Community Empowerment & Development
Abaana Community Outreach Africa (ACO Africa) is a small grass-root charity in Uganda that was founded in 2009 as a community based organisation in Masaka-Lwengo District of Central Uganda by a group of professionals and volunteers who wished to break the cycle of poverty by providing loving support and care to vulnerable individuals of the communities especially children and women. It later in 2014 evolved into a non-governmental organisation. ACO Africa is working to free vulnerable children and women from the cycle of poverty by providing support to access a high-quality education both formal and informal, health and psychosocial care, economic strengthening, nutrition or food security, human and child rights protection in order to counteract pervasive hunger, poverty and systemic deprivation. ACO Africa's mission is to create sustainable socioeconomic changes capable of generating lasting impacts on communities affected by deprivation.
Community Development and Prison Outreach Volunteers
Our volunteers take part in community development and prison outreach projects work with orphans, HIV-positive children, elderly caretakers, poor women and other vulnerable groups. They conduct reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and rights education, promote community health (water sanitation and hygiene), environmental education and awareness, economic empowerment for women through gender groups in local communities, both home and school based visits to meet the practical physical as well as psychosocial needs of our target groups. Our volunteers also take part in supporting inmates in prisons with educational sessions ranging from; basic life skills on life in and after prison, behaviour change, legal counselling and rights awareness. Volunteers may participate in the fundraising of the different programs. Project work is normally Monday-Friday; hours vary from 5-6 hours per day. The total hours that you are expected to be "on the job", in various activities, is 20-30 hours per week. However, there are some cases where it is extended up to the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).
An important goal of Abaana Community Outreach Africa is to create sustainable socioeconomic changes capable of generating lasting impacts on communities affected by deprivation. We welcome anyone above 17 years, with a kind heart, open mind, love for HIV positive children, orphans, vulnerable women, elderly and prisoners, as well as a sharing attitude to impact these groups. English speaking is the only skill highly required for smooth communication.
Abaana Community Outreach Africa (ACO-Africa)
Community Empowerment & Development
Wakiso, Rakai, Lwengo and Mityana Districts of Central Uganda
John Bosco Ssenyondo
Who can volunteer?
Adults of both sexes 17+
2 weeks minimum
It is free to volunteer with ACO Africa and volunteers only contributes towards laundry, airport pick-up and drop-off.
Volunteers who want to go on safari during their stay in Uganda will receive a decent discount by their ACO Africa affiliation called Johnsons Safaris.
How to apply
Volunteers may apply by writing an application letter and may also attach their CVs/Resumes.
Please mention volunteer4africa.org when responding to this ad.
I volunteered with ACO Africa for 2 months in Summer 2014 and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities given to me. ACO Africa has provided me with a variety of opportunities to contribute towards the community’s development. I had the opportunity to visit vulnerable households to provide psychosocial support and economic empowerment. I taught English, sex education and human rights to primary school children. Moreover, I assessed local hospitals and promoted prison reform in local prisons. John was a very caring and passionate leader, and I have learnt a lot from him during my stay in Uganda, particularly how he communicates to others. He ensured that my stay in Uganda was pleasant and that I got the most out of the volunteering experience. He is always welcoming new ideas and has even taken one of my initiatives (focus on elderly people) and turned it into practice. This is by far, one of the most valuable and eye-opening and rewarding experience. 5 years onwards, I am still in touch with John to understand how the organisation is doing, and the type of work that has been happening, and I am proud to see this organisation grow so much.
'Two medium-length stays'
I initially volunteered for ACO Africa for 6 weeks and I found it to be a great learning experience for me. Not only did John and others make me feel very welcome, I was able to utilize my skills and professional experience to enhance the organisation's work. Being part of a committed and locally-led organisation was absolutely the best way for me to volunteer, and I felt that I was making a difference to the community and not just encouraging reliance. I subsequently went back for another visit and have kept in touch with ACO Africa and donated to their work since then.
I wanted to volunteer with an organisation that appeared to be 'grass roots' and that was ethical. I am aware that there are lots of organisations that exploit the good intentions of comparatively wealthy foreigners, but leave the people in need of support worse off as a result, while increasing their personal wealth of those running the organisations- a word to anyone thinking of volunteering somewhere, please check the organisation before you go! I can vouch for ethics and practice of ACO. I had just completed 3 years of study in the UK and wanted to get some experience in a place that didn’t have the same social structure, safety nets, or legislation protecting vulnerable people that we have in the UK. My intention was to solidify some of the theoretical work that I had studied, before starting work as a Mental Health Social Worker in London. Working with John at ACO was inspiring. Although we both came from very different cultural perspectives and ways of understanding the world, John never (appeared to) get tired of my questioning, even though some of these must have seemed absurd to him. The circumstances of some of the individuals and families that ACO work with seemed quite hopeless at first, however John showed creativity and tenacity in finding solutions to problems that, to me, a spoilt Londoner, seemed insurmountable. I learnt a lot and, a full year later, remain humbled by my time working with ACO. John is very protective, and forgiving of his volunteers, who may not be familiar with local customs and need guidance to travel safely, all of which John provided. If, like me, you are used to the amenities in large European cities, please be mindful of your expectations- the accommodation provided was very safe however very basic compared to what I am used to. If you want a placement where you can learn about the systems in a society without official support systems, then I recommend volunteering with ACO Africa and supporting the vital work that they do, which hundreds of families rely on. To John- thank you for your patience and your humour, and for helping me to understand the world outside of my London bubble a little better, thank you for the work that you do, and thank you for allowing others to witness and learn about this.
- Old or used clothes for children, elderly people (both female and male)
- Pencils and pens
- Colours/water colours
- Writing books/note books
- Small school bags for school going children
- Bed sheets or bed covers/blankets for children and elderly
- Mosquito nets
- Slippers/ sandals for children and elderly people
- Children's toys
- Sanitary pads/ware for our adolescent girls/grown children (of ages between 14 to 18years)
- Shoes for school going children
- Used or second hand laptops
- Reams of papers (including drawing papers)
- Water bottles
- Skin rash lotions for children
- Jerry (Petroleum Jerry)
- De-worming tablets for children
- If possible, i-pad/ smart phone