Giving something back

It goes without saying, or it ought to, that you’ll observe a vast difference in Uganda between your standard of living and that of many local people, and many visitors are moved to help. To do so effectively and appropriately can, however, be difficult; there are plenty of tricksters looking to fleece well-meaning donors with school-fee scams, as well as the odd dodgy pastor using bogus community campsites/volunteer schemes to line their own pockets. Rather than handing out cash, a good way to be certain of making a difference is to stuff empty spaces in your rucksack with items that are hugely useful but which are costly or unavailable in Uganda.

Check out the website of Sanyu Babies Home before you travel, a charitable foundation that cares for orphaned, destitute and abandoned babies until they are adopted or graduate to orphanages. Sanyu Babies Home also welcomes volunteers and paying guests; accommodation on site is provided in a pleasantly homely guesthouse (US$25 shared facilities). The home is found on the side of Namirembe Hill on Natete Road just before Mengo Hospital. It’s a particularly convenient place to visit: many budget and independent travellers stay in this area, while tourists staying in central hotels will invariably pass the gate on their way to/from destinations in western Uganda.

Volunteers for Sustainable Development, a small organisation established by local residents, is doing its best to provide a life for a handful of orphans in Bwaise, Kampala’s largest slum. It’s a truly humbling initiative, tackling overwhelming odds and every little helps. Assistance can take the form of volunteering, simply spending time with the kids to help them practise their English, donating funds (supporters in the US have set up a 501C facility) or taking the VFSD slum tour to better understand the reality of life in Bwaise. 

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