Volunteer In Uganda
- When should I apply for the volunteer/internship programs in Uganda ?
- What happens once I submit my documents and application to New Hope Volunteers?
- Are there any necessary requirements to participate in the Uganda-based volunteer programs?
- Who manages the volunteer projects in Uganda ?
- What are the daily schedules of the project?
- Where are the projects located?
- What is the language spoken in Uganda ?
- Who will arrange my flight to Uganda ?
- Which airport should I book my flight into?
- What should I do if my flight is delayed?
- How can I get to the hotel from the airport if I did not see New Hope Volunteers representative in the airport?
- What do I need prior to departure from my home country?
- When should I depart from Uganda ?
- Which airport will I fly out of?
- Who will drop me off at the airport?
- Can I store my luggage if I arrive earlier than my program starts?
- Who will arrange my accommodations and what are they?
- Are singles rooms available?
- If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?
- Will there be other foreign volunteers/interns at my placement?
- What are the bathroom facilities?
- What are the laundry arrangements?
- Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?
- What are the local cuisines? Who manages food?
- Can you supply special diets?
- Is the running tap water safe for drink?
- Are there hot and cold water facilities available?
- Will bottled water be provided?
- How safe is Uganda ?
- What are other safety issues in Uganda ?
- What are the principle health risks?
- What health precautions should I be aware of and tend to?
- Do I need health insurance?
- Who do I contact in case of a health-related emergency?
- Is the food safe if I buy it from a street vendor?
- What are the sanitary conditions in Uganda ?
- What vaccinations are required?
- Are ATMs easily available? If yes, which debit and credit card are accepted?
- What is the local currency and how do I know the exchange rate?
- Where do I exchange my money and how much?
- How much money should I bring with me?
- Is it safe to carry cash with me?
- How do I make contact with New Hope Volunteers's local coordinator?
- How do I contact my host-family once I arrive in Uganda ?
- Are internet services easily available?
- How can my family members contact me?
- Can I bring my telephone from my home country?
- Is there a special dress code that I should follow while staying in Uganda ?
- Should I care about any religious conduct?
- How do I respect Ugandan people?
- What is weather like in Uganda ?
We are able to offer placements as per your convenience year round. Because of the increasing volume of applications, participants are requested to apply at least one month in advance (if applying during the summers, volunteers are encouraged to submit their application at least two months in advance). In the event that interested individuals require expediting of their application (within less than two months' time), they are encouraged to contact New Hope Volunteers's offices for further information.
Once New Hope Volunteers receives and reviews your completed application, it is then forwarded to our In-Country Coordinator in Uganda who will then finalize a specific placement as per your qualifications and request. Upon receipt of your finalized placement details, this information is then immediately sent to you.
The only qualifications are:
- An open mind and a willingness to teach others as well a passion for helping those in need.
- Enthusiasm for living abroad and meeting new people.
- Be in good health.
A valid passport as well as a tourist-class visa is required to enter Uganda . Uganda does not permit foreigners/visitors entrance if the holder's passport expires in less than six months; returning home with an expired passport is illegal, and may result in a substantial fine.
It is a suggested that participants have a photo-copy of their passport containing their photo and passport number, along with proof of their international travel insurance, airfare, and traveler's checks' serial numbers to prevent any loss of important information.
For more information pertaining to visa requirements, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda, 5911 16 th Street, NW, Washington D.C. 20011, phone: (202) 726.7100, ext: 02; website: www.ugandaembassy.com.
New Hope Volunteers suggests that ALL volunteers acquire the appropriate visa in their home country BEFORE arriving in-country to avoid any unnecessary hassles at the airport.
New Hope Volunteers's In-Country Coordinator in Uganda is responsible for researching appropriate volunteer projects as per the qualifications and skills of the applicants.
Project schedules vary for each project in Uganda . Most volunteers participate in their respective/assigned projects from Monday to Friday for 4-6 hours a day. Most volunteers have the weekends to themselves where they can see the local sights and explore Uganda on their own.
New Hope Volunteers's volunteer projects in Uganda are located in the following towns/cities:
Kampala is the capital and largest city (population of approximately 1.2 million) of Uganda and is just 10 km from Lake Victoria . The city of Kampala offers a plethora of attractions such as Ssezibwa Falls , the Ugandan National Theater, the very active Balikuddembe Market and Nakasero Market as well as numerous historical sites providing glimpses into Uganda 's past. Said to have been built on seven different hills, each hill plays some significance in Uganda 's history.
Jinja is the second largest commercial center in Uganda and is located in southeast Uganda – approximately 87 km from the capital city of Kampala . Located on the shores of Lake Victoria and close to the source of the White Nile River , Jinja offers the many effects of a small town such as a post office, a town hall, a hospital, a golf course and numerous internet cafes. Echoes of Jinja's Indian influence are reflected in the city's architecture. Some of Jinja's attractive features include whitewater-rafting, a brewery, Bujagali Falls (a kayakers' heaven) as well as an animal sanctuary, and memorials for both Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha in addition to an active Hindu temple.
Iganga is the chief town of the Iganga District and boasts several internet cafes, guest houses and an active market in the town's center. Situated almost at the Equator, Iganga is approximately 25 km from Lake Victoria and the source of the White Nile . Iganga has a population of approximately 35,000 with 85% of its people living off of the land's natural resources. The markets offer over 200 stalls while the town itself offers over 600 shops. The Mwaana Hotel is a popular destination – offering both an internet café and a restaurant.
Iganga is located within the Busoga tribal regions, with the traditional Lusoga language still used quite extensively. Lusoga is very closely related to Luganda – the language used in the capital region as well as in the media. NOTE: educated Ugandans are generally fluent English-speakers.
Arrival and Departure Information
Airfare is the responsibility of the volunteer.
Airfare should be booked to arrive at the Entebbe International Airport , located in the city of Entebbe . Upon arrival, a New Hope Volunteers representative will pick you up and transfer you to your arranged living accommodations.
- Contact New Hope Volunteers's Ugandan In-Country Coordinator from the airport, informing him/her of the possibly-delayed arrival time; the In-Country Coordinator will check the status of your flight before your arrival time to ensure your pick up.
- Check your placement instructions pertaining to details of hotels that have been recommended for late arrival if your flight is to arrive after midnight;
- Call/email the In-Country Coordinator upon arrival in Uganda so that he/she can make take the necessary steps to ensure a prompt pick-up.
How can I get to the hotel from the airport if I did not see New Hope Volunteers representative in the airport?
In the event that your arrival time is changed/delayed, requiring you to stay overnight in a hotel (or if you failed to meet New Hope Volunteers's representative at the airport), you should hire a taxi at the airport who will take you to a hotel designated in your placement details/pre-departure information (and do remember to request a receipt from the driver). ALSO: make sure that you call New Hope Volunteers's In-Country Coordinator BEFORE boarding the taxi. Participants are advised to contact New Hope Volunteers's Ugandan In-Country Coordinator the next day and let him/her know their whereabouts.
- Make sure that you pack all your necessary documents (passport, visa, clothes, insurance, documents)
- Prepare financially, in advance, to cover various expenses – up to $50 USD/week for extra expenses and travel to your project each day.
- Prepare your mind and spirit for the duration of time you have committed as the cultural shock may be so intense that you may even want to quit the week following your arrival.
If I want to arrive earlier than when program begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations?
In most cases, you will have to cover all expenses incurred by earlier arrival, but our Uganda In-Country Coordinator can usually provide assistance in booking hotel rooms and even domestic travel at a good price.
We suggest that participants depart from Uganda on the Sunday after their project is completed.
All volunteers will depart from Entebbe International Airport , located in the city of Entebbe .
New Hope Volunteers does not provide airport drop-off services. Participants are required to arrange a taxi or bus ride to the airport upon completion of their respective project. This is usually a simple process which New Hope Volunteers's In-Country Coordinator in Uganda (or host family) will be more than happy to assist volunteers in arranging. If participants require assistance in this matter, they are encouraged to discuss the matter with either their host family or In-Country Coordinator. NOTE: from experience, we find that volunteers are usually familiar with the area and are more than comfortable with arranging their own return-travel to the airport.
Yes, you may, but please note that this service is usually charged and/or calculated on an hourly basis. So, do not leave your luggage at the airport for an extended amount of time.
Accommodations are arranged by New Hope Volunteers's In-Country Coordinator in Uganda . Volunteers stay with a host family (or hostel) in Uganda . Should participants wish to travel/participate with a friend, New Hope Volunteers can arrange dual-placement in the same project and/or host family. Other information – such as electricity, hot water, etc. – will be included in participants' placement details.
Yes, in most cases participants have their own room unless requesting to stay with another volunteer. Occasionally, participants may have to share a room with another volunteer.
Yes, but participants are required to inform New Hope Volunteers's Ugandan Coordinator of this prior to arrival so that he/she can make the appropriate accommodations before hand.
This usually depends on the exact placement (i.e. date, project) and your preference in this issue.
In most cases, volunteers share a bathroom with their host family. Specifics pertaining to bathroom facilities will be included in placement details.
Laundry is usually done by volunteer with laundry-washing facilities provided in their living accommodations/host family.
Yes, you may use appliances from your home-country. Please note that Uganda uses 240v/50Hz. Standard outlets receive Type G Plug – rectangular blade plug (pictured below).
Electrical Plug Details
New Hope Volunteers manages three (3) meals a day consisting of the local cuisine. Ugandan cuisine usually consists of the following:
- Matoke: a staple dish made from bananas
- Bread made with millet (a type of grain native to the area)
- Cassava root which is often made into flour
- Sweet potatoes
- Chicken/beef stews
- Fresh water fish (often originating from Lake Victoria )
- Local specialty: Warangi , a banana-based gin, is Uganda 's national drink.
New Hope Volunteers can provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Occasionally, in the event that you require a special diet, you are responsible for your own meals. Participants are strongly urged to inform New Hope Volunteers of any special dietary need prior to arrival in-country.
Tap water in Uganda is not safe to drink. Host families can provide participants with boiled water. Also: volunteers may purchase bottles water throughout the day .
Specifics pertaining to availability of hot water will be included in participants' placement details. Note: this should not be expected in ALL accommodations as Uganda is a developing country.
No, if participants require bottled water, they are responsible for obtaining it themselves.
Health and Safety
Uganda has been home to some of the more gruesome atrocities in modern African history since its independence in 1962, particularly under the heinous dictator Idi Amin, but in the years since 1987 things have consistently improved. Today, in 2005, the single party state is relatively stable after 19 years of stereotypically 'strong man' rule by Yoweri Museveni who seems torn between embracing more enlightened government and clinging to power (by amending the constitution to allow himself to serve a third ten-year term). A major concern for travelers in the northern part of the country, however, is the Lord's Resistance Army , who have been making the Acholi, Lango and Teso districts lawless and dangerous since 2002, although they have been active insurgents since 1989.
Travel north to Murchison Falls National Park is safe, but the north and east of the country are particularly volatile, so one is well advised to get the latest news updates before traveling there. Note that overlanders from Tanzania and Kenya regularly make the trip routing through Jinja , so the danger is nothing like travel in southern Sudan or the DRC .
As in any urban area, Kampala can be dodgy. One is well advised to remain in tourist areas, but sensibly garbed visitors not dangling the latest cameras, flashy jewelery or bulging bags are not likely to draw unwanted attention to themselves. However, any caucasians walking in the street stand out and are likely to be stared at openly, which may cause discomfort to those unaccustomed to travelling in Africa . What little begging exists is some of the most polite and inoffensive to be found in African cities. Small children are sadly becoming a nuisance in some rural spots frequented by tourists doling out sweets and coins, but nowhere near the swarming throng one can attract in many cities around the world.
In the gorilla tracking region of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park near the border with the DRC there was one incident in the late 1990's in which bandits attacked a group of tourists and killed several people. Since then there have been no incidents and all groups now go out with armed guards (which was not the case before). There is a visible security presence in the region, but this is a preventative measure rather than a response to anything specific. Source: Wikitravel.org
NOTE: New Hope Volunteers's volunteer projects in Uganda are located in Jinja, Iganga, Kampala – ALL in the southern region of Uganda . This region is near to Kenya and Tanzania and is considered safe. For further details concerning safety issues in this region, please contact New Hope Volunteers or the US State Department.
More about Travel Safety to Uganda
International travel does present risks, especially with the threat of international terrorism. The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings and advisories in many countries for U.S. travelers. These travel advisories and warnings change frequently as situations in each country change. We suggest that all volunteers consult their own governments before participating in a New Hope Volunteers program. These links provide travel information:
- British Foreign Office Advice
- American State Department Advice
- Australian Government Advice
- Canadian Government Advice
Petty crime does exist in Uganda , especially in and around the major cities. However, serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare. Petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, do occur (especially in crowded areas such as stations, markets, shopping areas, sight-seeing destinations, etc.). Additionally, there are frequent instances of false taxicabs in which passengers have been robbed. So, it is wise to be cautious with your personal possessions in public places.
Following are some precautions to avoid potential problems:
- Do not show off your wallet or valuable goods in public
- Keep enough money for your immediate needs in your pocket, and hide the rest on your body or leave your backup supply in a safety deposit box/safe at your hotel
- Always keep valuables in a safety deposit box/safe at your hotel instead of leaving them in your room
- Remove any jewelry that may draw a thief's attention before you go out for strolling
- Never wear a bag or purse on your street-side shoulder in order to avoid becoming a target of the "snatch-and-ride"
- Never carry your passport/visa, credit cards, traveler's schedules or other travel documents in your shoulder bag.
- Ensure that you aware of the values of different local banknotes to avoid being deceived
- Be particularly cautious about your possessions in crowded areas such as local festivals, markets, tourist sites, railways, bus stations, or on trains and buses.
- Always let your hotel or guides know where you are on your free days during your tour.
- Respect the customs of the local ethnic groups.
- Do not quarrel with anyone during your trip.
- Any disputes should be reported to your local guides for resolution.
- Avoid traveling in any areas or sites that are not open to foreigners.
- Do not voice publicly any opinions contrary to Uganda 's laws and code of ethics and/or morals.
Basically, every country in the world has potential health concerns and Uganda is no exception. Common sense and awareness of health concerns when traveling to Uganda will always prove to be a beneficial approach. New Hope Volunteers urges all participants to visit the Center for Disease Control's website ( www.cdc.gov ) for the most up-to-date information pertaining to health risks around the world. Listed below are some of the major health risks associated with travel to Uganda
- AIDS: exists in Uganda and every country in the world but is more so a widely-spread, present-day epidemic affecting a vast majority. The things to avoid are well known (protected intercourse, etc.). The blood supply in Uganda is not as safe as at home.
- Malaria: primarily in some of the more rural areas.
- Dengue (Chagas Disease): carried by insects and also occur in some of the more rural areas.
NOTE: Protecting yourself against insect bites (via bug spray) will help to prevent both Malaria and Dengue. Visitors are encouraged to take malaria prophylactic drugs as well. Numerous other health risks exist, but not in abnormally high or epidemic proportions.
Medical facilities in Uganda are generally substandard. New Hope Volunteers STRONGLY recommends ALL participants consult their doctor for any additional health precautions/advisories. NOTE: proof of the following vaccinations is required to enter the country of Uganda :
- International Yellow Fever
New Hope Volunteers takes out comprehensive medical insurance for its volunteers. It is suggested that insured participants pay up-front costs and then file an insurance claim for reimbursement upon return to their respective home countries. Occasionally, for larger expenses, the insurance company may be able to arrange direct payment to the hospital or medical provider.
East or west, home is the best. There is no place better than home when you are ill. But if you do get ill, don't panic. Participants can obtain information pertaining to medical assistance through a number of channels:
- New Hope Volunteers's In-Country Coordinator;
- Assigned host-family;
- Your country's embassy in Uganda – participants are greatly encouraged to obtain and maintain contact information for their respective embassy; keeping it on their person for easy access.
- Be prepared and never expect a clean public toilet 100% of the time. Carry some tissue in-case you need to use the public toilet.
- Ugandan toilets generally do not do well when flushing large amounts of items or feminine hygiene products (i.e. tampons) so do not flush them. Rather, throw them away in the trash can (which is usually located close to the toilet).
- In some areas/restaurants, toilet systems are old and have very narrow plumbing and get blocked easily. In these cases, a small basket is usually placed beside the toilet (for used toilet paper).
- Use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are always clean. Still, they may not always have toilet paper and depends on the class of hotel.
NOTE: proof of the following vaccinations is required to enter the country of Uganda :
- International Yellow Fever
New Hope Volunteers STRONGLY suggests volunteers follow the Center for Disease Control's travel advice ( www.cdc.gov ) or consult a travel doctor.
Credit cards such as Master Card, Visa, American Express and Diners Club are accepted almost everywhere in major cities. Participants are also able to withdraw cash from most international banks with credit cards from ATM machines, but a $2.00-$4.00 USD surcharge may apply for each transaction.
Name: Ugandan Shilling (UGX)
Money exchanges by cash or traveler's checks can be made at various bank branches found throughout Uganda – primarily in the major cities. Current exchange rates can be found using New Hope Volunteers's currency converter or by visiting www.xe.com.
Participants can cash their paper notes at various bank branches of banks and exchange agencies throughout Uganda as well as in hotels and tourist stores, airport bank offices, etc. Traveler's checks can be cashed in exchange agencies. New Hope Volunteers recommends exchanging small bills at all times.
Uganda in general is very convenient for foreigners due to the favorable currency exchange rate. Uganda has a significantly low cost of living as compared to the Western World. It is suggested that participants bring $100 US Dollars to be converted into Ugandan Shillings upon arrival at the Entebbe International Airport . This converted currency will be sufficient to cover the first 2-3 weeks for petty expenses and travel to/from your project.
Carrying cash is not safe – therefore, don't carry a large surplus of cash with you.
Important Reminder: Retain your receipts whenever you exchange any currency or traveler's checks to Ugandan Shillings. You may be asked to show proof of the exchange.
All contact information (i.e. phone numbers, email addresses, location addresses) will be provided to participants in their pre-departure/placement details.
International Direct Dialing within Uganda is available in most cities. Phone cards are widely available and calls can be made from the many phones found in urban areas, hotels and phone booths on the streets. In hotels, local calls are generally charged at a nominal fee. The Ugandan mobile phone networks are not as technologically-advanced as in western countries. Internet cafes are available in most towns.
Yes, in most urban areas. Internet cafes are available in some of Uganda 's major cities, although the cafes can be very noisy as they are a popular venue for the youth to play online games and for students to do work.
Upon settling into your assigned host-family, you will want to use your calling card to contact your family if you have not already done so when you arrived at the Ugandan airport in Entebbe .
Yes, but it if it does work in Uganda , your local communications will be very expensive. For this reason, we recommend that, upon your arrival, you change your cell phone SIM-card and number to a local one (usually costing approximately US $5).
Culture and religion
Volunteers should dress conservatively when at their projects. Jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable. No high shorts and tank tops please.
Uganda respects different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and moral concepts. You may practice on your own accord. NOTE: approximately 85% of Ugandans are of the Christian faith (with varying denominations). The second most popular religion is Islam, with Muslims representing 12% of the population. Other religions include: Hinduism and Judaism (one of the seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship is located just outside of the Ugandan city of Kampala ).
Be more inclusive, have an open mind and show respect of other cultures. Ugandan culture is rich in customs and traditions. The Ugandan people enjoy sharing their customs and traditions with foreigners so feel free to share in their culture. You may even be asked to join your host family at their local church for services – this is up to you and you do not have to attend the services if you do not wish.
Located close to the Equator, Uganda experiences a significant amount of sunshine with temperatures moderated by the majority of the country's high altitude. In the Lake Victoria regions, daytime temperatures are usually 8-10 degrees (Celsius) warmer than in the evenings. The southern region has two rainy seasons – usually beginning in April and again in October – with the dryer seasons occurring from November to March.
Lightweight clothing and rainwear is recommended as well as warmer clothing for the evenings (light jacket and/or light sweaters). A solid pair of walking shoes is highly recommended for trekking.
Average Daily Temperature
Official Ugandan Holidays
- Jan 1 st: New Year's Day
- January 26 th: Eid Al Adha; Liberation Day
- March 8 th: International Women's Day
- April 6 th -April 9 th: Good Friday to Easter Monday
- May 1 st: Labor Day
- May 17 th: Constitution Day
- June 3 rd: Martyrs' Day
- June 9 th: National Heroes' Day
- October 9 th: Independence Day
- December 24 th: Christmas Eve (1/2 day)
- December 25 th: Christmas Day
- December 26 th: Boxing Day
- December 31 st: New Year's Eve (1/2 day)
While tipping is not standard practice in Uganda , it is ALWAYS GREATLY appreciated. It is quite normal to tip 5-10% at tourist-oriented restaurants. NOTE: guides and drivers should ALWAYS be tipped!
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) is generic information. Please do not use FAQ as a sole travel guide (as it may not be correct). Travel information and situations abroad change constantly so please consult New Hope Volunteers or travel advisors to verify this information.
Materials to Bring
- Sleeping bag
- Some books about Uganda
- Map of Uganda
- Electricity adapter/converter
- Walking shoes (for work and travel)