Practical Tips and Advice for the Volunteers going to Uganda
Helpful for Volunteers to Uganda – Tips – Advice – Information
Practical for Volunteers to Uganda – Tips – Advice – Information. Here you will find things that will keep you safe, stay healthy and make your time in Uganda an enjoyable experience that you will not soon forget.
Thank you for coming to Uganda and impacting Ugandan lives, Ugandan Schools, Churches, Medical Projects and often the lives of over half of the country – Children.
Volunteers to Uganda – Tips – Advice – Information – we hope that you find the information of help and feel free to contact us if you have any Questions.
I you are in direct contact with a Ugandan Charity – watch out– things are not always as they appear.
Most of all – enjoy your time in the Pearl of Africa – in the heart of Africa…Uganda.
Tips and Advice for Volunteers – Short-Term Missions – Medical Team to Uganda
A Visa for Uganda can be either obtained from the Ugandan Embassy in your country, if an embassy exists there or you can obtain a visa at the point of Entry into Uganda which for most business Travelers would be Entebbe International Airport which is 45 minutes to one hour away from Kampala by vehicle.
Volunteers can get their visa as they arrive in Uganda such as Entebbe Airport without any problem and you do not incur extra cost of overnight mail obtaining it from the Ugandan embassy in your country of origin.
If you are visiting Uganda and then on to Rwanda – click on our Rwanda Visa Requirement – many different nations are exempt from obtaining a Visa before they arrive in Rwanda.
Uganda remains the easiest country where you can obtain a visa for your volunteer trip.
Uganda for the most part is a Cash-Based society where the US Dollar is the currency of choice after the Ugandan Shilling
The US Dollar is good to have with you – 2003 or newer, clean and unmarred bills. 50 or 100 USD Bills receive the best exchange rates at Forex Bureaus.
Do not use the Hotel Front-Desk to change your USD into Uganda Shillings, you’ll receive a much lower exchange rate depending on which hotel you are staying at.
If a business accepts credit cards you will often pay a 5% or even higher surcharge, a common practice East Africa. One could say that Uganda has a Cash based price and a higher credit Card Price.
If you are in Uganda – forget using public transport Buses – too many accidents, forget using our Boda-Boda Motorcycle Taxis which have one of the highest accident rates in Uganda resulting the number one cause for emergency hospital admissions in Kampala.
You can use a for-hire Taxi to get you to your appointments or you can hire a quality vehicle and driver from a company such as ourselves. Do keep in mind that transport in East Africa is considerably higher than in other parts of the world because of higher fuel costs
The best choice for volunteer groups is to have a personal driver who knows the in and outs of Uganda. knows how to bypass traffic jams by taking alternative routes and who knows the Ugandan culture and ways. Vans and Coaster Buses can be hired by the day or for the duration of your volunteer trip here and we accommodate groups that go on a safari with us while on a volunteer trip to Uganda.
Uganda is one of Africa’s most secure, stable and friendliest countries in all of Africa. You will be safe and secure here.
There are however some basic precautions one should take while in Uganda. The need and greed factors can lead to petty theft by hotel staff and when going to town always keep your money in your frontpocket where you can put your hand over it and protect it from a thief. The same applies for your mobile phones since they are popular objects of theft.
The added plus will be common sense – don’t leave home without it.
Most Volunteers will have no health problems while in Uganda, especially if some basic precautions are taken while in Uganda such as not drinking tap-water, avoiding salads except in better restaurants, not eating buffet food that is not adequately heated, avoiding food from street vendor and keeping the windows closed to your room if air-conditioned.
If your room is not sprayed for insects such as mosquitoes in teh evening, you can always purchase a spray-can of Doom that will do the job of eliminating pesky insects in your room.
If you need to receive quality care while on your business trip to Uganda you can visit the Surgery in Kololo or the International Hospital in Muyenga, two of Kampala’s finest medical treatment centers.
You can bring an unlocked International Quad cell Phone with you and purchase a Ugandan Sim Card from MTN, UTL Airtel, or Orange This way you avoid high roaming charges.
UTL and Warid international calls are at 20 cents a minute to places such as Europe, Asia and North America, whereas MTN charges about 30 cents a minute for such calls.
You can even buy a local phone with sim-card for as low as 8 USD and give as a gift when you leave Uganda.
Another choice for Volunteer to stay in touch with home if you will be in Uganda for an extended stay is to set up a Skype number in your home country which people there can call and you can receive it automatically on your local Ugandan Mobile Phone. This is an added convenience at a most reasonable price for volunteer travelers to Uganda.
You can also leave your phone as a gift to a Ugandan that does not have one.
You can access at one of the many Internet cafe’s that you will find in Kampala and most larger Ugandan cities. There is also WiFi at better Hotels in Uganda that will give you Internet access with your laptop, smart phone or Tablet or iPad. Many restaurants also provide WiFi for customers – there are also Hotspots throughout the city.
Better Hotels also have business centers that you can use if you came without laptop or other device with Internet access – Boutique Hotel have such centers on a smaller scale
Another choice is have a USB dongle at MTN, Orange with data time and use it with your laptop giving you Internet Access while you are in Uganda – advantageous if you are here for a longer period of time- for groups routers that are inexpensive can be purchased.
Speeds can be had up to 4G and 3.5G which will meet the needs of most Volunteers to Uganda.
Electrical Current – Plugs and Power Availability:
240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally.
Power supply is iffy in Uganda – therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system or solar alternative in place.
Uganda can have extended power outages that last 12 hour or. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another.
In Uganda you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices.
Volunteers will find out rather quickly that the Ugandan Attire is more formal – Suits for Men with Tie and Women in Business will dress what one calls in Kampala-Smart.
Uganda is a conservative Country and during the daytime while conducting business the emphasis should be on dressing in a similar fashion as Ugandan Business Men and Women.
Dressing appropriately and as Ugandans say smartly will gain you immediate respect. Often people may feel that they are in Africa one can dress down and that includes Volunteers. You will see that shorts may be seen here or there, but for the most part shorts are part of the school uniform for boys.
However the opposite is true – Ugandans in Kampala are considered by other Africans as quite fashionable but during the daytime the style is conservative – at night that is another story in the city that never sleeps.
The African Concept of time – Ugandans may tell you they are on the way but still a long way off. Punctuality is more often concerned when it comes to doing business for Ugandans.
The concept of time is based more on relationships than on punctuality. In non-business dealings a person who told you that they would be there at 7 pm may show up at 8pm or later.
If you are dealing with government institutions those meeting you will usually be on time and prompt about it.
If you are visiting someone on an unscheduled visit you will be most often gladly welcomed and given time – be sure to allow for lengthy greeetings before dealing with the reason for which you came for.
African – Ugandan Culture is quite different from most anywhere in the world – it is based on relationships. Confrontational Conversation is simply not accepted here.
Ugandans will aim to please you and agree to doing what ever is necessary by saying yes, please but you better check up since it may not get done.
Ugandans tend to communicate more directly in certain situations and indirectly in others. For example, people may ask whether or not you are married and/or have children, but may not directly voice their displeasure about something in a public setting. Bring some pictures of have them on your electronic device.
Gaining someone’s attention such as a waiter is not done by calling them but by turning your hand down and making a scratching gesture toward them – you will soon learn
English is the official language but like in every country where English is spoken certain local words – phrases are added – in Uganda it is called Uglish which is Ugandan English. You can find it on Facebook, being used by Ugandands leaving you perplexed at times as to the meaning of a word or phrase.
If someone says to you that they have to go make a short call – that is not a phone call but a trip to the bathroom. If someone asks you to extend that means move over.
It is also good to know some Luganda Phrases – that will endear yo to the Ugandans that you are voluteering with.
Communication – Ugandan Style – it is best to become familiar with it.
This is a great way to end your time in Uganda with a Mini-Safari for your group. One of the specialties we have developed over the year is taking groups on a mini-safari. The largest number has been 39 participants in an upmarket lodge at a most affordable price.
Most often we take a Group that is on Safari directly to the airport for their flight back home.
Our group safaris for volunteers add the wild of Africa experience often on a two day or three day Safari the best park is Murchison Falls National Park in the north of Uganda.
Volunteers to Uganda – Tips – Advice – Information – If you have any questions – please ask