The cost of volunteering and where will I stay?
You will be staying in the ELOI M 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. The daily rate for staying is $17.00 USD per day (7 day minimum). This includes 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.Large Groups and groups wanting to put together packages with other requirements (i.e. additional travel, safari's, crusades, etc) need to contact ELOI M for rates and availability of room to stay.
Other expenses and money
There are many internet cafe'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 Nile 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 Choco'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 cafe and send messages from an internet cafe' or hotspot.If you wish to receive mail while you are here you can do so. ELOI M 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.