Volunteering in Uganda
Most people probably don’t know much about Uganda. If they do know anything, it probably involves viewing gorillas in the wild. With the presence of mountain gorillas, it’s one of only three places that you can view Africa’s Big Six (as opposed to the Big Five). Winston Churchill once called this beautiful place the “Pearl of Africa”. Its biodiversity is off the charts and it’s home to both the tallest mountain range in Africa as well as the source of the Nile. Like all African countries, it’s still developing and can benefit immensely from the contributions of volunteers. Considered one of the safer and friendlier destinations in Africa, volunteering in Uganda offers the intrepid traveler a life-changing experience.
Fast Facts on Uganda
Capital City: Kampala
- Kampala is located on the southeastern border on the shore of Lake Victoria
Currency: Ugandan shilling
- Find your currency’s exchange rate here
Languages: English & Swahili are the official languages
- Several other local and regional languages are also spoken
Population (2016 estimate): 41.5 million
- Slightly less than the population of Argentina
Size: 93,065 square miles or 241,038 square kilometers
- About the size of the state of Oregon, USA
2018 Global Peace Index Ranking: 107 out of 163 nations (medium)
- For comparison: USA (121 – Medium), Canada (6 – Very High), United Kingdom (57 – High)
Describing our partner NGO in Uganda as ambitious would be a gross understatement. The duo that runs this project are educating a generation of children on a small island in the middle of Lake Victoria while creating environmentally sustainable living conditions. They’re creating a case study for developing areas around the world to show that they can create clean drinking water, re-purpose waste, and improve environmental conditions in their immediate area. All of this is being tested in the camp the team lives in for use in both the school they’re building and the main village on the island.
Volunteers participating in this project must be comfortable in a rural, secluded setting…you’ll be on an island in Africa after all! Large, comfortable tents make up the accommodations. But, despite the rural location, the island is not without some excellent amenities. You’ll have access to a hot shower, western-style flush toilet, and solar power for charging electronics. Also, a beautiful beach and the occasional water skiing outing!
Teaching & Sustainable Construction
The Uganda Teaching & Sustainable Construction project is the most unique, ambitious, and challenging project that GOAT Volunteers offers. Volunteers will be asked to support a variety of initiatives and put in long days over a course of 3 or 6 months. This is not a project for someone looking for a vacation; hard work is paramount. In addition to assisting with teaching in the school, you’ll be helping build on to the camp and school using locally-sourced materials and incredibly creative methods of sustainable construction. While the team is dedicated to working hard, they’re also committed to providing an exceptional experience. Volunteers will be provided with delicious meals, a tour of Kampala, water skiing, snorkeling, cricket and other games with the kids, and a multi-day safari!
Individuals with teaching, construction, and/or engineering (especially environmental) experience are highly encouraged to apply!
1-Year Certified Teacher Placement
If you’re a certified teacher who is looking for a change of scenery or a big adventure (living on a small, remote island), we have an opening for you! Our partners in Uganda have an opening for the right open-minded individual with teaching qualifications & experience. This is a full-time unpaid position (local expenses are covered) that requires a 1-year minimum commitment.
Our partner NGO is a small organisation run entirely by volunteers. They work hard to ensure that all funds get invested directly into the projects, avoiding administration fees and other unnecessary costs. A significant amount of time is spent fundraising and collecting funds for the island projects, and all volunteers are asked to help us raise as much as they can before joining us on the island.
Our general fundraising target is 2000€ per person. This is in addition to, and not included in, the project fee. The idea is that by working with the NGO team prior to your arrival to understand the project and raise money for it, you’ll be better prepared to contribute when you arrive. The goal is 2000€, but that’s not a required minimum — all funds raised are appreciated. Once you are on-site, you will be involved in all decisions about where and how the money you raise will be used for the projects!
The team knows fundraising can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Luckily they have had a lot of experience fundraising are here to help you whenever you might feel stuck or short on ideas. Fundraising can actually be a lot of fun and a great experience to learn from!
|Project||13 weeks||26 weeks|
|Teaching & Sustainable Construction||€2200 + €2000 Fundraising goal||€4400 + €2000 Fundraising goal|
Included: Car & boat transfers to/from the island • Location orientation • Accommodations in camp tent • 3 meals per day with coffee, tea, and filtered water • Weekly village meal • Weekend Kampala trip • Weekend (13 weeks) or 5-day (26 weeks) Safari trip • Waterskiing & snorkeling • 24/7 on-site support
NOT Included: Flights • Visas • Vaccinations • Travel insurance • Personal expenses • Bank/wire transfer fees
All projects incur a $250 application fee. Please see The Fine Print page for more information.
The climate of Uganda is considered Modified Equatorial and is characterized by two main seasons: dry and wet. Located in the Ssese Islands archipelago within Lake Victoria, Banda Islands experiences the following climate norms:
Dry Seasons: June to August & December to February
Wet Seasons: March to May & September to November
Hottest Months: January & February | average highs of 82° F (28° C)
Coolest Month: August | average lows hovering around 61° F (16° C)
Special Considerations | Volunteering in Uganda
Please keep in mind that Uganda is a developing country. That means that infrastructure, amenities, and sustenance will likely differ from what you’re accustomed to.
Remote Location & Transportation
This project is located on Banda Island in Lake Victoria. Travel to/from the island is via slow boat that takes about 3-4 hours from the mainland after a 1-2 hour drive from Kampala. Local transportation in Uganda is typically done via matatu (minibus) or boda boda (motorcycle taxi) depending on the distance traveled. These types of travel may seem frightening at first, but they’re very much standard in this part of the world (and others). Using these forms of transport are the most budget conscious; volunteers who prefer not to use them may opt for taxis or tuk tuk style vehicles instead.
Being on a tropical island in Africa presents a few potential safety hazards that volunteers must be aware of. Water safety is very important for both the volunteer and the children at the school, so vigilance should always be maintained. There are very few dangerous predators on the island, but one should always be aware of the fact that venomous snakes, crocodiles, and a hippo have been seen in the vicinity. Any cuts, scrapes, illnesses, or injuries should be brought to the attention of the staff immediately for care to avoid infection or other escalating issues in an area with no medical care facilities in close proximity.
Despite being a progressive African nation, Uganda still considers homosexuality illegal. However, this should not dissuade potential volunteers as the local NGO does not support this discrimination. GOAT Volunteers recommends any LGBT volunteers who visit Uganda refrain from public displays of affection to avoid any unwanted attention.
For additional information, please visit our Resources page.