What will I be doing as a volunteer?

The beauty of Soft Power is that there are never two weeks the same! Our volunteers help with everything from painting and building as part of the School Infrastructure Project, assisting at the Pre Schools to getting involved in the Livelihood Programmes and more… Your role here will largely depend on your skills and experience, the number of other volunteers here and the time of year. We understand volunteers often come with an interest in a particular project, but as a small organisation we like our volunteers to get involved in all of our programmes – it is important to remember that before you volunteer with SPE.

When is the best time to volunteer?

There really is no ‘best time’. Our busiest time is June to September as this is when most of the Western world schools and universities have their summer holidays. Whilst the rest of the year is not as manic as those months we have volunteers all year round and there is always something to do. As most of our projects are linked to term dates it’s worth checking these before you book your flights.

Why do I need to fundraise?

Soft Power Education is a small organisation and donations are integral to the sustainable functioning of our programmes. We pride ourselves on the fact that we can say that every single penny you fundraise will go where it is needed right here in Uganda. Without this fundraising we would not be able to do what we do, the money you fundraise will help us to pay for the materials and projects you work on whilst you are here.

Is Uganda safe to visit?

As with anywhere in the world, there are risks when travelling and as long as you are aware of them and respect them you will be fine. Uganda is a very friendly and welcoming country and we’re sure you’ll feel right at home. We will provide you with volunteering guidelines which will help explain some cultural norms here in Uganda that you may not be aware of and we will of course keep all volunteers updated on any changes in Uganda that we believe might have an impact on their trip.

Where will I stay?

One Day Volunteers – we are happy book accommodation for our One Day Volunteers. Please have a look at our Accommodation Price Guide and let us know if you would like assistance with a booking.

Long Term Volunteers – are generally located at the accommodation options in Bujugali. There are a number of different options to suit different budgets. Please take a look at our accommodation price guide to choose the one that is best suited to you.

Group Volunteers – Live on site at the school they are working at. During the weekends we will arrange accommodation for you at one of the campsites in Jinja or Masindi.

There is also the option for Long Term Volunteers to live on site at certain times of the year but this is largely dependent on numbers and available sites.

What is the food like?

You can now get absolutely anything your heart desires in Jinja. Local food options are cheaper but European style food is not bank breaking either, if that’s what you prefer. Take a look at our Food and Drinks Price Guide for an idea of prices. On arrival we will provide you with an In-country Action Pack with a list of possible eateries including Italian, Chinese and everything inbetween.

What is the climate like?

Most of the time we enjoy beautiful clear blue skies and bright sunshine. However, we do have “rainy” and “dry” seasons, these are very hard to define and seem to change every year. All you need to remember is that it can rain and when it does – well it really does, so remember to pack a waterproof of some kind. The sun as a rule is extremely hot as we’re located on the equator so be sure to bring strong sun cream. A jumper will also be welcome in the evenings.

Do I need vaccinations and medication to travel to Uganda?

Yes. You must consult your doctor on which vaccinations you will need. For some vaccinations you need to have the “course” of injections over a number of weeks so be sure to go and see your doctor a well in advance of your departure date. Yellow Fever is mandatory for entering Uganda and you could be asked to show the certificate.

As malaria is strongly prevalent in Uganda you will also need anti-malarials. There are several different options so you must consult your doctor on which ones you should take.

How much money will I need to bring?

This really depends on what you do, where you eat, the activities you want to try, how much you drink etc. Please use our Accommodation Price Guide and Food and Drink Price Guide to help assess how much you think you will spend. It is important to note that most people under estimate how much they will spend so we advise having a small contingency pot for those little extras you’ve not accounted for.Please budget your living costs separately to your donation to Soft Power Education.

Additional Costs to Consider

Flights and Insurance. (The earlier you book your flight the cheaper your ticket tends to be).
Local transport costs to and from the Primary Schools/sites where you’ll be volunteering and weekend travel
Taxi from Entebbe airport to Jinja – costs approx 150,000 UGX (US$60) can be arranged through Soft Power Education once you have confirmed your flight.
Ugandan Tourist Visa can be obtained at land borders/Entebbe airport on arrival – US$50 for 3 months.
Please check with your Doctor regarding appropriate injections and malaria medication.
Money for all meals, drinks & snacks, optional activities that you may wish to do – rafting, quad biking, a trip to see the gorillas, QE II National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Sipi Falls, Lake Bunyonyi, and the list goes on and on…

Which currency should I bring?

The local currency in Uganda is Ugandan Shillings (UGX) and is the currency used day to day. Unfortunately UGX is a closed currency and therefore cannot be purchased prior to your arrival in Uganda.You will be informed by any exchange bureaus that you need US Dollar (USD) for Uganda. Unfortunately this is misleading and rather untrue – you can bring British Pounds, Euros and Australian Dollars all of which can be changed here and will save you losing money on exchanging GBP to USD to UGX

ATM machines are widely accessible and by far the easiest way to access money here. You must remember to let you bank know that you are coming to Uganda.

We do advise traveling with a bit of cash in case your ATM card doesn’t work immediately.

Travellers cheques are more trouble than they are worth.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you are bringing US dollars make sure that they are large denominations ($50 and $100) as you will get a poor exchange rate for lower value notes. Also ensure that they are dated from the year 2006 or newer. You will have trouble changing any notes from before 2006.

Most big activities will be priced in USD but you can pay for everything in UGX it’s just that the companies pricing activities in USD will charge a UGX equivalent based on the exchange rate that day and it will tend to be in their favour! It can therefore be advisable to bring some money with you in $.

To save carrying lots of cash too, you can transfer your donation to us before you leave home. You can find our bank details under the Donating section.

What is Jinja like?

Jinja town is located on the shores of Lake Victoria and is beautiful. A new modern market is currently being built but the old one still runs every day. There’s a post office, many cafes, email facilities, several supermarkets, exchange bureaus, hospitals, restaurants, bars, night clubs, many guest houses, backpackers, craft shops and many more things to keep you entertained.

The capital city of Kampala is about 2 hours west of Jinja and can be reached easily by local bus, taxi or a private hire car. Here you have even more western delights – cinemas, shopping malls, supermarkets, luxury hotels, nightclubs, embassies and a great local market.

Please ask for a Volunteer Action Pack for a more detailed over view of Jinja.

What do I need to bring?

Casual but respectable clothing for living and working on site – T-shirts, shorts and trousers are fine, but please don’t bring hot pants, low cut tops or clothes that will offend.
There is a great social side to volunteering with Soft Power Education – BBQs, dinners out, weekend excursions… you may wish to bring clothes for these occasions.
Your mobile phone is invaluable – bring a charger or lead and you’ll just need to buy a Ugandan SIM card once here which costs around 3000 ush (less than £1) (Note that you’ll need to have your phone unlocked.)
Torch/Head torch – it’s imperative.
It can get cool at night – the odd jumper/jacket won’t hurt.
Depending on where you’re staying, a mozzie net/sleeping bag/sheet.
Mozzie repellent – alarm clock – pen knife – books – sunglasses
First Aid kit
Plenty of memory cards and camera charger.
Waterproof & sunshine clothes. When it rains it really rains!
Flip flops or sandals and a sturdy pair of boots or trainers.

What else is there to do and see in Uganda?

 The weekends are free for you to enjoy and we encourage you to see as much of Uganda as you can. The great thing about volunteering with Soft Power Education is that we are flexible and actively encourage you to see more of the country. We can help you to organise safaris, gorilla trekking, rhino trekking, white water rafting, quad biking, kayaking, horse riding, bungee jumping…

Check out this video for just a taster of what Uganda has to offer!

If you have any other questions please feel free to send them to volunteering@softpowereducation.com