Uganda Rural Fund (URF) founded in 2005, is a grassroots NGO whose mission is to strive to empower AIDS orphans, underprivileged youth and women to fight the cycle of poverty in rural communities, through creation of educational and sustainable development opportunities. We focus on rural communities in south western Uganda in Masaka and Rakai Districts which have been ravaged by poverty and AIDS. Volunteer assist with any of the projects listed below.
Our objectives include:
Providing a safe and nurturing environment for AIDS orphans to receive proper shelter, food, education, health care within the context of family, community and culture, and set them on a path to independent adulthood.
Creating opportunities for underprivileged youth and women to access resources for formal and informal education, practical skills training, and economic development.
Mobilizing local and international partners to provide access to livelihood enhancement resources to ensure sustainable social and economic development of rural communities.
What We Have Accomplished
We have built Hope Academy, a secondary school that provides a well-rounded quality education for orphans and other vulnerable children in rural villages. The facility also houses the community library, a computer laboratory, and a community resource center that provides space for youth leadership camps, business and agriculture training for farmers, community seminars, and adult literacy classes among other enriching programs. Plans are under way to add infrastructure for dormitories, classrooms, an arts center, and a medical clinic.
Besides the Academy, URF is enriching lives through various other accomplishments, such as building a new boys’ dormitory and continuing to support 19 children at Nazareth orphanage; securing sponsorship for 60 orphans, empowering youth through leadership camps, peer counseling, and an afterschool program; launching a village bank enabling over 200 rural women to access credit to start small income-generating projects; providing small business management training for farmers; building homes for child-headed families; building clean water, sanitation and solar energy systems through a partnership with EWB; and distributing over 1000 mosquito nets to prevent malaria.
Our ultimate goal is to become self sustainable organization so we don’t have to focus all of our energy on foreign donations, and we are on that path. We are focusing on designing projects that will generate income locally in Uganda. In doing so, we are creating jobs and promoting skill-development for the locals.
Our vision is to create a model village with self-sustaining educational and developmental programs headed by locals, a model that can be adopted by other villages in Africa.
What We Do (URF Projects)
Hope Integrated Academy: Through Hope Academy, URF provides both Secondary and Vocational Training curriculum for youth and adults especially the orphans. At the Academy we aim to provide a well-rounded quality formal and practical education that equips underprivileged students with life-skills which will enable them to live their dreams, to believe in themselves and to take charge of their own destiny. As of August 2010, the enrollment stands at 134 students in grades eight to eleven, 51% of whom are orphans. The Academy houses the community library and computer center with internet. Website: www.hopeacademyuganda.org
Child Sponsorship: We continually solicit sponsorship from individuals and groups to support of education of orphans in rural Uganda. It costs $25 a month; $100 a trimester (three of them in a year); or $300 a year to keep a child in school. These funds cover tuition and school supplies.
After School Program: a supplemental educational program for kids of all ages from elementary to secondary/high school who come to the Academy in the evenings and weekends. The program also involves music, dance, drama, and sports activities.
Entrepreneurship and Business Management training: provides basic training in small business management, record keeping, microfinance, and entrepreneurship. These are key skills for farmers and small business owners to be successful at what they do. It’s a three month-long course and participants receive a certificate upon completion.
Care for Orphans
Nazareth Children’s Home: caters for kids between the ages of one month to eighteen years old who have no one to take them in. Currently, we have 19 kids. The home provides for food, shelter, clothing and medical care for the orphans. We are always seeking sponsorship for these kids.
Child Headed Family outreach: URF supports several child-headed families by providing them with scholastic materials, food and land for farming, basic household needs, and finding them sponsors. Child headed families are made up of kids who have lost both parents and are left with no one to take them in and thus have to live on their own.
URF attends to health care needs through AIDS education, HIV testing, mosquito net distribution and malaria education, community seminars on health, and assisting individuals with transportation to distant clinics.
URF helps women become self-sustaining by creating opportunities for small business development. Some women engage in crafts and jewelry making, raising pigs or c hickens, farming, and obtaining credit from the village bank for small businesses. Volunteers facilitate weekend workshops for the women in their villages focusing on topics such as domestic violence, nutrition, child development, maternal health, etc.
Village Bank (Micro-finance)
The village bank is solely run by the local people themselves, majority of whom are women. The program currently (Aug 2010) has membership of up to 200 women and men. Members buy shares which are turned constitute a pool of funds from which everyone accesses credit. The program also includes a reserve as emergence fund for members.
URF endeavors to empower the youth through various programs such as, leadership camps which conducted during school breaks, peer counseling, sports, music, dance and drama which enable them to develop their talents, and community service projects integrated in the school curriculum to instill the spirit of giving back to community at a young age.
URF Book Bank: We collect used text books, pamphlets, past text papers, handouts, student notes, and other scholastic materials from students in city and other rich schools and distribute them to students in rural schools. The program empowers students to help fellow students in disadvantaged communities.
We work in a community where over 90% of the population engages in agriculture; therefore, it is important to help farmers farm productively. URF achieves this goal by providing agricultural training, seed loans, drip irrigation kits, and also plants vegetable gardens for child-headed families.
Role of Volunteer
Volunteers assist in a number of ways:
Caring for kids at the orphanage including cleaning, cooking, laundry, tutoring, or bathing the kids.
Teaching in the after school program
Teaching at the Hope Academy high school for grades 8 - 11 or secondary 1 to 4.
Administrative work at URF office or the Academy
Assist in the community library or computer lab teaching computer classes
Facilitate debates and extra-curricular activities at the school
Organize Creativity Day events and mentor students on their projects
Conduct workshops in the communities
Facilitate youth leadership camps
Assist with construction projects
Assist with caring for cows and chickens - income generating projects that support our programs
Write grant proposals, reports, and evaluations
Assist with local fundraising events
Build dry stands, washing stations, garbage pits, and other sanitation facilities in homes
Work in the child-headed families' gardens
Any other tasks as requested by the staff at URF, orphanage, or the Academy
For a comprehensive view of work possibilities, see the description of our programs. Volunteers work on any of URF projects listed.
Requirements / Conditions
No specific requirements but one has to be open to facing the challenges of living in a rural environment.
Volunteers are housed with a host family in the village. There is clean water, electricity (although not stable), and access to Internet on site. You recieve breakfast, lunch, and supper at the family. Any meals off site are on your own. Pictures and details can be found here.
Arrival-Entebbe Airport (EBB)
Flying into Uganda, you arrive at the Entebbe International Airport (EBB) on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 3 km from the town center of Entebbe. About a 30-40 minute car ride south from Kampala, Uganda's capital city.
If you provide us with your itinerary, we shall arrange for someone to pick you up from the airport. We ask $100 USD to cover car rental and gas. It's a four hour trip from the airport to Masaka.
Depending on your arrival time, you may have to spend a night in Kampala and then proceed to Masaka the following day. If you are to stay in a hotel, it's your responsibility to find a hotel around Entebbe or Kampalas.
Contact the Ugandan Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in your country to learn of visa and passport requirements. Currently the only vaccination required to enter Uganda is yellow fever, however you may prefer to get other vaccinations such as typhoid, hepatitis, measles, tetanus, polio, meningitis, tuberculosis, mumps, rubella, etc. Generally two passport photos along with a valid passport are sent to the Ugandan embassy/consulate, with included proof of yellow fever vaccination and visa application fee (e.g., $90 US Dollars for 6 months of multiple entries). Visas may be available at the airport for purchase on entry; however, as visa rulings can change frequently, it is best to contact the embassy/consulate in your country to learn of the latest requirements before arrival. A third alternative is to allow your professional and licensed travel agent to handle your visa arrangements.
$300: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Month
$250: 4th-6th Month
$200: Subsquent months
What it covers:
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening tea): Only meals taken at the host family and at off-site project BUT not for personal outings. Also, if working on a project off site and choose to eat at an expensive restaurant, you will be responsible for your meal expenses.
Lodging: bed, mattress, blanket are provided. Please bring bedsheets. Also bring a towel and mosquito net and other personal toiletries.
Fees also help with: bottled water, electricity bill, the cook/house maid, water transportation, phone calls by coordinator, and various basic utentials/supplies in the house to service your stay.
What is not covered under the volunteer fee:
Ground transportation. Some projects are not on-site and if arrangement is made to work off-site, we ask volunteers to contribute toward gas expenses and we rent the vehicle.
Meals not taken at the host family or service site