SunTrack Adventures with GVA Foundation – Africa recruits and places foreign volunteers with small community based projects and schools around Mukono- Uganda.
Through our volunteer service program, we aim to build the capacities of local projects and raise awareness around the world about the successes and challenges of life in Uganda
Isaac Ssamba is a Ugandan who came up with an idea to build an organization that puts money and skills into the grassroots and underprivileged communities of Mukono, Uganda. We have operating the program in Mukono since June, 2007.
Many local Projects lack the money and skills to grow themselves. We hope that with our program in place, our projects will overcome some of the more serious challenges they face. These include: lack of money for operations (wages, office space, transport, training courses), lack of business skills (book keeping, marketing, strategy, grant writing), and lack of up to date knowledge (Counselling/mentoring skills, English language, HIV/AIDS and life skills information).
We offer a safe and family-like environment in which to come to Uganda and give your time. We offer pre-arrival support by answering your questions about Uganda and by finding a project that best fits your skills and interests. We can also connect you to former and current volunteers working with us.
We offer in-country assistance by collecting you from the airport, getting you to your placement, and unravelling some of the more complicated cultural issues you face when entering Uganda for the first time. It is not easy to come to a completely foreign culture on your own. We want to be there to give you encouragement, advice, and support in order for you to be most effective while you are here.
While working with us, volunteers learn about the real situation at the grassroots level in Uganda. Life in Uganda is tough for everyone, not just HIV/AIDS patients, orphans and refugees. Wages are low, corruption is rampant, and education is not universal. In spite of this, Ugandans are some of the most welcoming, friendly, and open people in Africa.
Volunteers become part of the family, learning about the local culture: how to cook, how to speak the language, how to sit peacefully with their neighbours and talk about life in general. We hope that volunteers take that knowledge home with them, spreading the word about Ugandan development issues and culture around the world.
If you can spare a month or two, we will find you volunteer work with projects based in Mukono and around the country. At GVA Foundation- Africa, we work with schools that provide primary and secondary education to needy children, youth mentoring, community outreach and counseling. Please read ahead about the various types of the programs you can join.
All of our projects need volunteers who can bring new ideas, work with minimal supervision, and have a positive, self-starting attitude. The organization does not need just young volunteers, but older people with business skills and experience. They need those who can sort out bookwork and apply for grants. Just as these projects try to help all members of society, they need all ages of volunteers to help them function.
Basically, you need to decide if you want to live in a town with a bunch of other volunteers or if you want to be more fully immersed and spend your time living and working in the village!
There are many private schools in Uganda that educate, house and feed needy children and orphans. You can teach primary classes, including academic subjects and life skills, and organize sport and art activities for the children. Let us know what you’re interested in teaching and we’ll get you into the best school for you. School terms vary annually but are likely to be: Feb 1 to April 15, May 20 to August 20, Sept 20 to November 30. We also work with village-based boarding schools. So, don’t feel limited to Mukono!
Teaching needy and orphaned kids has serious challenges and needs volunteers who are open to local teaching methods but still able to bring creativity and fun into the classroom. You are the outside world to these kids. Schools have a basic curriculum, but you’ll be planning your own lessons daily. Know that traditional education in Uganda is based on memorization and passing exams. While there is a language barrier, by volunteering you can introduce creative writing, drawing, debate, and life skills into the classroom.
However, if you’re into something a little less structured that includes camping out and mentoring youth around the campfire, perhaps you’d like to work with a village based project in Kayunga or Kamuli. We have a project that promotes the voluntary spirit in Uganda.
You would work alongside Ugandan volunteers (youth aged 17 – 27) in programs directly benefiting local communities all over the country. Expect to take part in an ever changing schedule made up of public speaking and mentoring youth and youth leaders respecting HIV/AIDS, public health/hygiene, family planning, condom use/distribution, and creativity workshops promoting small business generation, the importance of basic education, and women’s rights and empowerment. Bring camping gear to get the most of this program.
All volunteers based in Mukono (up to 10 at one time) will live together in a warmly guest house (Nomads Home) run by SunTrack Adventures and sister organizations. Our staff is there to take care of you. The building is within a locked compound, with indoor/outdoor showers and toilets (with running water). 3 meals are provided each day, which consists of local foods, such as matooke (mashed plantain), posho (cornmeal), potatoes and rice or noodles. They are generally served with beef, fish, peas, beans or groundnut sauce. Bread, eggs and fruits are available for breakfast, vegetarians are also accommodated.
GVA Foundation – Africa also places volunteers with a number of small community based projects that provide counseling, care, and education for rural people and orphaned and underprivileged children. Each of these placements is located in a village setting within Mukono District and other districts around the country.
Each village placement provides a totally different experience, but main activities involve working with local children, youth, women and elderly. You can decide if you want to teach nursery, primary, secondary, and vocational education or if you want to be involved in a more free form work arrangement placed with an organization that provides community outreach services.
Since teaching placements have been described above we won’t dwell on them here. But you should know that you’ll be living at your school or host family. You’ll have the opportunity to really get to know your kids as many of them also live at your school.
As far as community outreach activities are concerned you’ll have to decide just what you’re into. We have projects that provide health care, HIV/AIDS prevention and AIDS care, counseling, youth mentoring, women’s rights education, and small business development. Let us know and we’ll figure out a good placement for your skills and interests.
A village placement is appropriate for you if you have great ideas and a seriously flexible nature. Expect your schedule to change daily with no notice. Expect to have time to relax. Expect to become a part of the village forever.
Each village based project will house you and feed you. They will fetch your water and wash your clothes. They will love you and take you places. Your village home will be secure enough for your stuff, but won’t have running water or very much electricity. Your toilet and (bucket) shower will be outside (but fully enclosed). Your food will be local Uganda food, but will be served at weird times. You are welcome to come and stay in the Mukono volunteers’ house with the other volunteers on the weekends. You will need to defrag with those like you.
ABOUT MUKONO TOWN:
Whether you volunteer in Mukono town or in a village, you’ll likely use Mukono town as your base for services and meeting other volunteers. It’s located on the Kampala-Jinja highway about 20km from Kampala. With a population of about 60,000, Mukono has several internet cafes, WIFI spots, a major university, a bunch of restaurants and drinking spots, supermarkets, several banks, and luxury hotels with a swimming pool and gardens. It’s easily accessible from all village placements by public transport.
By public transport it takes about 60 minutes to get to either Kampala or Jinja, which are good places to get specialized services or have some western fun.
Mukono District Profile (May 2016) A selection of interesting facts
Mukono District lies just north of the Equator in the Central Region of Uganda, between the capital, Kampala, and the second largest city, Jinja. It has Luwero and Kayunga Districts to the North, Kampala and Wakiso to the West, Buikwe and Jinja to the East, and Lake Victoria and Buvuma to the South.
Area and Land Use
The total area of Mukono District is 12,655.7 sq km, but only 3110 sq km when open water and permanent wetlands are excluded. Land use includes 1,496.9 sq km of subsistence agriculture, 151.4 sq km of large scale farming, 650 sq km of forest, 14.4 sq km of built up area.
The main languages spoken in Mukono District are Luganda and English. Luganda, one of the Bantu groups of languages, is largely spoken at home. Like other Bantu languages the nouns are made up of a stem and prefixes, thus from the stem Ganda, Buganda is the historical country. Muganda is a native of Buganda, Baganda is the plural of Muganda, and Luganda is the language spoken by the Baganda. Uganda (the name given to the modern country as a whole) is the Swahili version of Buganda.
Uganda does not have a natural national language (unlike Kenya and Tanzania with Swahili) and there are over 50 tribal languages. So English has been made the official language of government and business. English is taught in Primary School and is the language of instruction in Secondary School.
HOW TO APPLY
Please email us, a list of your skills/interests, and tell us why you want to come live and volunteer in Uganda. Our program is pretty popular, so try to apply well in advance of when you’re traveling.
You must arrive around the 1st or 15th of the month. We have a 1 week minimum and a 3 months maximum. If you want to stay longer, we’ll work it out if the space is available.
You need to be at least 18 years old, speak English, and be in relatively good health to volunteer with us.
The cost details to volunteer with Beacon of Hope Uganda are below.
Volunteering through SunTrack Adventures is FREE you just pay for your accommodation at Nomads Home.
- Dorm- $10
- Private- $15
B & FB (3 meals)
- Dorm – $20
- Private – $25
* Volunteering (Free)
A mandatory donation of $15 to obtain a T-shirt for work (you can buy more for your friends) is required.
However to book and confirm your placement, a registration fee of USD$100 is required. This is a direct donation to the project
Airport pickup: $75 (one way)
Airport transfers: $125 (two ways)
The fee does not cover airline tickets, visas, vaccinations, drinking water, leisure activities, or medical services. You’ll likely need $20-$40 a week to support a basic life which includes drinking water, internet, transport, and a few western treats such as coffee and chocolate.