The Real Uganda Participant Reviews

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

I felt safer there than I did in downtown Rochester NY!

Most places and people you talk to will freak you out about going to Uganda. Those people usually have never been to Africa. They just hear stories about war after war after war and think, “Well, Uganda is in Africa, so they must be in a war and have all kinds of crime and chaos going on, so obviously if you go there, you will probably die.” I had so many visions of giant killer bugs, insane mosquitoes, getting deathly ill, getting abducted, killed, whatever… hahaha! Turns out that I felt safer there than I did in downtown Rochester NY! That’s where I live… That doesn’t mean that you throw caution to the wind or anything. Be safe, be smart, and be cautious, but definitely relax.

Program: Have you ever thought of volunteering in Uganda?

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Tasks changed from day to day

I signed up for the “Agriculture and Conservation” but my volunteering was not as straightforward as picking up a shovel and being shown what to do. I was given time with another volunteer to brainstorm on things we could add or improve in our designated school, “Hopeland”. We formed dozens of ideas for the farm, soccer pitch, kitchen, garden, school beautification and education. Then we just went for it and started digging. There was plenty of undeveloped land and we tried to tackle every idea we had. In between, there were errands that needed to be done around the school, so we would give a helping hand. We dug out the foundation of an old building to plant grass, dispersed rubble from the demolished building to divert rainwater and to build a ramp for walking, cleared out land for the garden, used broken bricks to improve a pathway and border the garden, planted seeds that we bought and watered everyday, taught classes for a week on environmental concern and our home-countries, helped the construction of a temporary farmhouse, and started a “Bottlebrick” project to collect plastic waste with students all over the school and reduce burned rubbish. Tasks changed from day to day. Some weeks were labor intensive and others were interacting with the children.

Program: Agriculture, Conservation, and Food Security in Uganda

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Jump in, try everything, step out of your comfort zone

I spent weekday mornings (roughly 8:30am-1pm) at the “garden”—a much too modest translation for the extensive fields they own. I was always there with someone else and would help them with our tasks for the day. I often helped clear land for planting, mulch or add manure, plant beans and cover the seeds.
After time back at home for lunch, I would go to the school to help out. The students were on holiday break, so my first week I found various ways to help the teachers, like making educational posters for the classrooms. My last few weeks, I ran an afterschool recreation program for the kids. About 30 kids attend optional school during the holidays, and by 3pm they’re ready to be out of class running around. From about 3pm-5pm we would go to a field and play lots of games and soccer.
Jump in, try everything, step out of your comfort zone (even if it’s just one step at a time!) Learn some Luganda—it goes a long way. Embrace the mzungu calls and throw back a greeting in Luganda. Introduce yourself and get to know the local kids. They’ll see you everywhere and it’s nice to be greeted by your own name for a change. Spend time at your homestay and at least a couple weekends in the village. Go to church with your family. Play with the kids. Walk through town. Buy fruit at the market. Play soccer with the males in town. Learn how to make chapatti. Be smart, but don’t be afraid of street food. Eat a lot of sugar cane, especially if you’re working in the garden.
Be patient and go with the flow. Things and time operate differently there and it’s best if you’re open to experiences and ready for anything! Be flexible. Take it all in. Unplug from home. Enjoy the simple life and inspiring people you’ll meet.

Program: Agriculture, Conservation, and Food Security in Uganda

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Stay in the moment

When volunteering for the Real Uganda, I split my time between a village farm and the owners’ small community school. While working in several of the farm’s gardens, I helped to till land, add natural fertilizers and plant seeds of different varieties. I was able to assist in digging holes for and plant fruit tree seedlings. I also had the opportunity to learn about how various fruits and vegetables grow. Additionally, I was able to share my knowledge about producing soymilk from soybeans, which was used to further develop a sustenance food program for the school’s elementary students. While working in the school, I spent time visiting classes and was able to help improve the school by providing teacher-training workshops to the school’s staff. I conducted several workshops on enhancing reading skills amongst learners and creating child friendly lesson plans.
I would suggest that future volunteers come to their placements with an open mind, leaving any expectations of personal gain out of their journey. They should stay in the moment each day and give fully from the heart. Since volunteering is a path of giving, people should share their knowledge but also stay humble. And, they should conduct themselves, as respectable individuals in all situations to produce greater esteem.

Program: Agriculture, Conservation, and Food Security in Uganda

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Ugandan trod. journey of a soul

Disillusioned with working in the West and approaching middle age, I embarked upon a mini journey with a mission to rediscover who I am and find out what life options might exist beyond managing the menopause and looking forward to my pension. I have always enjoyed previous visits to Africa as a tourist but was looking for immersion, just to find out how I might cope with living and working out there in the future.
From the outset The Real Uganda lived up to it's name by providing information about Ugandan daily life and cultural norms before and during the volunteering experience.
Help was on hand for the practicalities of sorting out mobile phone data and useful information provided on how to access health care, what currency to bring and where to get a hot shower etc.
What I loved the most was the availability of the TRU director Leslie Weighill and her passion and commitment to Uganda. She is real and incredibly experienced. I would recommend The Real Uganda without hesitation and cannot think of one negative aspect of my experience in relation to her care.
Even when I had a mishap with the public transport system out there, she made herself available and provided useful advice.
It is evident that Leslie chooses her her host families with care. Mine were amazing. Like Leslie, they were passionate about community and cultural empowerment. They were a tight family unit and in no time I felt I belonged. I enjoyed my reasonings and eating their great food all organically grown. Actually I would come back for the food alone if I am brutally honest.
The culmination of my experience with TRU has left me feeling refreshed and motivated. I also have a vision and one that embraces the "Ubuntu" ethic that Leslie talked about during my visit. Although my currebt work in the UK restricts the length of time I can volunteer, I would love to repeat the experience with The Real Uganda again.

Program: Community Empowerment in Uganda

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Changing my philosophy

In the VERY beginning, I can admit I wanted to come in and help improve the living condition of those living in extreme poverty. At the advice (read: expertise) of Leslie, I ditched that philosophy, realizing that consuming a few books written by Westerners and the opinions they have of what Africa needs come from a good place – but they don’t always concern themselves with the thoughts and opinions of those directly affected.

I changed this philosophy just to one of having an open mind, and to let my hosts and the women we worked with make whatever impression they would… and impress they did!

Program: Have you ever thought of volunteering in Uganda?

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

I enjoyed my time in Uganda

At the boarding school, I helped in the daily affairs: kitchen, washing dishes and clothes, helping the kids with their homework at night. We would also fetch water for showers, as well as for cooking. Sometimes I would go to the nearby town to bring some treats for the kids living there. I spent a lot of time playing and getting to know the kids. I taught English and helped the teachers provide homework for the children. I spent a number of days helping the local community filling out government forms for their children to get an ID, since many parents don’t speak English.

Program: Rural Primary School Teaching in Uganda

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

I would love to spend more time with them

I was able to work at a school, at the medical clinic, and with the local women. At the school, I taught and played with the children. Learning each other’s culture and language was really fascinating. In the medical clinic, I gave malaria and HIV tests. At first, I was quite timid, but after awhile I got the hang of it. With the local women, I hung out with them and crafted with them. Working with village women was great, because part of my goals was to be able to get to know the local people. Due to time and the language barrier, I think my chats with them barely scratched the surface, but I would love to spend more time with them and get to know them better. I could probably pick their brain for hours at a time.

Program: Have you ever thought of volunteering in Uganda?

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Muzungu, how are you?

The whole experience from start to finish was fantastic! From the day I sent the application I knew I had made the right decision. Leslie was there every step of the way to support you, answer questions and provide material to help you prepare for your journey. She is passionate, knowledgable and an all round ‘rad’ woman!

I spent a total of two weeks working with Hopeline in September 2017 and cannot find a bad word to say about a second of it. I had prevously been to Uganda four times with another organisation where we would stay in hotels/guest houses throughout our voluntary trip; despite my existing love for the country and the people I craved more. On return from my last trip I had decided I wanted to find an organisation that could teach me more about Uganda, emmerse me in the culture and way of life. The Real Uganda was exactly that. You are placed with a host family (Tony, Doreen and their family were incredible and really couldn’t have taken care of me better!) and work alongside their organisations. You are given support and choice throughout, giving you the ability to be independant and get out exactly what you have put in to the experience. I dug, harvested crops, planted seeds, learnt to crochet, made crafts, tested for malaria, assisited in a medical clinic, helped to cook, shopped in the markets, played in the village and could not have felt more welcome throughout the whole stay! “Muzungu, how are you?” Is something you will hear chanting from the time you arrive to the moment you leave for the airport. There’s a reason Uganda was voted the friendliest country in the world.

If you are considering volunteering with The Real Uganda, go for it! One few words of advice, say yes to everything, join in, sing, dance, speak the language, ask questions, tell your story, listen and get stuck in and you won’t regret it!! You will return having learnt way more than you ever thought possible and with a heart bursting with love for your new family and second home; Uganda!

Program: Community Empowerment in Uganda

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

5 weeks with hopeline

I have nothing bad to say about my experience through The Real Uganda, in fact it was one of the best decisions I ever made to travel with them. If you want to make a real impact on true Ugandan communities, to work with inspiring, passionate and dedicated people, to do something you cant do anywhere else, but still have the chance to have a weekend to go on safari, or white water raft the Nile, then this is for you. Never have I been somewhere I have felt so welcome, but also where I have felt I've made a true impact. Leaving was the hardest part of my time there. I am forever grateful to founder Leslie for my time there, and for placing me with my Uganda family at Hopeline.

Program: Community Empowerment in Uganda