Home > How Uganda Changed Our Lives

Maia Simpson-LloydBefore going to Uganda I had preconceived ideas about what I thought the country would be like, I went having all my assumptions and what I thought I knew of the country turned completely upside down. I found connections and similarities in places and people that I originally thought were so different. I was immersed in a completely new culture which allowed me to form my own opinions instead of simply believing in what the media wants us to know. Not only did the trip allow me to make unbreakable friendships with every single member of the Matoke team, it also enabled me to hold such special bonds with people half way across the world who will always hold a special place in my heart and who I think of daily. I knew that our work in Uganda would have a positive impact on hundreds of children’s lives, giving them a place of safety and a place to feel at home. But what shocked me most was the impact it had on me, I met some of the most noble, inspirational and extraordinary individuals who stole my heart in Africa. My perception of life will be forever different and I have my Ugandan family to thank for that. – Maia Simpson-Lloyd (2014/2015 Matoke Team)


May CoffeyBeing able to go to Uganda at the age of 17 was not only a great privilege, but also a blessing. Spending time with my dear friends in Uganda made me realise how fortunate I am, and how life is to be lived to the fullest. Looking back on the work we were able to achieve in the 3 and a half weeks out there makes me proud, happy and thankful that I had the chance to enrich the children’s lives and in turn have had my life enriched too. The hearts of the people I met in Uganda and the love they showed me is like no love I’ve ever felt. I just hope everyone is able to have an experience that alters the course of their life, because after Africa nothing has ever been the same and for that I will be eternally grateful. – May Coffey (2014/2015 Matoke Team)


Sam JamesThe Uganda project changes lives both in England and Uganda. It creates a family at school, in which the Students can thrive. It creates invaluable support systems for the students and creates an environment in which they can all feel comfortable and succeed. This is enhanced further by the life changing month spent in Uganda itself, it is an extremely humbling experience that teaches you life skills no other place could teach you. The happiness on everyone around is infectious and you have to sit back and take inspiration from the great people in the country. These, at first, strangers soon become your family. Even though from the outset it may seem like we give them so much, they give us so much more in return and we are forever grateful for that. – Sam James (2013/2014 Sapphire Team)


Hannah McMahonThe Chellaston Uganda project has truly changed my life. From the moment I stepped foot onto Ugandan soil I instantly felt at home and ever since returning to England I have felt the constant need to return to my African home. I have made friendships that will last forever and I’ve been taught to appreciate and love life. I have seen and experienced things that very few have also experienced. The few short weeks I spent over in Uganda were without a doubt the most incredible weeks of my life and it will stay with me forever. – Hannah McMahon (2014/2015 Matoke Team)


Joe GlynnEveryone has preconceptions of Africa before seeing it in real life, myself included. I wanted to take part in this trip to try and give something to people who weren’t necessarily born into a privileged lifestyle. But, I can firmly say that Uganda gave me, and taught me, a lot more than I could have ever given to it. There is a way of life (a sort of instinctive happiness) of the people there, who have so few possessions, that is unparalleled by anywhere in the Western World. It definitely transformed my outlook on life. One of the most special parts, for me, is that there are 23 other people that I will always be able to share the experience with, and it has cemented some life-long friendships. I think the greatest thing you learn is that once you have Africa in your heart, it will never leave. I can’t wait to go back. – Joe Glynn (2013/2014 Sapphire Team)


Ben JonesWho would have thought back in 2006 when I applied for the first Uganda trip that 10 years on I would still be part of the project but as a staff member? It may sound cliché but Uganda truly has the potential to change lives of those who visit and those that we visit. When I first went to Uganda I was taking A Levels that would get me towards becoming a Forensic scientist. As soon as I walked through the doors of Main Street Primary School in Jinja, Uganda, something changed in me and from then on I have worked in Education. Having the opportunity to watch the project grow first-hand has been an honor and something that I will be eternally grateful for. The ideas of John Dickens and Mr Karran, coupled with the passion and enthusiasm of the students and their supporters will be forever present in the lives of those impacted by our work in Uganda. Webale (Thank you)! – Ben Jones (2006/2007 Founding Team)


Alice HigginsonThe adjective used best to describe the Uganda project would be challenging; from the moment you are welcomed into the team it presents obstacles, tasks and ways of thinking you’d never considered before. You are challenged to exceed targets, be it fundraising, 10k runs or the number of bricks you can lay in in an hour! You surprise and push yourself beyond your own expectations. You  are challenged to learn some of the local language, music, and find yourself in physically and emotionally demanding situations. Moreover, after falling in love with it, you are challenged with the difficulty of having to leave a country full of people who exude such beauty, warmth and humility in the face of adversity. The Uganda project is all consuming in the best possible way. Even once back on English soil, it challenges your priorities and encourages you to use your skills, and experience to positively influence the futures of others as well as your own. – Alice Higginson – The MYDEL team of 2011


Sadie ChetwynI was a member of the Uganda team in 2009. I was so excited to be chosen and get involved in all of the preparations throughout the year. The enrichment sessions and building workshops really helped us all to gel as a team and trust one another. The trip was an experience of a lifetime and shaped me as a person. It changed my career path and still inspires me to this day. I am in contact with the kids at MLisada and have since been back to visit with my university. One day I would love to work for an International NGO and continue to help others around the world. – Sadie Chetwyn- The Purple Team of 2009


Eve Coffey When I was accepted as a member of the 2015 team, I was still just a kid. Even though I had started my A Levels and was gaining more responsibilities, I still hadn’t worked out who I really was. Over the past year and a half, I have learnt so many skills and traits that have changed my perspective on several things. I’ve learnt that despite your position or ability, there is always something you can do to help others. I have learnt that going the extra mile and challenging your willpower is not only rewarding when you succeed, but also enriching even when things don’t quite work out. I also learnt how to ignore any negative remarks made about the project, as I knew inside that they were wrong, and the support of family and friend always exceeded them anyway. In October, when I applied for the trip, I had only thought of what I would be doing to help others. Now it is clear just how much being a part of this amazing project and team has also helped me. – Eve Coffey (2014/2015 Matoke Team)


hope-archerVisiting Uganda was, for me, more than just a school trip. I got to experience the culture and meet the beautiful people within the country. As well as this, I was able to help build the second floor of the John Dickens house which is an accomplishment I will remember for the rest of my life. I never knew I could put so much trust in 26 of my peers but together, we were able to keep each other motivated in order to complete our phase of the project. Some of the many things I will take away from this experience is to always be proactive in what ever I set out to achieve and to always try and have a positive attitude like my friends in Uganda. – Hope Archer (2014/2015 Matoke Team)


Dan Hadfield I’m sure any former member of the project (staff, student or Ugandan) will understand when I say that it’s a life changer for everyone involved – not just those it seeks to help. It’s been nearly three years since I returned from Africa, yet my experiences there and when training in England beforehand continue to influence on a daily basis how I view the world and live my life. Whether it was bricklaying in the British winter or Ugandan summer, raising thousands of pounds from scratch or white water rafting the Nile, Uganda taught me how to identify my limits and then exceed them. It bestowed upon me and the rest of my group the fundamentals of teamwork, and how together, we can achieve far more than we ever could alone. The people we met, places we visited and things we did all revealed in no uncertain terms that I should live my life to the full and savour every moment of it. But most importantly of all, this project taught me that even at the age of 17, the only thing stopping me from changing the world, if only in small but nonetheless important way, was the will to say ‘I can. – Dan Hadfield (2012/2013 Tigger Team)

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