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Soft Power Education

Page history last edited by Phil Pierce 10 years, 10 months ago


Partner institution: Soft Power Education

Website: http://softpowereducation.com/ 


Contributors (2013):

Amy Boyfield

Victoria Warrener

Sabina Jalil





Contributors: for details on what is required in each section, please look at the Guidance Notes



Placement Information



Social life

Things to do, things not to do

Useful Contacts

Before you go


Placement Information

There’s a wide variety of activities to do and things to see while you’re visiting Uganda. Where ever you decide to go make sure you wave to the children and say hello, their reaction is incredible. Be prepared to be referred to as ‘Mzungu’ for your entire stay, it means ‘white person’ in the least offensive way, it’s just how the children and adults get your attention.  A small tip would be to not take expensive clothes that you cannot ruin, as children want constant physical contact which can sometimes be a bit messy during play time.


There’s a huge range of projects that you can work on while you’re volunteering for Soft Power Education (SPE) which Sophie and Aggrey will coordinate for you at your weekly meeting. We recommend getting involved in as many activities as you can and visiting all the settings that are available to you, as they really broaden your horizons on Uganda as a whole. You can paint classroom aids on walls, make posters for classrooms, teach full days in the Kybirwa special needs centre, be a teaching assistant in local pre-schools, cuddle babies at an orphanage and lead sports sessions for deaf boarding school children.


During our 3 week stay we chose to be teaching assistants at two local pre schools where we led a 30 minute sports session at the end of the day. You will be attempting to play with approximately 90 3-5 year olds and although it’s very unstructured due to lack of materials, it’s fun for you as much as the kids! We chose teach for a week the Kybirwa special needs centre and be ‘aunties’ at the Amani Baby Cottage Orphanage, as well as paint the process of photosynthesis on a primary school wall. Whatever you chose to do, it’s always worth popping into the Education Centre if you find time, where you can volunteer in jobs like numbering the books in the library or playing a role in a drama production that teaches about contraception and family planning.


Soft Power Education website - http://www.softpowereducation.com/


There are various places to stay during your time in Uganda, but as you are working for SPE it’s better to stay on their camp site, as you get a cheaper rate! The Nile River Camp dorms are $8 per night and are very clean and comfortable. Your room will sleep 6-8 people on 3-4 sets of bunk beds, which makes it easier to hang your mosquito net from the ceiling if you have the top bunk, just remember to take some string for this. The dorms have no bathrooms but they do have a balcony that views the pool/bar area and the bathrooms with hot showers are only a short stroll of about 15 seconds away, just remember a head torch and be aware of frogs and lizards jumping in your path at night times. Your room will probably be visited by little geckos occasionally but they are scared of people so they just hurry away. Monkeys and birds will wake you up in the morning by playing on your roof but at least you won’t need an alarm clock.


There is a swimming pool and well equipped bar area at Nile River Camp which provided us with hours of entertainment on our weekends off. The bar staff will ask the grounds keeper to clean the pool for you if you find  some little creatures in it that you don’t like, and will bring you food and drink to your sun bed throughout the day.


The bar staff bend over backwards to make your stay enjoyable and learn your names within the first 5 minutes. Patrick was our favourite and even sent his friend into Jinja town to collect our Indian takeaway because we were watching a film. They also keep the bar open until you want to go to bed! The menu is westernised with favourites such as toasties and burgers available but everything comes with chips at NRC so you might want to get the waiters to ring Black Lantern for you and they will send their own food over to your camp, where meals like steak and sausage are on the menu. All food and drinks will be put on a tab and you can clear the tab when you want. Our tab came to approx $100 dollars per week, and that included two meals, a chocolate bar, at least 2 bottles of water and 1 alcoholic drink per day.


Website for Nile River Camp - http://www.camponthenile.com/


Other accommodation:


Other accommodation available for you is Nile River Explorers, which are in the same compound as you but a different site but we viewed their dorms and didn’t deem them to be as nice as ours, and our toilet/shower area was significantly cleaner. On the NRE site you can pitch your own tent for $5 per night, sleep in a tipi tent for $12 per night or stay in their dorms for $10 per night. If you did not fancy staying at any of these sites then you could stay at the 3rd site within the compound named Black Lantern in a $100 per night luxurious safari tent, complete with own bathroom and hammock overlooking the river Nile. Another available choice is to stay with a local family and contribute towards their rent. Mama Flo is one of the people that offer this service and she is brilliant. She owns a craft stall just inside the entrance of the compound and will do you a good deal on her products, as well as any kind of hair braid you wish for. 


Website for Black Lantern - http://www.nileporch.com/


Website for Nile River Explorers - http://raftafrica.com/


The Education Centre is a short 5-10 minute walk from all 3 of these camps. The area is also fully enclosed with security guards on every entrance. 


Ugandan transport is brilliant! A local taxi driver will be sent to pick you up from Jinja airport and will wait within arrivals with a sign that has all of your names on. The journey is about 2 and a half hours at night time at 4 and a half hours in day time. The taxi goes right through the capital of Uganda, Kampala, a recent Top Gear episode to try and find the source of the River Nile perfectly highlighted the enormous traffic that can build in the city of Kampala. The journey will cost around $60 in total.


The most popular method of transport around Uganda is catching a moped known as a Boda-Boda. A few drivers wait outside the main gates and offer you a lift to where ever you want to go, but make sure you agree a price before you get on and haggle with them otherwise they will rip you off. On the first day we paid 25,000 Ugandan shillings each when we should of only paid 5,000. The drivers are grateful for your custom and will take you several different places on your ride and wait for you after each stop, one driver even waited in a thunderstorm for us while we had lunch in a Chinese restaurant. Bodas that break down are not uncommon and you just have to wait for the driver’s friend to drop off some oil to put in the tank and then you’ll be on your way. There are also taxi’s around that you can catch if you want to do some shopping and won’t be able to balance all your bags on a boda.


On your first day volunteering, Aggrey will take you around the pre-schools and education centre and finish at the primary school where you will be painting and have lunch. He’ll take you on this tour on the back of an open ended truck which is so exciting. Lots of children will try to chase the truck and want you to wave at them. You can leave your belongings locked in the front seat while you go to work too. After the first day you will be expected to find your own way to the settings but most are within walking distance, just remember to take some good walking boots as the road is a dirt track and the paths around camp are all sharp stones. 

Social life

Bujagali is definitely a lovely village to stay in for your time in Uganda. It is widely known for the wide range of activities you can partake in while you are there. During our stay we booked rafting and bungee jumping over the Nile. The fact that you are a volunteer and book it through Nile River Camp means you get extra discounts. A full day White Water Rafting including transport, breakfast, lunch and all equipment provided costs $100 for volunteers instead of $125. The instructors were brilliant and took you over every grade of rapid, it’s an incredibly social activity as you share a boat with about 8 other people and take a swim with them in the calmer waters of the Nile.


Another activity booked through NRC was bungee jumping. The waiters rang up and booked it for us on the morning we decided to do it and the staff were so much fun! They give you the option of getting your head dunked in the water too and then a boat collects you at the bottom. Photographs of your jump are available for $5 per picture, and we took our phones and cameras to the top and took our own photos of each other jumping.


Whilst in Uganda we also chose to do a sunset cruise along the Nile. It leaves from Nile River Explorers and lasts for approximately 2 hours, costing $45 which included all alcoholic and soft drinks, along with free BBQ and dip selection. The guide also gives you information about what you pass along the way and talks about the history of the Dam that was built.


Quad biking is also available, along with trips to local markets, Jinja Casino and kayaking. Safari trips are available too but have a look on the website for full details.


When arranging these activities make sure you talk to the bar staff at Nile River Camp first as they are sometimes able to offer you a cheaper price than the neighbouring camps. Patrick from behind the bar will book them for you too. 


Website for Nile River Explorers trips - http://raftafrica.com/

Things to do, things not to do

You should definitely go White Water rafting or Bungee jumping if you are brave enough or do some of the activities that Nile River Explorers offer. All the activities that we chose to do were amazing and a lot of fun! 


Always make sure you stick together and never go anywhere alone. When going into town make sure you go in groups and when using a 'boda' ensure that you negotiate the price before you get on one!

Useful Contacts

Sophi  (Soft Power Education Volunteer Coordinator): sophie@softpowereducation.com


General Soft Power Education Email:info@softpowereducation.com


Soft Power Education Volunteer information: volunteering@softpowereducation.com

Before you go

Ensure that you have the correct amount of dollars available to pay for your visa and taxi transfer as there are no cash points available. The visa is $50 at the airport for a 3 month stay, which is the minimum you are allowed to pay for.


Calculate how much the accommodation will be for the time that you are staying and keep it somewhere safe. You can pay for the accommodation when you wish, we chose to pay weekly as it was then included in our bar tab.


Remember that you have to also pay a volunteering fee to SPE at some point as a charitable donation. We chose to transfer the money by online banking before we flew out as it made life a lot easier for us. The volunteering fee is £75 per week and this covered all the equipment that you want to use out there and meant that the charity does not ask you to fly supplies over to them. The £225 in total worked out as being a lot cheaper than if we were to buy materials from England and have them sent over in another suitcase because of airport charges, and British Airways only allows 25kg baggage allowance per person. 









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