It's a week since I returned home from my amazing trip in Uganda. Now seems like a great time to reflect on my experiences, since the impact of these has had a bit more time to sink in. I keep thinking of all the wonderful friendly welcoming people I met in Uganda. It's been really encouraging to hear all the positive feedback from people here who have read this blog and my various Facebook posts and tweets.
I must admit I'm struggling to get in a pre-Christmas mood, particularly with the mass-consumerist atmosphere after meeting people with so few possessions. It makes me feel guilty for having so much. I will still get into the Christmas spirit I'm sure, but I intend to buy less this year, and concentrate on my fundraising for WaterAid.
During our last day on Saturday 22 November, Tadg, our talented film maker, recorded our last interviews on film, with Lisa, our brilliant media specialist. We were asked what the highlight of the trip had been. I said that the whole trip had been amazing but my highlight had been having the opportunity to spend time with the lovely friendly families and school children, hearing their stories and hearing first hand how clean water, and improved sanitation and hygiene had transformed their lives.
I was asked which experience had the most impact on me. I admitted it was the visit to Amuria Health Centre. Seeing the desperate conditions at the hospital with such inadequate facilities, and particularly the ladies lying on the floor of the maternity ward, had a real effect on me and really bought home even more how incredibly lucky we are. I also explained that I felt humbled by the strength and positivity of the health centre staff who work so hard in such difficult circumstances. A friend told me this week that statistically people like us are in the top 3% of the wealthiest people in the world. I won't ever moan about the tiny 1% annual public sector pay rises again!
I was also asked what has surprised me about WaterAid's work. I answered that although I knew WaterAid did advocacy work, I didn't fully appreciate the extent of this work, and the importance of working with government and a such wide range of partners in implementing successful water and sanitation projects. Meeting and chatting with some of these partners whilst I was in Uganda gave me a greater understanding of how WaterAid build capacity with national and local government and other organisations to achieve real long-lasting positive change.
So, now you've read my blog and are hopefully feeling informed and inspired, you may be wondering how you can get involved with WaterAid. You will be glad to there are loads of ways you can get involved! You can spread the word to friends, family, colleagues and others of the brilliant work WaterAid do. You can fundraise for WaterAid by organising fundraising events and getting involved in sponsored challenges. For example, we are organising a WaterAid Christmas raffle at our office soon, as well as a Christmas cake sale, and have recently run a WaterAid quiz. The best thing to do it to visit WaterAid's website at www.WaterAid.org to find out more, or lick on the link at the top of this page.
Personally, I'm now busy writing news articles and booking slots in the new year to give presentations at work and in my local community on my experiences in Uganda.
I have just signed up to the Great Wall Marathon in China in May next year which I will run for WaterAid. I've taken on quite a few running, cycling and adventure race challenges for WaterAid over the years, so thought I'd better go for something even more challenging next year.
If you've enjoyed this blog and fancy making a donation to WaterAid in support of my Great Wall of China challenge please visit my fundraising page at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SophieGoodall or click on the link at the top of this page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!