Lira volunteers manual

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Uganda is situated in East Africa, sharing borders with Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Sudan, and Rwanda. Its capital city is Kampala. Educated Ugandans are generally fluent in English. There are over 30 different languages in Uganda .The languages that they speak in the north Luo and Acholi.

For four-five months from late October to February, the climate is near perfect with cloudless blue skies and little or no rain. From January to March it is very hot, dry and dusty. The weather turns wet at the end of March giving the population their main growing season. For this part of the year the weather is very British, but with a day time temperature of about 25-28 degrees. We get rain right through until September.

General Information

LightForce International will provide housing for all volunteers. The endeavour is to give visitors a reasonable measure of comfort whilst also having an “African mission experience”. Our visitor centre will be secure & clean but volunteers should appreciate that it is not a 5* hotel. Rooms will have beds with mosquito nets & an electric fan and wardrobe. In Lira accommodation is in the town, has electricity and running water and is very much home from home. Our base in Pader does not have electricity but uses a generator and water is from a bore hole. Electric sockets are all UK style. We have satellite television. Passports and other valuables can be deposited in a safe. Trips will be mainly based in Pader.

LightForce International provides bed linen and towels. A daily laundry service is provided. A housekeeper takes care of all domestic chores and a cook prepares meals. Volunteers do not usually need to engage in domestic chores. In fact please note that the kitchen and office are out of bounds. Please keep out of both unless specifically asked to do something.
A common means of travel is by Boda Boda (riding on the back of a bicycle) this is cheap but can also be dangerous. Be warned!
If you have a mobile phone it will work in Uganda if you ensure it is “unlocked” from your UK network. You can purchase a local Ugandan SIM card which is inexpensive to buy and use.
Bring cash in clean notes and NOT travellers cheques. Ensure notes are not torn or written on. We can change British Pounds, Euro or US Dollars. You will need 50 US dollars or £30 to pay for your visa at Entebbe.
Some things to bear in mind:
Culturally people don’t wear shoes in the house - PLEASE RESPECT THIS and bring some suitable indoor footwear.
Dress: In the northern villages we ask for non revealing tops for ladies, no bare mid riffs and either long shorts (at least to the knee) or cut off trousers. Ugandan girls and ladies wear long skirts/dresses. Men normally need to wear trousers or long shorts.
Alcohol: Ugandan Christians don’t drink alcohol. We ask you to be sensitive if you have a different stance.
Friendliness: You won’t fail to realise very quickly how friendly the people are. They will all speak to you and make you feel very welcome. Small children in the camps may be a bit surprised (or even afraid) if you are white. They may even sometimes cry and run away!

Food: You are coming to Africa so don’t expect to eat burger/sausage, egg & chips every day. There is plenty of seasonal fruit & vegetables & meat. We can cater for vegetarians. We expect our volunteers to be adventurous and try some of the traditional African dishes. If you have or are recovering from an eating disorder you should declare it on the application form.

What you will be required to do

We want you to experience the culture and get an over view of our work. Where practical and possible you will be able to get actively involved. You may need to travel to project sites (sometimes by truck!). Occasionally you will need to stay away from the base. We will ensure it is a safe location. We expect volunteer to be willing to get involved in whatever needs doing and serve with a glad and willing heart.

Is this for you

Being a Christian is not essential – but you must at least be sympathetic and open. Don’t expect prayer & bible study to be organised daily. This is boot camp – not bible week! There are local churches.

It is also a great opportunity to serve. It goes without saying that you have got to love people and children. You must be patient, kind and generous but at the same time strict in order to earn their respect and ensure the smooth running of the project. You must be able to handle the heat and humidity and insects. You will struggle if you have a morbid fear of all things creepy crawly! If you are prepared to put in the work it will be the most amazing, life changing experience you will ever have. It may take time to adjust to the food, time difference, heat, smell and culture but it will be well worth it.
Why to volunteer

  • To give something of yourself to other people

  • Experience another culture

  • Live simply and examine your values

  • Your financial contribute helps the sustainability of our work

  • Understand poverty and realise its impact

  • Ugandans feel encouraged to see you there and helping them

Where you will be staying

LightForce has had a house in Lira since 2004. The LightForce office is located in the compound. It is a secure base with a guard at the gate 24hrs. The house is very comfortable, with kitchen, bathrooms and European toilets. Lira is a nice town and has a lot of facilities including general stores, chemist and medical clinics In 2011, we brought on line our new integrated village project in Pader where most of our volunteers will be based. Conditions will be more basic and our visitors will have a more realistic “Africa Experience”.

Before you leave home

Please note the following:

  • We will probably ask you to complete a CRB (police) check (bring out a photocopy of the part that is sent to you)

  • Passports must be valid for a period of 6 months longer than the period you will be in Uganda. Check it before you apply.

  • Visa. When you arrive at Entebbe go to the visa desk and hand over your passport and the immigration card that you will have received on the plane. It will cost 50usd or £30. You will need the following information to complete the form: Address: LightForce International, PO Box 434, Lira. Purpose for visit is: Tourism.

  • Travel Insurance. Most travel policies do not cover doing any type of work. You will find information from SALT insurance on the LightForce website. They cover the types of activity you may be involved in.

  • Vaccinations. Are required for entrance into Uganda. Take advice from your GP.

  • Malaria Tablets. As this is a high risk malarial region you will require these. Seek your doctors advice. As malaria tablets are not 100% effective, you need to take other preventative measures such as covering up at dawn & dusk and using mosquito repellent.

  • Make photocopies of your passport, visa, tickets, travel insurance certificate and print out a list of emergency contact details and any medication you are currently taking. Give this to the office upon arrival.

Kit list

There is no need to bring sheets & towels.

  • Plain cotton underwear (lace really itches in the heat)

  • Jeans/trousers for evenings.

  • Cropped jeans are ok for daytime use but they do make you hot

  • Trousers (Note: jeans may not be comfortable as it is generally hot and they won’t dry quickly in rainy season), ¾ length trousers are very practical.

  • Long Shorts not hot pants!

  • T-shirts, short sleeve or sleeveless tops.

  • Long cotton tops in case you go out in the evening

  • Cotton night wear

  • One really good pair of shoes-sandals that fit well for general every day outside use.

  • Walking boots or heavy shoes for use during wet and muddy seasons

  • Flip flops or slippers for in the house

  • First aid kit including blockers for diarrhoea, rehydration salts, paracetamol, antihistamine tablets (especially if you react badly to bites) and Canesten cream for fungal infections (which are more common in the humidity)

  • Sun tan cream, after sun.

  • Hat. A cap is alright - but don’t forget your ears!

  • Insect repellent (spray variety is easiest to apply)

  • Bring your own feminine hygiene stuff.

  • Small sewing kit & penknife may be useful but don’t carry in hand luggage

  • Torch & spare battries as there are frequent power cuts

  • Bring a diary-you’ll regret not keeping one

  • Toiletries-soap, shampoo etc. Toilet paper for travelling.

  • Bible & books to read

  • Camera & ipod plus batteries if not rechargeable

What you can bring for the children

  • People ask us what they can bring that will be useful. We can use children’s clothes, pencil crayons, educational toys and resources for teaching, tennis balls, coloured paper, bubbles, skipping ropes. Please make the resources available to the senior UK staff person on arrival – don’t give things out directly.

In fact we ask you not to give gifts; sweets; toys etc to children or adults, including our staff without first speaking to us. We don’t want to breed a culture where all our visitors are seen as gift shops. Staff should not ask you for help with school fees, building their house, financing a small business or for any of your belongings. They have been told that this is an abuse of their position so please don’t do anything to encourage such practice. Also don’t give email addresses & telephone number in the UK as you may be plagued with requests for help after you return home.

Arrival at Entebbe

You can get a direct flight from London Heathrow with British Airways. You can come with whatever airline you wish but we need to co-ordinate arrivals and departures. Lira & Pader are 6-7 hours drive from Entebbe Airport. Please plan to arrive in the early morning otherwise arrive the night before and stay in a hotel and we will collect you the following morning. Entebbe Flight Motel is simple, cheap (£15/25usd/night with breakfast) just 5 minutes from the airport and they provide an airport transfer. Be prepared for a long day travelling to the north. Someone will meet you at Entebbe International Airport. Look for someone holding a sign saying LIGHTFORCE INTERNATIONAL. We suggest you eat your breakfast on the plane. Toilets will be few and basic as you travel. The driver will ensure you can take a comfort break at intervals.

Principles you agree to live by whilst with us.

Volunteers agree to the following:

  • Not to smoke or drink alcohol at the LightForce base or at project locations

  • Not to get romantically involved

  • Respect that the office and kitchen are out of bounds.

  • Get involved with the programme as required

  • Make every effort to be courteous to all and maintain unity in the team at all times

This is a guide and may be subject to change.
Volunteers will be normally collected at Entebbe on a Monday morning and taken to Kampala and booked into an economy hotel for one night. This gives opportunity to rest, shop in Kampala and take a trip to the Equator (about 40 miles).
Tuesday morning after breakfast the team will leave for the north. It is a long journey. Snacks & water will be provided. There will be comfort breaks and a stop at Kafu where BBQ meat, roast bananas, roast kasava & soft drinks can be purchased. Before arriving in Lira there will be a stop at Otina Waa, a children’s village housing 200 orphans, coffee, cakes & ice cream can be purchased and we will arrange a short talk on the work of the project. The journey will conclude 2 hours later in Pader with a welcome meal and then a much needed nights rest.
For the next 3 days you will be involved in the project, working with children.
On Saturday/Sunday you will relax but there is an optional Safari, it needs 3 participants at a cost of £200 to make it viable.

Safari – not to be missed – everybody loves it……….the trip is to the Uganda Wildlife Authority Reserve at Murchison Falls. The Reserve covers almost 6000 square kilometres and has lion, leopard, giraffe, hippo, warthog, water buffalo, elephant, 5 types of deer, crocodiles, hyena, mongoose a variety of birds of prey and other exotic birds. The trip includes one night full board accommodation at the Paraa Safari Lodge will be opportunity to take a dip in the open air pool overlooking the River Nile and enjoy the excellent food. This trip is a must – especially for those who have never done a Safari. We use LightForce vehicles for the trip. You will go on an afternoon boat ride on the Nile to the falls and enjoy fantastic views of wild life & birds. There will be two game drives, one late evening before dinner and then after a relaxing night we do an early morning drive, followed by a buffet breakfast & time relaxing by the pool before the journey back to base after lunch.

Monday to Friday you will again participate in projects leaving the base on Saturday morning for a trip that takes you half way to Entebbe. You will arrive in the early afternoon at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary at Nakasongola. The sanctuary was created to reintroduce rhinoceros to Uganda which have been extinct since 1982.  The 70 square kilometer sanctuary in pristine bush country is currently home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda.  The long term goal is to build a sustainable rhino population and relocate rhinos back to their original habitat in Uganda's protected areas. We will stay the night at the sanctuary and there will be the option of Rhino tracking (1-2hours) at a cost of £25 – along with a guide you will get close to the Rhino in their natural habitat. In addition to Rhino you may see vervet monkeys, bushbuck, crocodile, hippo and a huge variety of wildlife. There is also a restaurant on site.

After breakfast on Sunday you will continue your journey to Entebbe for your flight home. If required you will be booked into the Entebbe Flight Motel from which you can take airport transfer for your flight.

Contact Details – please do not contact Uganda directly before being approved as a volunteer

LightForce International UK

Christian Centre,


Milton Keynes,


Phone: 00 44 1908 670655


Mailing address in Uganda

LightForce International,

PO BOX 434,


Emergency phone numbers: +44 7899998801 +256 751054546 +256 755589001

LightForce International has been providing opportunities for adults of all ages to volunteer on short term & medium term mission trips for 30 years. Our safety record is very good. We don’t have any serious incident on record. We want to keep it that way and ensure that people joining our teams feel as secure as possible and are cared for. Sometimes volunteers are frustrated by the “ground rules” applied but we believe adhering to the guidelines has enhanced security.
The house is secure and supervised 24hrs a day by our guards.
We ensure that in Entebbe ALL volunteers are met. Volunteers need to come out of the airport and look for a sign saying LightForce International or with their name on. If you are being collected by a Hotel look for the your name on a board which should also include the name of the hotel.
Copies of Medical insurance should be placed in the LightForce International UK office before departure and a copy given to the office upon arrival in Lira. This ensures that in the unlikely event of serious sickness or accident there are no delays in organising treatment or if necessary repatriation.
Travellers expect to occasionally get tummy upsets or feel the effects of heat and humidity. Take care not to eat food from unknown sources, drink safe or bottled water and peel fruits before eating. This will help avoid most problems. Personal hygiene is also more critical in hot climates. If volunteers are feeling unwell they should always make someone in the LightForce leadership team aware.
It is not unusual for most people to feel a little homesick. Especially if they are away for the first time or this is their first long trip. Keeping busy, making new friends and getting involved in the project will help. Those with a mobile phone can buy a fonecard cheaply to keep contact with family and friends in the UK. Make sure your fone is not locked onto a UK network before leaving the UK.
There is no greater risk of being mugged or robbed in Uganda than there is in the UK. The same rules apply there as here. Just be vigilant and use common sense.

  • Don’t go out alone after dark

  • Don’t carry phones, cameras or bags in ways that they can be easily snatched

  • Don’t carry large amounts of money or let it be on display when paying for things – just carry what is necessary for the day.

  • Leave passports and credit cards in the safe.

  • Don’t dress provocatively

  • Don’t be rowdy or act in ways that attract attention.

  • Keep your wits about you – don’t be flattered by people who don’t know – people will like to talk to you because you are English. Just be alert. Most are genuinely friendly but from time to time there’ll be an opportunist.

  • Follow local advice given you – keep out of “no go areas” and don’t go anywhere without advising the local project leader. Never change your plans without advising him.

Safe Trip!

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