Does ABA Foundation accept Group Volunteers?
Yes, if you have a group that would like to raise money for a specific project and then come out and facilitate it. We would love to have you. We accept volunteers after an application has been made. If you are under 18 years old you must have written parental consent in addition to the application. We welcome volunteers from all over the world. Previous volunteers have been from USA, Russia, UK, Austria, Italy and Venezuela.
What would I be doing at ABA Foundation?
Depending on the heart of your group, ABA Foundation has projects in Building, Agriculture, Teaching, Medical, Vocational and Technical. You decide as a group what your monetary goal is and what you would like to do and we'll set up a program for you to do so.
How do I get to ABA Foundation? What is the nearest airport? What documents do I need?
The main airport in Uganda is Entebbe International Airport. It is about 45Km from the ABA Foundation headquarters in Kampala - Uganda (Capital City of Uganda). We will pick you directly from the airport and return you upon your departure. You may acquire a "tourist" visa at the airport upon arrival. The cost is $50.USD. You will need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining time before expiring on it. You can carry your inoculation card that shows your vaccine records and have it available if asked.
Immunizations and other health questions including HIV/Aids
Contact your personal doctor, or find a local travel clinic, to obtain proper immunizations for travel to Uganda. Yellow fever is the only required vaccine for entering Uganda, but it is recommended that you are current on several others. Malaria is a concern here, and caution should be taken to avoid mosquito bites by using a deet-based repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net. Mosquito nets are provided at ABA Foundation. Short term volunteers should consider malaria preventatives like Doxycycline (cheap) or Malarone (expensive). You can purchase the anti-malarials here in Uganda upon arrival or get from your Dr. Before you come. Please note that Doxycyline can make you sun sensitive and Uganda is on the equator. Most doctors no longer recommend Larium (Mefloquine) because of the side effects. Most long-termers don’t take anti-malarials because there is treatment here and it is effective. Consult your doctor with further questions. Consult the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/travel) for Ugandan recommendations and for a Travel Health Clinics in the US. This is Africa, there is HIV. The only way it can be transmitted is blood to blood contact, so we are careful about that. Many of the women in the women’s group and several kids are HIV+ many are on ARVs. Regardless of how careful you are about what and where you eat and drink, you may have some minor problems with your health while here. The most common incidents relate to gastrointestinal problems and parasites. These are easily and inexpensively treated. People here get the normal cold, ‘flu’, infections, etc, as they do in other countries.
The cost of volunteering and where will I stay?
You will be staying in the ABA Foundation home, family style. We are in a gated compound that is very safe. You will be sleeping under a mosquito net and given 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Any other foods will be at your own expense. Your group rate stay will include room, meals, drinking water (bottled or boiled), toilet paper, transportation to projects and transportation to and from the airport (1 time each way). Showers are provided and in the event of no running water (this sometimes happens) water will be brought in for bathing and laundry. You will be responsible for washing your own clothes but water, basins and laundry soap is provided. Other side trips may be included in your package such as safari, white water rafting, travel to the source of the Nile, etc. You decide what you want to do and see while you are here in Uganda. Many of these trips are depended on the length of stay you decide. We recommend at least 2 weeks working and seeing parts of Uganda.
Other expenses and money
There are many internet café’s where you can either use their computers or plug in your own laptop, the cost is about $1.50 (3,000 UGS) per hour. There are also some “hot spots” around the area and in town where you can also use a laptop. Some of the places charge, others, like restaurants, won’t charge if you are eating there. There is a weekly Craft market in which to buy souvenirs or gifts at reasonable prices. You can exchange American dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros or British Pounds at the Forex Exchange Bureaus. You need to have 50’s or 100’s for the denominations to exchange. The American dollars especially need to be series 2002 or higher, new bills preferably with no marks, tears or creases in them. You can use a Visa not a MasterCard (if it has the plus symbol) in several ATM machines that will dispense Ugandan Shillings. You need to check with your local bank as to the rates used to use them. Credit Cards are not commonly used in Uganda and only a few places take them. Traveler’s checks are also very difficult to cash. Bring cash to exchange or plan on using your visa card in the ATM machines. There are many sights and things to see while you are in Uganda. If you want to take a side trip to Jinja and see the Source of the River Nile (the second longest river in the world) or go Whitewater rafting arrangements can be made for you. Also there are safaris in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls if you want to see animals. All trips vary in price depending on the type of accommodations you may desire. We will set you up with a travel company that can help make all your arrangements.
What should I bring with me?
Anything electrical must be on 240 current. If you have something that is on 110v you must also have a converter. You might also consider an adaptor for Africa (3 prong) to use in plugging in your electrical items that may not need a converter (i.e. laptops, iPods, some phones and cameras). Sunscreen and bug spray are also recommended. Your personal toiletries (shampoo, washcloth, towel), a pillow, and comfortable clothing/shoes. Shorts are not worn in the slums or in town. All pants need to be knee length as well as skirts/dresses for the women. No tube or midi tops. Bathing suits need to be modest. No see through clothing. Shoes should be comfortable and sturdy. Tennis shoes can be a bit hot for your feet and washing socks is sometimes difficult. Shoes like Tevas or Chocó’s are recommended. Do not bring expensive jewelry. Uganda has lots of orange dirt, light colored clothing tends to get ruined very quickly. Wash and wear clothing is the best, especially ones with Lycra in them. Earplugs are also recommended, especially if you are a light sleeper.
Is Uganda safe?
As far as risks in traveling, Uganda is actually one of the safest places to travel. The country is very visitor friendly. The people here are mostly very peaceful and non-violent. The Brandt Travel guide states that Uganda is one of the safest places for tourists. We have had many volunteers come and go without any incident. It is important to take precautions, as you would anywhere, by not being alone at night.
What language (s) do they speak in Uganda?
English is common and Luganda is spoken in the city and outlying areas. Luo is spoken and used in the slums as the people we work with are the Acholi people that were displaced during the war in Northern-Uganda. If needed, you will have an interpreter; otherwise you can get by in most places with English.
You can place international calls for about 25 cents per minute. You can buy a mobile phone here for under $50.00 and then you load airtime with on your Sim card and make calls. Texting is about 10 cents per international text. You can also use an international phone that is either tri or quad band that is unlocked and just buy a local sim card and load airtime. You can use your laptop to Skype from an internet café and send messages from an internet café’ or hotspot.If you wish to receive mail while you are here you can do so. ABA Foundation has a post office box but know that mail service is slow and mail usually takes 2-4 weeks depending on the country of origination.