Volunteer in Uganda
Applicants should be at least 18 years old and speak English to an intermediate level. Whilst experience in teaching and education, or working with children will certainly be advantageous, it is not a prerequisite for these programs. A responsible, enthusiastic and compassionate attitude is a must. It is preferred that medical volunteers have some experience within the health sector, however non-medical volunteers can contribute. Initiative and self-motivation are qualities that are welcomed on all programs.
Start & Duration
The programs in Uganda range from 2-24 weeks in duration and volunteers can select their preferred length of stay. The programs start on Monday, but Saturday or Sunday arrival is preferred.
Food and Accommodation
Accommodation is provided for volunteers at a local guesthouse or with a local host family. Living within the community is a great experience and gives volunteers an authentic glimpse of the customs, lifestyle and values of the Ugandan people. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, and lunch can be bought cheaply a markets, street stalls and cafes.
All over Uganda, the local people produce their own food. This makes for a healthy diet. On smallholdings, locals grow cassava, millet, corn, potatoes, cabbage and other greens, tomatoes, bananas and many other crops. Some of the dishes that volunteers are likely to be served include matoke (made by steaming plantains) and tilapia (a fish which is served grilled). Traditional dishes made with sweet potatoes, beef and chicken, or fish or goat stews are also common. Uganda’s national drink - waragi - is a banana-based gin, sometimes likened to Schnapps. Fruit juices, from the likes of jackfruit, are among the great non-alcoholic options.
Kampala has restaurants serving every kind of European and Indian dish, as well as the fast food chains found everywhere.
A typical week
The structure of the week varies for different projects, but we aim to be flexible. Provided some notice is given, we will try to accommodate your plans. That said, a typical week volunteering in Uganda looks something like this:
Weekdays: At about 7.30am you'll have breakfast with your host family. At 8-8.30am you'll make your way to the project to start at about 9am. Here you'll meet local staff who will start you on the tasks for the day. You'll get breaks throughout the day and finish between 3pm and 5pm.
In the afternoon you are free to socialize or perhaps take a trip to the shops or visit a cafe or restaurant. Alternatively, you can continue helping out on your project.
Weekends: Volunteers are free to spend time in Kampala or Ngora depending on the location of their placement. They can relax at home, socialize with other volunteers, or disappear for a weekend adventure. Uganda’s biggest national park (Murchison Falls) is a popular destination, as is a the Source of the Nile and Sipi Falls in Eastern Uganda.
Program fees are a necessary part of volunteering abroad. They help to cover costs associated with your stay, as well as supporting the local organization and projects. Below is an approximate cost breakdown to show you how your program fees are used when you choose to join a volunteer program in Uganda.
NOTE: The above graph is intended to be used as a guide only. Actual cost allocations may vary slightly depending on the program selected and the length of stay.
About the Country
The Republic of Uganda, the pearl of Africa, is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania.
The Republic of Uganda gained independence in 1962. This is a country which boasts dramatic scenery. It includes the Ruwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon), Africa’s highest mountain range. Mount Elgon, on the country’s eastern border ascends to over 14,000 feet. Lying within the Nile basin, the country has the White Nile River running through it, with its source in Lake Victoria. Nile white-water rafting around Jinja is among the best anywhere. Add to that the presence of the world’s biggest concentration of primates, not least among them being the mountain gorilla, and Uganda is clearly a country that merits some exploration. Although landlocked, Uganda contains many large lakes, besides Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga, there are Lake Albert, Lake Edward and the smaller Lake George.
Kampala, its capital, is considered one of the safest and friendliest among Africa’s sometimes notorious capital cities. It is steadily being rebuilt after systematic looting and destruction during the changes of government. The city infrastructure has been restored and new office towers, hotels, stadiums and shopping malls are appearing almost monthly. Kampala is built on seven hills and is surprisingly green, a lovely backdrop to the colour of the people and the culture. Indeed, Ugandans are widely regarded as being warm and hospitable.
Entebbe, the former administrative capital, is still very picturesque, though rundown and neglected. The century old botanical gardens are being restored to their former splendor.
The safari opportunities, to see African wildlife including gorillas and chimpanzees in a diverse but beautiful natural environment, are endless in variety.
A local team member will meet volunteers at the airport and will provide transport to the accommodation and project site. From there volunteers will be introduced to the staff and project supervisors. This is followed by an orientation program that includes information about the volunteer placement, introductions to the staff and other volunteers, and details about customs & daily life in Uganda. Volunteers will be shown where they can withdraw money, buy snacks, phone cards, and other items they might need during their stay.