The Real Uganda logo is a traditional grass thatched hut

The Real Uganda

About

Why volunteer with The Real Uganda?

• Immerse yourself in the beauty and complexity of Ugandan life.
• Build relationships with ordinary Ugandans working hard to improve our society.
• Learn what Uganda has to offer its people, and look for ways to improve access to it.

The communities we work with want to learn from international volunteers. They also want to show off their own knowledge and traditions. Ideas and cultures are exchanged and appreciated in true collaboration.

Volunteers offer their time, and learn about our way of life, through:
• Teaching in primary schools
• Assisting in rural public health initiatives
• Maintaining organic farms
• Supporting women's empowerment groups

We have volunteers arriving and departing on a rolling basis. Our placements begin on the 1st and 15th of every month and last 2 to 12 weeks.

Please read about our programs here, or click the links get to know more about us!

Founded
2005
Headquarters

P.O. Box 637
Mukono
Uganda

Reviews

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Erin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered with the Real Uganda (TRU) for a mere 5-months, but the memories and relationships I formed there will last with me for a life-time.

What is fantastic about TRU is its ethos, it is like a proud parent that wants to share with everyone just how amazing Uganda is - it is a proper authentic grassroots organisation, allowing you to get a real experience of what Uganda has to offer you (opposed to just what you think you can offer it.) You will learn so much about this wonderful country and about the people who are lucky enough to call it home.

You will be fully supported from the moment you sign up to volunteer with TRU, including preparing for your visit, from those first tentative few steps you take at Entebbe airport and throughout the entirety of the programme.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't go to Uganda expecting to change it, go to Uganda expecting it to change you.
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Asia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am a partner organisation whose projects benefit from this wonderful program. Through this program, we have access to consistent volunteers who bring skills that enrich our projects. We have received some really fun, creative and passionate volunteers.

I like the model that The Real Uganda uses because through sharing skills, cultures and fun, our team and students learn the powerful value of collaboration.

The time that the volunteers spend with us is long enough to work on and accomplish projects together.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be free, be eager to learn about your new home and enjoy every moment!
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Sophia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It was a truly amazing experience all the volunteer work and cultural experiences were great. Everyone who I worked with was great about pointing me in the right directions for weekend fun too.
The real Uganda has the right name I felt like I totally got a great insight on the country and all because of the program. I set out to really enjoy the work I was doing and I really did. I felt like I really learned a lot about how to make your self useful and what situation are harmful (to that country) and how to really have fun. Would really recommend this!

Default avatar
Gemma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Travelling solo to a foreign sub-saharan country alone at age 17 was a daunting prospect. But Leslie from The Real Uganda (TRU) was so knowledgable and reassuring that I felt very safe making the commitment. This supportive hospitality paved the way for the best experience of my life - 6 weeks living and learning in the heart of a Ugandan rainforest. From playing football with the kids to planting trees with village farmers and dancing at church on Sundays, every moment was magical.
I was interested in TRU because I wanted a real grassroots experience... and that's exactly what I received. I loved my time there so much that I returned to the same house and family I lived with 2 years later and spent an additional 3 months soaking up Ugandan life. I have found a unique home in Uganda, and after travelling through 10 other African countries after Uganda, I can confirm that TRU is the best of the best. What are you waiting for?!

What would you improve about this program?
It is truly hard to fault. I honestly wouldn't change a thing.
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Anne
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I wanted to gain some practical and hands-on experience while studying international public health, I always had a good time in East Africa; so, with some research, I found “The Real Uganda” (TRU): a local organisation run by Leslie. TRU arranges everything and provides you with all the information you need whilst on the program. TRU’s mission statement and values as well as the process was trustworthy, transparent and aligned with my objectives. Leslie is amazing and quite inspiring, she matched me with a suitable local NGO of which we participated daily activities, observed, organized and ran a combination of public health awareness workshops on community sanitation, nutrition, family planning, domestic violence, etc..

I spent a couple of weeks with FREDAfrica and It was such a mind-blowing experience, it is beautiful over there and you get to see and understand why Leslie loves Uganda and why her organisation exist. The director of TRU (Leslie) was engaged throughout, and we-volunteers also had some time to relax and explore in the weekends/ or in our free time. I would ABSOLUTELY recommend the organisation and I would encourage more people to apply especially those who have an interest in health, international relations, cultural exchange and everyone in general.

I can not fault them at all, they are authentic, the host organisation and their staff were pretty good, the volunteers were brilliant, and Ugandans were so welcoming!

I DEFINETELY want to go again.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would definitely stay longer, and I would make sure that I take some technical materials for the seminars/workshops.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2
The Real Uganda
Volunteer Opportunities in Uganda
Uganda
9.8 •30 reviews

The Real Uganda partners with humble, rural primary schools in Uganda...

The Real Uganda
Empower Women in Uganda
Uganda

The Real Uganda supports a number of women's groups in Uganda. These...

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Leslie Weighill

Job Title
Director and Volunteer Coordinator
Leslie is the founder of The Real Uganda and has lived in Uganda full-time for over 15 years. Currently the organization’s executive director, she ensures The Real Uganda continues to build new partnerships and keeps projects community focused. Leslie's passion is introducing international volunteers to real life in Uganda and giving them the opportunity to work on locally-led initiatives.

On top of her dedication to The Real Uganda, Leslie is mum to a lively 7-year-old boy, whom she's proudly raising in Uganda.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Wow - there are so many! From soca dancing in a random Jamaican bar, to attending a traditional wedding in Ghana, to road-tripping through Israel, to being proposed to by my long-time boyfriend on the steps of the Sacre Coeur in Paris... How do I choose just one?

Perhaps it was while volunteering in Ghana, I had hurt myself slightly and my students gathered around to sympathize and comfort me. It was about 10 days into my 3 months and we hadn't properly broken the ice. My vulnerability allowed the kids to physically touch me and examine me up close. I was their first international volunteer teacher, and up to then, they were a reserved bunch. After that, it was smooth sailing for all of us!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I spent my 20s working and traveling - gaining skills and experiences - and landed in Uganda at the age of 30 to volunteer in mid-2004. I absolutely fell in LOVE and founded The Real Uganda, in order to stay in this wonderful country long-term.

These past 16 years have grown me into a confident community collaborator and youth mentor. I've also become a mother.

Living and working in Uganda has made me recognize, understand, and own my white/western privilege. I'm doing my best to help international volunteers through this process as well.

Volunteers are always welcome in Uganda. We simply need to remember that it is Ugandans who are in charge and then support them whole-heartedly. Which is exactly what The Real Uganda expects its volunteers to do.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

This is another very hard one to choose. After hosting over 1,000 volunteers, we've seen it all!

I've had so many students come to get international work experience through volunteering - and return year after year to East Africa in paying jobs in their field. We get to resume our relationship as equals.

I've watched volunteers meet each other in Uganda, fall in love, get married, and come back to enjoy their honeymoon with us.

I've written recommendation letters for former volunteers in order to get into graduate school, who go on to achieve their professional goals. They are international teachers, logistics professionals, social workers, doctors, nurses...

A number of our former volunteers have also gone on to found non-profit organizations in their own countries that responsibly support those in need in Uganda and around the world.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

This one is easy! Our Empower Women in Uganda program. I actually do join our women's groups in the field more than a few times each month. It's cathartic, joyful, and physically invigorating - absolutely amazing for my soul.

Together we dig in their communal gardens, make jewelry and baskets, cook, and watch our children run around free as birds. Immersing myself into traditional, rural, Uganda life is like coming home. The solidarity among our women is deep and beautiful to behold.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The Real Uganda is indeed different from other international volunteering organizations.

Way back in 2005, we started as an initiative to bring skills and funding to locally-led community-based organizations. The Real Uganda has since evolved into a network of international volunteers and Ugandan leaders transforming communities.

We're not here to 'save' Uganda, but rather introduce volunteers to the beauty and complexity of Ugandan culture and encourage them to build relationships with ordinary Ugandans working hard to improve their society.

We're not aiming for economic self-sufficiency, but group solidarity, team building, and shared leadership. These are the underlying cultural values found in Uganda. This is what our Ugandan partners want from our volunteers. And that is what we strive to bring them.

Sounds pretty empowering, eh?

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

There are 4 main reasons why we've continued to host international volunteers for over 15 years.

1. We’re Local: Our offices, staff, and partners are fully located in Uganda. The Real Uganda is on the ground with encouragement and support to ensure volunteer success. 100% of our funding stays in Uganda.

2. We’re Experienced: We’ve hosted over 1,000 volunteers from all over the world. Myself and The Real Uganda's staff and partners have worked successfully with international volunteers for over 15 years. Just check out our reviews on this site!

3. We’re Relevant: Our partner organizations are Ugandan-run and engage in Ugandan-led activities. Activities that help and develop real people and communities, on their terms.

4. We’re Specialized: This is REALLY important - we focus on Uganda and do not maintain remote relationships with programs all over the globe. Not only are we on the ground to support volunteers, but we are ourselves immersed in Ugandan life and experience all its successes and challenges every day.