Volunteer in Uganda
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 7 meaningful project options
- The program is based in the town of Mutungo, which is located 15 kilometers from the capital city of Kampala
- Accommodation in volunteer houses
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from $270 for 1 week
- Between 5 and 15 volunteers start in Uganda each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Uganda to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Uganda will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Uganda with your new-found friends.
The program is based in the town of Mutungo, which is located 15 kilometers from the capital city of Kampala. Volunteer orientation and general administration is carried out in Mutungo by our Uganda partner organization. Volunteer placements are located in and around the capital city of Kampala. Possible placement locations include, but are not limited to, Kampala, Kijjansi, Mutungo, Bwebajja and Rubaga.
The volunteer program begins on the first and third Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks.
The objective of the Teaching project in Uganda is to contribute to the development of under-resourced local schools and provide opportunities for Ugandans from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive a quality education. Teaching in a Ugandan school is a truly humbling experience and although the students have experienced tough upbringings, they are extremely polite, cheerful and eager to learn. Volunteers on the Teaching project are placed in nursery, primary or secondary schools, where they work alongside local teachers. Typical subjects include English, Math, Sports, Science, History, Music and Social Studies. Students can range in age from 3 to 20 years old, depending on the school in which you are placed. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate. Schools in Uganda run for three terms per year and the Teaching project will not operate during the school holiday periods. Volunteers will switch to another available project in Uganda, such as childcare, during the holidays.
School Holidays 2017
- 5th December - 6th February
- 6th May - 28th May
- 26th August - 17th September
- 9th December - 4th February
With the aim of increasing access to quality healthcare in Uganda, volunteers on the Medical project are placed within local clinics and medical centers that are incredibly low on resources and staff. These clinics and medical centers encompass a wide range of medical fields and offer in and out-patient services, tending to a high volume of patients each day. Volunteers work as assistants alongside local doctors and nurses and tasks undertaken are dependent on their level of experience and qualifications. It is important for volunteers to be aware that most patients speak very little to no English so one-on-one interaction with patients is limited. Volunteers must be fully qualified doctors and nurses, or have completed at least 2 years of nursing or medical school in order to participate on the project. Possible areas of work include, Maternity, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Cancer Screening, Family Planning, Immunizations, De-Worming, General Medicine, Gynecology, Dentistry and HIV/AIDS. There is also the opportunity for volunteers to participate on outreach and community work at least once a week. Medical volunteers who are specialized in particular areas are encouraged to provide these details in their application when applying, to assist the local staff in placing you where you will be most effective. Volunteers do however, need to be flexible and willing to work within other areas as needed. Once registered on the program, all Medical volunteers are required to provide a copy of their qualifications and certificates to our local team in Uganda in order for an adequate medical placement to be arranged. If you are still studying, a copy of your academic transcript will suffice. These must be received by our local team at least 2 weeks prior to your arrival in Uganda.
In Uganda, about 7.2 percent of the population is living with HIV/AIDS, this amounts to around 1.4 million people, including an estimated 190,000 children. In an effort to assist and provide care to these individuals, a variety of initiatives have been established throughout Uganda, however much more help is needed, especially in regards to education and awareness surrounding HIV/AIDS. The overriding aim of the HIV/AIDS Support project is to highlight the importance of HIV/AIDS education and awareness among all ages, through classes on hygiene and how to prevent transmission. Volunteers also assist on programs providing counseling to patients, HIV/AIDS testing and distribution of ARVs. Volunteers can also expect to work with health workers in local villages to carry out community outreach programs. Volunteers who are medically qualified, with training in phlebotomy, can have the opportunity to work alongside local medical staff, assisting them in a variety of tasks including taking blood samples. Volunteers are not required to be medically qualified in order to participate on most aspects of the HIV/AIDS project, however medical tasks will only be available to medical professionals or those with the appropriate training. Please note, volunteers on this project are asked to bring medical gloves and alcohol wipes with them to Uganda. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring scrubs or a white lab coat, however these can be purchased in-country if preferred.
Ugandan children are incredibly enthusiastic and love learning new sports! The Sports Education project in Uganda provides these children with a range of activities and sports to participate in. Volunteers are placed in primary or secondary schools to assist with Physical Education classes and other sports activities. Volunteers generally follow the school curriculum and teach the topics scheduled for that term, however volunteers are also welcome to introduce new sports, if they bring or purchase the required resources and equipment. Football/soccer is the most common sport in Uganda, but the children welcome the introduction of new sports. It is important to note that volunteers are required to teach other classes during their placement, such as Math, English, Science or Social Studies (Geography and History). You will be teaching these general classes in the morning and then the sport classes in the evening. As the Sports Education project is predominantly run in schools, the project will not operate fully during the school holiday periods. In the final term of the year, the focus in school is less on Physical Education and more on studying other subjects in preparations for the end of year exams. During these times volunteers will be placed on a holiday project run by our local team or will need to supplement their work with another project.
School Holidays 2017:
- 5th December - 6th February
- 6th May - 28th May
- 26th August - 17th September
- 9th December - 4th February
Special Needs Care
In Uganda, there are increasing numbers of children born with either mental or physical disabilities, as well as young people and adults who become disabled through the course of their lives. Volunteers on the Special Needs Care project in Uganda are placed in day schools for individuals with special needs, or in a special needs treatment center, handling both in and out-patients. Volunteers work as teacher aids, assisting with vocational training, providing care and playing games with individuals during their free time. Volunteers on this project do not need to have previous experience or training, as they work closely with local staff, however adequately trained volunteers can occasionally assist with speech and occupational therapies, physiotherapy, social work, orthotics, prosthetics and wheelchair making. Volunteers who are specialized in particular areas are encouraged to provide these details in their application when applying, to assist the local staff in placing you where you will be most effective. Volunteers do however, need to be flexible and willing to work within other areas as needed. Volunteers on this project should note that some placements can require up to an hour of travel time, each way, on public transport.
Uganda has an extremely high number of children living in poverty and many of these vulnerable children have lost one or both of their parents as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Volunteers in the Childcare project in Uganda are placed in day care centers, nursery schools and kindergartens to assist local staff in the day to day running of these centers. All of these centers are extremely under resourced and volunteers play a key role in ensuring they operate effectively. Volunteer activities vary across the different centers, however typical tasks include, educational activities and basic teaching of English, Math, Health/Hygiene, Reading and Writing. Other activities include play therapy and games, dancing, singing, arts and crafts, as well as assisting with feeding and daily chores.
Women in Uganda face a wide range of challenges including discrimination, low social status, lack of economic self sufficiency, and greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection. Many women in Uganda need support to be able to carry out different income generating activities and therefore volunteers on the Women’s Education project work closely with centers which support these women and their families. Support is provided through guidance around management, financing and educational development to increase independence and allow mothers to better support their families. Many of the women’s groups are involved in craft-making through basket weaving, sewing, tailoring and jewelry-making, and the crafts they make are then sold in order to generate income and provide for their families. Volunteers are encouraged to create educational training materials on topics such as managing finances, vocational skills and self-esteem building.
Orientation is hosted by our Uganda team at the volunteer base in Mutungo. 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.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: Volunteers work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day. A typical schedule is as follows:
7.00 AM – Breakfast at the volunteer house, prepared by the local cook.
7.30 AM – Volunteers travel to their placements either by taxi or by walking. Start time and daily workload depends on the project that the individual volunteer is participating on.
1.00 PM – Volunteers break for lunch. Volunteers either travel back to the volunteer house or eat a packed lunch at their placement. After lunch, volunteers continue with their volunteer work (where applicable).
3.00 PM - 4.00 PM – Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to return to the volunteer house, plan for the following day’s activities or use their free time as they wish.
7.00 PM – Dinner at the volunteer house, prepared by a local cook.
Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating on.
Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style volunteer house in the Mutungo area, approximately 45 minutes outside of Kampala City. The volunteer house accommodates up to 40 volunteers and volunteers can expect to share a bedroom with two to four other volunteers of the same gender. The volunteer house is safe and secure in a quiet area. The bathrooms in the homes have western toilets and showers. There is electricity and running water, however it is common for power or water to occasionally be cut off in Uganda. Bedding is provided and volunteers will just need to bring their own towel. There are staff who clean the accommodation throughout the week, however volunteers are required to keep their rooms and common areas tidy. It is recommended that volunteers bring their own mosquito net, however these can be purchased once in Uganda, if you do not have much room in your luggage.
Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), prepared by an on-site local cook. If you wish to snack or eat outside of meal times, this will be at your own cost and there are local shops within the villages where you can purchase snacks. Breakfast generally includes tea, eggs, bread and fruit. For lunch and dinner, there is a revolving menu of local dishes, which include typical Ugandan stews (beef, chicken, pork, goat, fish and vegetable), beans, rice, chapatti, groundnuts and vegetables. Starchy foods such as white bread, white rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, matoke (boiled green bananas), and cassava are dietary staples. The tropical climate of Uganda also contributes to a healthy choice of seasonal fruits, including bananas, watermelon, papayas, mangos, jackfruit, and pineapples. Bottled drinking water is readily available in Uganda and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know well in advance of your program so our local team can make arrangements for you. We do, however need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
“Staying in Uganda was so interesting - being able to experience village life and to explore the towns was fun. It’s beautiful. Going on safari to see hippos, lions, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, and much more was definitely a highlight! But it’s my time at my volunteer placement that made the most impact on me, and will stay with me forever. Seeing the progress the kids with special needs made, and helping the staff to learn and use techniques I had taught them was very moving. I will miss the smiles and the hugs, and the singing!” - Jennifer Abergel (IVHQ Special Needs Care Volunteer in Uganda)
There is no shortage of things to do in Kampala or further afield in Uganda, so volunteers can fill their free time with safaris, adventurous activities, markets or simply exploring parts of the local town. Uganda is a popular tourist location for gorilla trekking as well as game safaris and bird-watching. There are beautiful national parks and great opportunities for adventure activities such as white water rafting. Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield in Uganda and neighboring countries such as Kenya and Tanzania.
See our Uganda Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Uganda!
|Currency||Ugandan Shilling (UGX)|
|Time zone||EAT (UTC+3:00)|
Weather and climate: Uganda lies on the equator and enjoys an equatorial climate, which provides plenty of sunshine. This is balanced well by the relatively high altitude across most of the country. Uganda has warm days throughout the year with slightly cooler temperatures at night and in the mornings. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 19°C (66.2°F) to 27°C (80.6°F) and is rarely below 17°C (62.6°F) or above 29°C (84.2°F). The long rain season occurs from April to June and the short rain season occurs from October to December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy but often falls in the evenings or early mornings, leaving sunny days. The period from November to March is often very dry, the hottest period is from January to March and coldest months are June and July.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Uganda. Additional requirements apply for Medical volunteers, please read the project description below.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.