Practical Advice for Visitors to Matugga, Uganda
Accommodation – Ivan’s home has an upper floor with 5 rooms available for visitors so it can cope with up to 12 visitors assuming 2 or 3 people share each room. Visitors are asked to cover the costs incurred in their visit including meals, the staff who look after them and fuel for travelling around (£40 board and £10 towards fuel per week). These costs are small by UK standards but far beyond the means of Pastor Ivan.
Passport & Visa – your passport needs to have at least 6 months left to run at the time of departure. A ‘visitor’s visa’ is required to enter Uganda (visitors are advised to state that the purpose of their visit is ‘a holiday’ or ‘visiting friends’). As people will be volunteering and will not be paid for any work one they do not need a working visa, effectively work is being done on the basis of ‘helping out’ while visiting. It can be obtained at Entebbe Airport on arrival but much time and hassle is saved by getting it in advance from the Ugandan High Commission in London about one month before departure.
A form can be downloaded from the High Commission website (or our website) which should be completed and sent to the High Commission with a passport photograph, your passport and the payment. The payment must be made via Postal Order (£35 for a single entry visa) payable to the Uganda High Commission. These should be sent via ‘registered post’ to: Uganda High Commission, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DX, tel: 020 7839 5783and a ‘registered post’ self-addressed envelope should also be included for the return of your passport (with visa stamp in). our contact in Uganda is Pastor Ivan Lugoloobi, Director the Revival Centre in Matugga, PO Box 21505, Kampala, Uganda tel: 00 256 (0) 772486492.
Single entry visitors visas are valid for 3 months. An extension to cover a visit longer than 3 months can be arranged by visiting the visa office in Kampala but must be done so before the initial visa period expires. A small fee may be charged.
Landing cards – as you approach Entebbe you will be given a card to complete (or pick one up in the airport on arrival). Most of the information required is in your passport and on your boarding card. Other questions require you to mention Ivan Lugoloobi as your contact and the Revival Centre in Matugga as your base in Uganda. Again you are a visitor on holiday or visiting friends.
Vaccinations – as some diseases are subject to periodic outbreaks and as resistance to some medications varies from one region to another, vaccination requirements can change from time to time. Currently the standard vaccinations for Uganda are as follows: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Typhoid (these are usually available free on the NHS) and Yellow Fever which must be administered by a GP and a Certificate issued and Malaria Prophylaxis (commonly Malarone or Doxycycline). As some vaccines and medications have side effects which may be harmful to people with particular medical conditions, you should confirm your own requirements with your own medical practice.
Health and Hygiene – there are bugs in tropical soils and in both running and standing water, and pit latrines are far from hygienic so regular washing of hands is important, especially before eating meals. As well as taking anti-malaria tablets other basic precautions should be taken; sleeping under mosquito nets (every bed in Ivan’s house is provided with one), use mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves and trousers/skirts in the evenings. If illness arises during your trip the Revival Clinic nurses are on hand 24 hours a day to provide advice and basic treatment or to refer you to a competent medical facility in nearby Kampala.
Food and Water – you should resist making a sudden radical change in your diet. Pastor Ivan will provide for a well balanced diet of local foods to be available. There is some guilt involved in eating well in Ivan’s house while knowing how poorly the children and staff at Revival and ordinary people in Matugga eat – but you have to keep yourself fit and healthy to be able to be of help to them.
Travel arrangements – there are a number of airlines who fly to Entebbe. With all airlines cost varies depending on the time of year. Flying with the slightly cheaper Emirates, Kenya or Ethiopian Airlines can involve taking less direct routes and long delays between connecting flights in unfamiliar airports. Going with KLM via Shiphol or direct from Heathrow with British Airways are easier and quicker (although sometimes a little more expensive) options.
Security – Uganda is a fairly safe place to visit. Like all big cities Kampala is quite safe to visit during the daytime but one should avoid wandering around alone at night. The main risks in Uganda are the familiar ones of having your bags or possessions stolen so keep money and passports in pouches strapped to your body and carry cameras and other valuables out of sight inside a day sack that remains on your back at all times (or on your front if you are pushing your way through crowded market areas or the taxi park in Kampala). Mugging and kidnap are rare.
About Uganda – The best guide books are the Brandt and Lonely Planet guides to Uganda or wider East Africa. These give you a great basis for understanding the country and identifying places to visit and stay if you are combining your time at the Revival Centre with a tour of the country. Virtually the only map of Uganda is produced by Nelles at 1:700,000 scale and can be found in the travel sections of large bookstores like Waterstones and Borders or via the web (eg from Amazon).
Language – Pastor Ivan and his family and most of the teaching staff at Revival speak good English and you should be able to converse with them all quite easily. The non-teaching staff, matrons and local people in the village may speak little or no English and it is good to try to pick up a few Luganda phrases, especially so that you can exchange friendly greetings with people you meet or pass by in the village. A good basic phrasebook can be found via Amazon on the web entitled Luganda-English Phrasebook for Tourists by Margaret Nanfuka. Local people will be really enthusiastic about any attempt you make to say things in Luganda – although they may not understand your pronunciation.
Currency and exchanging money – The currency in Uganda is the Uganda Shilling (UgSh). We advise visitors to change their money in Kampala at the earliest opportunity after arriving, there are numerous foreign exchange shops and all the ones we have visited operate in a straightforward way. Travellers cheques are not used and it is best to take cash in either pounds sterling or US dollars. Take clean notes with no writing on or they will be rejected – notes are traded and need to be in good condition). We suggest £10 and £20 notes and not £50 notes because if you get one or two £50 notes rejected you will be short of a significant amount of your funds.
Credit and debit cards can be used in the larger banks in Kampala but the fees are large and exchange rates poor. Before departure you must tell your bank or credit card issuer of the period you will be in Uganda otherwise they may block your card transactions due to the sudden change in account activity.
Mobile phones – mobile phone charges using your existing service may be very large so it is cheaper to use a local SIM card in your own phone if is not locked in to a particular network or in a cheap unlocked phone (unlocked phones can be bought in the UK for around £20 and can be left as a gift at the end of the trip). Cheap top up cards for local networks can be bought in nearly every town and village in Uganda.
Travel insurance – as independent travellers you need to arrange your own travel insurance for your time in Uganda. Basic cover is adequate provided it has a substantial cover for medical treatment and repatriation to the UK. Most companies include Uganda in the region called ‘worldwide (exc USA and Canada)’.