Select Page

By Jessie Stone

It’s hard to believe May is here again and that we have successfully completed our second volunteer week with our inner city kayakers from NYC here in Uganda. For those of you not familiar with the kayaking camp we do each summer, we collaborate with Boys and Girls Harbor, an educational institution for underserved youth in New York City, and their Upward Bound Program. Upward Bound is a college preparatory program for very motivated kids from underserved back-rounds.

Over the summers of our camp, the kids became interested in helping out with our project in Uganda. First, they raised money for mosquito nets, then, these students and teachers from the Harbor wanted to extend the reach of what they could do. They wanted to participate in person in our volunteer program and give back to a community that could use their help.

When the opportunity arose for the group to have their airfare paid for to Uganda, they jumped at the chance to come over. In addition, the group raised money for a generous contribution to Soft Power Health. Since last year’s trip was such a big success with our volunteers, we had another eager group this year. They turned their spring break into a volunteer experience with our malaria education and prevention program.

It was an awesome week. We visited several villages in Kamuli district to do malaria education and prevention sessions, and follow up visits to previous net buyers’ homes. The locals were happy to see us and meet the students from New York. Here, the volunteers could experience what Ugandans daily struggles with malaria are like. As Shana said, “I learned that a mosquito net could be life saving.” All the volunteers had the opportunity to visit families in their homes, ask them questions about malaria and whether the net had helped them have less malaria. After the volunteers surveyed the families, they would check to see if the family’s mosquito nets were hanging. In some cases, the volunteers helped locals hang up their nets.

By the end of the week, everyone understood the value of sleeping under an insecticide treated net and why prevention is so important and better than receiving treatment for malaria every month. Nicole wrote, “ You can say that you want to make a difference by donating money or giving stuff but until you actually do it first hand you don’t see the impact it can have on a person’s life.”

The week was capped off by a whitewater day down the Nile. The kids loved the river and are really looking forward to the kayaking camps this summer. It was a fantastic week, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Click to view larger image

Click to view larger image

Click to view larger image