Endings and new beginnings

I’m writing this blog from the comfort of my parents’ house in New Zealand making it a bit of a surreal exercise. As you may have guessed, I have left Uganda…for the time being! I extended my nine month stint in Gulu by three months  so I could work with The Recreation Project (TRP). My guest blog on the TRP website explains how this came about: Introducing Grace.

A bit about TRP in their own words:

“The experiential learning model of The Recreation Project is one the most powerful and effective methods for teaching trust, self-belief, and hope.  TRP uses a guided ropes course and outdoor adventure excursions as tools for learning.  Young people who come to TRP encounter a radical change of scene that removes them from their daily routine and allows them to think new thoughts and use imagination to overcome obstacles at the ropes course and in their lives.  They are having fun while internalizing the important life-skills and character-building skills needed to navigate a new landscape that for decades has been defined by war and conflict but through their energy and vision has the potential to thrive.”

As their Capacity Building Coordinator I had a varied role which included staff training and development, facilitating youth and staff groups through the ropes course, business development and providing advice on management and strategy. It was an action packed three months! It is hard to squash all of this into one small blog post so I will attempt to give you the highlights…

The Recreation Project Staff and Facilitators

The Recreation Project Staff and Facilitators

Firstly, working with this amazing (and ever so slightly crazy) bunch of people…

Putting Denis and Fred (both in wheelchairs)  through high elements on the ropes course, including the zip line, leap of faith and climbing wall! Check out the blog link above to read more about this.

Bringing my friend Eliza’s youth group, Remnant (who print our t-shirts) and the Mountain Club of Uganda to the forest. As well as helping to set up further relationships with organisations who will bring their staff and beneficiaries to the ropes course in the future.

Meeting Doreen, Gloria and Vicky – girls from one of the local schools who came on the ropes course with their class and then continued to visit me each day during their lunch breaks.

Gloria, Vicky and Doreen

Gloria, Vicky and Doreen

Taking TRP staff and facilitators to Karuma Falls for their own staff team building day and end of year party.

TRP Staff and Facilitators at Karuma Falls

TRP Staff and Facilitators at Karuma Falls

Launching Gulu’s first climbing club and leadership training programme, now led by Ogeno Charles and linked with the Mountain Club of Uganda. Writing the programme in partnership with my SIT intern, Olivia.

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Gulu’s first climbing club!

Bringing youth from the Remand Home (where young people under the age of 18 are placed when they are accused of crimes and awaiting trial) to the forest and seeing the potential for seeds of change to be planted in their lives.

Having an office in the forest, a tree-house meeting room and mountain biking to work!

Youth learning about how their actions impact on those around them and that in working together they can achieve things that otherwise seem impossible

Youth learning about how their actions impact on those around them and that in working together they can achieve things that otherwise seem impossible

IJM staff working together and supporting each other through the 'Spider's Web'

IJM staff working together and supporting each other through the ‘Spider’s Web’

I fully intend to continue to work with and support TRP from NZ, including sourcing outdoor and climbing equipment, fundraising and hopefully a visit in the near future.

Check out The Recreation Project blog to find out more about TRP’s ongoing work.

Things I am thankful for: the fantastic opportunity I had to work at TRP, all the amazing people I worked with and made friends with in Uganda

Prayer requests: that I can continue to stay in touch with and support the people I worked with in Uganda, and that I can return soon!

Thank you to everyone who supported, encouraged and challenged me. Now that I’m home I will be signing off for the time being so thanks for reading!!

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About Grace

In 2011, after six years living the city life in London and with a Masters in NGO Management under my belt I decided it was time to put theory into practice. I spent 2012 living in northern Uganda working with children with disabilities and with youth at an adventure therapy centre. I then came home to NZ to spend time with my family and friends, and to enjoy the outdoors lifestyle. A year later and I am on the move again, this time to a small island nation in the South Pacific. For the next two years I will be living on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, working on an economic development project for World Vision. All thoughts shared in these blogs are my own and do not reflect those of any of the organisations I work with.
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