Matt had always dreamed of living in Africa. His best friend’s family came from Ethiopia and his father told thrilling stories of lion encounters in the Serengeti, both inspiring a very keen interest in the continent from a young age. So, when a charity came to Matt’s school looking for volunteers to spend a year living in Uganda, he decided to defer his place at university and go for it!
In Uganda, Matt taught English and History at Kayenje Church of Uganda Primary School, and he also volunteered at the local hospital during his one-year project placement. He had ample opportunities to get to know all of Uganda, from climbing all three of the Virunga volcanoes as well as Mount Elgon to seeing his first lion in Queen Elizabeth N.P. and experiencing the first of many encounters with mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Moreover, he managed to travel to every other country in East Africa and he hitch-hiked as far as Zambia and Victoria Falls.
Having returned to the UK, Matt attended university in York. During his degree years, he was lucky enough to travel to Cape Town and other destinations within South Africa, as well as to Ethiopia’s highlands and cultural sites with his best friend’s family. He also joined East African Playgrounds, first as a volunteer and then as Gorilla Trek Coordinator Intern. In the latter role, throughout the course of 2017, he had the time of his life leading groups of university volunteers through southern Uganda up to see gorillas in Bwindi. Additionally, he began volunteering with Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana. With Modisa he learned all about game management, predator control, and conservation, and he took part in game captures and a vulture-nesting study. He was blown away by the unadulterated wilderness that is Botswana and has been back several times to volunteer, work on friends’ game farms, and extensively travel in the country.