Uganda

Placement at a glance

Age 18yrs+ on arrival
Volunteer options Playwork, outdoor games, care work, teaching, general site maintenance, assist/work shadow at drop in medical centre next to school.
Support Pre-departure helpdesk, large on-site support team (cooks, cleaners, security, staff, maintenance etc) and 24hr emergency support
Project location Rural community close to Ntungamo, south of the country
Accommodation Volunteer huts and dorm rooms, communal area, basic showers, sit on drop toilet.
Working hours Variable Mon to Fri depending on project need
Language English understood by support staff.
Getting to project Volunteers teach on site and in local poor schools during busy volunteering periods
Minimum stay 2.5 weeks
Volunteers usually stay 2-3 weeks, longer stays possible
Project operates All year round. Children come for volunteer-led activities during holiday periods when school closed.
Costs £52.50 per week for on site accommodation & £125 (Registration to join OV which provides a year of volunteering without registering again).
Airport pick-up service £55 per person (or £33 each if two share). Overnight stays in the volunteer guesthouse in Kampala are automatically organised for all flights which arrival too late to travel onwards the same day, with assistance to bus station the following day.

Accommodation info

  • Shop in town Shop in town
  • Bars on-site Bars on-site
  • Chemist @ closeby Clinic Chemist @ closeby Clinic
  • Bus flag down outside gate Bus flag down outside gate
  • Hire project's vehicle or taxi in town Hire project's vehicle or taxi in town
  • Cash machine in town Cash machine in town
  • Bank in town Bank in town
  • Pay Phone in town Pay Phone in town
  • Internet Dongle use on-site + small fee Internet Dongle use on-site + small fee
  • Laundry on-site & small fee Laundry on-site & small fee

Basics, what to take?

  • Sockets are 3 pin UK type 240 volts
  • Mosquito net, sheets, pillows

More info

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Accommodation is on site next to the school so no travelling each day, and unusual in this location; boasts electricity, water, cooking facilities and warm shower for each Banda (local name for hut).

There is also a games room, volunteer bar are no less than eight western toilets close to each Banda! Click below to see more photos and the local town’s swimming pool.

Support: English speaking staff are always on hand or easily reachable.

Meet the project team

Volunteer in Uganda at this school set up completely by scratch by Ann, an English lady who fell in love with the villages and spends almost half her year at the school never stops to confirm how important volunteer support is.

“The success of the school is vital to both local adults for employment and the children for their future, and this can only be achieved by volunteer support.”

The school provides much needed schooling and has created a real sense of self worth for everyone. Ann is overwhelmed by the level of support from every volunteer who has contributed.

Whether volunteers were there only for a week and those who have returned for a second visit, everyone makes a difference to this growing school.

Ann divides her time each year between Uganda and her family in the UK, often spending many months at the school alongside volunteers and helping out whatever is needed from building new accommodation to educational matters and local officialdom. Long stay volunteers also help out to ensure a smooth operation.


“Responsive partnerships for a sustainable future”

Ann’s commitment and focus is on partnership with the local community. Outside of the immediate school project Ann has helped kick start women’s groups, health projects and business start ups.
With this project what is clear is so much opportunity and need in partnership with a great deal of self determination amongst the villagers, support team and volunteers. Everyone at OV wishes a long successful project.

 


The benefits of your local in-country team

What is a volunteer coordinator?

Every project has a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking. Volunteers in Uganda will be able to draw on the knowledge and skills in Ann’s absence of Denis and Amon who are both experienced in looking after volunteers after many years.

What experience do volunteer coordinators have?

All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information.

9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013).

If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will!

Who are volunteer coordinators?

At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India.

Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador.

Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both.

Is there only one volunteer coordinator?

Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators.

Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out

The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers!

What do coordinators do?

Airport pick up

Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.

Liaise with local projects

If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group.

Help organise specific placements

Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.

Show you around and help you to locate things

Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.

Provide an orientation on arrival

Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.

This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!

Help you when things go wrong

We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house.

If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.

But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away.

For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.

Help you when you feel unwell

Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!

Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again.

While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.

For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.

Organise excursions

Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.

Return transfer back to the airport

Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!

 

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Uganda placement details

Here’s everything you need to know about our school project in Uganda, including how to get there, what to pack and advice on money and support.


Uganda

About the Project

Experience Ugandan life first-hand, as you meet new people and soak up local culture. Based in the South District of Uganda not far from Ntungamo, volunteers have the chance to improve the local quality of education whilst volunteering in this small but growing local nursery and primary school which now provides subsidised education for 450 children between 3 and 16 years old in addition to clean water for the local community.

What’s it like to teach at the school?

Assist the local teacher with classes, organise arts and crafts and outdoor activities. With ever increasing student numbers, now reaching 400, every extra pair of hands is needed.

You will be left feeling fulfilled as you have played a pivotal role on this project and see the smiles on the children’s faces because of the care and affection that was provided by you. If you are feeling comfortable you may be able to take a class too under the local teacher’s supervision or provide one to one support in the new IT lab.

Can I work with very young children?

With so many younger children coming to the school, you can help enormously by bringing an extra pair of eyes and ears for assemblies, breakfast, playtimes and moving children smoothly between classes and activities.

Can I help in other areas?

For those unsure about working directly with the children, there are plenty of other opportunities. Perhaps you would like to help with on-site maintenance around the school or spend a day with a local family, helping out with their farm work and cooking.

The next week you could spend in the hospital in town or at the new medical centre, which has just been built at the school, work shadowing or helping to organise visiting patients. Another day you might visit a refugee community, then spend 2 or 3 days on safari or relaxing at the lake.

Some lucky volunteers take time out to go trekking to see the famous gorillas in the mist. It is an amazing experience that you won’t soon forget.

Having the opportunity to get so close to such beautiful creatures is a sure delight. Permits are required and a lot of notice to arrange this but if you book a couple of months in advance then please contact us for more.


Free time in Uganda

All volunteers have plenty of free time to explore and half of all volunteers will go on a tour organised by the local team so there is no need to worry that you have not organised something before travel or how to do this.

All excursions (excluding gorilla treks which require a permit in advance) can be organised after arrival but it is preferable to let Original Volunteers know before travel. This means it will be easier for the local team to organise a group trip around school schedules which will in turn keep costs down and travelling with your fellow volunteers can be more fun! There is no obligation or payment in advance if you change your mind on arrival.

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OV volunteers on walkabout above the school.

Village walks on your doorstep

Guided walk £2

“Village walks can be taken with one of the English speaking staff as your guide.

The scenery around the school is beautiful. Some village families offer an ‘Authentic Ugandan Meal’ experience to volunteers to supplement their income. Some families also sell handicrafts and are happy to give volunteers lessons”.

Cost per guided walk £2.


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A good camera is essential for any safari.

Safari at Q.E. National Park

Price from £280pp

The Queen Elizabeth National Park is twinned with the park of the same name in the UK and is the most visited park in Uganda.

Home to hippopotamuses, elephants, leopards, lions and chimpanzees, it also offers volcanic craters and lakes. The cost of a fully inclusive 3-day safari from the Lodge to Queen Elizabeth Park is £280 per person if four volunteers share.

This includes a boat trip, 4×4 vehicle hire, fuel, park fees, drivers expenses, camping fees and all meals and this can be organised with the local coordinating team after you arrive at the school which also means it is easier to get a group of volunteers together. This tour is the most popular one and is recommended if your budget can stretch!

Price for 4 vols sharing £280pp.


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Volunteers take a break at the springs.

Easy day trips

Price from £5 - £30

Escorted half or full day trips which need not break
the bank are often organised to a variety of places of
local interest; country markets, lakes for boating and swimming, hot springs, trip to Rwanda and visit to Pygmy tribe.

Price from just £5 – £30.


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Lake Bunyoni, popular weekend volunteer retreat.

Lake Bunyoni

Price £10 - £20

A cheap and easy weekend trip away is to take a bus to Kabale and stay at Lake Bunyoni, close to the Rwandan border for the night. The lake is 5 miles outside of Kabale along a dirt track which can get muddy at times in the wet season. It is theoretically possible to walk but allow 2-3 hours, but easiest to hire transport from Kabale. This little lake amongst pretty wooded hills is a popular weekend destination for many volunteers and an overnight stay in a tree-top tent is a must!

Trips into Rwanda can also be made from your project doorstep without having to go into town with long distance buses passing straight by the school gate.

Bus and lodging £10 – £20.


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Get up close to the gorillas in the Bwindi forest.

Gorilla trekking

Price £600 per person

Challenging, sweaty, expensive but unforgettable – track some of the world’s last mountain gorillas in the impenetrable forest of Bwindi. Expert trackers (photo) take small groups into the mist-shrouded forest.
For permit, vehicle and driver door to door from the project for two sharing allow £600 per person payable in advance before arrival in Uganda. If there is not another volunteer the cost is £700 for one trekker. For more affordable animal tracking, try the chimp hikes at Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Price £600 per person if two sharing


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Viewing boat at Murchison Falls.

Murchison Falls

Price £280 - £400

Murchison Falls, (photo) a waterfall on the Victoria Nile lies within the largest national park in Uganda and is home to 4 of the Big Five : Buffalos, elephants, lions and leopards.

If several volunteers join together and make the trip from the project’s guesthouse in Kampala it can work out relatively inexpensive to share the cost the vehicle £280 – £400 if 2 or 3 volunteers sharing, fuel and drivers expenses.
Most organised trips to Murchison, include a stop over at the Rhino Park. For all longer trips, speak to the staff on arrival.

Escorted trip  £280 – £400 if shared.


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Take a trip to the Ssese islands.

Ssese Islands

Variable

Visit the 84 forested islands of the Ssese group floating like tropical islands in Lake Victoria. Boats and ferries are available. Head to Masaka town crossing by ferry to Bugoma to start your adventure.

Best time to visit April to May and September to November.



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Morning break porridge for the children. This may be their only healthy meal of the day

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You are welcome to bring art and craft materials for creative activities to inspire and motivate learning

 

More information about the project

Is Uganda a safe country to visit?

Uganda is a relatively safe country to visit when compared with many other destinations in Africa and most visits by all visitors to Uganda are hassle-free. Around election time there can be demonstrations in Kampala but these have not to date affected volunteers as you will only be in Kampala briefly when arriving or leaving the country.

What do I need to bring?

For the children, children’s school uniforms of all sizes are always needed. The uniform is a v-neck royal blue jumper/cardigan, white short sleeved shirt (or light blue shirts 8 years plus), grey skirt/shorts and any footwear. But if you cannot get hold of these, navy/black and grey sweaters and cardigans just as good. You may find your local primary school has a collection in their lost property box. Sports equipment from footballs, bats, frisbees and football boots. Wooden educational toys for the village toy library. Pencils, rubbers and pencil sharpeners. Biros (Barclays Bank in the UK often give them for free). Blu-tac, Pritt Stick, Sellotape, glue and paints always in need. Toddlers picture books and picture dictionaries together with picture bibles for children and adults. If is recommended not to hand out donated items directly to children but instead these are collected together and can be sold cheaply at the school’s mini-market to raise funds for free medical equipment for the new clinic. This also helps prevent a culture of hand outs.

For yourself bring insect repellent, first aid kit including sewing kit for general wear and tear), strong walking shoes or trainers and strong sandals as you will be walking on rough ground at and around the school each day. Also don’t forget to bring malaria tablets (you should start taking them before travel – consult your GP or a pharmacist for advice. A padlock is also a good idea for your room. Longer stay volunteers have found hard luggage (suitcase or trolley cases) useful for keeping their belongings tidy and dust-free rather than a rucksack. Also: tampons, swimming gear, dresses/skirts/shorts (must be below the knee for outside of the school grounds), small scissors/tweezers, clothes line and pegs,, unlocked mobile phone, lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho, insect repellent, rehydration salts sachets, razors, guidebook, deodorant.

 

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Volunteers give the children a ride home, many children as young as 5 will have walked for an hour each way to get to school each day

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With so many mouths to feed, help is always needed at morning break

How can I keep in touch with home?

We recommend buying a cheap unlocked mobile phone and buy a Ugandan SIM card on arrival. Buy a regular phone as the smallest SIMs are hard to find in Uganda. Local providers Warid/Airtel and Orange offer cheap international calls. Your pick up driver will help you with this at the airport or after arrival at the school. You will need your passport to register your new SIM card. You can re-charge by buying air-time at the volunteer bar at the school. You are welcome to bring your laptop and this can be left in your room. A dongle costs £25 but download speeds are slow, so most volunteers use the internet in Ntunagamo where there are two internet cafes. The only limited internet use at the school is to ensure the staff are aware of new volunteers about to arrive.

What level of support is provided?

It is often remarked that the school is the biggest employer in the whole region from teachers, craftsmen, builders, water carriers, cooks, security and groundsmen you will feel well looked after. And because volunteers live on site (see Accommodation tab above for more), the support team are all on hand within shouting distance should you need help or assistance with anything! And as for late night arrivals in the capital, the project has its own driver and private guest house in Kampala so parents can be reassured that their son/daughter will not be left wandering around in the capital with an unknown driver after arrival.

How can I protect my health?

Make sure you get all the relevant jabs and boosters you required. Don’t forget to take malaria tablets before, during and after your stay. You can obtain detailed health advice from the NHS website fitfortravel. The school is up in the hills so it does not get as hot as it might be in coastal parts of Africa, but the sun can still be strong on the Equator so take precautions

Will I be safe at the school?

The school is located to the south and east of Uganda in a tight knit community and a good half day’s travel from Kampala, so if anything is happening elsewhere in the country you will be well tucked away from the hustle and bustle of it all! There is 24/7 security on the front gate both for the protection and peace of mind for volunteers and children attending the school. Having security is normal and part of the local culture in Uganda and is not because of any problems.

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There is nearly always a new building project in progress. Here volunteers add the finishing touches to the new medical centre which opened March 2014

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You will not be short of company at the school

Where is the nearest town?

Ntunagamo has all the basic local facilities that are needed, including banks, doctors, cafes and other amenities.

Are meals provided?

Meals are provided on-site for all volunteers due to the lack of shops and cafes within walking distance. This is approximately £7.50 per day, all payable before travel. Meals are cooked by the local staff and includes 3 meals a day plus afternoon tea. Breakfast is served at 8am of local bread and omelette with spreads, tea, bananas. Lunch typically is served at midday and ranges from potatoes to spaghetti with a sauce with fruit afterwards. Afternoon tea is served at 4:30 of chapattis and Ugandan donuts with fruit and tea. The evening meal is served at 7pm of meat stew, fried fish or pork or mashed potatoes and rice. The main meal of the day Food is served buffet style from cooking pots. The food is very safe to eat and the local staff take great care to ensure hygienic cooking methods. Water for tea and coffee is always boiled before being served, including milk. Volunteers are very welcome to bring ideas and help in the kitchen. Volunteers have built an outdoor oven and baked bread as a treat. Additional snacks like drinking chocolate, peanut butter, Weetabix and Nescafe can be purchased in nearby shops without having to go into town. Ntungamo can be reached at the weekends or during free time for extra supplies (fruit, snacks etc) and is only 15 minutes away, approx. 50p by taxi-bus.

Are there vegetarian options?

Please let us know if you are vegetarian and the cooking team can prepare alternatives for meat nights.

What money should I take?

The local money is the Ugandan Shilling. Most travellers change money on arrival at Entebbe airport on arrival, clean notes in British Pounds or Euros are preferred. Make sure you have enough cash on you for two weeks as it can be an annoyance to waste a day off going into town to a bank. Visa cards are the most accepted bank card. There is a Barclays with ATM in Mbarara an hour from the school. You should also be aware that Ugandan ATMs do not display balances so be careful to keep track of how much you are spending during your visit. In an emergency should you run out of money, family can wire money over in minutes using an agent such as Western Union. It is essential to let your bank know you are travelling if you are taking a card to prevent them blocking your card.

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Volunteer Sinead Milne with other volunteers at the start of their gorilla trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

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Collecting luggage after arrival at the carousel at Entebbe airport. Photo courtesy of Nicola Geller

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Volunteers on route to Uganda. Photo courtesy of Nicola Geller

Will I need a visa?

A visa is required for all travellers to Uganda. For British passport holders, this is obtained on arrival at Entebbe airport, take either a clean $50 US Dollar note or the equivalent in Pounds (approx £30) or Euros with you. If you require a visa before travel to Uganda (some nationalities must obtain a visa prior to arrival), we can also provide letters of support if these are required by your nearest Ugandan Embassy/Consulate you are applying through.

How do I get to the school from the airport?

The nearest airport to the project is Entebbe (which is a small city next to the capital Kampala). An airport pick-up is organised for you when we receive your flight details. The regular driver (currently Godfrey) will wait for your flight and assist you with anything before you head off to the project and then escort you to the bus station. He will also let the driver know that you are getting off at the school and let the school team know when to expect you. The school is on the modern main road which runs south through Uganda and the drivers are experienced in dropping off and picking up volunteers. You will have the contact details of everyone you need in any case should you need to. For an additional £28 we can also request an escort if you want to be doubly sure and not sleep through your stop! Let us know before travel. If it is too late to catch the coach down to the project an overnight stay will be organised for you in Kampala at a guesthouse regularly used by volunteers making a stopover.

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The main highway through Uganda from Kampala is paved and mostly traffic free in the south. Here a modern coach stops outside the school, the main transport for arriving volunteers from Kampala

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Volunteers rafting at Queen Elizabeth National Park. See Free time section for more

What if my flight arrives late in the evening?

An overnight stay in a guesthouse will be organised for you. This is a small private guesthouse and exclusively used by volunteers coming to and from the school with volunteer safety in mind. City tours and visits to Lake Victoria, fishing harbour and beach can be organised from the guesthouse.

What happens when I arrive at the school?

There will be plenty of people to meet you and settle in. If you have travelled straight from the airport the same day you will probably be ready to eat and get to bed early. If you have travelled after a good night’s sleep in Kampala for your first night you might be in time and have enough energy to watch a class or two in the afternoon.

What is a typical day like at the school?

Breakfast is served at 8am on a help yourself basis. School starts at 07:40am officially but actual lessons for the youngest start at 10am and 10:30 for the eldest. In the morning all the children receive a free porridge and volunteers either help serve or supervise those waiting, eating and playing. All the children are expected to say Thank you and wash their mug afterwards. Less able children are taken out of classes to get one to one support from volunteers to help them catch up whilst other volunteers may take their own class throughout their visit or move around each day between classes in an assisting role.

Volunteer lunch is taken at 1pm, again on a serve yourself basis. At 2pm most volunteers continue helping with classes until 4pm ish followed by supervision and sport and games or help at the new medical centre, although on market day some volunteers take the afternoon off to go shopping. Afternoon school finishes at 5pm and some volunteers walk children home as for some it can be a 2 hour walk. Afternoon tea is served at 5pm and the evening meal at 8pm.

During school holidays there are daily activities organised for the children living closest to the school although everyone is welcome.

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Children are encouraged to continue their local traditions at school presentation and special events

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Join other volunteers for a guided trip to the National Parks with the school’s own tour guide (one of the school’s founders) and Jeep

What is there to do in the evenings?

A volunteer bar on site provides soft drinks, beer, a pool table, darts and TV. Most evenings there is a campfire to enjoy and chat around.

How much free time will I have?

Volunteers are actively involved at the school for 4 to 5 days a week. If you are helping out rather than taking classes you have the flexibility to take as much time out as you would like, just let the team know so they don’t wonder where you are! You will be helping simply by using the school as your base so you should not feel uneasy about not being hands-on every day. Every volunteer’s visit makes a massive difference. You may have spent half your week doing other things but your stay helped cover the school bills, the porridge and helped to get new classrooms built.

How are trips organised?

Volunteers normally group together to do things and after you have walked up the hill and strolled around the area, the Queen Elizabeth National Park is a popular trip. Scroll down the page for details and more options.

What happens if I travel with friends?

Friends are met together at the airport as per the usual pick up arrangements. On arrival at the school, bandas (see Accommodation tab above) can fit 2 – 4 volunteers sharing. Where there is no room for a group of friends to squeeze together, you will only be a metre or two from your friends in the next banda. Everyday life at the school is conducted outside in the fresh air and communal areas, with the bandas often only used to sleep in.

I am travelling alone – will there be other volunteers?

Although some volunteers travel with friends, the bigger majority travel alone and because everyone stays together on site it is quick and easy to make friends. It is possible to get in contact with other volunteers before your travel, and a lot of people tend to do this via the Buddy List. Some volunteers even plan to travel together and set this up themselves before they depart.

What happens if I get ill during my stay?

Few volunteers experience any illness requiring medical attention but there is a doctor close by and a hospital should you need the use of one, the team will help you with your transfer there. As of November 2013 there is a new medical centre opening at the school itself.

How will I get back to the airport?

The easiest way is to return to Kampala by coach, stay at the volunteer guesthouse and take a transfer back to the airport the next day. Your in-country support team will help organise the transfers and the guesthouse for you.

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If teaching is not your thing, help out at break times and give the children some one to one attention they crave

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Volunteers stand on the line of the equator in Uganda

What are the costs after I have registered and secured my place?

The weekly project costs are £87.50 for accommodation at the school and support from the local on-site team. An additional £7.50 per day covers all meals on-site at the school. Accommodation, airport pick up and meals are paid before travel. We will send an invoice by email shortly after we receive flights not to worry and this can paid at anytime up to 4 weeks before travel. Meals are provided on site as a practical measure due to the project’s location to avoid having to travel into town each day. If you are planning on a longer stay, from week 3 the weekly accommodation costs drops from £87.50 to £52.50.

All volunteers will need comprehensive travel insurance, for a 2 week stay expect to pay i.r.o. £40 – £50, make sure your policy includes medical bills and repatriation – a burst appendix can occur at anytime and is no respector of what country you happen to be in at the time!

All volunteers will need to purchase return flights to Entebbe airport (airport code EBB). Half of all volunteers arrive on a 3am flight which is the perfect time to arrive. This allows you to make a quick exit of the capital Kampala (Entebbe is to Kampala what Heathrow is to London) where the traffic can be chaotic at best in the mornings. The coach to the project leaves from Kampala bus station so the earlier your flight the better. The basic pick up and transfer for volunteers is £55 per person. This is reduced if more than one volunteer arriving. A third of volunteers arrive too late to make a same day transfer and an overnight stay will be organised for you automatically at the guesthouse used by all volunteers needing an overnight stay either on their way in or out. There is no extra charge for this.

A tourist visa is required by all non-African visitors and if you hold a British passport this is obtained on arrival at Entebbe airport for US $50 or £30/40 Euros.

For daily living expenses as a general rule Uganda volunteers can spend very little because of living on site and all meals being provided. There is now a bar on site too so some volunteers will spend less than £1 a day on a bottle of Coke and a beer. The biggest expense will be a safari (optional, about 3 in 4 volunteers take one) and getting back to the airport at the end of your stay so make sure you have enough to cover your return transfer as this is paid locally. But as with any foreign travel, take as much as you can afford to as you never know what you may want to spend money on. Your travel and volunteering preferences may completely change after you meet new friends at the school, from adding on a safari, perhaps two if you enjoyed the first one, and buying some materials for the school, things which you may not have planned for before travelling.


What happens after you have booked?

  • As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip.
  • We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the Uganda volunteer programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to
  • You will also receive a Welcome Pack with some useful information which will include project specific advice on what to take, how to prepare and travel health recommendations

Below is an example timeline or what to do after you have booked on

  • At anytime : get flights to Entebbe airport to arrive as early as possible. An arrival between 3 and 5am is ideal to transfer to the project. For later arrivals, an overnight stay will be organised for you at a comfortable volunteer guesthouse with a transfer the following morning. The cost of an overnight stay is included in the airport pick up cost. If you are travelling overland from elsewhere in Africa, shortly before you travel we will put you in touch with your Ugandan programme coordinator and their team to arrange a suitable meeting point/pick up point.
  • As early as possible : If you are considering doing a Gorilla Trek please contact us directly as soon as you know as permits can be hard to obtain.
  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates
  • 3 to 4 weeks before travel: visit your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel). Malaria tablets are essential for Uganda and need to be started before travel.
  • Before travel at any time : send us a copy of your CRB, or if you do not have a recent CRB, please apply for a Subject Data Access request – more information on how to do this can be found in the email sent after booking
  • June : Arrange suitable travel insurance – further advice is provided in your emailed welcome pack
    No visa is required before travel for Uganda for UK passport holders. This is obtained on arrival. If you require a visa before travel – contact us if you require letters of introduction which we can prepare for you. You should allow an extra couple of weeks for this to be organised.
  • As soon as you have flights to Entebbe: Email us your flight to organise your pick up
  • At anytime : pay for your volunteer support contribution – we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget!
    We will organise your pick up and transfer from Entebbe airport automatically when we receive your flights.

Uganda at a glance

Uganda is a landlocked country in the east of Africa, bordered by Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of The Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. It is often described as Africa condensed, with the best of everything the continent has to offer packed into one small but stunning destination. Uganda’s star attraction is the mountain gorilla, one of the rarest animals on the planet, who is also despite his huge size, one of the most peaceful. There are only about 700 left and small groups of guided tourists can get close up to one of the family groups in the Bwindi national park.

Uganda is located in East Africa. It is bordered by Kenya to the east, Sudan from the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and from the southwest by Rwanda. Uganda’s name derives from the Buganda kingdom. It’s population is about 30 million. Uganda gained it’s independence in 1962. It was seen by others to be a lesser country in Africa until in the 1970s Idi Amin Dada became president.

Climate

Uganda has an equatorial climate but the project is high up at 1500 metres so don’t forget to take a rainmac and sweater with you for the evening, even if the sun is strong during the day! Elsewhere in Uganda average temperatures are 25 Celsius and the lowest is 16 Celsius.

Uganda specific questions

Do I need experience?
The majority of volunteers at the school in Uganda are first time volunteers and this will be their first experience of volunteering abroad. Living together in the school grounds with plenty of support staff on site, makes this a great first time project despite its rural location in the heart of Africa.

Will I be met on arrival?
All volunteers are met at the airport in Entebbe on arrival and a transfer to the school organised.

When do I choose what I will be doing?
The majority of volunteers work together to provide additional support to the local teachers and this is organised after arrival. Most volunteers will be involved as classroom assistants, providing cover where needed, supervising playtime and breakfast time, organising outdoor games and organising summer camp activities when the school is officially closed.

Can I do building or hospital work?
This is a fast growing school so there are always things to build or repair. For any volunteer not wanting to work directly with the children – there are plenty of opportunities.
Volunteers looking for healthcare experience, placements can be arranged at the local hospital or at the new health care centre at the school. Make sure you bring all your certificates from home. There may be an additional local fee for the doctor/nurse’s time.

I need to teach a minimum number of hours for my education course?
We recommend all volunteers to consult your course director tutor as requirements can appear unrealistic at first glance in written guidance notes. Find out what is and what is not acceptable. For example, some nursing courses allow playwork with infants to be included whilst some education courses permit lesson planning and meetings.

What do I need to take?
Mosquito netting is provided so leave this at home. But do bring plenty of repellent a must! For the children, art and craft materials, pens and pencils. Local children rarely have any toys or books at home so the school provides a toy lending library, picture books, including geography books (many children think everything outside of Uganda is one country)and simple learn to read books like the modern versions of Peter and Jane will be much appreciated.

Where will I be staying?
All volunteers live on site at the school which lies on the road to Kabale, 6 miles from Ntunagamo. See Accommodation tab above for more.

Is Uganda safe?
Although the city of Kampala in the north has its ups and downs around election time, the south of the country where the project is located, is perfectly safe. Everyone knows everyone and as volunteers all stay on site and only venture out in groups to the local town or on safari, you will immediately feel at home.

Are there rules about clothes?
There is no particular requirement at this project. Shorts and t-shirts are acceptable on site at the school. Healthcare volunteers should dress a little more formally for hospital and clinic work. Outside of the school grounds, female volunteers should wear knee length skirts or trousers. The government is considering making it an offence to wear anything above the knee!

Do I need a visa for Uganda?
A visa is required for most passport holders. For UK/European passport holders this can be obtained on arrival at Entebbe airport with a clean $50 US Dollar note or the equivalent in Pounds (£30) or Euros. Take an extra one just in case it goes up when you arrive.

Are there fixed arrival dates?
Although there are no fixed start dates, it is strongly advised to arrive on an early morning flight. Many land at about 4am which is perfect for a same day transfer down to the school. An overnight stay at the volunteer guesthouse in Kampala will be organised for any later arrivals where a transfer to the school will be too late.

Will I be placed with friends?
All volunteers stay on site together at the school and wherever possible friends are placed in the same Banda/hut.

How do I organise meals?
Due to the location of this project, all meals are provided by a cook. Meals are westernised to volunteers tastes and vegetarians should have few problems as meat is expensive.

I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone?
We can pair you up with someone else going around the same time. Take a look at our Buddy List too or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we’ll add you to our weekly round up. But if you are travelling alone, don’t panic, the Uganda volunteer programme is always popular and at the school it feels like home from home.

Are jabs required for Uganda?
You will need some jabs and boosters for Uganda. Consult a travel health nurse at least 6 weeks before travel, although some independent travel health clinics (most large towns have one or two) can provide last minute jabs and boosters. A reminder : malaria tablets must be started before travel, not as you arrive.

Is there mobile/ internet access?
Buy a cheap unlocked mobile phone and buy a Ugandan Sim card on arrival. You will need a passport photo to register it. Volunteers often share the cost of monthly internet or pay £1 for an hours usage to catch up with home.

Should I take cash or cards?
We recommend taking two cards if possible and cash. Visa cards are best, Mastercard is increasingly not being accepted in Uganda. There is an ATM in Ntunagamo 6 miles away but the daily limit is £60. Family can transfer money in minutes to you in Uganda using the Western Union transfer service in Ntunagamo.

How will I get back to the airport?
Your support team can help organise your journey back to the airport, simply ask them a few days before your flight.


Contact us for specific questions

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 859753 or email [email protected] to get the answers you need!

Latest reviews

Average Review Rating: from 2 reviews.

Claudia Allen – Review

Why did you want to volunteer? To experience another culture and help others. Do you feel you made a difference, how? Yes I think we made a difference in the short time we were there. We painted, fixed some windows and laid a cement floor. We also walked the children home after school and helped them with thei...

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Kieren Brown – Review

Why did you want to volunteer? To have a safe way of visiting other countries and a chance to make friends with like-minded people. Do you feel you made a difference, how? Yes, absolutely, we organised fun games at playtimes and an after school club. What did you do for fun? Sit around the fire chatting ...

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