How long should I come for?
There is no limit on how long or short your stay at KAASO should be, however the longer you come, the more you can help. Volunteers who stay longer learn more about the people, the culture, the lifestyle and ultimately can end up making a bigger difference. That said, if you can only manage a few weeks, we would still love to have you!
What is the school term schedule?
Ugandan schools run the January - December school year, divided into three terms. Holiday dates vary but the school year usually starts late January and ends late November with holidays in late April/early May and again in late August. If you want to avoid the holiday periods, please check in with the Volunteer Coordinator before finalising your dates.
Are there seasons in Uganda?
As Uganda is on the equator, there is no winter, spring, summer or autumn. Rather, the seasons alternate between the rainy and dry season. There is a dry season from December - February followed by a rainy season from March - May. The second dry season runs from June - August and there is a final rainy season from September - November. One thing to note is that the rainy season is not like an Asian monsoon season - it usually only rains for a couple of hours a day and the rest of the day it is sunny and hot!
Should I volunteer alone or with a friend?
This really depends on you as an individual. We have had volunteers come both alone and in small groups and there are pros and cons to both situations. If you are self-motivated, independent and happy in your own company, you may be happy to come alone. On the other hand, some volunteers have become quite lonely without a friend to talk to. While you will be living inside the KAASO school grounds - so constantly surrounded by people - some volunteers prefer to have a friend from home to bounce ideas off. It's really up to you.
How do I get to KAASO?
Dominic will pick you up from Entebbe airport and drive you down to KAASO. Depending on your arrival time in Entebbe, you may spend the night in Kampala, as the drive to KAASO takes anywhere from 4 - 6 hours, depending on the traffic leaving Kampala - and the number of stops you make along the way!
What do I need to do before I arrive in Uganda?
Make sure the Volunteer Coordinator has your full travel itinerary so she can coordinate your pick up with Dominic at Entebbe airport. Volunteers are also responsible for getting all their own vaccinations as well as malaria medicine. Consult your travel doctor for the full list of medical supplies to bring. Make sure you take out your own travel/medical insurance.
What should I bring?
Once your application has been accepted, the Volunteer Coordinator will send through a full list of things to bring and suggested donations for the school.
How does it work with visas?
Most nationalities can buy visas upon arrival at Entebbe airport in Uganda for USD $50. There is also an online visa application system now in place where you can apply in advance. The Volunteer Coordinator will help advise you but make sure you check the latest visa entry requirements for your country.
Will my phone work in the village? How can I access internet?
The best way to keep in touch with home is to buy a local Ugandan SIM card. There are several providers but we recommend Airtel or MTN. If your phone is locked (common in the USA), make sure you unlock it before you leave home - international roaming doesn't work in Kabira. You can buy data packages for Ugandan SIM cards which will give you internet access during your stay. Connectivity in the village is very limited so you're best to go to Sun City Gardens in Kifuta or into Kyotera (20 minute drive away) for better network. There are a couple of internet cafes in Kyotera where you can either use their computers or your own via wifi or a cable.
Can I travel during my volunteering stint at KAASO?
Of course! While we encourage you to spend as much time as possible at KAASO, Uganda is a beautiful country and there is much to see. Make sure you check the latest online travel safety updates as the northern border with South Sudan and the western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo can be volatile at times.
What will I eat at KAASO?
Breakfast is usually very light - bread and spreads as well as tea and coffee. Flasks of hot water are usually laid out around 9am.
Lunch and dinner are more substantial meals and consist of a variety of local produce - potatoes, rice, matooke (local plantain banana), ground nuts (peanut sauce), beans, chapatti, avocado and, on occasion, beef or fish. Lunch is usually served around 1pm and dinner around 9pm.
All meals are served in Dominic and Rose's house next door to the Volunteer House - within the school grounds (see Volunteer House Tour video)
Is there electricity and running water at KAASO?
As of 2016, KAASO is partially connected to power lines, however the connection currently runs only to the library and computer lab. The rest of the school, including the Volunteer House, runs on solar power which operates in the mornings and evenings.
Water is pumped up into the school from a pond about 1km from the school grounds. It is accessible from taps located around the school but must be filtered or boiled before drinking (or brushing your teeth!).
Is KAASO an orphanage?
Absolutely not. While KAASO caters to orphaned children, supporting them in their education and trying to help ease the burden of their extended families and guardians, children do not live at KAASO year-round. KAASO has a large boarding section, as do many schools in Uganda, but in the holidays, children return to their homes - and those who are total orphans go to stay with extended family or guardians. KAASO does not support orphanage tourism and believes that children are best brought up in homes with loving families.
Can I sponsor a primary school student at KAASO?
No. The Kiwi Sponsorships at KAASO takes on students who have finished their studies at KAASO and who are unable to continue onto secondary school due to lack of funds. It is vital that sponsors are able to commit until the end of a child's education, so to take on a primary school student would be to commit to up to 15 years of sponsorship - which is too much to ask. We focus instead on helping students get through secondary and vocational schools. If you wish to help support KAASO, rather than sponsoring a primary student, you can donate to income-generating projects at KAASO such as the piggery or poultry projects.
Why is this a 6-7 year commitment?
This is how long it takes to finish four years of secondary school and then a vocational course (2-3 years). It is hugely important for sponsors to commit to the full duration of a student's schooling otherwise it can be very damaging. Not only do the students feel like they have somehow 'failed' and let their sponsors down, it can also be dangerous for Dominic and Rose - no one in the village believes that a western sponsor could be unable to pay, so disgruntled guardians can accuse Dominic and Rose of stealing the money. Hence we would rather have no sponsorships than discontinued ones.
Can I discontinue my sponsorship?
No! For the reasons listed above, to discontinue a sponsorship is worse than never sponsoring at all so please think long and hard before making this commitment.
Can I meet my sponsor student?
Absolutely! Anyone is welcome to come to KAASO and Rose would happily organise a meeting with your sponsor child - either at their school or home village, depending on the time of year and when your visit lies within the school term.
What does the money cover?
School fees, boarding costs, meals, uniforms, books, basic medical care, school requirements - basically everything a student needs to live at school for a year.
Can I continue supporting my student after the 6 years?
Of course - but there is no obligation. We aim to bring up self-reliant, resourceful students who are able to make their own way after graduating from their vocational courses. Some sponsors instead choose to sponsor a second student once the first has graduated.
How do I keep in touch with my sponsored student?
You can write letters to your sponsored student and post them to Rose at KAASO who will pass them along to your student. You are also welcome to send small packages but please contact the Volunteer Coordinator for guidelines on what to send.
Is KAASO a registered charity?
KAASO is not an internationally registered charity, however it is an officially registered primary school in Uganda.
Is my donation tax deductible?
No. Because KAASO is not a registered charity, donations are not tax deductible.
What is done with the money I donate?
Unless we are running a specific fundraiser, your donation will be allocated to the most urgent project on the school's priority list, as decided by KAASO’s director.
KAASO is located in the Buganda Kingdom, the home of the Baganda, who speak Luganda in Uganda. Now say that fast....
Did you know there is no word for ‘hello’ in Luganda? Every greeting has a built-in ‘how are you?’
What does KAASO stand for? KAASO is an acronym for the Kabira Adult Attention and School for Orphans.
A boda boda is a motorbike taxi. Almost every motorbike you see can be a boda, depending on if the driver feels like picking you up.
There are no surnames in Uganda which means that children do not have the same last names as their parents. They have a clan name (chosen from a list of names set for each clan) and a ‘christian’ name. Clan names are always said first.
It’s perfectly normal for men to walk around holding hands in Uganda, although any other public display of affection will be hard to see, and there there is a real lack of tolerance for homosexuality.
Uganda has the world's youngest population with over 78% under 30 years of age.