Most students view the summer months as a time for summer classes, vacation or a time to just relax.
AnnaKay Winford, an apparel design major at Auburn University, spent her summer on a mission trip in Uganda, a dream of hers since she was young.
She jumped at the chance to join him on the trip.
“I have wanted to go ever since I learned about Invisible Children,” she said. “Getting a glimpse into what is going on over there, it really sparked my interest, and I just had to go.”
And after raising enough money, Winford got her wish.
“While I was over there, I pretty much hung out with kids all day,” she said. “I helped them out with their English. They don’t really learn much about it until a later age.”
Winford volunteered in other ways as well.
“We helped build a house for a family who will live there permanently and do mission work,” she said.
The new culture was exciting for her, and she got to see the world with a different outlook.
“The people there are just really cool. They are always happy, despite some the conditions they live in,” she said.
However, the trip was not always so positive. Winford woke up one morning feeling sick. It was then that she learned she had contracted Malaria.
“I was taking preventatives for it, so I didn’t have it that bad,” she said. “I would feel fine one day, and then I would be back to feeling awful the next day. Fortunately, I got medicine to take care of it.”
Within hours, she was feeling better.
Regardless of the setback, the experience, overall, was eye opening for Winford.
“The biggest difference I noticed was how we take things for granted here in America. In Uganda, if the sun wasn’t out, you didn’t get to take a warm shower that day,” she said. “The schools were really packed as well. There would be 90 kids in one tiny classroom. I’m sure it has to make it hard to learn.”
And despite being back in America, she has not forgotten about what she learned in Africa. She is in the beginning stages of starting a clothing drive to collect dresses for those that need them back in Uganda.
“The women there are not allowed to cover their legs, and of course a majority of donations are pants,” she said. “Those are great donations, but I want to focus on collecting dresses.”
And now that she has returned to Auburn, Winford is hopeful that others will follow in her footsteps.
“I definitely think other Auburn students should go and experience it,” she said. “I’ll definitely go back. There’s no way I won’t. I have to see the rest of the country and continent.”