While planning my trip to Uganda, I was happy to have the opportunity to book my first night’s stay near the airport in an Airbnb hosted by the AidChild Leadership Institute. AidChild is an organization that I first connected with back in 2007 while working on a documentary project in Uganda. I’ve been impressed by their focused vision on the pursuit of an HIV-free generation and the innovative ways that they have cared for children along the way.
The AidChild Leadership Institute is a wellness and academic support program for the students who have been ARV-recipients and are nearing adulthood. The older students are referred to as interns and the younger ones are called novices. Their life together is orchestrated in a way that provides them with care, support, education and growth in character.
On the evening that I arrived, the interns greeted me graciously and helped to take my things to my room. One of the interns named Samuel, showed me the room and all of its features and then showed me around the facility articulately explaining how life at the institute works for the students. I was deeply impressed by how well thought out the program was and by the behavior and attitude of the students. Samuel came across as a gracious and intelligent host, fully capable of communication and providing a level of service that I have not often found in my travel experiences.
I enjoyed my evening of sleep and freshened up with a hot shower in the morning. The coffee and French press provided for guests in the room helped me to get my first morning in Uganda off to a good start. The yogurt and granola that I received for breakfast gave me an opportunity to sit in the morning sun and to enjoy watching some of the interns do chores. Anytime I walked around the home, interns would ask me if there was anything I needed.
Many of the interns were away that morning but for the few that were there, I was asked to speak with them for a few minutes. I shared about my own career journey and encouraged them to work on pursuing interests and developing skills rather than worrying so much about what they will do when they grow up. Since the leadership institute is right by Lake Victoria, we talked about Jesus walking along a lake and calling fishermen to take a deeper interest in the needs of people than in just the pursuit of their own careers. I enjoyed connecting with the interns present and the questions that they asked about my own journey.
My experience staying at the AidChild Leadership Institute for the evening was wonderful and I would recommend it to anybody passing through Entebbe. They have another property near the institute that is more private but if you want to be deeply impressed by the shared life of the interns, staying in the room attached to the building where they live is highly recommended.
If you are interested in learning more about the AidChild Leadership Institute, this transcript of Nathaniel Dunigan’s speech to the U.S. congress is a great place to start.