I recently spent a month in Uganda with my granddaughter. It was a great experience for both of us (I hope). My granddaughter turned 14 while we were traveling.
Six months before I was scheduled to go to Africa, I asked my granddaughter if she was interested in traveling with me (without mentioning a destination)? Without hesitation, she replied “Yes.” I then asked her where in the world she wanted to go? Again without hesitation, she replied “Africa.” (I knew what she was going to answer; her bedroom is decorated in an African motif.) I then asked her parents (my son and daughter-in-law) if it was alright. They gave their approval.
My granddaughter really got into the project. She had a fundraiser at her middle school and collected $300 for the purchase of treadle sewing machines. She also saved $600 from giving piano and violin lessons that she used to help pay for her travel expenses. She also collected soccer balls and other stuff from her friends; items that she could take with her to Africa as gifts.
At first, I thought having my granddaughter travel with our group (SeeeMe Institute) was a great idea. But as the date grew closer, I started to worry. I wondered if it was a good idea to take my granddaughter to Uganda (safety and other concerns). But I needn’t have worried.
While I live in Utah, my son and daughter-in-law live in Virginia, near Washington D.C. Our group picked my granddaughter up in D.C. on our way to Uganda and left her off there when we were returning to Utah. Both the pickup and dropoff went without a hitch.
While in Uganda, my granddaughter was able to do a variety of activities beside the volunteer work of the SeeeMe Institute. She visited several national parks that were loaded with wildlife, she went whitewater rafting near the headwaters of the Nile River, she went on several treks through various parts of Uganda, and she went for a boatride on a beautiful, large lake in the mountains of southern Uganda.
She was also able to spend a lot of time with primary school children throughout Uganda. The kids seemed particularly attracted to the blond, blue-eyed girl from America.
In the end, I think she had a great time. She didn’t seem to mind when our accommodations weren’t up to the standards she was used to, and she had a healthy appetite for the local food. Surprisingly, she didn’t get sick. She handled the bathroom situations well and almost never complained. She was able to entertain herself during the long drives on bad roads, and she followed instructions well. Even the long airplane flights to and from Uganda didn’t seem to bother her. She did lose her passport (it was probably stolen), but that only slowed us down for half a day.
There were 5 of us from the USA on the trip, plus two Ugandans (the driver and our in-country coordinator). Everybody on the trip took a special interest in my granddaughter; so she was well looked after. I’m sure glad she went.