Kenya & Uganda – Travelogue


This article was written in my student days and originally printed in the Leeds Student newspaper on 27/2/04.

A hygiene freak, I hated hot weather, emitted impressively high-pitched squeals in the presence of most insects, and didn’t like children much. Initially, teaching in a rural Ugandan school didn’t seem particularly alluring. Nevertheless, I’d dropped out of University ten days before Fresher’s Week with an unprecedented desire to do take a year out to do something radical and worthwhile. That very day, I signed up for a four volunteer month project with the reassuringly expensive ‘Africa Venture’ gap year company. Over the next ten months I raised about £5000 by working for IKEA and by writing off to companies, trust funds and millionaires. Recent lottery winners and Tom and Rita Naylor were kind enough to donate most of the costs.

As the days ticked away, I began taking a vaguely dodgy anti-malarial called Larium. The ‘Larium Victim Support Groups’ on the internet and tales of lasting brain damage and depression did little to reassure me about the 90% effective one-a-week tablets. Already I’d learnt that hard way that taking them on an empty stomach was a painfully bad idea. Half a dozen jabs and two days of packing later, I was set to go – my nervous inexperience reflected in the 40kg suitcase I packed containing ‘just the essentials’ (including 8 bottles of shower gel, 30 packs of polo mints, 6 tubes of toothpaste, washing up gloves, thesaurus and washing line.)