Mary shares her experience of volunteering in Uganda

We recently caught up with Mary who volunteered with us in Uganda along with her husband Charlie. She shares their experience of seeing and supporting our projects first hand, as well as making the most of exploring all Uganda has to offer from our base in Jinja.

How did you first hear about volunteering with Lively Minds?
Charlie and I heard the Radio 4 Appeal about Lively Minds and later met up with Alison (CEO and Founder) who told us more about the charity. We felt that if we were going to support the charity to a serious degree then we should see the projects in action, and with the staff’s support made the plans to volunteer in Uganda.


Mary with her husband Charlie in Uganda

What are you career backgrounds, and how did you use your skills and experiences whilst in Uganda?
Charlie’s background is in accountancy, and was Finance Director of a sizeable company for a number of years, so his expertise is in business. I was involved in Adult Education, although my subject was History rather than Early Childhood Education! Whilst out in Uganda, Charlie helped with setting up the financial model and giving advice about grant applications.

What did you do whilst volunteering?
While we were there we visited two Play Schemes, we watched the teaching sessions, taking photos and notes. We also took part in a discussion with the staff about children’s rights and parental responsibilities, which was to feed into one of the training workshops for the mothers’.


Mary sharing photos with children at a Play Scheme 

What did you most enjoy about volunteering?
To see the Play Schemes in action, and to see the difference they made to the lives of the villagers, young and old, has inspired us to remain involved, and to help in whatever way we can, now and in the future. We loved the warm welcome when we arrived in the villages, we loved the songs and smiles, and the obvious joy both mothers and children felt to be learning.

Did you travel around Uganda much?
We had travelled up to Murchison Falls before arriving in Jinja, and had had a few days fishing and on safari there. It was a great place to visit, and worked really well. We also had a half-day on Lake Victoria, fishing again, while we were in Jinja. Jinja was a good place to be based in – we stayed in a small hotel just down the road from the office. It felt very worthwhile to meet up with the staff team each day and to spend time with them.

How have you stayed involved with Lively Minds on your return from Uganda?
Our continued involvement is as donors, and Charlie is now a Trustee. He has helped with the accounts and financial advice, as well as other support. I have done some research into funding possibilities and help with Trustee meetings. We have also put friends and contacts in touch with Lively Minds, and we ‘spread the word’ whenever we can.

Lively Minds are looking for individuals who have a host of skills and experiences to support our projects in Uganda. Whether you’re a retired marketing executive, a semi-retired accountant or still at the peak of your teaching profession, we will tailor your volunteering & maximise your skills to make a lasting and sustainable difference to the communities we support. 

If you are interested in volunteering with us visit our website at to find out more or email