Uganda is located on the equator. Weather is usually warm and comfortable, with an average of 280C during day time, with rain during most of the year. There are two dry seasons when the weather is hot and dry and – from December to March, and at times also during June-July. Bring with you mostly short and light clothes, and several warm clothes for evening hours. There is no need for coats. Note that the locals come to work with respectable attire – Button-down shirts and dress pants.
Locals in Kiboga speak ‘Luganda’, and a few other native languages. Those who attended school speak at least basic English. The hospital staff speaks good English and all medical records are in English. The staff assist the volunteers with translation for the many patients who do not speak English.
The local currency is Ugandan Shillings. As of March 2016 $1 US dollar = 3300 ugandan shilling. Kiboga town has a bank and an ATM machine, but not all international cards work there. In Entebbe (where the airport is located) and the capital Kampala money can be withdrawn from ATMs, and exchanged from dollars or euros to local currency without a problems.
Uganda doesn’t have an Israeli embassy, and the Embassy in Kenya is also in charge of Uganda. Brit-Olam with the help of the local volunteer coordinator will aid the volunteers if any problem arises. SBI company, an Israeli company working from Kampala, who a major supporter of our project, is also available to assist in case of an emergency or problem.
Volunteers stay at the volunteer house, which is located by the hospital compound. The house contains 3 bedrooms, equipped with beds and mosquito nets. The house has running water (cold only) provided by a water system collecting rain water from the roof (for a hot shower you can use the ‘hot bucket’ method). The house is connected to electricity, but power outages are frequent. A small generator is in place that can allow lighting. The house is equipped with a refrigerator and a cooking oven and gas top. Beddings and towels, cleaning and kitchen equipment are also available at the house.
Kiboga town has decent cellular reception, and acceptable internet connection via-cellular internet. The volunteers will receive local sim cards. In order to talk or surf the net you will need to buy ‘airtime’ cards, which are available in Kampala and also in Kiboga (where mostly small amount cards are available). Surfing the internet on a lap-top or tablet is possible by opening a mobile-hotspot from your phone, or using a cellular modem stick (available in the volunteer house).
It is not recommended to drink the local water (including the ones in the house’s water system). It is suggested to drink either mineral water or boiled water. Mineral water can be bought in Kiboga town.
There are many small shops in Kiboga town where basic food and products can be bought, as well as two small markets who sell fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a selection of ‘diners’ serving local food, as well as street food stalls opened in the evenings. In the capital Kampala (about 3hrs drive) almost all items can be obtained.
‘Brit-olam’ will organize pick-up from the airport for arriving volunteers. The project has a vehicle that is available for the volunteers to use around Kiboga town and for outreach work. Locals move around town using ‘boda-boda’s’ (motorcycle-taxi). Please note that the use of ‘boda-boda’s’ is not recommended due to the risk of accidents and injury. Inter-city travel can be done by bus or service taxi.
Uganda is considered a safe country and traveling around Kiboga usually feels safe and comfortable. Even thought, as in any other place, violence can accrue at times and basic caution is always advised. It is best to stay clear of the bar area at town center, and be careful if traveling at night.
In any personal medical emergency volunteers can turn to one of the recommended private clinics or hospitals in Kampala – ‘The Surgery’ or ‘Nakasero Hospital’. It is important to contact your travel-insurance company ahead of time when possible to insure coverage, or as soon as possible in case of urgent medical care. Please carry with you at all times the insurance company emergency contact numbers. Please inform ‘Brit-Olam’ representatives immediately in any case of emergency.
The hospital has a high prevalence of HIV, TB and other infectious diseases. Volunteers are required to use personal protection including gloves and appropriate masks when needed, and strictly follow blood-obtaining safety protocols.
In case of exposure to HIV infected blood – the volunteer should immediately approach the HIV clinic team and follow their advice on post-exposure prophylaxis medications.