Volunteering at SAF

TESTIMONIES

Shine Africa Foundation Testimony

Morrisen Mamutse, Researcher and Volunteer
Masters in International Development (Poverty, Inequality and Development). University of Birmingham, UK.

From the initial enquiry email in February 2014 to the time of bidding farewell to the welcoming people of Teso Sub Region Eastern Uganda, particularly staff at Shine Africa Foundation (SAF-Teso), the professionalism I witnessed is world class.

SAF-Teso might be small by financial muscle, regional by reach at present,Iteso by original but tell you what, this is an organisation that can stand toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder or even head to head with any NGO in the land in terms of organisational structure and financial discipline, well trained personnel, grassroots reach in networks and collaborations, open hands in welcoming volunteers, researchers and interns from all over the world. Above all, their passion to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged, marginalised and unfortunate is unquestionable.

Staff at SAF-Teso became family. They will be for life. Their guidance, debriefs and program coordinating skills for my research tours, combined with fluent translations were just above board. As if that was not enough, encouraging me to learn a local language was just an out of this world experience which I embraced with humility, emotion and passion. Yoga Noi!!!!

A people in Agwaru Joseph, Ikabat William, Acham Ester, Madam Stella, Barbra, Peter and the brilliant Michael Anguria are a team that can fit into ANY NGO on earth and deliver the goods with little adaptations.(Although I wouldn't want them to go anywhere but stay together for better funded days ahead).
I recommend any volunteer, student taking a gap year, internship, any donor and development interested stakeholder to engage with this team. They surely will not disappoint.
All the way from Birmingham, UK, I wish SAF-Teso all the best in their fantastic work in making a difference in the lives of the needy in Teso-sub region.

Emily Crane
My first experience of volunteering with Shine was for a week at the beginning of November 2012 with my friend and fellow medical student from the UK, Carolina Watters. Michael, Paul and Andrew met us after a fairly grueling coach journey from Kampala. They were the most welcoming people, getting us settled into our comfortable guest house before whisking us out for drinks at the local bar.
Over the coming days it began to feel like we had known these guys for years. They showed us some of the projects that Shine has set up including a bakery for a HIV positive group within the local community to earn a small income. We also spent some time helping with a Voluntary Counseling and Testing session with one of their partner organizations.
The week flew by so quickly that we made arrangements to return the following year in January to continue our work with the organization. This time we came determined to no longer feel like visitors but to become working members of Shine.
We spent 5 weeks here this time, living in comfortable rented accommodation just outside town. Our work was mainly spent in Teso Safe Motherhood Project, a maternity clinic and Soroti Regional Referral Hospital. In both of these institutions we used our skills to carry out immunizations, ward rounds, assist in operations and much more. The rest of our time was spent helping the organization out with admin such as rewriting and summarizing documents and proposal writing. This was a hugely rewarding experience. The staffs are all keen learners, always ready to meet up with us and discuss matters. They had very open minds to the new ideas that we brought, this included changing the name of the organization and coming up with a new logo.
Overall my experience volunteering with Shine was overwhelmingly positive. I have made lifelong friends and feel that my work was worthwhile to myself, the community and most of all to the organization itself.
I would recommend anyone to volunteer here who is enthusiastic, hardworking and wants to become a real part of Shine Africa Foundation.

Carolina Watters – 21, Medical Student, England
My friend Em and I came together to volunteer for Shine Africa Foundation for about 6 weeks. We had the most fantastic time and struggled to leave in the end! The staff and that of their partners whom we worked with were beyond welcoming and went out of their way to make us feel truly at home and part of the family. And although we had some long days with plenty of hard work, we had a ridiculous amount of fun along the way. Causal drinks in the evening with the odd night progressing to the infamous Trends nightclub, traditional Sunday outings to the roast pork joint, family dinners, climbing rocks, the list is endless! You become part of the wider family in Soroti where everyone knows everyone and will always stop to say hi and invite you along to whatever is going on.
As medical students from the UK our work was mainly centred on health care in the Teso Region. We worked in Soroti Regional hospital where we worked in wards and assisted with surgery in theatre. We also worked at Teso Safe Motherhood Project, mainly assisting with immunizations, going on outreach days and being a general helping hand in maternity. In addition we visited many health centres in neighboring districts to conduct some research on teenage pregnancy we are doing. This included Ebenezer Health Centre in Ngora which is a fantastic new personal project of Paul, Shine's Executive Director.
In the medical field we got to experience and see so much that we never could back home and get very involved and hands on.
Aside from medical work we managed to visit people of the communities that Shine are supporting along with their representative peer educators. From a more administrative perspective we did a large amount of work on Shine's volunteer program, their organization profile and assisted with various other proposals and documents in addition to helping re-brand the organization with a new name, logo and website. This part of our work was particularly satisfying as it will enable capacity building of Shine. The staff were very open and positive to new ideas and we were able to share many new approaches.
I came away feeling satisfied that I had achieved something and that people had benefited in some way – the organization, the community at large, and myself. I learnt a huge amount about the way of life, adapting and embracing the new culture. I also learnt a variety of new skills, medically but also inter-personal skills working with the staff team.
I have made some genuinely strong friendships and my relationship with Shine will certainly continue once I return home. I would recommend anyone, whatever your background, to come and volunteer with Shine. You are pretty much guaranteed to find work suited to what you want to do and have a brilliant time while you are here. Uganda in general is a beautiful country, flooded with history, culture and most of all with some great people.

SAF-Teso location and contacts:
Plot 99 Camp Swahili Soroti-Moroto Road
Northern Division, Soroti Municipality
P.O.Box 684 Soroti Uganda, East Africa
Tel: +256 772 844 459 /+256 772 854 991/+ 256-701-929754.
Email: safteso@gmail.com /info@safteso.org, shineafricaministries@gmail.com