Thank you for volunteering to come to Uganda on a forthcoming trip. We hope some of the following information is helpful in helping you to have a better idea about what to expect and how to plan for your trip.
COSTS OF THE TRIP
HHH will pay for the flights, accommodation, insurance, food and transport whilst in Uganda, but you will need to pay for your visa, vaccinations and antimalarial medications. Each trip costs around £450 on top of the flight price. We ask volunteers to give a contribution towards the trip equivilent to the flight cost. Some volunteers will set up fundraising pages to help cover the costs of the trip or to pay for things needed in Hoima when out there. This can be done at: https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/fundraise/basingstoke-hoima-partnership-for-health
Average flight prices are £500-600. Visa is $100, Vaccinations and antimalarials costs vary according to what is needed - remember these are not supplied as part of the NHS but must be bought through a suitable travel clinic.
At the end of the visit, a few days optional and self funded R+R safari costs around £400 for 2 nights at Paraa resort (or less at the neighbouring Red Chilli camp).
Hoima is in a high risk area for malaria. You must take prophylaxis before, during and after the visit. There are several effective drugs on offer and your GP travel clinic will advise about cost and potential side effects. All of them need to be started some time before you travel and after your return. There will be a mosquito net where you are staying but some sticky tape is useful for closing up the holes. Sprays and repellent creams are useful too but you will still get bitten. There is information about vaccinations at www.nathnac.org/ but you may need to discuss your own needs with your travel clinic at least six weeks in advance. A yellow fever certificate is a strict entry requirement and yellow fever is present in Uganda,
Other communicable disease present in Uganda include cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis, polio, rabies, tetanus, tuberculosis and typhoid to name just some. There is also a risk of zika virus as well, so we ask volunteers not to come out if they are planning to get pregnant within 6 months of returning from Uganda.
Your team leader will be keeping a close eye on the ebola situation, and any other guidence on whether it is safe to travel to Uganda.
We are sure you know already that unprotected sex is high risk in Uganda because of HIV but we have to say it anyway. Similarly, for obvious safeguarding reasons, visitors must not enter close relationships with local people.
Be aware also that same sex relationships are not only considered acceptable and are in fact illegal in Uganda. The penalties are severe and it is always wise to respect cultural norms - as visitors your behaviour and actions are particularly noticable.
A lot of water comes from contaminated water sources. Always drink bottled water. We will provide it. Be wary of ice cubes and uncooked foods like salads. There are some nasty snakes around though getting bitten by one seems to be quite rare. If you do go walking off road, wear ankle length boots.
One patient in twenty is HIV positive. In the event of a needlestick injury you should start anti-retrovirals within two hours. The Clinical Team Leader has starter packs.
If you have a medical condition for which you are taking medication it would be helpful if you could let the team leader know about it before you go.
You now need to apply online in advance for your visa and pay the $100 fee. They will require you to upload a recent photo and your yellow fever certificate. You need to apply at least 2 weeks beforehand at: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/ Make sure your passport has at least six months to run from the time of entry and has spare pages for stamping. If you are travelling using an Irish passport, then you do not have to pay for a visa or fill in the evisa form. You need to go to the non e-visa queue on arrival at customs.
HHH has a group travel insurance policy to cover all our volunteers on trips. It does not provide medical indemnity insurance. Some unions such as the RCN and RCM will cover nurses and midwives volunteering abroad, or under the "Good Samaritan" act. Doctors may want to check if they are covered by their union or purchase cover.
Everyone who has ever been there describes Ugandans as being charming and friendly and you will find it so. People say that even in Kampala they feel safer than in London. If you do see trouble going on, it’s nothing to do with you so move away as fast as you can. It is sensible to keep valuables hidden away and to keep serious money in a body belt under your clothes. We have so much more than they do and it’s wrong to put temptation in peoples’ way. There have been instances of things going missing from the Crown Hotel in Hoima where you will be staying. The manager implores us to keep anything of value locked into a suitcase while you are out or to use the hotel safe. If you need the British Embassy in Kampala for any reason the number to call is 078 312 282. For the latest security information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office go to www.fco.gov.uk.
It is paramount that we protect your safety, as well as the people we will come into contact with in Uganda. All volunteers must read the safeguarding policy and sign the code of conduct prior to the trip. This can be found under the "policies" page.
The Ugandan shilling stands at about 4500 to the GB Pound. You cannot buy them in the UK. There are ATM’s in Kampala and Hoima but check what charges your bank may have for withdrawing money when abroad. You can take sterling and change it at a bank or forex (foreign exchange office). There is no need now to take US dollars. Rates are better for high denomination notes. Travellers’ cheques are no good. There is not much that you will need to buy apart from snacks and gifts
Ugandans are proud of their appearance and don’t understand why ‘mzungus’ (white people) wear such sloppy clothes. Men will be fine in a pair of flannels and a decent shirt. Male doctors always wear a tie for ward rounds and we should do the same. Ladies will do better in a dress or skirt though full length trousers are acceptable. Skimpy clothes won’t do at all. You might just need a sweat shirt in the cool of the evening in the hills. Your team leader will discuss what to wear on the wards. The team will usually wear a HHH polo shirt or scrub top which you can keep as a souvenir.
We usually stay at the Crown hotel in Hoima. It is a basic, but comfortable hotel and has a lovely pool and bar area that we can use. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms, but the water pressure may be poor and hot water is not always available. We ask you to keep valuables and money out of sight as your room will be cleaned daily. Food and soft drinks with meals are paid for by HHH but you will need to pay for any additional snacks, drinks or alcohol.
Depending on flight times, it is often necessary to stay overnight in Entebbe or Kampala. There are a few regular places that we use and your team leader will give you more information about this.
Good east African lager is generally available in half litre bottles at 4.5% to 5.5%. The Ugandan gin is very popular with our volunteers. There is no problem about having one or two drinks after a hard day at the coalface but please don’t over do it. There is a strong Christian anti-alcohol lobby in Uganda because the local home brew is responsible for many assaults and dreadful domestic violence to women. If you drink too much it would bring HHH and other aid agencies into disrepute.
Your standard UK 3-pin plug will work provided there is any electricity. Power cuts happen almost every day. Laptops will need a surge protector. Don’t leave one plugged in once it is fully charged as even with a surge protector, equipment can still be damaged.
There are several networks in Uganda and coverage is improving all the time. People generally use their UK mobile phone to communicate with friends and family back home via internet / VOIP. It is useful for volunteers to have a local simcard to communicate with each other when in Hoima. This can be purchased cheaply in Hoima. If you would like a local sim, then you will need to bring a second unlocked phone. There may be spares available from your team leader, solet them know if you would like a local sim but don't have a spare phone. The international code for the UK from Uganda is 0044. Leave off the first ‘0’ when dialling the UK number.
Mobile internet has vastly improved in Uganda and 4G is available. We also have a wireless dongle that the team can use whilst in Hoima or you can purchase internet via a local sim card. Data is fairly cheap to buy and all those wanting to use the dongle will need to pay towards the data costs. We ask you to avoid downloading films or other high data downloads as this can drain the credit. It is advisable that you turn off any automatic updates on your phone as well.
When travelling as a group please be at the right place at the agreed time! One person running late will hold the rest of the party up! It is also important that we remember at all times we are visitors in Uganda and that their culture is very different to ours. We try to ensure we don’t upset people unintentionally.
We ask you to read, sign and return the volunteer code of conduct
If you are eligible to donate and gift aid, please complete and return the attached form
If you would like to volunteer in Hoima, please complete our registration of interest form so we can add your details to our volunteer database.