“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” So said Einstein – and if you want to immerse yourself in a country and really get to know a local community, volunteering with a charity or nongovernmental organisation (NGO) in Uganda is a great place to start. It’s a two-way exchange: organisations get a helping hand, while you get to experience life in East Africa. Read on to discover Uganda’s top voluntary opportunities for your next trip.
With a base in Uganda since 1982, ActionAid International has helped the people of Uganda to fight for the basic human rights they may have been denied – including the right to eat, the right to education, and the right to remain on land they’ve inherited (among others). The organisation’s First Hand Experience volunteer projects help to transform women’s lives across Uganda, the majority of whom live with domestic violence. You’ll join a group of volunteers to help build a classroom or safe centre in a local community.
Oxfam has been working in Uganda since the 1960s and aims to empower vulnerable women, youth and marginalised men economically and in decision making matters. Women’s rights is a hot topic for Oxfam Uganda, and they focus primarily on governance and accountability, building resilient livelihoods, and humanitarian preparedness and response. Oxfam also works with the private sector on issues like climate change, youth employment, and unpaid care work.
40 Days Over 40 Smiles, an independent foundation based in Kampala, mobilises and inspires Ugandans (especially the youth) to volunteer their time, skills and resources in charity activities that impact the education, health and livelihood of vulnerable children and their communities. The organisation’s mission hinges on using social media to raise funds and gather resources that support their work with community schools and centres. It supports children who are in or out of school with literacy and life skills, health camps and vocational skills.
On the edge of Lake Victoria, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to 49 rescued chimpanzees, from all over East Africa. With one-week and four-week volunteer stays available, you can gain first hand experience of chimpanzee behaviour while putting your time to good use. Volunteer activities include food preparation, feeding time, assisting in medical procedures, cleaning, carrying out enrichment exercises for the chimps, and so much more.
The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA Uganda) is a membership organisation that has been defending women’s rights since 1974. With 11 offices throughout the country, FIDA strives to provide legal aid services to women who might need them, as well as professional development for women in the justice sector. Legal volunteers can help with community outreach projects, so if you’ve got a background in law this could be the perfect opportunity for you to put your knowledge to great use.
The Writivism Literary Initiative is a programme of the Center for African Cultural Excellence and hosts the annual Writivism festival – which seeks to identify, mentor and promote emerging African writers. It recruits volunteers who are passionate about African literature to help put together its annual event which usually takes place in August. Volunteer tasks include production, guest and venue management, social media, and traditional media and logistics support.
CARE’s work in Uganda is a response to armed conflict and natural disasters, as well as economic and social marginalisation, mainly in rural areas of the country. CARE focuses on providing assistance and opportunities for sustainable development in vulnerable communities. Key areas of attention at the moment include economic development through loan groups and financial training, constructive discussions with men about violence against women, and helping communities to prepare for emergency situations.
The Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) is an independent platform that brings together non-government organisations around Uganda. The idea is that collectively NGOs can work towards instituting change in Uganda’s governance practices and procedures to strengthen civil societies and influence policy-making. One of the key initiatives for 2021 is “a girl a pad” which aims to provide low cost sanitary products to school-age girls, to minimise the number of schools days missed due to menstruation.
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