Our journey began when we left the comfort of our homes to meet the rest of our team at Dulles International Airport. After a short 13-hour flight to Dubai, we were excited to have completed the longest leg of our trip and were looking forward to a quick five-hour flight to arrive in our final destination in Entebbe, Uganda. Unfortunately, we ended up baking in the Dubai sun on the tarmac for about four hours due to a mechanical issue with the plane. When the plane finally took off and the air conditioning came on, we all fell asleep instantly.
A commemorative selfie from the plane in Dubai before the drama of the plane malfunctions
After arriving in Entebbe, a couple of us lost our luggage (don’t worry all was regained by the end of our first week!), and we were greeted by a warm hug from Robinah, the Founder and Executive Director of Set Her Free. After spending roughly 24 hours getting to Uganda we all went back with Robinah to her guest house where we would be staying and slept all night.
On our first day, we visited Set Her Free’s two centers in Kampala. Center 1 is for the younger girls who Set Her Free supports and houses while they attend school. At Center 2, where mostly older girls attend Set Her Free’s vocational program, we met the staff members we would be working with for the next month and met some of the girls. We even joined in on their hair dressing classes (even though they had to undo most of our work after we left).
The girls (try to) teach Adam how to braid
A picture from our first day at Center 2
After our first day, we began our first project. Set Her Free does sexual and reproductive health education in some of the more rural regions of Uganda. Our first project would be entering data from their baseline survey of girls’ sexual health awareness and practices, to get an idea of what to expect before beginning classes. We were surprised to learn the lack of access the girls had to feminine hygiene products, the stigma surrounding menstrual cycles, and lack of awareness about STI’s and prevention.
At the end of the week, we took some time to visit some Ugandan tourist spots. We travelled to Jinja, where we spent the night at a hostel with beautiful views of the Nile River and even got to kayak on the Nile. We took the trip to Mbale to see Sipi falls. It was a treacherous hike down to see the falls (not to mention back up!), but they were unforgettable.
A view from our hostel of the Nile river in Jinja
Sippi Falls in Mbale