Having been fortunate enough to travel around the world, experiencing multiple continents, countries and cultures, for me there is something different about travel that allows me to give back. I believe in giving back and making a difference in this world, however small, simple, or grandiose, each of us are able. From the smile to a curious stranger wondering why you’re in their country to a handshake or hug when language barriers prove difficult, leaving an unfamiliar land with moments of “good” can change a travel experience.
My trip to Uganda was full of those moments, and in Africa, those moments seem to come easily. Ugandans are, from my experience, some of the happiest, kindest people, eager to welcome a foreigner into their world. They are proud of their country, and excited for an outsider to experience the immense joy they exude—a seeming dichotomy considering the degree of poverty, lack of clean water, and intense need that still remains in Uganda.
My trip to Uganda landed me in Jinja, a place that many foreigners come to experience for the white water rafting, the cultural experience (softened by the many Western cafes in the city where you can “escape” for an afternoon, if need be), and many other outdoor activities. Jinja quickly became one of my top three places I have ever experienced. I worked with three different organizations during my short three-day stay, on the way to Kenya. From community development meetings in extremely remote areas, to water wells being built, to small orphanages, my days were packed and my camera found much to capture. I worked with Mana Nutrition, Kibo Foundation, and Arise Africa.
There are so many stories to be told all over the world, and I am so grateful that my brief time in Uganda showed me a different side of travel. I would happily return there, not only to volunteer, but to enjoy the culture and the river as well.
Elizabeth Marx travels all over the world with Silent Images, a non-profit organization that provides professional photography and videography to other non-profits seeking to tell stories of hope in the midst of persecution, poverty, or oppression.