• Uganda
4 to 52 weeks

Program Details

Year Round
Host Family
Weekly Hours
Age Min.


Starting Price
Price Details
The program fee covers all the in-country costs of your program, including the following items:

- Airport pickup
- One-week orientation
- Family homestay
- All meals
- Basic language lessons
- Development training workshops
- A midterm retreat
- In-country support from FSD team
- Seed funding for your project
- Medical evacuation and traveler's health insurance
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Airport Transfers Meals SIM cards Transportation Travel Insurance Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Dec 30, 2020
Mar 21, 2019
22 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

FSD JINJA-UGANDA is committed to advancing professional global learning in the context of promoting community-based development. We strive to achieve community-driven goals through asset-based development and global education service exchange in Uganda.

Our internship program provides an opportunity for students, professionals, and individuals to gain hands-on experience in sustainable development and insight into the Ugandan culture. This is obtained through directly working with our partner community-based organizations and living with host families. The intern opportunities are thoughtfully designed to help participants build their careers while having a lasting impact in the communities they serve.

Program implementation is done in the Jinja region of Eastern Uganda in the Districts of Jinja, Buikwe, Mayuge and Iganga. Jinja Municipality is our major town; the second largest town and commercial center in Uganda with roughly 90,000 people.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Engagement in a cross-cultural experience in a bid to finding solutions to key development issues in Uganda, while facilitating communities to implement sustainable development projects using tested development approaches and methodologies.
  • Generation of new knowledge about grassroots development priorities, challenges, assets, opportunities and finding new innovations for appropriate interventions.
  • Work side-by-side with a community-based organization specializing in one or more of the following development sectors: health, youth and education, women's equality, microenterprise, human rights, community development and/or environmental issues.
  • Design and implement outreach campaigns promoting community mobilization, sensitization, and health education; Develop community resource centers; Train community leaders to organize informal events, provide informational and health resources.
  • Learning more about the local Ugandan cultures and widening the scope of adventure through working and living in Uganda. Participating in organized group/individual excursions and retreats that allow volunteers and interns to relax with fellow peers.

Related Programs

Program Reviews

4.38 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • 5 rating 75%
  • 4 rating 12.5%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 12.5%
  • Growth 4.65
  • Support 4
  • Fun 4.75
  • Housing 4.75
  • Safety 4.75
Showing 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

FSD Uganda Internship/Volunteer

My experience with this program was over-the-top of any expectations I had before participating. Not only were FSD staff supportive, experienced, knowledgable, and fun, the partner organization I was paired with really helped me integrate into the Jinja community and supported my learning experience. I think of both groups of leaders as family now! During my time in the program, I interned with Community Concerns Uganda (CCUg), working alongside two of their current micro-finance groups. These two groups showed interest in taking on a food-related, income-generating activity. Community members, CCUg Staff, and myself then took on a training project to cultivate oyster mushrooms. This experience has been the most highlighted project on my resume as an MPA student, majoring in International Development, particularly executing the work plan and budgeting aspect in a real setting.

If I have anything to share with future participants/students in this program, I would say really allow yourself to learn from the community you are immersed in and remain open-minded. Get involved in any and every community and cultural event that is presented to you. And really embrace participatory learning and sustainable development (which FSD staff does an amazing job of teaching during orientation). Your program may not be long, but the projects you help implement have the ability to have lasting impacts if you really focus on stakeholders in the community and resources available!

69 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Student's Internship Experience with The Aids Support Organization, Jinja

The best parts of my experience in Uganda were the relationships I had with my community, the Nakanyonyi Orphan Care and Women's Support Group, the time I spent with my host sister, and the opportunity to visit Murchison Falls National Park. I developed a passion for facilitation and the necessary skills to be a good facilitator. You get what you put into this program. There is very little accountability, which is more a factor of development work than this program, so it's up to you to keep yourself accountable and do you best work.

The site team are welcoming and overall great people. Their main focus is keeping you healthy and safe, which they do a very good job of. They do not have the time to help you very much with your project. Most of the time I enjoyed this freedom and lack of guidance, but if you are someone you needs more direction in your work this probably isn't the program for you.

I wish the program would be more transparent when it comes to what your money is being spent on.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you don't have relevant experience or course work related to international development and sustainable development, do your research before hand. Understand the implications of being a white people and/or American in Uganda. The site team isn't going to walk you through all of this.
69 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

FSD Uganda Volunteer and Internship program

This internship was an amazing opportunity for me to learn and practice valuable professional skills like communication, grant writing, budgeting, and problem-solving. I learned so much about my own potential as a professional using my International Relations major in the field, and how to use my skills and experiences to help others. The community capacity building model of FSD teaches interns to give back by empowering others, and make communities stronger through teamwork and collective problem solving. The FSD team was very helpful in training us to do fieldwork, from practicing Luganda language skills to learning how to write a grant and create a work plan. I had an amazing host family, ate some of the best food I've ever experienced, and got to go on some once in a lifetime field trips to the source of the Nile River and Sipi Falls. I can't recommend this program enough for how much experience it gives interns.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have a more involved relationship between FSD and the heads of partner institutions. At my work station, it was difficult at times to complete tasks on time because of absent officials from our partner institution.
65 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

FSD Uganda, Jinja St. Francis Health Care Services.

Since my arrival at Uganda I have been pleasantly surprised by the general kindness and positivity of the people. Thought my time there I felt very supported and well oriented by the FSD staff, whom I now consider dear friends.
Throughout my time in Uganda I worked directly with St. Francis, which was my host organization [just one of many that FSD works with]. My Project in was a community based participatory research, aimed at evaluating the impact elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV (EMTCT) . The most gratifying thing, for me, was to also take part in coming up with ways that could address the gaps existing within EMTCT that were identified through the process of the research itself. The research has yielded a lot of priority focus areas for St. Francis; and we were able to work together to incorporate a program that we believe will work to meet the needs of participants in the program.
Overall, being involved in a community-based research in St. Francis was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It not only included being apart of a research, but also being apart of a remarkable organization that continuously and full heartedly strives to develop its community and other neighboring ones. Understanding the organizations culture, being apart of some organization meetings, going to the field to see staff implement some of their projects with the community, seeing how the different parts at the health center function, and etc. had been a wonderful learning experience.

70 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

FSD - Doing Development Effectively

It is the philosophy of FSD that I think is so good. In their name, “sustainable” refers to the fact that the projects the interns work on are self perpetuating. A Ugandan once said to me, “donations have destroyed Africa,” and by that I believe he meant that coming into the country and just leaving some resources behind is not helpful to anyone. Instead, the generation of business and transfer of skills are the most valuable things. FSD gives you great freedom to work on what you want and guides you to ensure you project fits this model of a sustainable social enterprise. For the project to be sustainable the materials must be sourced locally, people from the community need to be the primary labor force and the utility must be relevant to progressing the standards of living of the community.

Being interested in technology, I worked with another intern on solar energy. FSD introduced us to the Lwemodde Youth Group which tinkers around with electronics and had an interest in the subject. The youth group pointed us to a small fishing village called Malembo which was not on the electricity grid. Our project was to then help the youth group build a small solar power company by teaching and helping them with the initial grid. It was very rewarding to see some of the villagers get connected and receive night time lighting and phone charging services. The youth group now has another source of income, part of which they use for community projects.

Without FSD guidance we certainly would not have used our time as effectively. In terms of setting us up in the country the local FSD organizers were very useful. Uganda can be a difficult adjustment for many and so the team put effort into our orientation which included a bit of history, cultural lessons and language. They tried very hard to find us the best host families possible. One of the best doctors in town doctor was brought in to tell us about how to keep safe against diseases we normally do not encounter such as Malaria. We were given all sorts of ways to access this doctor’s services or others if need be. In my summer term, there were 14 interns and FSD helped us socialize and go on trips together. We were able to travel to others parts of the county, experience the Nile river and see Queen Elizabeth park. It would not have been as comforting or as good a set up for our work without the FSD team.

63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Uganda - challenging and amazing!

Our experience in Masaka, Uganda was both challenging and amazing. I traveled with a group of college students over spring break for 3 years. I am confident in saying that every student came home energized and motivated. Each student stayed with a local family and each day, we worked with the local community on community-identified needs, such as building energy efficient stoves, planting trees, building water harvesting tanks, and building tippy-taps (hygiene stations). The value of the trip was in being exposed to a new culture, working together with the local community, and making a difference.

As a partner, I can't say enough nice things about FSD. They were VERY organized, had a strong staff presence in the local community, were responsive to questions and concerns, had a positive attitude, and most importantly, were clearly committed to the work of social change.

I read the poor review on here and it seemed like a completely different program than we experienced. I know some people might shy away from an experience in a culture and location so removed from their usual life, but the potential for personal growth in Uganda is amazing. I would recommend this experience to anyone!

61 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Not worth the money

For the amount of money I paid for an FSD internship in Uganda I was sure I would be plugged into a network of resources and professionals that would be working their absolute hardest to facilitate the work I was doing and to be sure my time in country was productive. While the staff certainly was incredibly pleasant, I felt as if I was repeatedly just placed in difficult situations and given no guidance as to what I was supposed to be doing. None of the resources I expected all that money would buy materialized. It seems my program fees went to pay for FSD's overhead, and very little of it ended up with my host organization, my host family, or towards resources that actually furthered FSD's work in the field. The orientation is a joke and whenever I would ask questions I almost never received a useful answer (usually it was something along the lines of "well, yes, that is a challenge.") Furthermore, there is a ridiculous amount of paperwork that must be completed in precisely the right way, otherwise it needs to be done. Also, FSD says it has a longstanding relationship with its partner organizations, but that relationship seems to exist in anything but a productive context. They don't give interns any substantial, useful background information that would allow interns to help local partners address their own internal, systemic issues that present the greatest obstacle to those organizations fulfilling their mission. I designed a project that I thought would really help my organization, only to find out 75% of the way through my internship that the organization had huge systemic issues that would prevent my project from continuing after I went back home. The systemic issues would have been relatively easy to address had I had the entirety of my internship to work on them, but as I found out so late I couldn't do anything. When I told the FSD staff about what I had observed, they told me that they already knew of those issues and that they were a huge obstacle to previous interns' projects. Had they given me any type of real orientation/introduction to my organization and mentioned a few over-arching issues previous interns had struggled with, my mind would have been in the right place to identify these issues right away and design a project that - even if it wouldn't address the issues directly - would be able to be sustained within the context of an organization suffering from those problems. FSD seems content with interns building gardens and piggeries even when the organizations given control of those resources lack the ability to utilize them properly after we leave.

The host families are wonderful, and the staff at the local organizations are fantastic, but the FSD bureaucracy really got in the way. FSD is great at allowing you the freedom to do whatever you want (even if you spend your entire internship drunk or travelling outside of your assigned area), but I question how much is actually accomplished by their work. FSD certainly talks the talk of a sustainable organization doing good in the developing world, but in reality, they have a lot of organizational issues to address before these internships are worth the money. There were other foreigners in my town, working for the same amount of time, doing similar work, who paid literally a fifth of the FSD program fee. And they got more useful support than we did.

63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Siri Muzungu

FSD is founded on the principle that sustainable development is the only proper form of development. It applies this principle to its work in several developing countries around the world, including Nicaragua, Bolivia, India, Kenya, and Uganda. Sustainable development means formulating and executing projects in those countries that can be handed over to the community at the termination of your internship. A guiding message at FSD is the common phrase: “if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for his life.” FSD champions this approach and only selects interns who understand and seek to follow that message.

Interested students or recent graduates may select up to three of FSD’s programs in a specific city of their affiliated countries to apply for. FSD will then review the application and if their head-office recommends it, your application will be sent to the site team for their specific review. In my case, I ranked my site preferences as: (1) Masaka, Uganda, (2) Jinja, Uganda and (3) Mombasa, Kenya. I was accepted by the site team in Jinja, the second-largest city in Uganda just 80km east of the capital. My internship began on May 28 and lasted for 12-weeks ending in August 20.

Once you have been accepted by the site team, you begin preparing for your internship. You will meet and ‘interview’ (this is more of a discussion than an interview because you have already been accepted) with the Program Director for your site, and eventually you will be notified of a host family and host organization placement. I was placed with an incredible family in Bugembe (a suburb of Jinja) and a community bank called Baitambogwe Saving & Credit Co-Operative Society (referred to in short as Baitambogwe SACCO). Note that while you are placed at a ‘site’ (in my case, Jinja), that does not necessarily mean you will live in work in that city. I lived 10 minutes outside of Jinja and worked even further east in a very rural town called Magamaga. With that said, the site team is based in Jinja and most interns are placed closest to the site team. The site team consists of a Program Director and two Program Coordinators (one from the country you are in and another from the United States, who helps especially with the culture shock). In the time I was there, the site team was incredibly supportive and became great friends. They are your lifeline in a sea of culture shock and new experiences, and they are always looking to support you any way they can.

The host organization I was placed with is a SACCO (another term for a community bank, common in East Africa). SACCOs are member-owned/based organizations formed locally in communities to pool savings together and lend to members. For this familiar with the terms microfinance and microcredit, it is essentially just that – a bank that deals on a micro-level with poor clients who would otherwise not have access to banking or credit institutions. I’ll briefly describe Baitambogwe SACCOs policies, which are widely accepted practices for most SACCOs in Uganda. Prospective members much purchase at least one share, valued at 20,000/= [“/=” is the symbol representing the currency in Uganda, the Ugandan shilling. At the time of my arrival in Uganda, the exchange rate was $1 to 2,200/= but by the time I left in August, inflation had devalued the currency so the rate was $1 to 2,600/=]. Members must also purchase a passbook (akin to a checkbook) to track their account ledger in coordination with the SACCOs own records. Once a member, opening savings accounts is free and members are strongly encouraged to begin accumulating savings. Members may also apply for loans (usually between 100,000/= and 1,000,000/=). Our SACCO employed a manager, credit officer, two loan officers and a cashier. While overseen by a Board of Governors, the SACCO is entirely member-owned, and each year members meet at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to pass resolutions and air grievances.

Upon arriving in Uganda, myself and the seven other interns at the Jinja site spent three days at an orientation event executed by the site team. This included seminars on conducting needs assessments, preparing our projects, dealing with culture shock, and learning the local language, Luganda. After orientation, we moved in with our host families and began work the following day. My first week at the SACCO consisted mostly of trying to understand the organization and beginning my needs assessment. The needs assessment is critical to FSD’s goal of sustainable development; it entails meeting members of the community and organization and asking them what they need. This is crucial for developing a project that will actually be needed in the community (and therefore have people who are willing to support it when you leave).

Based on my needs assessment, I learned that what the SACCO needed most was a consistent marketing message. The area the SACCO is located is extremely rural and poor, even relative to Uganda. Most of the SACCOs marketing was accomplished through word-of-mouth, and there was very little knowledge on how to market to the community. I designed my project to address this need by developing a comprehensive marketing plan (complete with market research, a budget, marketing materials, an outreach strategy, and action plan). This marketing plan would contain elements that could be used by the SACCO in any future marketing ventures (notably, the marketing materials which included flip charts for community sensitization meetings). It was also important to leave them with a marketing plan that could be replicated in the future with relative ease.

A SACCO lives and dies by its members. Without members, there is no savings, there can be no loans, and there is no resulting profit. Marketing and expanding a SACCO is critical to both the community (who rely on the SACCO for loans) and the organization itself. Prior to writing the marketing plan, I revamped the SACCOs product offerings. At the time, the SACCO only had two products: a savings account (with no interest paid on savings) and a loan (for affixed period of six months at 3.5% per month). I set out to design new saving accounts and loan products to help diversify the SACCO and attract different client bases. After analyzing many new product ideas, I implemented four new saving accounts (including two which paid interest to members) and four new loans (including a starter loan to help jumpstart the poorest of the poor members of the community). With these new products in hand, I designed a nearly 30-page marketing plan (not including marketing materials like brochures, flip charts and posters). The outreach plan/strategy included many sensitization meetings in the community to introduce them to the concept of a SACCO and encourage them to join.

Of the eight interns at the Jinja site this summer, I was the longest-serving intern at 12 weeks. This gave me a chance to also fill in where needed at my organization outside of my main project of developing the marketing plan while working on other projects. Listed below are some of the other activities I engaged in:

1. Designing a website for the SACCO (available at: baitambogwesacco.yolasite.com)
2. Implementing a Code of Ethics which all management, staff, future interns/volunteers, and Board of Governors must sign
3. Assisted in developing an investment pitch/package for the a new asset acquisition
4. Conducted field visits in support of an agriculture campaign focused on introducing farmers to the passion fruit crop (this has sparked a new-found interest in agriculture in me)
5. Negotiated a leasing agreement and rental rate with Buluba Hospital in a neighboring parish for the opening of the first satellite branch of the SACCO (also assisted in supervising construction and opening of that branch)

Working in at such a small organization can be frustrating, but it is also very rewarding in that I was given significant autonomy and freedom to design my project and execute it on my own. My manager, Moses, was supportive and is very passionate about his work at the SACCO. When he became manager in 2006, the SACCO had 70 members; today, the SACCO has 600. I learned from him and my colleagues about life and savings culture in Uganda, especially this impoverished region. In addition to the skills gained from my main project, I have a much greater understanding of the hardships people face in developing countries, because the people I worked with every day were living those hardships! To put it in perspective, what most students make at a part-time job in the USA earning minimum wage in one month is what my manager made as his salary in one year. And he was considerably better than others in the community because he had a job that was relatively well-paid! I can’t even begin to list the tremendous insights this has given me and supplemented my project experience this summer.

Working at Baitambogwe SACCO has given me incredible insight into what life and business is like in a third-world country, it has been rewarding in knowing my project will help the SACCO continue to grow with new-found focus, and I have met amazing people who have eternally touched my life.

This past summer I knew I wanted to try something different, and so long as it involved traveling, I was interested! I wanted the experience of living and working in a developing country, and I think this will serve me very well on my resume when applying to jobs in my home country. Companies want to see that you can work outside your comfort zone, especially in this era of globalization. It doesn’t get much more further from most peoples comfort zone than a third-world country on the equator. :)

Every day in Uganda was full of surprises. In one of my first weeks at the SACCO, I was working on fixing our loan tracking spreadsheet in Excel. The Secretary of our Board of Governors arrived and eventually came around and asked me if I “needed protection?” Thinking something was lost in translation, I replied, “protection from what?” He proceeded to pull out boxes of condoms from the bag he was carrying, and explained they would protect me form AIDS. Hilarity ensued, and of course I was taken aback by this 60+ year old man offering me condoms. He then proceeded to pass them out to members who came to the teller window. This was as close to a typical day at Baitambogwe SACCO as I had this summer. While this kind of dynamic work and daily life is something I enjoyed, you have to be able to laugh at yourself and the ridiculousness that sometimes surrounds you. If you can’t do that, you’re going to be frustrated day in and day out. Even so, it can be difficult to filter out the distractions from co-workers, and at times deflect the very personal questions they will ask you (for example, it is culturally acceptable to ask about peoples religious preferences and personal relationships in the workplace).

Uganda presents many challenges to students who might be used to their lifestyle in the United States. Load-shedding by the government leads to rolling blackouts (at one point, my home in Bugembe went two weeks without electricity), you must be careful not to drink the water (there have been recent cholera and typhoid outbreaks), and get used to taking malaria medication because malaria is endemic in the region (three interns were treated for malaria during our summer). Corruption and bribery is common even with the police, and at my SACCO I witnessed unethical practices by several members of the Board (which served as a catalyst for me to introduce a Code of Ethics).

Perhaps the most challenging cultural aspect of living in Uganda is that you are a muzungu (literally: white person). Although Uganda was colonized by the British, very few British immigrated, so the population is not used to seeing white people. In major cities like the capital, Kampala, and Jinja, you will see other muzungus, but that will not prevent people from openly staring at you. In more rural areas like Bugembe and Magamaga (where I lived and worked, respectively), muzungus are treated like celebrities. Everywhere you go people shout “Muzungu, muzungu!” and wave. Almost everyone who does this is doing so out of friendly curiosity, they are not used to seeing someone who looks like you and it is exciting to see you near them. This is not meant as a racist call, it’s simply because they want to get your attention and they don’t know your name (they don’t know your name yet, you will be approached many times by people looking to chat!). Again, this makes it all the more important to be able to “roll-with-the-punches” and while at times it can be tiring to constantly answer questions and be stared at wherever you go, it is still a great experience.

Living with a host family helps with the stress of culture shock. My host family became just like my real family, and they were invaluable during my time there. Even the most hardened people will succumb to the stress and culture shock at times, and your host family (who immediately treat you as one of their own) help you get through it.

All in all, the FSD internship is an unbelievable, at times frenetic and fascinating experience. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to exit their comfort zone and build a new one in a completely foreign land. In addition to gaining hands-on experience in marketing and related activities, I have the experience to now show future employers that I can succeed in a new and wild environment. As I write this, I have about one more week remaining in Uganda, and I know my departure will be bittersweet. It will be nice to return home and see my family and friends, to take a hot-water shower, to have reliable electricity. But I will miss the endless kids shouting “muzungu!” and the family and friends I have made here. Now in my third month here, I feel capable of saying: siri muzungu (in Luganda, meaning “I am not a white person”). I encourage anyone else wishing to step out of their skin to seek an internship with FSD and engage in this kind of rewarding work.

61 people found this review helpful.
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