A bit about local culture
English is often a third language for most Ugandans.
Ugandans are very hospitable and you may well be invited into a family home. If you are, it is expected that you will take your shoes off first.
If you attend the local church be prepared for very long ceremonies ~ often two or three hours. However unless a prayer is being said, its quite okay to turn up late, leave early or simply wait outside for a while. Please remember to take a couple of thousand shillings (50p) for the collection. During the service envelopes are handed out which you can put your donation in. (Many write their names on the envelope which is given back each week.) At the end of the service an auction is held of excess food stuffs which the locals have donated. The money raised from this is given to some of the poorest parishioners.
We ask that volunteers always let a staff member know when they leave the Lodge, where they are going and who with, especially if it’s late in the day or at night. It is unwise to ask for or accept offers of lifts without the knowledge and agreement of the project co-ordinators and never if you are alone. Staying out and drinking at local night-clubs after midnight is strongly discouraged and can reflect badly on the project’s esteem within the small community of Ruhanga.
Villagers in Ruhanga and nearby Ngtangamo see a steady stream of camera equipped volunteers passing through their community, and whilst the children often enjoy having their pictures taken, many adults are understandably awkward about it, preferring not to have their photograph taken. Its always best to ask, or even better to wait until some rapport has been developed before taking photos. If a child asks for a copy, please explain that it won’t be possible rather than promising to send one ~ even if you were to actually do so, there are no actual addresses in Ruhanga and charges are made for any delivery say to the Lodge itself that the local can’t afford.
Any items that you are able to leave behind at the Lodge are welcomed. We ask that you do not give individual children, staff or families money or presents (unless they have performed a particular kindness to you) as it easily causes jealousy and discontent amongst the villagers. With low-cost affordable schooling the distribution of malaria nets and the gravity scheme now providing clean water we are doing things that will benefit everyone rather than a few individuals. Of course, we welcome donations towards the completing the Vocation Centre or necessary upgrades at the school but please discuss any ideas with Denis, or Ann first before giving. Even with children’s clothing it is better to wait until we can give every child at school one item. Contributing towards an occasional medical screening at the school is a good idea. Fruit, sweets, and slices of bread or chapatti are all suitable to give out to children but please – one only each – and request a ‘Thankyou’ afterwards. Tipping is not the norm in Uganda but is welcomed by our own staff. Just as an example of how what seems like a good idea can have unintended consequences ~ one child who had cut his foot was given a pair of shoes by a volunteer to help protect the wound. Later other children started cutting their own feet with broken glass in order to get shoes as well.