When you’re not teaching or playing with your cute kiddos, here’s how our ILP volunteers spend their free time in your little neighborhood.
There aren’t huge shopping malls and movie theaters right around your new home in Uganda, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do! ILP volunteers will only be teaching part time with weekends off and vacation time to explore your favorite parts of Africa, but your day-to-day life gives you the chance to really glimpse local life and find even more ways to make a difference.
Are you ready to come to Africa?
Come see what volunteering in Uganda is all about.
Uganda is one of ILP’s humanitarian programs, which means a lot of things (that link explains all the details) but one thing to know about volunteering here is there are quirks and adjustments to your new home in Uganda! Because living in a foreign country is always a new experience with some new adventures (like some frequent power outages) you’ll want to be prepared with lots of ways to spend a typical night even if the power does go out. That’s why having a big long list of ways to spend your time in your specific country is a big plus (you’re welcome!):
- Help With Humanitarian Projects
- Play With The Neighborhood Kids
- Join An Aerobic Class
Have Some “Family Time”
- Get These Snacks At Your Market
Play These Group Games
- Little Language Lessons
Go Into Kampala
Help With Humanitarian Projects
Uganda is one of the best locations for volunteers looking to help out outside of their teaching schedule. While you’ll be doing a huge service providing an English education to the kids at the school you teach at, ILP volunteers have been very proactive at finding other ways to give back and make a difference when they aren’t teaching. Here are a few of the ways they have been helping out to give you an idea of what’s available in your neighborhood (and how you can be helping):
Visiting This Rest Home
There's a rest home for disabled and mentally challenged adults that volunteers have been able to visit. Most of the people at this home have been left by their families who are unable to care for them. ILP volunteers sit with the men and women (some are young, just in their 20's and 30's), telling stories, singing, and just sitting with those who live there. The residents perk up when our ILP volunteers come over to say hi and help out for a while. Volunteers love bringing over pictures to share to their new friends at this rest home. The home is run by nuns who also appreciate your help cleaning too: things like wiping down tables and sweeping the floors.
Visiting The Abandoned Babies Home
It's a heart wrenching experience, but ILP volunteers have volunteered time to visit this orphanage for abandoned babies and young children. There are dozens of toddlers running around with wet pants, crying to get your attention, and crying louder if they aren't the child you walked over to pick up and comfort. There's a helpful staff over the program, but with so many kids at such young ages, they are struggling. Volunteers here are needed to spend time with the babies, changing diapers, soothing crying children, and just provide love and attention which is so important to a child’s development. A visit here is difficult to say the least, but something volunteers have said was an important part of their semester.
Clean Water Projects
This is one project that we feel an urgency for. With no piped water in the majority of homes, local families are required to trek to the closest well, spring, or pond to refill containers before making the walk back home. Sometimes the closest source is 1-2 miles away, so you can imagine how time consuming and physically taxing the daily chore of finding and carrying home heavy jugs of water is for so many people in Uganda. You'll often see children walking in the street with jugs of water, bringing it back home each day. Volunteers have jumped in to help people fill up and carry water home, but there’s something more you can do.
The real problem is when the closest water source isn’t clean. If it isn't a preserved spring or well, it's probably a standing pool, with trash rimming the edges. You might see a couple of dogs play in the pond or see a cow’s muddy hooves standing in the water before someone comes to fill up their 5-gallon containers. Drinking contaminated water is a major problem that many families deal with on a daily basis.
Someone ILP has been working with has been able to provide over 700 wells and piped springs to provide a clean and constant water source, and ILP is eager add to that number. During your semester you’ll be able to help with the construction of one of these springs. You can read about one volunteer’s experience and how impactful this service project was to her to get you excited to help out with this humanitarian project!
Play With The Neighborhood Kids
Volunteers are living right in the middle of a local neighborhood, and you will definitely get the chance to meet your neighbors. The little kiddos who live close to you tend to sit right outside of the entrance of your Ugandan home, hoping they get the chance to see you when you're out and about. They love love love to play with you. Volunteers in the past have pulled out speakers to have an impromptu dance party, or shown the kiddos the Snapchat filters on their phone. Typically the same kids hang around so get to know their names and their personalities during your semester.
Join An Aerobics Class + Workout
Or another way to work out. Volunteers in the past have signed up to participate in a 5k mud run but others have found a local aerobics class to join. It’s quite the work out, with an instructor who isn’t afraid to make you sweat (one volunteer group found classes for about $1). Other volunteers have hosted their own Zumba classes at home, inviting their whole group and friends they've met to come and join.
Some ILP groups have found a local, private swimming pool they can visit, for about $2. You can also play some soccer, it's a huge deal here and the kids love to play with you! Fair warning: they're pretty good and will probably beat your team, but it's a total favorite way to spend some time.
Have Some “Family Time”
ILP volunteers are living with their group, but there are also some local staff you’ll get to know, like the cute lady who prepares your meals, and the security guards who help keep you guys safe. Volunteers in the past have spent evenings teaching their cook how to make an American dessert and in exchange have gotten some mini cooking lessons on how to make a few of their favorite Ugandan dishes. Other groups have had pretty intense card game tournaments and asked their security guards to come play for the championship.
Just hanging out and talking has also been a fav past time with your group, and with the people you're sharing your space with. Your home is structured like a little family which is so fun with so much free time in your schedule.
Get These Snacks At Your Market
Head into Kampala for more supermarkets and supplies, but you’ll find little markets and mini convenience stores that stock up some favorite snacks for you to try. One of the best things about living in a foreign country is finding the parts that you absolutely love and can’t get anywhere else, and food is a big part of that experience. Grab your group and head to your local market, each buy a different snack, and see which one you like the very most.
Play These Group Games
You’re already set up with a big group of adventurers in your ILP group to spend time with, AKA instant buddies to play a bunch of group games with. We have talked to past ILP volunteers and office staff for their best group games you can play with minimal supplies … and ones that are actually fun. These ideas will really come in handy to play inside when you’re in for the night, times when the WiFi just won’t cooperate, or just when you’re walking to class. Each of these games either don’t need any supplies or just need one or two things you probably already have, and require at least 2-4 people. Most games listed often work way better with more people, so invite everyone to come play.
Little Language Lessons
Like we mentioned before, you’ll be in pretty close contact with your local staff who are working and living in the same space as you, and volunteers in the past have totally taken advantage of that. Though English is technically the main language in Uganda, it’s a country that has loads and loads of local languages, including Lugandan. Volunteers in the past have asked for little impromptu language lessons when they have some free time after teaching on some days, trading some Lugandan phrases for some English ones. It’s totally up to you and if the local staff around you are willing, but it's a fun past time.
Go Into Nearby Kampala
You're living in the outskirts of Kampala, so taking a trip into the country’s capital is always a fun option. You’ll need to battle the traffic into the capital city, but hanging out in Kampala is a favorite way for volunteers to spend some free time. This city kind of has it all — you’ll find huge shopping malls where you can get your essentials (or go see a movie), plus sprawling shopping markets where you can shop for favorite African souvenirs like colorful dresses and skirts, drums, carvings, paintings, and more.
Kampala is also home to some really unique experiences like the Gadaffi Mosque. The city acts as a good jumping off point to nearby Entebbe, which has even more adventures. Here’s a guide to Kampala to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Let us help you get to Africa!
ILP volunteers will be a part of one of humanitarian programs in Uganda, providing an English education part time, with their free time to help their community and get to know the country. On weekends and vacation days, go on safaris, see the rest of Uganda, and hop over to favorite Tanzanian islands. We're here to make that all possible: