My volunteering experience in Mukono, Uganda was exceptional! The opportunity to get to know and work with the others on the team was a pleasure. I was more than satisfied with all aspects of my time there. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and that goal was definitely met!
Simone | Uganda Volunteer
Uganda is a beautiful country in all aspects - the people, the landscape, and the rich culture all made our month there the most amazing experience. There are many diverse volunteer projects with GVN and their partner in Uganda scattered across the country.
Gillian | Uganda Volunteer
Just Choose a Project and Apply!
In Uganda, volunteers are given private rooms in family homes or in a volunteer guesthouse. While some placements enjoy electricity and flowing water, others do not. Either way, bring your flashlight as power cuts are frequent in Uganda.
Volunteers take their 3 daily meals alongside their Ugandan hosts and counterparts – our food is starchy, but wholesome and largely organic. Meals consist of local foods, such as matooke (mashed plantain), posho (corn meal), potatoes, and rice. They are generally served with beans, peas, or groundnut sauce. Tea and bread are the usual breakfast. While our climate provides a healthy choice of fruits and vegetables, they are seen as less desirable. Volunteers can easily supplement from the local markets and shops.
GVN Projects: Only US $250 application fee + US $500 per week (for the first four weeks of placement), and $200 per week of placement after this. This includes accommodation, meals (as specified below), coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up and it is due at least 10 weeks prior to your arrival.
Remote Orphan Care
Do you love kids? Are YOU a big kid? Volunteers with never ending energy and loads of games up their sleeve, can live and work with HIV affected orphans and needy children. You’ll bring love, encouragement, and creativity to kids who lack family stability due to AIDS related illnesses. Volunteers help with basic academics, feeding, and organizing play and arts and crafts.
You’ll dispel some myths about the dire state of the “African orphanage” and have tonnes of fun with some very deserving kids in the process!
Village Teaching and Outreach
Do you want to ride to work on the back of a motor cycle as the sun rises? Scrub the red dust off your feet as the sun sets? Experience new activities with each new day? This placement is for you. Volunteers learn to make baskets while discussing domestic issues with amazing Ugandan women’s groups. You’ll feed pigs and cows. You’ll plant carrots, cabbages and tomatoes. You’ll dig wells. You’ll help primary students learn fractions. You’ll play Duck! Duck! Goose! with a bunch of 5 year olds. The sky is the limit!
Our partner works with a number of small community based organizations that provide counseling, care, and education for rural people, and orphaned and needy kids. Some of these placements focus exclusively on teaching primary lessons and extra-curriculars. Others include both teaching and outreach components. Please inform us if you wish to teach, do outreach work, or a combination of both, so we can best choose your program.
Organic Farming and Agriculture
Do you like playing in the dirt? Interested in seeing the impact of climate change in the tropics? Come volunteer in a local farm and help a community achieve food security and environmental sustainability.
Volunteers work with program staff to introduce organic farming techniques, farm management, and small agro business projects. Expect to help prepare soil, plant/maintain fields, and care for poultry and other livestock. Volunteers learn and promote environmental conservation practices such as soil erosion prevention, natural pest repellant use, biogas production, solar fruit drying, and interlocking brick construction.
Bring your hat, gloves, sunscreen and bug spray!
Public Health Improvement
Are you a confident speaker? Can you communicate important information in creative ways? Do you want to learn the reality on the ground regarding public health in Uganda? In this project, volunteers work alongside local counselors and health care professionals, in a variety of programs designed to help Ugandans stay healthy and make good decisions about their health care.
Volunteers talk to people in village meetings, private homes, and churches. They design seminars based on subjects that can include household hygiene, malaria prevention, safe sex, HIV prevention and AIDS care, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc. Basic training and educational materials are on site, but volunteers are encouraged to bring new materials as well.
Volunteers can also work in clinics and maternities talking directly to women and girls about safe sex, family planning, maternal and child health, and nutrition.
This project requires walking long distances in the sun. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a sleeping bag, a hat, and walking shoes. Volunteers will be given a private room at the host organization as their home base. When work is done in surrounding villages, volunteers may be billeted short-term on site.
Mukono Town Teaching
Are you enthusiastic about early childhood development? Do you love kids and want to teach them about the world? Our partner works with four private primary schools in Mukono town that cater exclusively to the education, housing and feeding of needy children and orphans. However, local education is largely rote learning. Come and feed their hungry little brains!
Volunteers are involved in academics, arts and crafts, structured play, music/singing, sports, and public health. The main focus is to provide children with a loving, creative, interactive environment in which to flourish. Volunteers choose which subjects and age groups to teach upon arrival. They work independently to plan lessons using government curriculum and textbooks. Please be aware that kids come with only pencils and exercise books. Bring any further tools or materials you wish to use.
No teaching qualifications are required although volunteers should be reliable, organized and creative.
Uganda Application Form
Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.
We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 14 years experience in placing 20005 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.
How GVN works...
The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 14 years experience in the field.
At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in Uganda and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.
GVN Projects: Only US $250 application fee + US $500 per week (for the first four weeks of placement), and $200 per week of placement after this. This includes accommodation, meals (as specified below), coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up and it is due at least 10 weeks prior to your arrival. If signing up closer to the time, special arrangements can be made for the due date.
The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.
Your program package includes:
Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
Your Program Guide, with all the details on Uganda and your placement.
Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.
Accommodation: Home stay, volunteer dormitory or onsite at your project.
Meals: 3 meals daily.
Project Donation: Included.
Airport pickup: On arrival date.
Training: In-country orientation.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency e-mail.
An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.
The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $30 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, and entertainment.
Tell me more about Uganda?
Uganda is a land locked country in East Africa whose land area of 241,139 sq. km shares borders with Sudan to its north, Kenya to the east, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Tanzania and Rwanda to the south. 40 ethnic groups make up the 21 million people of Uganda, 90% of which live in the rural areas, undertaking subsistence agricultural activities. Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water body in the world, provides for the small-scale fish industry in the south and south-eastern region. In the drier northern region of the country, millet and sorghum are the staple foods, whereas the south and the western region feed mainly on plantain (matooke) and cassava. Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita income at US$ 276 and a life expectancy of 47 years for men and 50 years for women which is expected to worsen as a consequence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There are 9.1 million children under 18 years of age of which 1.9 million are orphans. The under five mortality rate is 156 children per 1,000 live births and 38.3% of every new born gets stunted due to malnutrition. For more information I suggest you purchase the Lonely Planet’s guide to East Africa.
What is the climate like in Uganda?
The best times to visit are December-March and June-September. It can be somewhat rainy then, but not as rainy as in the rainy season, March-June. December-February and June-July are the driest times, when things can even be a bit dusty. Although the country lies astride the equator, most of Uganda is on a plateau 3,600-6,000 ft/900-1,830 m above sea level. Temperatures in some parts of the country can be quite cool owing to the country's high altitude, despite its position on the equator. The mountain areas become much cooler, and the top of Mount Elgon is often covered with snow. Other parts of the country are much warmer.
What kind of volunteer work is available?
We have a number of projects offered by our partner in the Mukono and Jinja area. The programs are aimed at providing primary and secondary education to needy children, orphan care, community outreach and counseling, and adult literacy. Many of the projects will involve a flexible schedule of various community-based activities. Volunteers will be contributing to community-based development at the lowest local level.
Do I have to be from New Zealand?
No, you can volunteer through the Global Volunteer Network from any where in the world.
What age do you have to be to volunteer?
You must be 18 years old and above. There is no upper limit. You just have to be in good health.
Do I need to speak English to become a volunteer?
Yes it would be helpful if you speak English. You may have English as your second language and that is also fine. While there are many local languages spoken in Uganda, many of the people speak English. In the villages where the programs are located, the commonly spoken languages are Luganda (Mukono District), and Lusoga (Jinja District). It will help you to learn a few phrases in this language while you are there.
When do I need to arrive in Uganda?
You should arrive on the 1st or 15th of the month as airport pickups are done at this time. You will be met at the airport if you are planning to begin volunteering straight away. If you are planning some tourist time in Uganda before beginning your placement, then arrangements can be made for you to be picked up in Kampala at a later time.
What immunizations/vaccines will I need?
Diphtheria and tetanus
Hepatitis A & B
Yellow fever - a certificate proving you have had this should be shown at the airport on arrival
Malaria (needs to be closely discussed with doctor)
Some of these can be taken in oral form so please do discuss all options with your doctor to see what is best for you. Some people can be affected quite differently to others by medication.
A Yellow fever vaccination is legally required to enter Uganda if coming from an at-risk area and you will need to provide a certificate to prove you have had it to obtain a Visa.
What are the living arrangements when volunteering?
Typically, after you are met at the airport you will be taken to your accommodation. In some of the village placements you will share a room with one other volunteer and in some you will have a private room (in a house with another volunteer). If in Mukono Town, you will live in a house with up to 7 other volunteers and will either share a room with one other volunteer or have a room of your own. Meals and water for bathing will be provided by a hired local person and/or your supervising NGO. You are advised to buy your own bottled water for drinking once you arrive in Uganda. The next day you will be introduced to the NGO staff you will be working with.
Can I bring my family/children to this program with me?
Due to limited placements in this program, the spaces in the accommodation are reserved for volunteers only. If you are volunteering and would like to bring your family, you will need to arrange separate accommodation for them outside of that which is arranged for you. As the demands of volunteering are quite strenuous, physically, mentally, and most of all, emotionally, we recommend volunteering on your own so that you may focus on the community and your personal health.
Can vegetarians be catered for in this program?
Vegetarians are fine if they are willing to settle for a limited selection of food. Breakfast is generally tea, coffee, bread, egg (boiled or scrambled). Lunch is typically served on site and volunteers eat with other staff and students. The food will probably be posho (cornbread) and beans which does not include meat. For dinner you will end up eating rice and beans predominantly. So you’ll need to supplement if this is not acceptable to you.
Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?
Yes. Any time that you are not expected to be working you are free to do as you please. Teaching hours vary from 2 - 5 hours per day. Generally, the total hours that you are expected to be "on the job", in various activities, is 35-40 per week. This is obviously flexible as you will be your own motivator. The locals are very friendly and would be more than happy to entertain you or show you some of the local attractions - particularly animals. You may want to spend some time in Uganda before or after volunteering to see more of the country. You can survive on as little as $20 (U.S) a day travelling in Uganda. You can also spend much more if you want a bit of luxury.
Are there more expenses once I arrive?
The in-country fee covers all meals during your placement. If you arrive early or intend on staying on in Uganda for longer than you are volunteering then you will need to have spare money for this time. Also some money may be required for your days off depending on what you intend doing. Other costs include buying bottled water, departure tax, and any shopping you will do personally.
How safe is it to volunteer in Uganda?
We work very hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering. Uganda has a democratic electoral process and a stable economy. You should use common sense as you would anywhere, particularly in the cities, but generally the Ugandan people are very warm and friendly towards foreigners, so you will be well looked after.
How many volunteers are there on site at the same time?
You should expect between 5 - 15 volunteers each month. There will be some that are long term and have started earlier than yourself and others arriving later. Volunteers in the Mukono Town project have more interaction as a group (in their living situation) whereas those in village placements are typically on their own or with one other volunteer so would need to make an extra effort to meet other volunteers.
What resources are available for teaching when I'm volunteering? Do I need to bring my own?
Any teaching resources you have that would be of benefit to you in your teaching placement would ideally be taken with you. You can discuss ideas with our partner in Uganda via email. We will send you an information resource with ideas on teaching to help you in your placement in case you are doing the teaching project.
Who organizes my visa for my volunteer placement?
You will organize your Visa through your travel agent or independently. For citizens of most countries, you can do this at the airport when you arrive or before you get to Uganda. Also our detailed program guide includes links to Uganda Embassies through out the world.
Do I need travel insurance?
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
How do I pay my fees?
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2016 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2016 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
Do I need a police clearance document to volunteer in this program?
Yes, all volunteers in this program will be required to provide a police clearance document. This is because volunteers will be working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals. To obtain a police clearance you will need to contact your local police station to find out what their procedure is. Normally, you will be asked to complete an application form authorizing the check to be done, pay a fee and a few weeks later the check will arrive in the mail. A copy of your police clearance will need to be sent to GVN before your placement begins and you will need to take the original with you when you volunteer.
Is there any time of the year when I can't volunteer?
The Mukono Town Teaching Program is closed between the following dates for school holidays:
April 15th - May 31st
August 15th - September 15th
December 1st - January 31st
In addition to this, please note that other programs may be limited during the Christmas/New Years period. If you would like to volunteer during this time, we are able to place volunteers in programs on a case-by-case basis, but work will be limited due to public holidays and celebrations.
The Republic of Uganda is located on the eastern African plateau 800 km inland from the Indian Ocean. It has a total area of 236,000 sq km including 44,081 sq km of inland water. There are several fresh-water lakes (Victoria, Albert and Edward) which are shared with neighbouring countries and make up the basin for the Upper (White) Nile. The country has an equatorial climate, modified by altitude. Uganda is bordered by Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania and Rwanda to the south, and Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.
Uganda has ten national parks, ten wildlife reserves and seven wildlife sanctuaries, some of which are acclaimed as being amongst Africa's best.
Development in Uganda
Throughout Africa, the AIDS crisis is placing serious strains on societies in a number of ways. First of all, it is draining the already limited health services as greater numbers of HIV patients become in need of care. HIV/AIDS has also increased the mortality rate of healthcare workers making their already depleted numbers in even shorter supply.
HIV/AIDS is also affecting the young adult group in society who are the prime income earners for their household. When young children lose their parents, they are often forced to leave school in order to work. Households with one or more HIV patients have to spend a greater amount of their meagre income on care and funeral costs and cut back on basic necessities and, in order to cope, they may be forced to borrow from other households and use up their savings. This causes many families to fall into further poverty.
Due to high birth rates and excess mortality as a result of AIDS, half the population are made up of children aged 0-15.
Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita income at US$ 276 and a life expectancy of 47 years for men and 50 years for women which is expected to worsen as a consequence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The under five mortality rate is 156 children per 1,000 live births and 38.3% of every new born gets stunted due to malnutrition.
Through our partners’ work, local people receive education and training resulting in a diminishing need for outside help.
International volunteers complement local staff, and provide cultural exchange and skills to all levels of society. Your presence and care not only builds self-worth and confidence in adults, but gives kids a chance to have some fun and express their creativity through sport and art programs. We’ve found it’s not always what volunteers teach, but how they teach that makes the impact. Come prepared to give encouragement, creativity, and love to everyone you meet.
What else can I do in Uganda?
Volunteers in Uganda have no shortage of opportunities to take in the natural treasures of the country.
Start by white water rafting on the Nile, settle into a boat ride at Murchison Falls National Park, or take an amazing trek to view endangered Gorillas in the jungle. Then spoil yourself to a spot of shopping at the Kampala market and while you’re there enjoy great coffee at any of the wireless internet cafes in town. If you’re lucky, you can catch a Ugandan wedding and don a traditional Gomez to look the part!