too much of a good thing?


Green, everywhere. Open expanses of mountains and trees, green, everywhere. The radio was playing and our driver was laughing away, pointing out places of interest as we drove from Entebbe to Kampala, Kampala to Jinja, Jinja to Iganga, and Iganga to Busembatia: home for the next three months.


It was dark, so very dark when we arrived. The journey took around seven hours and I was glad to be out of the car and stretch my legs. Suddenly, weeks of wondering was met with reality. Here I was. The first night, I slept like a baby, tucked up in my mosquito net and morning came around too soon. But it was straight to the office for day one of three in training on the organisation policy and procedures, its values, my role and a culture and language session on life in Uganda. Slowly I met the WIL Uganda team – each individual had a story and a smile to share.


The days passed and so did my anticipation, I was slowly starting to see why Uganda has so frequently been named ‘The Pearl of Africa’. It shines, its people shine, so warm, friendly and welcoming.


Monday came around and that meant the final day or training – orientation. With Joseph’s assistance, team leader Neda and myself went to Townside High School, Standard High school, Busembatia Health Centre 3 and Busembatia Town Council to meet the local stakeholders and arrange an introductory assembly to engage the young people ahead of starting sessions next week. Then it was back to the office for an afternoon of organisation and emailing partnering organisations to re-engage and plan for the months ahead.


It’s day five in Busembatia today. I am still processing everything. Getting used to the food, the heat, the long drop, the bucket baths, being a musungu (white person) and getting to grips with the specifics of my role and the task at hand. Yet, I already feel welcomed and have a high sense of calmness about me, in why I am here and in what lies ahead.


Today, after having a refreshing bucket bath and drying my hair in the sun with my morning coffee, I took the seven-minute walk alone to the WIL Uganda office. Instead or organising the week in my head, photographing the cows and goats on my journey, or worrying about whether I was saying ‘Wasuze Otya‘ (Good morning) correctly, I took a deep breath and smiled. Suddenly the worries were not worries anymore. I was present. And ready for whatever the next three months had in store.


Written by Bethan Williams

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