All volunteers and teams will stay at the Empower a Child guesthouses in Nairobi or volunteers with start at the guesthouse in Kampala. All living quarters are secure, westernized houses. Even though the houses are westernized, Kampala and Nairobi are still African cities, which may mean that there may be no electricity in the houses 2-3 nights a week and on occasion, no running water.
The atmosphere at the guesthouses is very community-oriented. You'll be living with other international volunteers and a few of the Empower a Child Ugandan and Kenyan staff members, giving you a chance to get to know the team very well. You will likely be sharing a room with other volunteers of the same sex.
While you are in the village, you will be staying at the village compound. The compound has electricity, running water, and showers. You will have your own bed and mosquito netting in a shared room with others of the same sex. There may be times when we have no electricity or running water so be prepared to shower with a bucket of water or baby wipes, and to use a squatty potty! (hole-in-the-ground toilet)
Breakfast usually consists of toast and tea. During the weekdays, lunches are prepared for the entire team. The normal lunches are beans and rice. The international volunteers and staff that live in the guesthouse take turns cooking dinner. Dinners can range from the typical Ugandan or Kenyan meal to simple American meals such as spaghetti. The typical Ugandan meal is meat or beans mixed and fried with vegetables, rice, matooke (a boiled plantain) posho/ugali (mixed cornmeal), and potatoes. Fruits, such as pineapple and bananas are typically around the house as a snack.
We advise you to bring some spending money for westernized meals outside the guesthouse. You can usually find burgers, pizza, fries/chips, and chicken drumsticks in fast food restaurants around Kampala and Nairobi. There are also westernized grocery stores that sell westernized items. You should also consider bringing snacks from home: peanut butter, beef jerky, trail mix, cookies, crackers, chips, granola bars, and power bars. These are third world countries and do not have the wide variety of snacks that you may be used to.
Drinking water from the tap is not recommended. The guesthouse boils water to kill any germs and bacteria. The compound in Zirobwe has a no-heat filter. Each volunteer will take turns boiling or refilling the water in the evenings to ensure there is enough drinking water the next day. You may also purchase your own bottled water (at your own expense) if you choose not to drink the water provided.
There is running water in the Empower a Child guesthouse. As long as showers are spaced apart long enough, you can have hot showers. On occasion the entire city will have problems with water and we have to fetch water from a nearby well. In these times you will have to shower with a cup and basin of water for a few days.
When staying in the village compound, there is running water but warm water is not be available. Additionally, we may have a water shortage and you will have to shower with a cup and bucket.
There are a few options for washing clothes. You may go to a laundromat near the house, give your clothes to our housekeeper who will wash clothes once a week for a small fee (usually $2-$3), or hand wash them yourself. Please provide your own laundry soap. This can be bought at a supermarket close to the guesthouse or you can certainly bring some.
Connecting to Wi-Fi
Empower a Child guesthouses in both Uganda and Nairobi have wireless Internet access, although it may be much slower than what you are used to. This will allow you to stay in touch with loved ones at home. There is no access to Wi-Fi in the village.
You can certainly bring a cell phone if it takes a SIM card. Once you get to your destination you can buy a SIM card with a Ugandan or Kenyan number for about $5. There is also the option of buying a phone in Uganda or Kenya for $40-$80. Some long term volunteers do this to communicate with staff while in Africa, however most download a phone app or Skype to communicate with friends and family.
If someone wants to send you a package please allow at least 4 – 8 weeks for it to arrive from the US. Your friends and family can send mail to you at:
Empower a Child, P.O. Box 33273, Kampala Uganda
Empower a Child, P.O. Box 3507-00100, Nairobi, Kenya