Volunteering in Uganda has a long history and is very much still part of our social fabric and day-today life. It could have taken on different forms but still maintains the core values of freely engaging community in work without remuneration, giving and helping to transform their societies.
It is largely done by individuals during their spare time especially the aged, the young people, students and the fresh graduates from school. Clubs and associations like the Rotary clubs, Lions clubs and the RoundTable Clubs are also quite evidently involved.
... But perhaps you will not see the well established/recognised structures now as it were before even at community level - a lot of this is down to the economic, social and political trends that have changed the commitment to and perception of volunteering in Uganda over the years mounting pressure on survival of family as the smallest unit of community.
At a National level, not much has been done to recognise the efforts of volunteering - capturing its contribution, research, legislation and policy. A lot of what is done is by individuals, private companies and Non-Government Organisations (NGOS) that give to community causes; to religious organisations, to the relief of disease and poverty eradication and to simple community infrastructure development.
... And maybe I need to mention that there is more involvement in terms of assistance; giving that takes on different forms like philanthropy and the now acceptable trend of Cooperate Social Responsibility - CSR that many companies are getting involved with.
Some of the companies have embraced involving their employees as part of their CSR program into participating and implementing the community projects they under take i.e. projects like provision of clean and/ or piped water to the community, improving community sanitation and disease control among others.
The contribution of NGOs to community development in Uganda is massive. They give volunteering in Uganda a different dimension. Many of these are multi-national and are foreign funded. They are involved in different community projects across the country and are involving and using both local and international volunteers to run these projects.
Most of these organisations work in rural Uganda and directly connect and establish community needs and intervention gaps.
With fundraising, they raise resources to support various community projects. But because more and more community services have been devolved, the increasing responsibility on these organisations has not always been accompanied by sufficient funds, leaving them struggling to deliver at times especially in these times of the ever-shrinking funds.
Evidently therefore is that, with the more work that has been undertaken, the involvement of volunteers in delivering community projects has never been more critical. They are indispensable to the health, social services and education sectors and more and more funding and involvement is needed.
Without doubt, increased funding and community involvement remain critical as the main challenges of volunteering in Uganda.
I am one of those who believe that direct continued participation can be the answer to putting the shine on our local communities. Funding, Yes! Is very crucial and has been at the forefront for a long time but the potential of our communities getting unswervingly involved freely without remuneration in community projects remains fundamental.
Volunteering in Uganda offers quite many opportunities at individual level but even with the international organisations that are involved in community development programs - try searching the web, organisations like; VSO - Voluntary Service Overseas, Peace Corps, German's GIZ and many more ... will give you such opportunities.
And the beauty is; you can even combine your work placement with a memorable Ugandan vacation.
Just two sayings that I love;
"If you think you're too small to make a difference, you haven't been in bed with a mosquito!" Anita Roddick
... And my favourite;
"Volunteers polish up the rough spots in our communities." Jefferson Award Winner Alice Sandstrom - which is strongly very true!
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