The journey to the Volunteer Uganda lodge on the hills overlooking the Bwindi Int Forest from Kampala is a long one – 10 hours give or take.
But for me, as a returning volunteer set to be a 2013 VU team leader, with every kilometre covered over the Martian-red African soil, with every bump in the road, and with every shout of “mazungu” along the way it feels like returning home.
There have been many improvements to the lodge in the fifteen months since I left the lodge after my two months as a volunteer. There is a new road, a new Banda, a new seating area complete with outside bar and much more besides. The pace at which VU has moved over the last four years is astonishing, and it continues to improve the facilities for volunteers so we can allow more to experience this special part of the world and help children in Kanungu and beyond.
Despite the improvements, a few things never change. The stunning view which greets you every morning, the gentle hum of the wildlife all around, the interest and appreciation from locals in volunteers eager to travel thousands of miles to help others.
But it is the welcome of the VU staff which makes the lodge a home from home. Their greeting when you arrive is as warm as if you were being met by a member of your own family.
I have missed them. I have missed the lodge. I have missed Kanungu and Uganda.
It is my hope, and the hope my fellow team leaders Alice and Martin, that when the time comes for this year’s volunteers to say goodbye that they will do as I did and continue to be part of the VU family and come back to their home from home in the future.
The experiences they will have in the next few months will make that very hard to resist.