Volunteer safari as a family holiday to Uganda
As people are becoming more aware of their impact on the world, a growing number of travellers are choosing responsible tourism. This can be as simple as staying in locally owned hotels or not buying anything made of endangered species to taking part in projects that give back to the destination communities. Volunteer tourism, also called voluntourism, is growing in popularity and is a great way to visit places that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. At the same time you’re helping others.
If you prefer your family holidays to be in off-the-beaten-track destinations, you may want to consider Uganda for your next trip. This African country is a nature lover’s dream. There are several large lakes, including Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga. The upper part of the Nile River flows through the country too. In the east, the landscape is made up mainly of plains similar to those found in neighbouring Kenya while in the south-west you’ll find mountains. There are several national parks, two of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and game-viewing safaris are a popular tourist activity. Uganda is also one of the view countries where you can see the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat.
The country is ethnically diverse with about forty languages spoken here. In general the people are friendly and warm. However, because of its turbulent past, Uganda faces many socio-economic challenges. Poverty levels are extremely high, especially in the rural areas. The infrastructure in these areas is poor too and social services like education and healthcare are often lacking.
Volunteering in Uganda can be a very rewarding experience and can make a huge difference to local communities. If you include some time to do volunteer work in your itinerary, you not only get the opportunity to help alleviate the problems plaguing the people of Uganda but you also get to see more of the real Uganda, the one most tourists don’t see. You’ll find out more about the people and their way of life and it may help you to put your own life into perspective. Volunteering is a great way for your kids to learn more about the world and their place in it too.
There are many different types of volunteer project that you can take part in. They range from projects focused on agriculture and economic development to education and health-related projects and conservation. Volunteers with special skills, such as healthcare professionals, teachers and engineers are highly sought after. However, anyone can volunteer in Uganda, since often a project really just needs a few extra pairs of hands to help build infrastructure, play with orphans, feed animals in wildlife rehabilitation centres, and so on.
With such a vast variety of projects depending on volunteers, it’s not difficult to find one that will appeal to you. The internet is a valuable source of information too and here you’ll also find reviews by past volunteers. It’s a good idea to read these reviews to help you make an informed choice, . Sometimes the most rewarding experiences are the ones that you simply stumble upon. Remember that many projects require volunteers to be at least 18 years old, so check the age requirements if you have younger children.
When you have decided on a project that you’d like to participate in, do a little background research on the community, the history of the area and the reasons why they face particular challenges. This will help you gain a greater understanding of what is really required and how your contribution may help. Then remember that no contribution is too small. As Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”