What is Group Volunteering?
As well as our One Day and Long Term Volunteers, we also welcome large groups of volunteers to work with us here in Uganda. Since 2004, we have been welcoming a range of groups, from university students from Leeds, Aston and Middlesex, to secondary school pupils and Scout groups. Group sizes from range from 10 people to over 80 people.
We assign our groups a school to work at and they live on site from Monday to Friday. Depending on the number of volunteers in the group, the work itself can be anything from demolishing and then building a brand new classroom block, refurbishing an existing classroom block or putting the all important finishing touches to a block that we have already repaired.
Living and working on site is a truly unique and rewarding experience, allowing volunteers to become involved with every aspect of life in school and the local community.
If you are part of a group who would like to volunteer with us in Uganda, fill in our contact form - we’d love to have you!
Living on Site
Upon arrival at site, Soft Power Education staff will help you transform an empty classroom into the ‘dormitory’ you will call home for the next few weeks! We will provide you with a mattress and help you set up your mosquito net. SPE staff and the building team will be sleeping in the same classroom as you, or in another nearby.
On site, there are no showering facilities and the toilet will be a pit latrine. It is incredibly unlikely that they’ll be any electricity or running water on or near to your site, but you may be able to charge your phone and camera in the local trading centre. Drinking water will be collected by the community from a bore hole. Soft Power Education provide water purification tablets and will help you to ensure your water is safe to drink. There’s no WiFi on or near to site, and mobile phone signal may be intermittent.
Whilst on site, one of our wonderful cooks will prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Breakfast normally consists of fruit, bread, eggs, chapatti and tea or coffee. Lunch and dinner are similar, with potatoes, rice, beans, spaghetti, matooke, cabbage, avocado and vegetables – prepare to be flexible and try everything. Our cooks are well practiced in catering for any dietary requirements or food intolerances as long as you let us know prior to your arrival.
Whether you’re on a construction or painting site, you will have a site foreman on site with you at all times. On construction sites, or if your painting site requires any repairs, you will also be working alongside a team of local builders. They will explain the work that needs to be done and brief you on any tools or equipment safely.
You are free to set your own hours or work, as a group and as individual volunteers, but the foreman will have a schedule to stick to so they will keep you updated throughout each day as to what needs to be done and by when. All we ask is that you are enthusiastic and ready to get stuck in alongside the team.
Each year, our staff carry out school surveys to assess the conditions at each government school throughout the Jinja and Buliisa districts. Schools are ranked based on various criteria, including the number of pupils at the school, yearly enrolment, pupil t classroom ratio, pupil to teach ratio, examination results, how far teachers travel to get to school, whether there is teacher accommodation etc.
This data is analysed and the most in-need schools are identified. We then match the requirements of each of these schools with the minimum amount of fundraising we anticipate to receive from each of our groups, and a site is chosen!
We kindly ask each Group Volunteer to fundraise a minimum of £700 for a four or five week building project. The money raised by Group Volunteers goes directly to the selected site, so they are able to see for themselves exactly where their money has been spent (e.g. for buying building materials and paint, hiring tools and equipment and paying the building team’s wages).
Any fundraising that is left over goes on to secure the future of our School Infrastructure Programme, ensuring the programme can continue to run long after volunteers have returned home. It also means that the impact that Group Volunteers have on the primary education system in Uganda reaches far wider than just the school they are working at.
Fundraising is also a great way for you to raise awareness of our work here in Uganda (you will need to understand our programmes in order to speak clearly and passionately about why you are volunteering with us), develop your transferable skills, and hopefully have some fun!
Head over to Fundraising for more information.
Each Group Volunteer pays a Placement Fee (£25 per volunteer per week of volunteering). This secures their place on the project and then goes on to pay for transport to/from site at the start/end of project, and to/from your site to your weekend accommodation (but not to any optional weekend activities). It also pays for all food on site, cooking equipment and your cook’s wages.
Other costs to consider include your flights, e-visa, insurance, vaccinations, kit and any optional weekend activities or travel plans before or after your project. Our information packs contain detailed information about this.
Uganda is not only home to Soft Power Education, there are hundreds of things to keep yourself occupied over the weekends and to experience both before and after volunteering…
“Ugandans as a whole – both those working within the tourist industry and the ordinary man or woman on the street – genuinely do come across as the most warm, friendly and relaxed hosts imaginable”.
What other country can match Uganda for sheer variety? With a compact area of 241,000 square km, you’ll find an unparalleled array of wildlife, scenery and cultures. For Uganda is where east meets west Africa. East African savannahs roamed by big game favourites merge with Congo-style rainforests bristling with primates (including mountain gorilla, golden monkey and chimpanzee) and birds (many associated with the Congo forests and found nowhere else in East Africa). To these broad themes we can add local detail – wetlands, woodlands, mountains, and lakes of all sizes – to produce a mosaic of natural habitats that suport 342 mammal species and 1,008 of bird.
“Whatever your area of interest, Uganda abounds in unforgettable activities and encounters. You can track chimpanzees and mountain gorillas in the depths of tropical forests; search for tree-climbing lions on the open Ishasha plains; descend into the hot depths of the Western Rift Valley in search of rare birdlife; fish for a record Nile Perch on the island-studded expanse of Lake Victoria; raft the turbulent headwaters of the Nile and marvel at the great river’s eruption through a 6m canyon at Murchison Falls; visit a traditional homestead on the remote plains of Karamoja; and feel the chill of equatorial snow on the 5,100m Rwenzori Mountains”.
In Jinja alone, there are endless activities to keep you occupied out-of-volunteering-hours. Let us help you plan your trip. Our inside knowledge can point you in the direction of the best deals, the little known highlights and the absolute must do’s. Having extensive travel experience in Uganda and East Africa we can advise you on how to build a perfect trip.
Group Volunteer Resources