Then, make sure you pack up a lot of love, hope and engagement; fill up your backpack with dreams and get ready for a long journey to help people in need. Volunteer in Uganda!
For those who like adventure, hiking trips, rivers, incredible waterfalls as well as lying on the beach, Kampala is one of the best destinations to volunteer in Uganda. With a great diversity of landscapes, the beauty of Uganda and its people has kept the country on the radar of many tourists. But as many lost paradises in this world, Uganda has a long history of corruption and endemic inequality. According to UNESCO, 2005 “52% of Uganda’s population is under 15 and 59% of these live in extreme poverty”.
These frightening numbers increase in rural areas where poverty levels are much higher according to the Millennium Development Goals latest report (Ministry of Finance, 2010). There, many people live in camps or squeezed into huts where malnutrition, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and other health conditions are aggravated by poor access to health services. (Bakeera, 2009)
Where the Billy Bus story began…
When Carol Mitchell visited Uganda the first time, she was touched by the beauty of this country and its people. After visiting Uganda a few times, she decided to start helping out a little more. So much so, that in 2012 she raised funds to create a small charity called Transport for Ugandan Sick Children.
Children and pregnant women died because their family cannot get them from the village to healthcare. This is something basic and that’s how I started this idea of the Billy Bus.
It was a bit scary to start this project, you know, what do we do? How do we do it? After two years of hard work the project is finally up and running with solidarity, engagement and hope. In April 2012, the charity was registered as a CBO (Community Based Organization) in Uganda. But it took a while until Carol could raise enough funds to buy the Bus, dubbed Billy (In memory of a loved one).
Transportation for healthcare
Driven by Yakub, an engaged community worker, the Billy bus has been running for twenty months the race against social disparities. Their goal is transporting children and pregnant women from villages around Jinja to healthcare centres. But the Billy bus also helps health care members to arrive to villages with poor access to primary health care.
“Our priorities are children and pregnant women, but we also end up transporting lots of other people. Often we get a call in the mornings because somebody was ill in the night and needs taking for healthcare. Often malaria is the cause but not always; then we meet the outreach team at the clinic and transport them to the field. For example: people who have defaulted HIV treatment, particularly post-natal mothers, or Tuberculosis contact tracing.We often detect sick or disabled children on these trips. Then, we may spend the afternoon transporting disabled children to therapy with another NGO service.
Every day is different though. We can get an emergency call at any time.
Mostly we transport women with labour complications from the local village clinic to the main referral hospital in town. Otherwise they would probably have to sit on the back of a motor-bike taxi, if they could afford it.”
The Billy bus assists many people for free on several routes although the journeys are mainly planned depending on each day’s requests. At the moment, this project is supported by the work of local volunteers, friends and family of Carol as well as generous donors from UK who advocate and advance this initiative.
There is a need of skilled volunteers or people who just want to give a hand to this project. If you are willing to take this ride and help us to increase access to healthcare for children, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, leave your comments here or help us to spread this cause out. Let’s volunteer in Uganda!
Bakeera, S. a. (2009, July 14). Community perceptions and factors influencing utilization of health services in Uganda. International Journal for Equity in Health , p. 8:25.
Ministry of Finance, p. a. (2010). Millennium Development Goals, Report for Uganda. Special theme: Accelerating Progress towards improving maternal health. The Republic of Uganda: United Nations.
UNESCO. (2005). Children in Abject, Poverty in Uganda. A study of criteria and status of those in and out of school in selected district in Uganda. France.