Community volunteering in rural Uganda

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01273 823 700

Departure information

Weekend departures preferred, departures can be arranged to suit you
Holiday type

A taste of volunteering trip - what's it all about

This type of trip is ideal for people who are unable to take very long periods off work but who are interested in volunteering to work with communities in need, or in wildlife conservation. These shorter trips combine volunteering with an opportunity to see the main sights in destinations.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Community volunteering in rural Uganda


Our visitor charges include payments for household maintenance and services, and local liaison work. Extra payments may be required for more extensive liaison, interpreters and for local travel. Small group visits and family immersion require a contribution to the community organisations or families concerned.

We ask visitors to take personal responsibility for their waste and to discuss issues of rubbish, water and ecology with their house and community hosts. Water bottles and glass are recycled, though other plastic is a problem, and obviously there is no rubbish collection. The house uses stored rain - the tanks and plumbing having been repaired. In drought periods children and farm workers carry water in churns from bore holes. Drinking water is brought in from town supplies, but must be purified.

There is no air-conditioning, but Kanaama lies relatively high and is pleasantly breezy, cooler than Kampala. Cooking is done over fires. Milk, meat, beans, vegetables and fruit are mostly produced by the family.

Western visitors increase the strain on local resources: water for showers and laundry; wood for fires. We now have solar power for the house and office. Interest in developing biogas and solar power abounds, and compulsory science in secondary schools will hopefully boost this movement enormously.


Hosting visitors, working to budgets, and managing links with community organisations enhance skills, encourage dialogue and widen knowledge. The project treats women and girls equally with men and boys, appreciates the importance of domestic tasks, and brings wives more fully into decision-making. By sharing the same house, visitors will exchange experiences and support each other, and mealtimes provide opportunities for discussion with family members. Many visitors maintain contact and support with family and community members afterwards, and with our organisation in London.
Volunteers and visitors to Kanaama have contributed significantly to community development:

- Early initiatives provided a school water tank, shutters and books, three church renovations, and support for needy children. One volunteer established a school link and several staff exchange visits with British Council funding. Volunteer teachers have taught in the secondary school and brought enterprising creative projects to primary schools.
- The women’s microcredit scheme based on Grameen small group methods began with a trainer from London working with two local staff and is now managed by a Ugandan consultant. Members receive training in financial management and business planning. 929 women have received loans to the value of £34,137 by Nov 2014; businesses include poultry, brick-making, tailoring, retailing; a savings scheme has been added in; local women are leading clusters of member groups. Income generating activities bring household necessities like water tanks, solar panels, daily utensils and above all confidence and skills leading to greater involvement in civil society and a voice for local women.
- A Saturday Centre for 60 of the poorest orphans and vulnerable children aged 5-15 years and their caregivers. This project, which aims to become self-sustaining, includes therapeutic group work and play, school and basic health costs, nutrition and food security. As measured by social confidence and school results this project is astonishing! Our challenge now is to carry this support through secondary schooling, and replicate in another area.
- Agricultural training to groups of 30 microcredit members and the orphan caregivers enhances the use of existing resources, improves diet and knowledge of nutrition, generates income, and tackles climate change. This work is led by Kashari Environmental Development Initiative (KEDI) and two local farmers, who have received expert training in organic methods. 300 women have been trained. Next steps include demonstration gardens and scale-up schemes.
- The building of smokeless stoves, using local materials, has reached 600 households. It saves wood and time, and improves health by removing smoke. Participants are mobilised by local champions across the whole sub-county. Our target is to build 1,000 stoves before moving on to a water programme.
- Two volunteer professionals, one in community health, the others in disability, mapped out the dispersed and culturally complex health system, and how placements could help. This is a great way in which experienced volunteers can help.

We are a charity as well as a small family, not-for-profit company, committed to partnership and community development. UK organisers are unpaid volunteers. At Kanaama we have four full-time staff and local KICS-Uganda Board of twelve members. The project office uses a separate part of the visitors’ house.

Transferring more strategic and administrative leadership to KICS-Uganda is a priority. Volunteers with experience of partnership working would be particularly welcome! There are many ways you might support our projects. Any offers? Do contact us if you can help.

Reviews of Community volunteering in rural Uganda

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 10 Jun 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The best part of my holiday was meeting the local people. I was inspired by the vision that many of the local people had, and their commitment to helping the community climb out of poverty. It was amazing to see first hand how a micro credit project can empower people to develop a profitable business. I have been inspired by the success stories I have seen of people in developed countries working in partnership with people in the local community.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Travel with any open mind, and be prepared to try new things. Be prepared to learn, because this trip is as much (if not more) about you learning than it is about you passing knowledge on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I believe my holiday has benefited the local people. While I was visiting, I was able to exchange ideas with the local community (two-way learning). But most importantly, I have been able to continue communicating with the host organisation to work out ways that I can continue to help.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was an absolutely fantastic holiday. The host organisation were extremely accommodating of my particular requests and went to extraordinary lengths to make introductions to various people and organisations. This is a fantastic place to stay - not just in terms of the location and scenery but the people as well.

Reviewed on 16 Oct 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were so many memorable moments, but probably two stand out the most. Firstly, when we returned back to the house after a long weekend at QENP. Although we enjoyed being in the park, it really felt like I was coming home when I got back to the house. That was a reflection of how much the family had welcomed us and made us feel comfortable. The other time was when Maureen invited me into her home. It felt like an honour that she wanted to share her life with me in that way. It was just like spending time with my friends back home.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for anything and make the most of everything. Things don't always go the way you expect and definitely work on a different level. But being flexible and open to what happens often brings opportunities that you don't expect.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

This gave the family we stayed with opportunities from hosting us. We also employed a local driver for trip. Through the volunteer work I was able to encourage the teachers at the school, as well as helping out with the students. We generally lived as the family would, so didn't use electricity etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Amazing holiday. It felt like such a privilege to be able to get to know the local community in this way. The people of Uganda are so warm and welcoming - and this family and community are a great example of this.

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