The A-Z of Ssamba Foundation and Uganda

A

Accommodation
Accommodation at the home is very simple, but comfortable. Here meals are prepared by family and there is a caretaker to do the cleaning of the house. It is located out of Mukono town, on Mukono- Kayunga road. In case the volunteer is placed outside Mukono, the host is requested to accommodate the volunteer or alternatively to identify appropriate accommodation. The host should cater for the following:

  • A volunteer should have his/her own room that must be secured with a door lock. Two volunteers can share a room but each volunteer must have his/hers own bed. The host will provide the bed, and mattress with a mosquito net.
  • Water should be accessible within reasonable distance.
  • The host should direct the volunteer to shopping facilities, health facilities and how to use local transport.

Allergies
Please inform us of any allergies you may have, so that your contact person is prepared.

Alcohol
Alcohol can be bought in most shops around the home and in Mukono town. Please drink in the presence of people you trust such as other volunteers or Ssamba Foundation volunteers so that no one will take advantage of you incase you have too much.

AIDS

This is still a problem in Uganda. Currently 7.1% of the population is infected. If you are to have sexual intercourse use a condom.

Arrival

The start of our programs is very flexible; we provide an airport pick-up on the day of your arrival. For this purpose, you should give us your complete travel details (arrival day and time, flight number) in advance.

B

Business Hours

The Ssamba Foundation office is always open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday except public holidays. However, when the staffs have to travel to projects, attend workshops or attending to organization projects or branches then it will remain closed.

Banks
Banks are usually open 8:30 AM and close 4 PM during week days and 9:30 AM to 2PM on Saturdays. They remain closed on Sundays and Public holidays.

 

Boda bodas

This is transportation by scooters and motorbikes, which can be very useful if you’re lost in town or in a hurry. But remember to negotiate a price before going. Small rides go for 1000-2000shs. Medium (2km to 4 km) 2500 shs and longer rides upwards. From downtown Kalagi to the house it should be 1000 to 2000 shs.

C

Climate

Uganda is so vast that the climate of the country is so varied. However, one could classify the seasons as Hot, Wet & Cold. Temperatures usually range from 20 centigrade to 30 centigrade depending on the part of the country you are.

Cost of Living

Your money goes a long way in Uganda. Thanks to an extremely advantageous exchange rate costs are considerably lower than in Europe and America. However, prices can differ and vary according to the location.

Cultural Shock

Volunteers may experience a cultural shock on arrival in Uganda. Most things and the way of life in the country is different from that in the West. However, this is only for a few days and you will get used to the new way of life. After the projects when you’ve gone back home, some volunteers may experience a reverse cultural shock.

D

Driving
Driving is usually on the left side of the road, similar to other commonwealth countries.

Drugs
Don’t even think about it. All forms of narcotics are illegal in Uganda.

E

Emergency
In case of emergency you can always contact the Ssamba Foundation office: throughout the country, dial 999 or 112 for police and fire,

Expectations
Please don’t come with too many expectations. That is the only way you will learn to accept your surroundings.

Environment
Respect for the environment is expected at all times.

Exchange rates

Money exchange can be done in banks and forex bureaus mainly found in Kampala. There are normally today’s rates in newspapers and on signs in front of the shops.

F

Food
Each region of Uganda has its very own specialties. The common food eaten in the south is Matooke (bananas) while in the north and east of the country wheat and sorghum are the main foods consumed. Other foods include sweet potatoes, cassava (a root like carrots) and maize. 

G

Geography

Uganda is a land locked country boarded by South Sudan in the north, Kenya to the East, Democratic republic of Congo to the west, Tanzania to the South and Rwanda to the southwest. The area covered by the country is 235,796 km squared (32nd in Africa; similar to Great Britain or the state of Oregon in USA). The largest towns in Uganda are Kampala, Jinja, Mbale, Fort Portal, Kabale, Mbarara. The total population of the country is 45 million people. The official language is English, other languages are Luganda, Swahili and many other local languages.

H

History

Uganda “the Pearl of Africa”, as one British Officer called it has a long history. The British came to Uganda in the early 18th Century as traders, and they established the British East African company. Over the years they established themselves as the undisputed rulers of Uganda. In 1896, Uganda came under the British Crown, but The Republic of Uganda attained its independence in 1962. Since then Uganda has been part of the commonwealth countries under the British monarch. Uganda has had a chaotic past with governments coming to power through coups and a civil war. 

I

Internet
All major telephone companies produce internet subscription bundles. Just buy a simcard, insert in your phone and buy data bundles. Wi-Fi is not readily available in many places and hotels.

Insurance
You are required to arrange for your own health insurances before arrival to Uganda. For more details, make personal research online.

J

Jinja Town

The source of River Nile is found in Jinja town, 45minutes drive from Mukono town.


K

Kampala

This is the capital city of Uganda. It is the home to biggest shops, supermarkets, large entertainment centers, Diplomatic missions and other political and economic organs. Like most African Cities, Kampala is crowded with an estimated population of 6 million people during day-time and less than a million during the night. Regular matatus (minibuses) and larger buses connect Kampala to other towns and cities in the country. Kampala has both a new and old taxi park, the terminals for the matatus and the bus terminal is also close to both taxi parks. It would be advisable to get a map of Kampala to help you when traveling around the city.


L

Languages

Uganda has more than 60 different languages spoken by the local people. The national language in Uganda is English. Although not every one can speak it, most people will say a few simple words but if you are to have a conversation you need to say the words slow with clear pronunciation to be understood.

M

Markets

There are markets in all major towns where everything from food to clothes to technology and crafts can be bought. The prices are usually not fixed and only limited by yours (and the salesmen’s) skills for bargaining. Money can be saved by consulting Ugandans or other volunteers before buying.

Money
The currency in Uganda is the Shilling (Shs.) Notes are available in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Coins in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000.

Medicines
Medicines are easily got at all medical shops and pharmacies. But bring any specific medicines you might need from home.

N

National Parks

There are a number of national parks in the country to visit and see the wild beauty of Uganda.

O

Orientation about the country.

The lonely planet is an excellent guidebook about East Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Macmillan produces maps of Kampala and Uganda. Although you will have an orientation with a member of staff about the country, it will only involve the basic things. Other things can be learnt through experience or talking with the local people.

Orientation Days

The orientation days are held for all volunteers. The orientation involves getting information about Uganda, the organization and the voluntary work one will be doing. A Ssamba Foundation staff member will then help you visit Kampala and other tourist places. The staff will also show you how we move around in Uganda.

P

Phone

It is advisable to buy a Ugandan sim-card, to minimize the cost of communication with other volunteers, the staff or people at your home country.

Passport & Visas

Regular Tourist Visas are given for 3months at the nearest Ugandan embassy. Your purpose of visit should be TOURISTIC; as you might be refused entry of you say you’re working.

The visa is given from the date of issue and not from the dates you mention in the application. Extension of this visa in Uganda is possible, but this can only be done at the immigration department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Uganda. Please arrange with your organization how to proceed to get the correct visa. It is often better to buy the visa at the airport or other entry points into the country. All visitors must have a return ticket.

Problems
Any problem that rises is to be discussed at the meetings. Realize that Uganda is a different country from places in Europe and life can be comfortable even when there are less things available.

Power
Electricity in Uganda is generated from water. However, in the last few years this part of Africa has experienced drought and this has led to a reduction of water in the lakes and rivers thus making power generation difficult. This has caused high demand with a low supply, leading to power rationing. Therefore, load shedding is common in Uganda and power may go off any time.

Post
Post offices can be found at big towns and cities in Uganda. The Ssamba Foundation mail, address is P.O Box 423, Mukono, Uganda. In Uganda bringing mail out to physical addresses (homes, offices) is not common and most companies have post boxes.

Public Transportation

Uganda mainly uses road for its means of transport. Taxis (rebuilt vans) with license to carry 14 passengers are the major form of public transport in most parts of the country. There are two taxi parks in Kampala, located in down town, but the taxis can be taken from most places following the roads to or from major traffic points. Larger buses can be taken for longer distances in Uganda and around East Africa countries.

Q

Questions

You can always ask questions to other local or international volunteers who have been in the country longer than you.

R

Religion
Islam, Christianity, and African tradition are the major religious communities in the country. According to the 2014 census, Christians constitute about 83% of the population followed by Muslims with 11% and other religions with 2%. The population of Uganda is estimated at 45 million people. Most people in Uganda believe in something and therefore have difficulties understanding Atheist. Many humanitarian organizations in Uganda are supported by missionary organizations from USA and other Western countries.

S

Safety
Organizations worldwide are working hard in coordinating the international exchange of volunteers for social projects and in providing opportunities for young people to travel for personal development & interests. Do not behave in any manner which is going to disturb other volunteers, and the organizations behind the exchange and most of all your personal health & well being, please avoid any high risk factors during your stay.

Smoking
This is not allowed in the sleeping rooms, only outside the house. Smoking is also restricted in most social places in Uganda. 

Sex

Relationships should always be done with safety in mind. The rate of AIDS/HIV is still high and no risks should be taken. Condoms can be bought in all pharmacies and most local shops.

T

Time-Uganda Standard Time

Ugandan people are very informal, others will call that undisciplined and unreliable. The point is that it works two ways. Sometimes planning is changed without clear reasons and arbitrarily, so please try to be flexible.

Time Zone

Uganda Standard time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or London. Volunteers should notice while Europe, Northern America and other places in the world change between wintertime and summertime, Africa is holding the same time all the year. This means that during summertime in Europe, Uganda is only 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or London.

Tipping
Generally tipping is not compulsory, except in big hotels and restaurants. However, service providers at hotels and restaurants, taxi drivers, and others who have been exposed to tourism are now expecting tips. The tips are not added in your bills, so the decision to tip or not is yours.

Tourist places

Beside the amazing wildlife, tourist can go white water rafting on the Nile, several companies arrange trips to the source of the Nile in Jinja east of Kampala. The national museum is also worth a look, and for art there are some galleries, which mostly are located in Kampala. Several craft markets are located around Kampala with African art for sale.

U

Ugandan People

Ugandans in general are very informal, helpful and hospitable people and are brought up to respect and treat guests well. Don’t feel uncomfortable, but accept it. Ugandans are very warm and talkative people who like to gather a lot. Families and friendships are very important to Ugandans. Ssamba Foundation wants to bridge gaps between different people’s way of living and cultural background.

V

Volunteering:

Volunteer is a very rewarding experience, if you are flexible. Ssamba Foundation offers free volunteer opportunities to Uganda. No Programs are charged.

W

Working Hours

Expected working hours differ from 5-7 hours/day in schools through 8 hours in other projects. In some projects there may be more than one volunteer, but this cannot be guaranteed as you may be the only one to sign up for a certain project at that time.  Normally, the volunteers get to work in the project they have applied for. There is, however, no guarantee because it may be that projects are full or don’t need a volunteer for that specific time.

Water
Drinking water should always be boiled and filtered. Drinking straight from the tap is not safe, when traveling; all shops have a wide range of mineral water, which costs about Ug Shs. 1000-2000 per bottle.

What to bring

Clothes, both casual and formal Working shoes (trekking/sports shoes) in case of physical work. A personal first aid kit (bandage, disinfectant, diarrhea tablets, etc) and medication you may require (allergies, asthma, diabetes…), but almost all medicines can be purchased in Uganda. A sleeping Bag, Camera, films for the camera, Sun Glasses, Sun Screen Lotion, and Torchlight, Traditional Music, Photos from your home

And don’t forget to bring your energy, smile, and sense of humour along too!

X

Xenophobia
There is no any form of xenophobia in Uganda. You will be welcome everywhere you go.

Y

Young People

Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 78 percent of its population below the age of 30. With just under eight million youth aged 15-30, the country also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Z

Zebras

At one time there were thousands all over Uganda today there are 3,000 plus Zebras remain, the majority of Zebras are found in and around Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda’s foremost Zebra Park. In the northeast corner of Uganda in Kidepo Valley Park, about 100 Plus Zebras are remaining.

Compiled by: MANAGEMENT

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Ssamba Foundation – empowering vulnerable communities since 2006