The plight of the "Invisible Children" brought volunteers to Uganda in huge numbers, but it was only a temporary upsurge. ELI International Volunteers began before the upsurge and continues on now, working with worthy projects in our base city of Iganga. Orphans abound in this HIV/AIDS ravaged country. You can volunteer or intern in youth projects and teaching, microfinance, women's programs, public health,or wildlife conservation. Take in the Nile river, just 30 minutes away on the weekend, checkout the mountain gorillas or Kampala, the booming capital.
According to the World Bank over 1 million orphans are growing up in Uganda. After losing their parents, many children move in with relatives. The additional children place a large burden on the families who often don't have the resources to send their own children to school. Orphans living with their extended families often face a bleak future of hard work and little opportunity for education. ELI works with several organizations aimed at assisting and empowering these children through education programs, skills training, and other activities. Volunteers are welcome to assist with teaching, and are encouraged to lead other activities such as sports and arts in order to enrich the lives of the children. Some orphans have nowhere to turn after losing their parents and find themselves in orphanages. ELI works with several orphanages in and around Iganga Town. The Orphanages provide food shelter and education to hundreds of children from infants up to teenagers. The orphanages operate on very modest budgets, and at times struggle to provide enough food for the children. Volunteers working at an orphanage will assist with the day to day care of the children, teach reading and arithmetic, and assist with improving the facilities. Working with orphans is very challenging but the reward of the children's smiles are incredible.
As in many countries in Africa, Ugandan women are marginalized through limited opportunity for education, lack of economic opportunities, and other factors. ELI works with community organizations committed to providing women with the tools they need to improve their prospects. Interns will work with local organizations in order to learn firsthand about the factors contributing to the marginalization of women in Uganda and design programs to promote equality between men and women. Past interns have designed and led workshops focusing on issues such as financial literacy, income generation, health and hygiene education, family planning, and adult literacy.
The field of Microfinance has received a lot of attention since Muhanned Yunus received a Nobel Prize after founding the Grameen Bank. Thousands of microfinance institutions (MFIs) provide financial services at the community level in Uganda, usually through Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs). SACCOs have had mixed results--a few have been very successful while others struggle to survive. Interns in this program work in a SACCO with a successful track record. The first few weeks are spent working with the SACCO staff to get an idea of the day to day activities, the strengths of the organization, and to determine what projects within the SACCO to pursue during the rest of the internship. Interns can pursue a wide variety of projects in collaboration with the organization including business skills development, developing business plans, microfinance education outreach, and project monitoring and evaluation. Our volunteer Anders, talks of his experience here.
Participants in the project must commit to at least six weeks. Past experience in banking, accounting, or financial services will be a real advantage.
Uganda has been hit hard by the AIDS epidemic. The countryside is dotted with villages abandoned after the disease raged through, killing many of the adults, but Uganda is seen as a success story in Africa. The prevalence of HIV infection topped out around 15% in the early 1990s and since then the official prevalence rate has dropped to around 6%. Interns with this project will work with social workers, health professionals, and community organizations devoted to providing care and support services to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Interns will accompany social workers on home visits, develop educational programs, assist with the distribution of Antiretroviral treatments, and pursue other projects. Participating in this project will give interns insight into the fight against AIDS in Africa as well as help interns to understand the human impact of the disease.
This project is part time only. Volunteers with the HIV project should choose another project to get involved in as well. This program works well in conjunction with a medical internship
Volunteers and interns work with doctors and nurses in a hospital or small clinic in Eastern Uganda. Interns will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience in a general care clinic while learning first hand about the challenges facing Uganda's healthcare system. Staff at the clinics will assign tasks based on the skills and past experience of the intern.
This program is open only to graduate level medical, nursing, and physical therapy students. Past clinical experience is required. Interns with no previous clinical experience have the opportunity to shadow the doctors and nurses as well as pursue public health projects including educational programs covering topics such as HIV/AIDS/STD prevention, hygiene practices, and nutrition. Undergraduate students MAY be accepted to this program, but will be evaluated on an individual basis. Please contact us to discuss whether you would qualify.
Healthcare is one of Uganda's largest challenges. The country has an average doctor to patient ratio of 1 to 25,000. The Majority of doctors live in the larger cities, but 80% of Uganda's population lives in rural areas where doctors and nurses are scarce. Qualified health professionals such as doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, and physical therapists are welcome to assist in the Iganga hospital in eastern Uganda. Both the hospital staff and facilities are stretched to the limits. Some patients are forced to either share a bed or sleep on the floor. Qualified health volunteers will make an immediate difference in the lives of the people they work with in the community
Like most countries in Africa, Uganda's schools are facing the challenges posed by a lack of qualified teachers, overcrowding, lack of materials, and few opportunities for teachers to pursue further training. Some classrooms have as many as 80 students for each teacher. Volunteers are welcome to teach English, Math, and other subjects in schools in Iganga town or surrounding rural areas. Uganda has mandated universal education, but there are not enough teachers or classrooms to provide this, so volunteer involvement is highly appreciated. Volunteers are also encouraged to get involved with extra curricular activities to help enrich the school experience for the Ugandan students.
Uganda is classified as an "ultra diverse" country with over 1500 native species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Due to a combination of lack of education, political turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s, deforestation, and poverty, many of the native species of Uganda face the threat of extinction. The Uganda Wildlife Education Center is working hard to promote the importance of conserving the biodiversity of Uganda among the Ugandan people, especially the younger generations. The UWEC operates an animal rescue center manages captive breeding programs for threatened species such as the Rothschild Giraffe, and facilitates educational programs, Interns with this program will assist with the care of the animals in the rescue center, record observations of the animals' behavior, and assist with the educational programs.
Interns must have a demonstrated interest in wildlife management, zoology, veterinary medicine, or related field.