FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is ASTCF Volunteers Program?

Africa Sustainable Tourism Care Foundation is an African based non-profit organization, that has been established with diverse and holistic approach to promote innovative sustainable tourism practices that are geared to reduce poverty, empower local communities, fight gender inequality, encourage conservation of cultural and natural heritage and foster sustainable development through tourism.

 

We work directly with communities to understand the obstacles they face and provide solutions specific to their needs. These solutions provide jobs, community capacity building, conservation management, educational opportunities, and, ultimately, the ability for people to better their own lives. However, we understand that tackling sustainability alone can seem like a resource intensive, cost-prohibitive and complex process. We have developed the humanitarian volunteer program where we facilitate career breaks, gap years, retirement breaks and expeditions for the benefit and advancement of education and global citizenship, including but not restricted to; training, education, humanitarian relief, sustainable community development, healthcare, community capacity building, construction, wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

 

We believe that there are so many responsible travelers with a global wealth of skills, knowledge and resources who are able and willing to have the opportunity to bring benefits to the people in the under developed world like Uganda.

 

Our Volunteer Program is dedicated to provide true, affordable and life-changing volunteer abroad programs. We are passionate about our role as a catalyst for connection, learning and positive transformation.

 

Our Volunteer program is a unique program that offers many possibilities of volunteer service for men and women who wish to devote a few weeks or up to two years of their lives to international volunteer work. Their skills will be put to use in supporting the development initiatives of local communities.

What is ASTCF Volunteer Mission Statement?

ASTCF Volunteer Program’s mission is twofold:

  1. Provide affordable and life-changing volunteer programs, and to bring about positive transformation
  2. To empower local communities and be the organization of choice for all ethical and responsible travel

Our people-centered approach focuses on grassroots projects, cultural immersion and travel learning opportunities, and offering memorable experiences to our international volunteers.

Why volunteer with ASTCF?

ASTCF Volunteer Program was set up to provide affordable, high quality and flexible volunteering projects for people wishing to volunteer abroad. The organization is built on ten strong foundations that we try to provide every volunteer with – affordability, flexibility, quality, support, safety, friendship, need, loyalty, experience and enjoyment.

We believe that ASTCF stands tall in our sector, providing far more than just a glorified holiday which some organizations offer. Instead we offer sustainable, high calibre experiences, with tailored professional support right from the point of application onwards.

How can I get involved with ASTCF Volunteer Program?

There are many ways to get involved with ASTCF Volunteer Program. You can volunteer abroad by participating in a ASTCF Volunteer Program, intern abroad by participating in our Internship Program, or by participating in Group Travel Program or spread cross cultural understanding in your local community by joining the Adventure Tours. Another way to get involved with ASTCF is through giving, where your help will go to support local communities and special projects. Read more about ASTCF Fund!

What makes ASTCF Volunteer programs special?

ASTCF’s unique approach combines full cultural immersion, cross-cultural learning and meaningful community service work for people of all ages, skill levels, and nationalities. ASTCF programs typically include: continuous support from the ASTCF team; orientation and evaluation by on ASTCF site staff; meaningful community service work in a variety of fields; enriching cultural activities, such as local handicraft making, cooking lessons, language and traditional dance lessons, and much more; exciting excursions such as weekend trips; a committed host family and home-stay lodging; delicious local meals, welcome and farewell dinners; a ASTCF T-shirt, and awards upon successful program completion; and lasting memories and new friends.

What kind of volunteer work can I do?

ASTCF programs provide a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and immerse themselves in a foreign culture, while making a difference working for important causes. An ASTCF program can involve many types of volunteer work, with a range of project options for volunteers to work on. Community work typically involves:

  • Public Health Education (improving health of local communities)
  • Medical Care (supporting local clinics and hospitals)
  • English Teaching (making a difference in the lives of children)
  • Sports Coaching (developing sporting ability and talent of children)
  • Youth Development (improving lives of vulnerable youth)
  • Women Empowerment (improving lives of marginalized women)
  • Construction/Renovation (building infrastructure in local communities)
  • Environment Conservation (promoting sustainable environment practices)
  • Sustainable Agriculture (promoting productive agricultural practices)

What can I gain from participating in a ASTCF program?

ASTCF Volunteer Program participants gain much from their experiences volunteering abroad, such as they:

  • Broaden their global perspectives;
  • Gain valuable experience working in an international community;
  • Enhance cultural understanding and become a more effective cross-cultural communicator;
  • Develop leadership skills;
  • Gain valuable language skills;
  • Test their ability to face new challenges;
  • Improve team-building skills;
  • Build lifelong friendships.

What is daily life like on a program?

Daily life on a program is dependent on the location and specific project. In general, ASTCF Volunteer Program participants work 25-40 hours per week at a meaningful community service projects and participate in varied cultural activities and excursions during their free time. Reading Testimonials or visiting the ASTCF Photo Gallery may help you to discover what daily life on a program can be.

Will someone meet me at the airport?

Yes, please send your flight itinerary to ASTCF at least two weeks in advance of the expedition start date. An ASTCF staff person or representative will meet you in the public area outside Customs and bring you to your hotel or to the volunteer guest house.

What should I do if my flight is delayed?

Please notify ASTCF as soon as possible and confirm your new arrival times so the expedition leader can arrange your transportation.

What should I do if I arrive before the scheduled arrival date?

If you choose to spend time in-country before the expedition begins, please plan to meet your team at the designated airport or hotel within the specified arrival window on the first day of the program in order to be transported to the local office and the field sites.

What happens when I arrive?

You will be met upon arrival at Entebbe International airport by a friendly ASTCF representative and taken to your hotel or guest house for an overnight stay. Once you have had time to rest, the ASTCF local staff or program coordinator will be conducting an orientation with you. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Uganda – introduction to Uganda, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, language basics (luganda), travel opportunities, introduction to project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

And after the orientation, the program coordinator will introduce you to your project and the local area. Your in-country coordinator will be more than happy to help you settle in and acclimatize; you'll feel at home in no time in this friendly, vibrant country.

Where will I be staying?

Depending on your project placement location, most of our accommodations are set in a guest house style or a home-stay. The accommodation will of course be clean and comfortable and will quickly become your second home. Some accommodation facilities do have the western toilets and showers whiles other do have the African style toilet and shower facilities which are shared between 4 or 5 people and, while we can’t always guarantee the hottest water, the facilities are more than adequate. The house is equipped with a lounge, tv, kitchen, hand washing facilities, telephones, and spare electricity sockets and wifi internet access. Life at the guesthouse is simple, unsophisticated and fun, perfect for unwinding from a busy day!

How does ASTCF strive to improve programs and assess impact?

ASTCF continually strives to improve your experience. ASTCF team work closely with all on-site staff to monitor and evaluate the programs year round to assess impact on the ground. In addition, once a volunteer has returned from their program, they are invited to complete an online survey giving detailed feedback on their in-country experience. We take these surveys seriously and follow up on all constructive feedback, as a way to continually improve our programs.

Who participates in ASTCF programs?

Students, families, professionals and older adults have enjoyed and benefited from participating in ASTCF programs. People from all walks of life, countries, and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

What is ASTCF’s Code of Conduct for the program?

All volunteers must sign a ASTCF contract stating that they will act according to the policies set by ASTCF, the local hosting organizations and the laws of Uganda. In addition, ASTCF requests five things of you: flexibility; courage; open-mindedness; tolerance; and compassion.

Application Process

How do I become a ASTCF participant?

Enrolling in a ASTCF Volunteer program is easy. Simply fill out an online application with a fee of $105, which is required to validate and initiate the application process. It will only take you a short time to complete this form online application. However, to simply start the placement process, an upfront deposit of $105 is needed, which will be deducted from the total program fee. This deposit fee is nonrefundable! You can make your payment via western union money transfer or make a bank wire transfer for your fee payment, or you can pay the fee online via secure credit card payment.

How does the program deposit fee work?

Once we receive your application and the program deposit fee we begin to arrange your placement. If during this process we determine that we are unable to accept your application or are unable to place you in the program you have applied for, we will refund your deposit fee. If you decide not to participate in the program or wish to cancel for any other reason, the deposit fee is non-refundable.

Why do I have to pay to volunteer abroad?

ASTCF is a community based organization which has initiated its own community development projects which cannot be run without funding. ASTCF also works in partnerships with locally-run, grassroots organizations in the communities that our volunteers serve. These organizations have been identified by ASTCF for the work they do, the impact they have on their community, and their need and desire to have volunteer support. Typically, they have few resources, and are not able to pay for housing, meals, transportation, airport pickups, or support for international volunteers. In addition to covering these expenses, your program fee also covers all of the support provided to you by ASTCF during and after your program. While you could show up in Uganda and try to find a volunteer opportunity on your own, volunteering through a reputable organization like ASTCF allows you to get to work immediately on a meaningful project in your area of interest, with the peace of mind of knowing that you have a support network behind you all the way.

How can I offset the cost of the program fee?

Many volunteers fund-raise for their program fee. Please read our Fundraising Guide for tips about fundraising for your program.

When should I apply?

There is no deadline for registering your program. However, we encourage participants to submit their applications or book their program as early in advance as possible due to visa requirements and other processes involved in coordinating placement. We recommended that participants submit their applications at least 12 weeks prior to the intended departure date. Last minute program placements are possible in some cases. Please give us a call so we can work with you to arrange your project.

What documents do I need to submit with my application?

The initial document required is our completed application form, which can be found online. We reserve the right to request further credentials; in most cases information contained in the application is always sufficient.

What happens once I submit my application?

Once ASTCF receives and reviews your complete application, we then process your personal assignment as per your qualification, experience and requests. Upon completion, we will forward to you, your confirmation and placement details.

How long does it take to receive confirmation?

The application process may take up to 2 weeks. However, in the event that an applicant requires quicker placement due to time constraints, we request you contact ASTCF offices prior to submitting your application.

Are there any necessary requirements needed?

Participants for our program must: be 18 years old and above; be open-minded and willing to teach others, as well a passion for helping those in need; be in good mental and physical health; have enthusiasm for living abroad, meeting new people and embracing varied cultures.

I have a child(ren) under 18 and wishes to volunteer. Can they?

If a person is under 18 and wishes to volunteer abroad by themselves then the short answer is no. However, if they are volunteering as part of a group or with a family, guardian or parent/caregiver (above 18) then this is fine. All we ask is that when they apply they note on their form the name of the person they are volunteering with (and their minder also does this on their form), so we can ensure they are placed together and our staff also know they are eligible to volunteer on our program.

Can we volunteer as a group?

Yes. ASTCF accepts group booking and can even organize special projects and discount rates. You can read more about group volunteering on our group custom page.

Who organizes my visa?

Securing a tourist visa is the volunteer’s responsibility. Visas can either be acquired on arrival or before you leave. It is up to you how you get yours but there is generally no problem getting your visa on arrival Remember, as a volunteer tourist all you require is a tourist visa.

Please contact ASTCF office or contact your nearest Uganda embassy to learn more about visa, visa fees and visa extensions. Much information can be learned online by searching out Uganda’s Embassy or consulate. Your visa supplements and passport is your entry permit to Uganda, without which you may be denied access, a risk ASTCF suggests avoiding at any and all costs.

What is the difference between an internship and a volunteer program?

The main difference is the focus of the program. An internship is a professional, hands-on experience in your career field of interest. Interns work at a local organization and learn how that particular field operates in a foreign country and culture. A volunteer program is service-based and no background knowledge or experience is necessary to participate. Volunteering requires flexibility and a willingness to serve communities in need.

Who manages the programs?

ASTCF Volunteer Placement coordinator is responsible for researching appropriate volunteer/internship projects as per the qualifications, skills and interests of the applicants.

What are the daily schedules while at project?

Project schedules vary for each project. Most projects are from Monday to Friday, for approximately 5-6 hours a day. Most participants have the weekends and evenings off to sight see or explore Uganda on their own though ASTCF can arrange this for the volunteers.

Where are volunteer opportunities in Uganda located?

ASTCF has a well-established office in Kampala, giving volunteers equal access to numerous part of Uganda. Most of our projects are located in Fort Portal, Mbarara, Kamuli and Kampala Districts of Uganda.

Are there any, educational or language requirements to join ASTCF?

Apart from the medical and healthcare program, all programs have a general requirement of knowledge of English. It’s helpful if you speak English. You may have English as your second language that is also fine. While there are many local languages spoken in Uganda, many of the people speak English. In communities where our projects are located, the commonly spoken languages are Luganda (Central). It will help you to learn a few phrases in this language while you are there.

When are the programs available?

Our programs are available year round, and begin on any 1st Monday and 3rd Monday of the month.

How long are the programs?

The length depends on the type of program that you pick. Volunteer programs usually run between two (2) to twelve (12) weeks time-frame. Intern programs run generally from 2 to 6 months, with some projects running as short as 1 month.

Can I go for a duration that is not listed on the website?

Yes, at times we customize program durations to fit the needs of our participants. If you would like to stay longer, please contact ASTCF office to discuss your options.

Can I combine programs?

Some of our programs, are not very close in proximity, making the combination of programs difficult. The programs are also designed to be full-time experiences, meaning that you are not likely to have too much extra time. For participants who have multiple areas of interest, we often recommend participating in two programs, one after the other, in order to get around any commuting difficulties or time conflicts. Please contact ASTCF office to check into customizing a multiple/combination program.

What is the probability of getting my first choice program?
Chances are high that you will get your first choice. If the program is full, or if program requirements are not met, our staff can often help you find another strong option that meets your needs and goals. Consider applying early for the best chance at getting your first choice in programs.

Is there a discount for returning volunteers or volunteers registering as a group on ASTCF programs?

All participants who have completed a ASTCF program are eligible to receive a $25 registration fee refund when they register for their next ASTCF program. Volunteers who also register as a group of10 persons plus on ASTCF program for the same trip are also eligible to receive a $25 registration fee refund for each subsequent ASTCF program that they register for.

However, volunteers also have the option to support ASTCF Fund which support program development and projects in the communities where our volunteers work. Instead of receiving your $25 refund in exchange for your return or when you register as a group on our programs, you may choose to donate that $25 to the ASTCF Fund.

Can I take time out from volunteering to go sightseeing?

Definitely! Volunteer travelers will often spend thousands of dollars on their airfares and while we believe our trips are the most authentic way to experience a country (living and working with local people), tourist activities and in country travel will only enhance your experience. ASTCF encourage you to take time out from volunteer work to travel and explore the country. As tourism NGO, we can always organize this for you to make this easier for you.

Who organizes my flight?

International flight coordination and payment of international airfare is a volunteer’s responsibility.

At which airport should I arrive in Uganda?

Book your flight to arrive at Entebbe International Airport, Uganda.

If my assignment beings on Monday, when should I arrive?

Participants are advised to arrive one day prior to the start of the program. The program fee will cover expenses beginning of the first day to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program and/or stay beyond the last day of the program, expenses will be the responsibility of the volunteer (usually $30 per day for room/food in hostel).

Who will meet me in the airport?

You must send your flight information to ASTCF offices before your departure, and a follow-up call is suggested as your departure date draws closer. You will be met by one of ASTCF’s representatives, who will be holding a sign with your name, waiting for your arrival outside of the airport.

If you miss our representative due to flight delay or confusion, please call ASTCF office number provided in your placement details. This rarely happens, but be prepared by keeping this important information with you as you travel. Make sure you look carefully for your pick-up representative, as it is normally busy outside of the airport.

Important Note: Once participants purchase airline tickets, we request flight information be forwarded to our office by email, to enable us to arrange your airport pick-up.

What should I do if I get delayed or miss my flight?

Call ASTCF office from the airport to notify us of the possible delayed arrival time. Once you arrive, call us again so that we can arrange a new pick-up time.

How can I get to my accommodations from the airport, if I did not connect with ASTCF’s representative in the airport?

In such event, you should hire a taxi at the airport. Request the taxi deliver you to the hotel designated in your placement details/pre-departure information. Remember to request a receipt from the driver.

Important: Ensure that you have contacted ASTCF office BEFORE boarding a taxi.

What do I need prior to departure from my home country?

  • Make sure that you pack all your necessary documents: passport, copy of passport and at least one other form of picture ID.
  • Bring your volunteer assignment placement details.
  • Prepare financially to cover unforeseen expenses up to $50-100/week for extra expenses and travel to your project each day.
  • Prepare your mind and spirit for the experience to which you have committed. Culture shock affects everyone and it may be so strong that you want to quit the week after arrival.

If I want to arrive earlier than when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations?

You can arrive up to a week early for your assignment; however, you are responsible for making and paying for these arrangements (including accommodations and food), and must still meet our In Country Program placement coordinator at the airport on the designated date.

When should I depart after my program assignment?

We ask that participants depart from Uganda on Saturday following the completion of their assignment.

From which airport shall I depart to volunteer in Uganda?

All participants should depart from Entebbe International Airport, unless you receive other instructions in your placement details.

Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?

ASTCF does not offer airport drop-off services. You will need to arrange a taxi or bus ride to the airport following your assignment’s completion. This is a simple process and our coordinator will normally be very happy to assist you with the arrangements.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is required to volunteer abroad. While ASTCF does everything it can to ensure an exciting and memorable experience, it is very wise to ensure you have adequate travel insurance, just in case you fall sick, bags go missing or something is stolen. It should cover medical emergencies, trip cancellation, personal belongings and personal liability.

Where will I be staying?

Accommodations vary according to the specific project. Where you stay during your time as a volunteer can have a huge impact on your ability to enjoy the experience. That’s why all of our projects ensure that the accommodation they provide is safe, secure and comfortable. The type of accommodation depends very much on the project you are working with, but generally it will fall into one of the following categories: Home-stay; Hostel; Volunteer Apartment/ House sharing with other volunteers; Private apartment; tented camp (for expeditions); Eco-Camp.

There are several bedrooms and volunteers normally share a room with a same gender volunteer. It is a perfect place for participant to live safely and comfortably while making many new friends. Most of our projects are located within 1-20 KM of our Volunteer Guest House so you may walk or ride a local bus to your project. In the evening when you return to Guest House, you can relax, eat dinner, explore local areas or simply share experience with volunteer comrades.

Are single rooms available during volunteer work in Uganda?

Occasionally, in most cases you will share a room with a same-gender volunteer. Please note your request and we will do our best to meet your needs.

Can I volunteer with a friend(s) or a partner?

Yes, we will ensure you are placed in the same accommodation and project as a friends or partner. However, you need to inform us in advance and mention the requirement in the application form, since it may depend upon individual accommodation availability. Please be reminded that volunteers of different genders will not be allowed to stay in the same room, unless they are a married couple.

Will there be other foreign participants at my project site?

Yes, but this depends on the exact assignment and accommodation placement. If you want to travel with a companion or group, we allow and encourage this option.

What are the bathrooms facilities like?

Bathroom facilities depend up on the location and project. Most of our Guest Houses and host families have running water and western style toilets. However, in some projects/accommodations there are varying toilet and bathroom situations.

What are the laundry arrangements?

In most cases, laundry will be washed by hand. It is the responsibility of volunteers.

Can I bring and use appliances from my home country?

Yes, but you will need an electrical converter. Your local small appliance specialty or travel retailer can advise you on plugs and voltage converters.

Who manages my meals?

ASTCF organizes food and accommodations for the extent of your volunteer assignment.

What are the meals like?

You will be provided with 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). If you wish to eat out, there are a large numbers of restaurants and diners to suit all tastes and budgets. However, food and drinks outside of mealtimes are the volunteer’s responsibility.

Do you accommodate special diets?

We can only provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. We cannot accommodate special dietary needs (i.e. diabetics). If you require a special menu beyond vegetarian needs, you will need to be responsible for your own meals.

Will bottled water be provided?

No, the purchase of bottled water is a volunteer’s responsibility.

Health

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.

Is the running tap water safe for drink?

No, tap water is not safe to drink. We recommend that you purchase bottled water for your consumption, but make sure that the cap’s seal is not broken! You can also request that your host family boil water for you each day for you to consume.

Is the food safe if I buy it from a street vendor?

No! Uganda is still considered a developing country and you should be cautious. While you are in Uganda, food safety should be a major consideration. You can hardly resist the tempting novelty of street vendors and their food variety, but you should abstain. Food safety problems can range from chemicals and contaminants, to bacteria and some other diseases. In Uganda, poor food cooking, preparation and storage, improper cleaning and disinfecting of cooking supplies is very common among street vendors. Therefore, we strongly recommend you not to buy food from street vendors.

What are the sanitary conditions in Uganda?

Be prepared and never expect a clean toilet 100% of the time. Carry some tissue in case you need to use the public toilet. In Uganda, toilets generally do not do well when flushing large amounts of items or feminine hygiene products so do not flush them and throw them away in the trash. In some areas/restaurants, toilet systems are old, have very narrow plumbing and are easily blocked. In these cases, a small basket is usually placed beside the toilet (for your used toilet paper). Use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are tend to be clean. Still, they may not always have toilet paper.

What are the health requirements? Do I need vaccinations?

You are solely responsible for taking all appropriate medical precautions. ASTCF does not recommend any specific vaccinations, but we do advise that participants visit their physician or a travel medicine clinic for recommendations. However, a Yellow Fever vaccination is legally required to enter Uganda.

What type of insurance do you recommend?

We strongly recommend medical insurance that covers you while you are outside your home country, and trip cancellation insurance. Your travel agent can refer you to travel insurance providers.

Money

Are ATMs easily available?
Major towns have ATM machines, although not all will accept international cards. You can withdraw cash from most international banks from ATM machines, but $2-4 surcharges apply for each transaction.

Master, Visa and American Express cards are usually accepted at the more expensive restaurants and hotels. Use Caution: when paying by credit card as there is potential for fraud.

Ensure that you notify your home bank of your intent to travel to Uganda. This will provide you necessary information and alleviate any confusion at your home bank regarding international transactions (which can result in a cautionary freeze on your account in some cases).

What is the local currency and how do I know the exchange rate?

To get Ugandan Shilling (UGX) Current exchange rates visit: www.xe.com

Where should I exchange my money?

Money exchanges by cash or traveler’s checks can be made at various bank branches found throughout Uganda, mostly in the major towns. Remember, you may have to present your passport whenever you change currency or traveler checks.

How much money should I bring with me?

ASTCF manages food and rooms for our volunteers throughout the assignment; therefore, you will not need more money to pay for these expenses. However, if you plan to take part in activities outside of our organization or buy some mementos, you will need to bring extra money.

On a side note, you must also remember the fee for visas, which can range from $50-100 depending on the length of stay. There may also be an airport tax that you pay upon your departure from Uganda. You will want to determine the amount of extra money you bring based on these factors.

Is it safe to carry cash with me?

In Uganda, people from America or European are considered to be wealthy regardless of personal financial circumstances. This will make you a target for pick-pockets and scam artists. Therefore, you are advised to be cautious with your money when traveling through Uganda. Please remain alert and remember these suggestions:

  • Avoid external money purses, hanging backpacks and camera bags.
  • Limit the amount of jewelry worn, and don’t flash money or your wallet.
  • Remain aware of the exchange rate and actual cost of items.
  • Take requests for hand outs or donations lightly.
  • Store money in a secure and well-hidden place or safe at your accommodations.
  • Carry money in different pockets and places on your person.
  • Travel in pairs or groups to the ATM.

What about tipping in Uganda?

While tipping is not standard practice in Uganda, it is always greatly appreciated.

Note: Tour Guides and drivers should always be tipped!

Field

How will ASTCF continue to help me in the field?

Once your volunteer program begins, our local staff members will stay in constant touch with you. Volunteers staying in our Guest House will see our coordinator and staff daily. ASTCF projects are approximately 10-25 km from our Guest House (and usually located in rural settings outside of the cities). Our coordinator stays in touch with you via personal visits, telephone calls or emails, while the director of each project will serve as participants’ immediate supervisor.

How can I maintain communication?

ASTCF coordinator has a mobile phone so participants are able to reach him with questions and concerns. We recommend that you ask questions and make comments regarding your experience. Many minor issues can be avoided with a just little extra communication before they develop into major issues.

Your project will have local staff members in addition to our coordination staff. If your project is located a great distance from our offices, then our staff will communicate via email and/or phone. It’s our job to make sure that you are safe, healthy and happy.

Communication

How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in Uganda?

International direct dialing from Uganda is available. Phone cards are obtainable and calls can be made from Mobile phone. Internet cafes are also available in most towns, although they can sometimes be noisy as they are a popular spot for the youth to play online games.

How can my family members contact me?

Many parts of the country have good communications infrastructure. You will be able to easily send and receive emails and call internationally. You can also use a mobile phone. If you bring a mobile phone that is SIM card compatible you can get a SIM card and a Ugandan mobile number for approximately 2,500Ush (US$1 - $2) which is great for keeping in touch with other volunteers and also home. Both International and local/long distance calls can be made. Most American phones will not accept Ugandan SIM cards as they need to be unlocked. However, getting a Ugandan phone which you can get for as cheap as US$20 is often far simpler. NB: The country code of Uganda is +256. You will be guided more on this during orientation.

Can I bring my telephone from my home country?

Yes, but it may or may not work. You will want to contact your mobile phone provider to make sure that your phone will work while you are in Uganda, but remember that roaming will apply and those charges can be very, very expensive. To avoid them, you may be able to buy a local SIM card to use in your phone. Research and confirm this information before traveling.

Culture

Is there a special dress code that I should follow while staying in Uganda?

Participants should dress conservatively when at their assignments Jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable. No short-shorts and tank tops please. Remember to consider the regional religious beliefs of Uganda, which may be extremely conservative and revealing clothing is unacceptable – shorts and skirts must be at least knee-length and no one should show their shoulders.

Please note: When entering temples, mosques or buildings of religious importance always check what dress attire is required. In most cases, covering your head is required also take off your shoes and be dressed conservatively.

What should I know about religious conduct in Uganda?

Uganda respects different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs and moral concepts. You may practice on your own accord.

Important note: About 85% of Ugandans are Christians, followed by Muslims with about 12% of the population, other religions include: Hinduism, Judaism and indigenous beliefs.

How do I respect the people of Uganda?

Uganda’s culture is rich in customs and traditions. People of Uganda enjoy sharing their customs and traditions with foreigners so feel free to take part with them. You can go with your host family on outings if they ask you to or invite them along with you to go on an outing. Be inclusive and show respect of their culture.

What is the climate like in Uganda?

Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform as the altitude modifies the climate. Lightweight clothing and rain wear 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.

Official Ugandan Holidays - 2015
01 - Jan New Year’s Day
26 - Jan Liberation Day
08 - Mar Women’s Day
29 - Mar Good Friday
01 - Apr Easter Monday
01 - May Labor Day
09 - Jun Martyr’s Day
09 - Oct Independence Day
24 - Dec Christmas Eve (half-day)
25 – Dec Christmas Day
26 - Dec Boxing Day
31 - Dec New Year’s Eve (half-day)

Materials

Usually, items of daily use are available in Uganda at a cheaper price than in your country of origin. However, we suggest volunteers pack the following items:

  • Mosquito net/repellent
  • Insect net/repellent
  • Water purification tablets
  • First-aid kit (medical)
  • Electricity adapter/converter
  • Footwear (for work and travel)
  • Work gloves (for conservation or construction projects)
  • Over the door organizer (with several hooks – for towels etc)
  • Flashlight, lantern(in case of power outages)
  • Toiletries
  • Towel and personal bath kit
  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camera
  • Mobile phone (unlocked – for local SIM card use)
  • Ear plugs (for light sleeper)

Gift

What gift should I bring for my project?

It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for the staff who will be your hosts. You are not required to do so, but if you choose to bring a gift it can be simple. We suggest a box of chocolates, a small perfume, body cream, a t-shirt with a hometown/ country logo, pictures of your family and local post cards.

If you want to bring gifts for your project and if you are working for a school, please bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and construction paper pads, as well as soccer balls and games for the children to enjoy. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring enough for a number of children.