Uganda – Our story

IMPACT-supported charity Nurture Africa took four volunteers to Uganda in November 2013. In this blog they tell the story of their visit and what it meant to them.  Nurture Africa is now seeking IMPACT volunteers for two weeks’ work in Uganda in April.

SINCE 2012, IMPACT’s developing world fund has been supporting Nurture Africa, an Irish charity providing health care and education for orphans and children affected by HIV-AIDS in Uganda. The organisation also provides employment and health education programmes in the communities where these children live. IMPACT’s Developing World Fund is made up of 3% of all IMPACT members’ union subs. It supports trade union and community development projects around the world.

In November 2013, four IMPACT members were selected to spend two weeks working on the Development Fund Projects in Uganda. This was the second group of IMPACT volunteers to travel to Uganda last year, following a group who travelled to Uganda in April 2013. IMPACT has committed to supporting up to ten members each year over the life cycle of the project, to experience first-hand the impact of this grant amongst the communities in Uganda. Brian Furey, Ed Walsh, Mary Capliss and John Cloughley write about their experience of Nurture Africa’s work and their contact with communities in Uganda.


Click here to watch a short film of our four volunteers talking about their experience.

 Brian Furey

“Uganda is a beautiful country. I had read lots about the country before I left but nothing really prepares you for actually being there. Uganda is very green and can be very wet! It has luscious jungles and fields that stretch as far as the eye can see and any Irishman would be very familiar with this.

Culturally, I found Uganda to be a lot like Ireland. It’s very laid back and there’s a great sense of community, family and looking after each other is also very prevalent. The people I met were intelligent, caring and brave. They love music; they love laughing and they love having fun. We also experienced the other side of Uganda. Poverty is a big problem. The country has a population of approx. 35 million people. 40% of the population live on about €1 a day. Like anywhere HIV and Aids is a problem and spreads easily. Access to health services is prohibitive because of cost and also location.

The work being done by Nurture Africa is immense and, from what I have experienced, the Charity delivers a huge range of vital services in a very professional manner on a very tight budget.

This trip was a very positive experience for me. It has inspired me to take a more active interest in international development and what Ireland is doing in this area. It has reminded me how lucky we are in this country and while times are tough there is always someone worse off. The experience also makes me proud to be a member of Impact and proud that the Union is able to support activities like this for its members. “

Ed Walsh 

“A common and heart-warming sight when in Uganda was the call of ‘Mzungu!’ from children as you passed their street, school or home. (‘Mzungu’ means someone who wanders without purpose / someone constantly on the move. It came to be applied to all white people in East Africa, as most were encountered as traders, visiting colonial officials or tourists). The happiness and warmth shown by the children toward our small band of ‘Mzungus’ is something that will stay with me always.

During our two weeks we got to visit the local projects which Nurture Africa operates in Nansana and we also had the privilege of meeting some of the families and children who are benefitting from these projects. It was while visiting the children, families and schools benefitting from the valuable work which Nurture Africa carries out in the community of Nansana that it really hit home, just how important these projects are to people on the ground and how much their lives have changed for the better as a direct result of their interaction with Nurture Africa services and projects. Having spent two amazing and life changing weeks in Uganda, I can say with absolute confidence that the funds are definitely making a huge difference to the community there.”

Mary Capliss

“My first impression of Uganda was of a vibrant, up-beat country but was clearly struggling with issues and aspects of life that we take so much for granted. The new sights and sounds were enthralling, the people friendly and welcoming and the nurture Africa project work was both compelling and challenging. As a general skills volunteer I was part of a building team that was constructing a Youth Meeting Centre. I enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the work but I must admit I found it hard going in the soaring heat. Building is not something I would dream of undertaking in Ireland, so you can picture me carrying bricks etc, with the sweat lashing out of me like Christy Moore, trying to tackle this work !

Most of the mornings were spent on the building site with the afternoons schedule dedicated to working in the community. This included the delivery of a First Aid programme and a children’s library outreach programme in local schools. We also took part in home and business visits

Uganda was full of contrasts, I look back and now realise the schools had no paper or pencils for the students but the school office had a computer with internet access. Mobile phones were prevalent but the people were lacking in access to basics like medicines, water and sanitation. Meeting up with the guys at the post placement de-briefing was great, and so interesting to see how the experience had affected each of us.

I definitely now have ‘the volunteering bug’ and I will hopefully travel to Africa again in the future to undertake some work. I have always admired those who volunteer abroad in times of crisis but now I’ve realised that we can all play our part in assisting in the developing world. Public service workers and IMPACT members have a wealth of skills so africa is calling all librarians, engineers, administrators, school secretaries, planners, environmentalists, social workers and others to consider, whatever your background is, giving a week or two of your life, to change the life of someone else.”

John Cloughley

“Around May 2013 a colleague of mine, Annette who sits opposite my desk said to me, “Have you seen the article in the Impact Union e-bulletin about volunteer work in Uganda?” I read it and discussed it with so many people that I effectively talked myself into it.

All life is contained along the roads in Uganda. I saw hundreds of people engaged in all manner of businesses, working from shacks of every degree from just a few boards nailed together to the common red baked bricks structures with corrugated tin roofs. These are mostly stand alone subsistence with all their wares displayed on the side of the road. Furniture, iron works, fruit and veg stalls, crafts and wickerworks; there was even a coffin maker, his produce proudly standing up and facing the road.

Am I glad I went to Uganda? Yes most definitely. Would I go again? I most definitely would like to…Every country at some time in its history needs help. Helping Uganda is a good thing; they want us to help them help themselves.”

Want to volunteer?

Nurture Africa is now seeking IMPACT volunteers for two weeks’ work in Uganda in April. This is an opportunity for you to share your skills with the local community and help bring about sustainable change in a developing country. On top of that you will experience a different culture and experience first-hand how the IMPACT Developing Fund is working.

With the support of the IMPACT Development World Fund in 2012:

  • 4,409 children and adults were tested for HIV. Just over 200 people tested positive, 51 of whom were children
  • 187 children living with HIV were provided with life-saving anti-retroviral drug treatment
  • 8,284 children were treated for the most common fatal diseases in the health centres, such as malaria, diahorrea, typhoid, pneumonia, and measles
  • Training and education on children’s’ rights and gender equality was delivered to 7,934 people
  • Microfinance loans, to help achieve a sustainable livelihood, were provided to 270 guardians
  • Nurture Africa has also been able to assist in 180 cases dealing with child abuse and gender violence.

Now the union is to sponsor five two-week placements for IMPACT members in April  2014. That means we will meet the sponsorship cost of €1,500 – cash which will go directly to providing services to vulnerable children and their communities. All you have to do is give your skills for two weeks and meet the cost of flights and vaccinations.

Nurture Africa has ‘general skills’ placements, for which no formal qualifications are required. They also offer specialist placements for physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, nutritionists, and those with a background in community and social care, health, children’s services, or HIV.

What it means for you

  • Nurture Africa needs enthusiastic, self-motivated and adaptable people to undertake a two-week placement in Uganda from October 25th 2013
  • You’ll work in community, health and education outreach programmes, or construction projects.
  • It’s a fantastic opportunity to develop your professional skills while learning about a different culture and gaining new perspectives.
  • You’ll receive comprehensive pre-trip information, induction and training.
  • Weekends are free, with access to unforgettable experiences like safaris, gorilla-trekking and white-water rafting on the Nile.

What you have to do

  • Get more information and an application form.
  • Pay for your flights and vaccinations.
  • Agree to participate in a little post-visit communications work with IMPACT, to  help promote Nurture Africa’s work and the union’s global solidarity work.
  • You must be an IMPACT member for at least six months prior to application to be eligible for sponsorship.

Get more info



The small print

To be eligible for sponsorship you must be an IMPACT member for at least six months prior to application. You must be accepted by Nurture Africa as volunteer. You must pay your own travel and vaccination costs. You must agree to contribute a small amount of post-visit time to help promote IMPACT’s support for developing world projects. Sponsorship is available subject to passing the Nurture Africa interview. Sponsorship money will be paid direct to Nurture Africa. All Nurture Africa conditions of placement and selection apply.