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Uganda Mission Trip Handbook

Our Purpose


In every mission trip Helping Hands is involved with, our purpose is to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world.  During mission trips we use many avenues to accomplish this purpose, such as evangelism, medical, or children’s ministry.  We want every person we come in contact with to hear the Gospel.  We assign each ministry group a translator to help accomplish this purpose.  Many of the younger people speak English, and are very eager to help, although their English is not perfect!


We pray this trip will provide opportunities for spiritual growth for each team member.   From our experience, we know mission trips not only provide blessings for the nationals in foreign countries, but for each team member as well.  One of our goals is that each of you, through the joys and trials experienced on this trip, would grow in your relationship with our Lord and Master.


We encourage you to be open to what God will teach you during this trip!  In doing so, we also encourage you to come with a heart of service, prepared to pitch in wherever necessary.


Ministries in Uganda


Please pray about what you would like to be involved with during this trip.  As always though, please remember the three most important rules of mission trips – 1) flexibility, 2) flexibility, 3) flexibility.  Here are some of the possible areas of ministry....


  • Orphan Ministry: You will work with orphans at any one of several village schools and churches. Many of the children are orphans from the streets who lost their parents to AIDS.  We may be doing evangelism, discipleship, and medical check-ups for the children; as well as checking on the progress of the school.  We also have a sponsorship program for the children.  Many times we will get updated photos of the children, interview them, and have them write letters and draw pictures for their sponsors.


  • Children’s Ministry: In addition to working with the orphans there may be opportunity for other children’s ministry (VBS, Sports Camp, etc.).  We may need you to help with this ministry and possibly bring some ministry items with you.  We will let you know about this ahead of time.


  • Esangalo: Meaning “joy” in the Samia language, is a Discipleship program held at the Village of Eden every Saturday.  You will assist the leaders of the program with activities.  Expect 1,500+ children!  


  • Maintenance: With over 1,500 children visiting the Village of Eden weekly, maintenance is an ongoing need. 


  • Medical Work:  Opportunities can include check-ups for the children and clinics at nearby villages. The team members interested in doing medical work will be involved in many aspects of the clinic including: clinic set-up; triage; crowd control; wound care; pharmacy; packing medicines; and evangelism.  You do not have to be medically trained to work during clinic!


  • Revival services at several village churches


  • Teaching Sunday School classes and Bible studies


  • Hut-to-hut evangelism


  • Teaching hygiene classes or other necessary/indicated classes for  children


Trip Preparation


Applying For Your Trip


One of the first steps in preparing for your trip is completing your application.  Helping Hands has an online process for this.  Please log onto and complete all the forms. 


Team Meetings


For churches who are organizing teams, we recommend 3-4 team meetings with a Helping Hands representative beginning several weeks prior to departure.  This is important for several reasons:  to build team rapport; for spiritual preparation; and prayer.


Your Helping Hands representative will organize and be in charge of the meetings and notification of members in conjunction with the group leader from your church.  At each meeting, the leader will update the team about any issues, changes, or work needs.  The group leader from your church may want the team to get together other times before the trip.


Meetings will include training and discussion about different field issues.  These can include logistics, travel, packing, cultural training, and evangelism training.  We can adapt training based on team experience, team needs, and team member questions and concerns.


Training for Groups and Individuals More than 50 miles from Buford, GA


Helping Hands will be glad to send one of our staff to help train your team even if you are not in the immediate Buford, GA area. Instead of 2 to 3 meetings we will work things into a Friday night and/or Saturday depending on the distance.  Churches outside the 50 mile radius will still receive free training but will be responsible for the travel expenses for the Helping Hands Representative coming to train.  This could include mileage reimbursement, meals, lodging and airfare depending on the location.  We are happy and excited to come to your church, meet the team, and go over details with the participants.


If you are an individual more than 50 miles from Buford you have a couple of options.  The first of these is that you are always welcome to come to any team meeting we are having for the trip regardless of location. This can certainly be of benefit as more personal contact between all the members of the team can add to effectiveness. 

While in person is best, we do understand that distance and finances might not allow for an individual to make it to the meetings.  In this case, Helping Hands will be happy to schedule a time for in depth discussion on the phone or via Skype with the individual or perhaps a conference call if there are several individuals with the same issues. 


Spiritual Preparation


Mission trips are designed to provide opportunities for Christians to use their talents, skills, and gifts to minister to others in need.  Webster’s dictionary defines ‘mission’ in several ways:


  • “the act or an instance of sending,”

  • “A ministry commissioned by religious organizations to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work.” 

  • “A body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity.”

  • “A specific task with which a person or group is charged.”


All of these accurately describe the purpose of a mission team.  However, each of these describes the team as performing a service FOR others.  We know mission trips also change the lives of the people who do the “going.”    As a team member, you will step outside your comfort zone and see a world that is completely different.  You will have an opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds…spiritually, intellectually, culturally, and socially.  We have found that preparation prior to the trip, such as taking a few minutes daily to read about the country, people, and culture, will contribute greatly to an even more positive experience during the trip.  


The most dramatic change can occur in your spiritual walk.  We believe mission trips provide as much benefit for the team members as for the people you will minister to.  It is important to spend time daily in spiritual preparation several weeks prior to the trip, both as an individual and as a team.  When a team comes together as one body, God does remarkable things!!


As a Christian, you should already have a personal quiet time or personal time set aside to fellowship with God.  If you do not, this is the time to start.  This will be critical to keeping preparing you for the trip, keeping you on track during the trip, and making you as effective as you can be.



Rules to Know


The “Big 4”


  • No complaining: Over the course of the trip you will go from euphoria and high energy to tired and cranky.  Different days will bring different things but typically you will get more tired as the trip winds down.  Set in your mind now that you are not going to let things get to you and that you are going to keep a good attitude dealing with all situations that arise: late meals, team conflict, or issues with our African hosts.  This can be a hard rule to follow.  Ask the Lord to help you.


  • Leave every place better than you found it: You will not be asked to do a lot of heavy cleaning on this trip, mainly simple cleaning around the cottages.  It should be hard to leave the HHFM cottage better than you found it as we try very hard to make sure our facility is ready for your arrival.  We do appreciate you keeping this rule in your head on our property as it helps the upkeep of the facility.  Even more important to remember this rule about every place we go whether it is a bush church, the market in Kampala or a restaurant on the way to the Village of Eden.  This is a great way to give our African hosts and everyone we come in contact with a good impression of foreigners in general and Christians in particular.


  • Be flexible: We will spend a lot of time preparing the schedule for the trip whether it is travel arrangements or ministry and we hope things happen as planned and that you get to do exactly what you are prepared to do.  That being the case, please realize the schedule is “A Guide, Not God”.  Sometimes the Lord shuts or opens ministry doors.  Sometimes weather can shut down a plan.  Sometimes we just have to adapt to “African Time” and realize we are in a different culture where time is not the issue it is back home.  Remember to be flexible and roll with what happens. 


  • Be on time: While it is very possible our hosts have a different concept of time than we do, you are still responsible to be punctual.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One: it takes longer to get a big group somewhere than it does one or two people.  We try to plan our schedule so we can get a lot done in a day and 15 minutes late in the morning can ripple down through the day.  Two: Being on time communicates respect.  It is respectful to the members of the team and leadership to be where you say you will be when you are supposed to be there.  More importantly, punctuality communicates respect for our hosts.  Yes, it is possible they might be late or we might have to wait on them but they will not have to wait on us.


Dress Code


  • Shoes will be closed toed, to avoid injury and infections.  You can wear or take sandals to wear at certain times (around the compound or in the shower)


  • If you have scrubs, these are acceptable for men and women to wear during medical clinic.


  • Hats/caps are okay, but should always be removed when inside.


  • Females:   When out in the village, you will need a longer skirt or dress that covers the knees.  A woman who wears pants is generally thought to be a prostitute though this is changing.  This generally applies to the more remote areas where we will be working.  In the larger cities, fashion is more modern for women.


  • At a construction site, men may wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts.  Shorts must come to the knee.


  • Women may wear short-sleeved tops; no tank-tops.


  • Shorts are acceptable ONLY when we are at the hotel/compound, or when traveling to and from home with the team.


  • You will need to bring something a little dressier for church services.  Women bringing skirts for the villages will be fine with only those clothes and you can certainly wear your normal, closed toed shoes you wear the other days you are there.  Men need to have Khaki’s and a button down shirt or polo shirt.  If you will be preaching you will need to bring a tie but a collared shirt may be acceptable.  We will let you know which option to choose once we are on the field.


General Cultural Rules


REMEMBER:  We are going at the invitation of the nationals, and therefore should be courteous and respectful guests.  We will encounter customs and observances that are very different from ours. We should never be critical of these.  Remember, things are “different” they are not “weird” or “strange”.  Humor may not translate so be sensitive and watch how you say things.  This is especially true of sarcasm. It is also advisable to avoid expressing political opinions.  Concentrate on “listening twice and speaking once”.  Foreigners, especially Americans, can be loud and come across arrogant and rude.  Be conscious of this and adjust accordingly.  In all matters remember that “Perception is Reality”.  It does not matter what you thought you said or how you meant it.  What matters is what was heard or how they took it. 


REMEMBER, just because someone does not speak English it does not mean they do not understand it.


DO NOT make commitments you do not know for sure you can keep.  Broken commitments can cause huge damage to relationships and credibility.  This includes “let’s stay in touch” or making any reference to a national visiting the US.


DO feel free to talk to the locals and attempt to use some Swahili.  Remember, speaking louder and/or slower English will probably not help.


If you are using a translator, remember to pause for translation.


DO NOT feel as though you must walk on egg shells during the trip.  The main thing to remember is to think before speaking or acting.


NEVER take photographs of any military or government building or person, including policemen, airplanes, airports, security personnel, or dams.


You will encounter many people, including children, who will ask (or beg) for money.  DO NOT give people money.  If you are confronted by a situation and you want to help, talk to your trip leader and they can check on the need with our field staff or local contacts and see about a good way to make the gift.  This includes people who are helping us such as drivers or translators.  Always ask before making a monetary or other kind of gift.


At designated times and places during the trip, you can give small pieces of candy (suckers are the best) or gum.  This will be planned by the team leader and the missionary to provide the most appropriate and fair setting and distribution. 


DO NOT throw money, candy, etc at children as this is seen as a sign of disrespect in some areas.

It is best to get to know people before taking their picture and in every case ASK before you do this. 


In many areas of Uganda, men hold hands, and this is simply a sign of friendship.  So men, try not to be shocked or embarrassed if this happens to you.  Men and women do not hold hands, even if married, however, it is not viewed as offensive if you and your spouse do.


Many families will consist of a man and several wives.  Remember, this is culturally acceptable in Uganda.  Change can only happen through God changing their hearts.  But even after being saved, a man, who may have had more than one wife, must still provide for his entire family.


Gifts are optional.  Generally, it is appropriate (and a blessing) to take small gifts.  These should be inexpensive.  Suggestions include:  bookmarks, pens/stationary, sunglasses, T-shirts from the U.S., pens or colored markers, calculators, pictures/picture frames, and Bibles.  At the end of the trip, the team may pool these items and we give gifts to translators, teachers, pastors, cooks, and other nationals who have helped with the ministry.


DO NOT give money to your translator or other people you may meet during your trip.  Although well-intentioned, this can be the source for jealousy and dissension among the nationals.  We will advise on giving any monetary gifts, so that this can be done equitably.


An option at the end of the trip is to take up a love offering to leave with the pastor or missionary, to be used for on-going work in the area.


Bottom Line:  We are there to win souls for Christ.  We are ambassadors for Him!



Financial Issues


Estimated Cost


As long as a group has at least 10 participants, $875 per person will be a good guide as you are thinking about a standard, 10 day trip.   


Your trip cost will include all ground transportation while in country, lodging once you land, three meals a day upon arrival, travel insurance (required), trip leadership, logistical support, a T-shirt, and in person team training for churches within a 50 mile radius of Buford, GA.



Expenses NOT Included in the Price of the Trip


  • Passport

  • Airfare

  • Visa:  We will obtain VISAs for Uganda at the airport if flying into Entebbe.  The cost is estimated at $100.  If the team travels through Kenya, there is an additional $100 fee for an East African visa (obtained prior to departure.)  We will update you if the prices change but you are responsible for covering this cost of your trip.

  • Travel to Atlanta or airport of choice

  • Lodging before or after your trip

  • Any ground transportation in the United States

  • Vaccinations ($200-$500 depending on what vaccinations you have had)

  • Malaria medicine or other travel medication

  • Personal equipment (toiletries, clothes, etc.)

  • Personal snacks and drinks while on the field

  • Meals in the airport

  • Other incidentals while on the field (laundry, tours, etc.)


A Word About Airfare


While the price does not include airfare, we will be happy to arrange air travel for you or your group.  You are also welcome to contact our travel agent, Nancy Dye, at Asahi Travel ( directly or use your preferred travel agent or web service.  You must check with the Short Term Mission Coordinator or your Trip Leader before booking any travel and you must travel on the agreed upon dates.  Helping Hands will not be responsible for group expenses due to tickets purchased outside the agreed upon time frame.


To help you gauge your total trip price, airfare from Atlanta, GA typically costs between $1,500 and $1,700 in the offseason and between $2,200 and $2,500 in the summer.


Paying for the Trip


Groups and individuals have the same options for payment.  One may benefit groups more.


  • All money may be paid directly to Helping Hands unless you opt to purchase your own airfare.  As we are a 501c3 Non Profit, your supporter’s donation is tax deductable. 

  • Supporters can also make donations in your name to your home church and your church can write a check to Helping Hands (you must arrange this with your home church).

  • For groups, there may be an advantage to having all money go through the church.  You can easily pool all donations and money from fundraisers.  Additionally, different members of your group can help each other. All team members should participate in fundraising.  Those who do better on funds can help those who do not do as well.  This option will not work for you if all money comes directly to HHFM.


Payment options:



Personal or Business Check (from you, your donors, or your church)

Credit card (subject to 5% convenience fee--subtract 5% from the amount of contribution)

Electronic Check (subject to 3% convenience fee--subtract 3% from the amount of contribution)



NOTE:  All money is non-refundable


If any money remains in an individual account after all expenses for that person have been paid, the individual may choose to leave the money to be used for the ministry in-country or use the money for a future mission trip within one year.


Church groups paying the total bill for a church should only pay the exact amount required unless they would like to give extra to advance the ministry on the field.


Fund Raising


Many of us get excited about the possibility of going to a foreign country to “work for the Lord.”  It is awesome, challenging, and rewarding!  And how much more fun if God would just perform a miracle and the money for our trip would be in our bank account, or a benevolent stranger would offer to pay for our trip.  The fact is, many Christians do not go on mission trips because they say “I can’t afford it.”   Why would we trust our eternity to a God that we do not even trust to provide resources for us to follow His commands?


Jesus tells us in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”   If you have the desire to go to a foreign mission field, and are ready to be obedient, then God will provide the means.  However, this does not mean that you just sit and wait for the money to fall into your lap.  It means that you need to use YOUR God-given resources and talents, and God will also do His part.  Finances are never a reason NOT to go on a mission trip.


So where do you start?   We are including some suggestions, and some of your efforts will depend on whether you will be raising your money as an individual or part of a church mission group.


Some people can afford to pay all of the cost of the trip, but we encourage each participant to allow others to help with their trips, to give them an opportunity for the blessings that come with being a part of sharing Jesus with the world!


We hope that you have finalized your decision to participate in a mission trip several months prior to the departure date.  This allows adequate time to raise your funds.  The first step is to send out letters requesting support.   This may make you feel uncomfortable (like a beggar!)  but it is important to remember you are not requesting money for a vacation.  You are serving the Lord. Your work can make an eternal difference in someone’s life.   You should give others an opportunity to be a part of that as they help support you financially.


We can provide a sample letter which illustrates how to use and personalize a form letter.  We strongly urge you to type the letters - for several reasons.  Computers allow you to use a sample letter, yet personalize it without taking too much time.  For example, you can change the name on the letter, use the same form letter, and then add a personal paragraph somewhere in the letter, which lets your reader know you have taken some extra time and trouble.  We DO NOT recommend that you simply run copies of the letter, add a name at the top of the letter, and mail it.  Your goal is to obtain a supporter, not just a $10 donation.


Who should you send letters to?  You should give this considerable thought and prayer.  Do not just send a letter to everyone you can think of, such as people you haven’t seen in 10 years.  Spend time in prayer, and then plan an evening to make your list.  We suggest at least 100 people.


You can generally expect a donation from about ½ the people you send a letter to, and donations will vary from $5 to $100 (or more.)    People to consider are family members, including aunts, uncles. grandparents, and cousins; co-workers; high school friends that you are still in contact with; people in your church who have been on mission trips before; older acquaintances (they enjoy being a part of mission work since most will never have the opportunity to GO); friends you know in civic or other organizations; members of your Sunday School class or mission group; your boss!  Your letters do not have to be sent only to Christians.  In fact, many un-churched people love to help with charitable projects!  So do not limit your letters to your church friends and family.


We suggest you mail your letters several weeks prior to your departure date.  Remember, even if you raise MORE than the cost of the trip, you can donate it to help with the on-going ministry in the country where you are going, or use it for a future mission trip.  If you are part of a team, you may wish to contribute to team members who do not raise their entire support. You can never raise too much money!!


One point here is not to be discouraged or disheartened.   Let us say that after prayerful consideration, you send 25 letters.  It is now 3 weeks later, and you have not heard from a single person.  Do not become anxious, thinking no one likes you!  There could be many reasons you haven’t had a response:  Did you remember to enclose your return address?  Did you have the correct addresses?  You may consider calling your contact to make sure they received your letter, and to answer any questions.  If you did everything right, then simply continue your fund-raising efforts, and leave it in God’s hands.  Continue to pray.  He knows the desire of your heart, and He will bring it to pass.  You could receive all your money in one week.  God may have other plans to provide your resources.  If your friends/family are Christians, God may have given each of them an opportunity to be involved, and they told Him (not you) “No.”    God gives each of us choices and sometimes we fail Him.   You should pray for each person who supports you, and especially for the ones who do not.


As soon as you receive a donation, you should send a thank you note.  Include in this a commitment to contact your supporter after the trip to share your experiences.



Travel Information


Air Travel and Modes of Transportation


Traveling to the Village of Eden is a long journey involving many modes of transportation.  Your trip will begin with a flight, most likely to Europe.  Flights will most likely be routed through Amsterdam.  You will then continue on to either Entebbe, Uganda or Kisumu, Kenya.


Normally groups arrive in Entebbe at night.  As we do not want to travel to the Village of Eden in the dark, you will stay in a hotel.  We will wake up early the next morning for the 6-7 hour bus ride to the Village of Eden.


Once you are at the Village of Eden, your feet will be the primary mode of transport. You will be using busses/vans if we go out into the bush.


Passport and Visa


If you have a passport, make sure it is up-to-date, and the expiration date is at least six months later than the ending of your trip.


If you do not have a passport, make sure you apply at least 2 months prior to your departure.  You can obtain one in less time (2 weeks); however, you will pay extra for an expedited passport.  Passports can be obtained at most larger post offices.  You will need a notarized copy of your birth certificate as proof of citizenship.  The following website will have all of the details regarding passports including procedures and cost.


You should make 3 copies of your passport.  Give one copy to your church secretary or to a responsible person back home, and bring two copies with you on the trip.  One of these copies will be given to your HHFM leader before you leave on the trip.  You will keep the other copy.  It should be kept in a separate place in your luggage.  Laminating isn’t a bad idea but, at minimum, the copy should be kept in a ziplock bag to remain dry. All of this is in the event your passport is lost or stolen.


We will obtain VISAS for Uganda at the airport in Entebbe.  The cost is estimated at $100.  If the team does travel through Kenya, there is a $100 fee for an East African visa (obtained prior to departure.)  We will update you if the prices change but you are responsible for covering this cost of your trip.



Lodging, food and the Typical Day





Currently, teams will stay in dormitory style housing at the Village of Eden.  These is also a very modest hotel, located about 10 minutes from the Village of Eden if needed.


Normally, married couples will have a room with single, full-sized bed though in some instances couples may be separated.  Single team members usually stay either 2 or 3 to a room.  Each unit three bedrooms and two bathrooms with a shower.  There is generally water, but no hot water.  Electricity may be turned off from time to time. If you have small appliances, such as hair dryer, you must bring an adaptor and a converter.  Cold soft drinks and bottled water are available.  Please note we only budget for one soft drink per day.  Additional soft drinks are $1USD or 1,000 shillings.  There is also a laundry service though this expense is not covered in the cost of the trip.


Each bed has a mosquito net, and it is recommended that you use this at night, along with insect repellant.


Additionally, nearly all teams will stay in Entebbe or Kampala the first night they arrive. Accommodations are similar to what is listed above but water and power are much more reliable.





Three meals per day are provided at the Village of Eden.


Breakfast is typically eggs, toast, fruit, and hot water for the coffee, grits, or oatmeal you bring.  This is another time it is good to have some things like granola bars or trail mix. 


Lunch will be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or something similar. 


Dinner can vary, but usually consists of rice, beans, and sometimes pieces of meat such as chicken.   All of this is okay to eat.   As a courtesy, and to be culturally appropriate, we encourage everyone to accept a plate and small amounts of food, even if you do not eat everything or anything on your plate.  However, it is okay to decline anything offered at the Village of Eden, just be polite in doing so.


A Typical Day


Once you arrive at the Village of Eden, your days will look very similar from one to the next as far as schedule is concerned.  Breakfast is usually 7 am with morning devotional at 7:30 am.  You will leave for ministry about 8:30 am with the plan of arriving around 9 am.  Lunch will be served between 12 n and 1 pm.  Afternoon ministry will end at 4 pm or 5 pm depending on the location where you are working.  Dinner is usually at 6:30 pm followed by “Stretched and Blessed”.


When you leave for ministry each morning you need to take your backpack.  You may take what you would like for the day but at minimum you will take, mosquito repellent, toilet paper, sun block, rain gear, your Bible, and your flashlight.




If staying at the Village of Eden, you may be assigned some chores to perform during your stay.  If the team is large enough you might not have to do this the entire week.  These will be simple tasks like sweeping floors, keeping the bathrooms in good order, taking out trash, washing dishes and meal duty.


Spiritual Growth During the Trip


Each day we have two main opportunities for corporate spiritual growth.  The first of these is our morning devotional.  Sometimes a pastor or other leader may bring a devotional for the group and sometimes we will each take turns sharing what we have read in our personal quiet times.  You should come to morning devotional ready to share something but it does not have to be big.  Many times we make it through two or three team members and discussions take most of the time.


The other place for intentional growing during the day is our nightly Stretched and Blessed time.  During this period each team member is asked to share the thing that stretched them that day and the thing that blessed them that day.  Again these do not have to be long but it is a good way to see how everyone is doing, to see where God is working, and to give Him praise for what He is doing in and through the team.




Communication, Safety, Security and Health


Communication in and out of Uganda including Emergencies


As Uganda is a developing country, you should be prepared to have little to no communication with friends and relatives back home from the time you leave the United States until after you clear US Customs on your return.  That said, we are not cut off from the outside world.  We do have limited email access and the ability to get calls through Ugandan phones.  If you need to get EMERGENCY communication back to your family it is possible to do so from Busia. Likewise, your family can get EMERGENCY information to you.  The route will be as follows.  Our Office Administrator can communicate with our staff if needed.  She can get messages to us on the phone if the issue is time sensitive or via email if the issue is not time sensitive.  Should there be a need for more regular communication, you would be able to call out by purchasing and using an international calling card or by using one of the staff phones if the situation warranted it.  Emergencies and Helping Hands business will take priority.  When calling the US, you will also need to remember that Uganda is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time.


FOR EMERGENCIES, please give your friends and family the Helping Hands office number:




For EMERGENCIES after hours or on a weekend or Holiday call the following in this order:


Kevin Ross 678-873-3076

Stan Bell 770-560-4555

Kim Smith 678-316-5232



Security Issues


While we have never had any safety or security issues with mission teams in Uganda it should be noted that Uganda is a developing nation.  As such, the risk involved with working and traveling in the country is greater than if you stay in the United States.  Traffic laws are more lax and road and vehicle conditions are not as good. Access to medical care can be limited and emergency care (EMS) is nonexistent.  Petty crime (pickpockets and petty theft) can occur more frequently especially in urban areas.


Nearly any country in Africa is prone to have some form of unrest during any part of the election process. Uganda is no exception.  It is for this reason we do not take teams to Uganda during the lead up to or the immediate aftermath of Presidential elections. 


You should also note that the population around the Village of Eden is predominately Muslim.  While we have never had any issues with religious tension involving teams, the potential does exist given the current state of world affairs.


We at Helping Hands take your safety and security very seriously.  We continually keep a watchful eye on the situation in Uganda and the other places we work. We seek council from our staff on the ground as well as our native contacts regarding security and safety issues they are dealing with in country.  While we cannot guarantee your safety, we will take every reasonable precaution on your trip to Africa to include cancelling the trip before you even leave if we felt that was best.


In addition to security and general developing country safety issues, your personal health is also something of which you want you to be aware.  For example: At the construction site, we advise work gloves and safety glasses for everyone.  Additionally, the sun can be VERY hot, thus all workers at construction site should wear hats and sunscreen.  Do NOT remove your shirt at any time.  If you are working in the medical clinic, please read the section on clinic procedures and safety in Appendix C on page 26.


Here are some other safety and security tips for you to think about during your trip.

  • DO NOT go anywhere alone.  Travel in groups and practice the buddy system.

  • A male must be in any group unless you are within an HHFM compound.

  • Do not go anywhere with any national unless HHFM staff approves.

  • Only keep small amounts of money in your pockets and never count money in public.

  • Wear a money belt to keep your passport, credit cards, and cash on your body at all times.

  • DO NOT exchange money on the street.  You will get ripped off if you do.

  • DO NOT bring expensive jewelry or watches.

  • DO NOT draw extra attention in public places; always be quiet and courteous in public.




Vaccinations are required for Uganda.  If you have not had any of these, there are several you will need to receive.  It is very important for you to do this in a timely manner.  As soon as you know for sure you are going on a trip you need to make plans to have this done as some of the vaccinations require multiple shots over a month or more apart.


The best and most current information on recommended vaccinations can be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) web site:  The list below is current at the time of this writing but we advise you to consult the above website and, most importantly, your physician and/or your local Health Department or travel clinic regarding vaccinations and what is best for you.



  • Tetanus-Diphtheria

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Yellow Fever

  • Typhoid Fever

  • MMR booster (if indicated)

  • Polio

  • You will also be REQUIRED to take Malaria medicine while in Uganda or you will sign a waiver stating that you understand the potential risk of not taking the medication. 


As stated above, speaking with your doctor is a good idea and becomes more necessary the more health issues you have or medications you take.  Certified travel clinics do a great job talking you through all of your options and understanding your needs but some clinics do not spend as much time.  Talking through things with your doctor is wise.


Other Personal Health Issues


If you have any ACTIVE health problems, we recommend that you see your doctor and obtain his clearance prior to committing to a mission trip.   Medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, that are well-controlled, will not prohibit you from going on most mission trips. 


Before committing to a trip, please understand all of our preliminary descriptions of the activities involved.  We will offer many opportunities on each trip, so even if you are unable to trek hut-to-hut, you could be at the medical clinic filling medicine bottles, or sharing the gospel as you sit and talk with a group of children.  Many activities may require no physical exertion.


If you take any prescription medications, please make sure you have more than enough to get through the entire trip and several days beyond.  You will want to have extra in case of a missed flight, a flight cancellation, or some other travel delay. All of your prescription medication or required over the counter medication should be carried IN YOUR CARRY ON BAG and be packed so it can be removed to keep on your person if you are separated from your carry on.  Any prescriptions should have your name on them.  A letter from your doctor is not a bad idea either but medicine prescribed to you and indicated as such on the packaging should make it through customs just fine. 


What happens if YOU get sick?  We will have plenty of medications to treat minor illnesses appropriately.  If you should become seriously ill, or require hospitalization, we will make arrangements for transportation to a larger city, with adequate medical facilities. 


Eating and Drinking


The most important rule is DO NOT DRINK THE WATER.  You should only drink bottled water, with a SEALED cap.  This will be provided for you in most instances, but you will also be able to purchase this at different places.  You should also use bottled water to brush your teeth!


Avoid most fresh fruits, unless they can be peeled (for example, bananas are okay.)  It is also best to stay away from salads.   We may eat in restaurants during the trip, and we will tell you if it is acceptable to order fruits and vegetables.


Never eat anything off the streets or offered by nationals unless HHFM staff approve.


When in doubt ask the Helping Hands staff!!


Miscellaneous Health and Hygiene Concerns


As water is not safe to drink, care should be taken to avoid getting it in your mouth and eyes or into open wounds you might have.  Do not panic if this happens.  Remember not to swallow the water if it gets in your mouth.  Be sure to clean out any cuts, scrapes, etc. and put antibiotic ointment on them.  This is something you would want to do anyway to prevent infection.


The other issue to be aware of regarding Health and Hygiene is your waste paper.  DO NOT flush toilet paper in any toilet.  Instead, place it in the garbage can next to the commode.  Once the bucket is full, you will take it out and add it to the trash barrel where it will be burned.


What if the worst happens?


While we hope it does not occur, there is a possibility of you becoming sick or injured while on the trip.  Most of the time, any issues that occur are minor and can be handled by the staff on the ground.  In the rare case a more serious illness develops or there is a significant injury we can make use of any one of several medical clinics and hospitals we know of in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya.  Additionally, the travel insurance we purchase for you as part of your trip cost covers emergency medical evacuation and hospitalization on the trip.  Evacuation can be a nurse accompanying a patient on a commercial flight or it can be a medically equipped private jet with nurses and a doctor.  The response will depend on the severity of the illness or injury and the patient’s ability to travel.


In any case, it is very important that you inform your HHFM leader if you become sick or hurt during the trip no matter how small or insignificant you think the issue is.  What you tell them can remain confidential but they must know what is going on with you so you receive the best care and so they can plan ministry accordingly.



After the Trip


Follow-up Team Meeting


We encourage one team meeting after returning to the U.S.   This is mostly for fun and fellowship and is a time when everyone brings photos and shares memories.  It is also important for other reasons.  The team leader reviews the trip, not as a critique, but to emphasize what God has accomplished through the obedience of the team members.   He/she will review and share information about the trip, the lives that were changed, and follow-up for the new Christians through efforts of the missionaries and nationals. 


Sharing with your supporters


A vital part of your ministry will be sharing with your supporters when you return home.  Here are some suggestions about how to update your supporters:

  • Prepare a summary of your trip, about 2 pages.  You can share general information about the trip but also focus on one or two meaningful experiences or people you encountered.  Relate a detailed, descriptive story about something that touched your heart.  Also be specific about what God taught you during the trip.  How did you grow spiritually?  Emphasize the importance of your supporter and how their financial and prayer support helped with the ministry.

  • Make copies of your pictures.  Send your letter (personalized for the individual) along with 2 or 3 photos with captions or explanations.  This should be mailed as soon as possible after your trip, preferably within 10 days of your return.

  • About a week after you have mailed the follow-up letter, telephone your supporter.  They may have questions or comments and will appreciate personal contact.

  • One of our commitments at Helping Hands is to keep you informed.  Therefore, after a trip, you will receive periodic updates about the impact of your mission work and the ongoing work that is being done in that particular area.  You should always send a brief follow-up note to your supporters, letting them know about the ministry work, and the part they have played in spreading the gospel.



Sharing with Others – Your Church, Sunday School Class or other Groups


You may be asked to share with larger groups and this will give you an opportunity to tell how the mission trip impacted your life.  You can use the same format as your personal sharing time.   Helping Hands can provide you with additional information to make your presentations more exciting and meaningful for a group.


Your Suggestions for Helping Hands


After the trip, we also would like for you to let us know any suggestions you might have on how we can improve future trips, whether concerns about travel arrangements, accommodations, etc.  Our goal is that each team member would receive an awesome spiritual blessing through their participation.   We want to work hard doing our part because we know God will always do His best for us! 



Appendix A: Packing Information and List


Number of Bags and Weight Restrictions


Normally, you are allowed two (2) suitcases, weighing no more than 50 pounds each.  Since we transport all of our supplies with teams, we use one of your allowed suitcases for needed items.  Consequently, you can only pack ONE suitcase to be checked at the airport.  You are allowed ONE carry-on suitcase and generally this will not be weighed. (It is rare that this is weighed but it can happen.)  You can also carry an additional personal bag, for example, a purse, briefcase, computer case, backpack, etc.  Recently, regulations have become stricter, so we do not advise taking any chances, such as trying to carry on more than 2 items.  The airlines are also stricter about weight limitations, and it is very expensive to pay for the extra weight.


Suggested Packing List

Clothing: (Temperature is mid 80’s or higher during the day and 65 to 70 at night.)  This can vary.  The best thing is to keep an eye on the weather and pack accordingly.


Some notes about clothes: This is your preference but synthetic clothing can be very beneficial.  There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) it is lighter and packs smaller 2) it dries more quickly than cotton—this means you can have less clothing, wash it frequently and it will dry out quickly.  Also, if you are walking, etc. your sweat will dry quickly as opposed to you being stuck in damp cotton all day.  Again, this is your personal preference.  Do what is best for you.

Some Other Tips on Clothes

  • Plan to layer clothes for extra warmth rather than packing bulky items.

  • Commit to one or two color combinations so you can mix and match easier

  • Neutral and dark colors hide stains well.  Light/white colors need laundering sooner.



  • 1-2 changes of work clothes -- knee length shorts or long pants and t-shirts. 

  • 3-4 changes of ministry clothes, 4-5 shirts: (Girls) 2-3 skirts/dresses for the bush (scrubs are OK if you are working in a clinic in the bush), Khaki Pants, Jeans or scrubs are ok around the school.  (Guys) Long pants are needed in the bush.  Collared shirts are needed for church and some outreach. Be prepared with a tie if you are speaking but you might be OK with just a collar.  It depends on the church and we will advise as we go to the churches on the field.

  • 1-2 pair of Knee-length shorts.  (Basketball shorts are good)

  • Hat or cap

  • Make sure that your shirts and shorts have no big holes or stretched out arms or legs.  Shorts need to be to the knee.  (modesty is the key, NO short soccer shorts or running shorts)

  • Underwear and socks

  • Comfortable, well broken in, shoes for walking, *****you will be walking a lot!*****

  • Athletic shoes and/or comfortable dress shoes/boots are best.

  • Shower shoes (flip flops). (possibly can use these for quick errands in the night)

  • No open toed shoes when we go out to do ministry and potentially just around camp.  Accidents happen, rocks get kicked, and you never know what you will end up walking through or doing in a village.  Google “jiggers” and you will see one reason why we require closed toed shoes.

  • A light jacket (preferably rain proof) & sweatshirt (you might only want the sweatshirt on the plane)



  • Soap, shampoo, razor, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, brush or comb, ponytail holders, and mirror.  


  • Wash cloth, towel, etc. (something like “pack towel” that dries quickly and absorbs a lot of moisture is best.  An alternative would be the old, thin towels that are just about to end up as dust rags.  These dry faster

  • Extra glasses (if you have them), extra contact lenses (1 day contacts are best), cleaning solution, sun glasses.

  • Unscented moisturizer

  • Chapstick

  • Sunscreen and sunburn relief (a hat is also a very good idea)

  • 2-3 rolls of toilet paper (cardboard removed, packed in zip lock bags)

  • Kleenex


  • Mosquito repellent with DEET (100% just means it last longer and you don’t have to put it on as often.  CDC recommends 40% deet.  Some people have reactions to heavy DEET concentrations.)


Personal First Aid Items

Double check the dosage for medications, but it 99% of cases, the store brands are just as good and are cheaper.

  • Band-Aids or similar (the cloth kind stick better)

  • Neosporin (Triple Antibiotic)

  • Cortaid 1%  (1% Hydrocortisone cream)

  • Instant cold pack (where ice is limited these are very handy for managing twisted ankles, heat illness, etc.) (It is unlikely you will need this but if we have several of them it makes life easier if someone is hurt or has heat issues. You can go through them very quickly.)

  • Imodium (loperamide)

  • Laxative (travel and foreign places can do strange things to your digestion)

  • Preferred cold medicine

  • Benadryl tablets (diphenhydramine)

  • Advil (ibuprofen) and/or Tylenol (acetaminophen)  (both help with fever, Advil (ibuprofen) is better for things like tendinitis or other inflammation issues)

  • If you have an allergy condition and you have been prescribed an auto injector (Epipen or similar) make sure you bring it and make sure it is current


  • Along with your malaria medication, your travel clinic may well write you a prescription for Cipro—fill it and bring it

  • Any personal prescriptions you are currently taking (make sure you have enough for the trip plus a few days extra. Prescription medication should always be placed in your carry on. Prescription medication should always be carried in the package it came in with your information.  Carrying other meds in their standard, marked containers is also a good idea)



  • sun block

  • Visa fee for Uganda ($100)

  • You do not need bedding but you are welcome to bring a light blanket, you may want it on the flight.

  • The electrical current in Uganda is 220 not 110 so you will need a converter for electrical things if you bring them.  Do not count on power.  There is intermittent generator power but it is not constant and might not be available at all.  For this reason, you should not count on hot water either.

  • With the above note on power, give consideration to leaving things like hair dryers and electric razors at the home. 

  • Small pocket knife (in your checked bag)

  • Small quantity of duct tape (great for repairing a ripped bag or about 101 other things)

  • Small personal sewing kit

  • Passport/Photo identification, yellow immunization card   It is also a great idea to keep these double zip locked after you get to your destination

  • 4 copies of your passport photo and info pages and your yellow cards.  One stays at home with your church secretary or other responsible person, one goes to your HHFM trip leader in Uganda and 2 stay with you on the trip stored in different places.

  • Extra money $200-$300 will suffice.  You will be using this for personal snacks and drinks, meals in the airport, souvenirs.  This is in addition to your visa fee.  You will do well to bring crisp, new looking $100 bills from 2006 forward.  Exact change for your visa at the airport is OK.  A money belt is a good idea for security.

  • Snacks to have while traveling and while we are there: i.e. Pringles, fruit snacks, beef jerky, slim jims, propel additive, energy bars, snickers, pop tarts,

  • Daypack---this is a must!!

  • water bottle (Nalgene type) get something with a wide mouth with a screw on lid—they wash more easily and do not leak—bike type bottles are not a good idea

  • Plastic bags for dirty clothes—you may leave some of your clothes if you like.

  • Bible, journal and pens

  • Work gloves

  • Rain jacket or poncho and rain boots

  • Flashlight (headlamp highly recommended).  LED lights are great as they do not burn out or go through batteries as quickly.  If you add Lithium batteries (something like energizer e2) the batteries last even longer.

  • Electronics (all battery operated): watch, alarm clock, camera, video camera if you have one

  • Extra Batteries for everything.

  • 8 D cell batteries (battery operated fans available at the Village of Eden)

  • DO NOT BRING: a lot of extra money and expensive jewelry or watches, or mosquito nets (we have them at the compound and the hotel)

  • MAXIMUM WEIGHT for checked luggage is 50lbs.  You are only allowed one checked bag.  Your second piece is for team gear. PLEASE WEIGH YOUR BAG before heading to the airport.  If you are traveling with Helping Hands to the airport we will have scales for you to use.  Your team bag will be pre-weighed.



Packing and Travel Tips

Carry On

Your checked bag should make it to Entebbe.  However, you should assume your checked bag will be lost by the airline and that it will not make it with you.

As you expect your checked bag not to make it, pack your carry on well:

  • All your essential medications (prescriptions AND any essential non prescriptions.)

  • Remember the TSA 311 rule for liquids and gels in your carry on: 3 oz. bottles/tubes in 1 quart zip lock bag, 1 bag per person.

  • At least two (2) changes of clothes

  • Your Bible, etc.

  • flashlight

  • Your camera, etc.

  • DO NOT PACK: knives, large bottles of liquid, drinks, etc. in your carry on


You need to think about what you would absolutely have to have to do the trip if your checked bag did not get there. Think about things like comfortable walking shoes and being in dress code. 


Checked Bag

You should pack your checked bag like the baggage handlers at the airline are going to take your bag and throw it in a lake.  In all seriousness, with all the airports we will be travelling through (particularly smaller ones) the propensity for your bag to sit out in the rain can be high.  As that is the case, pack in large zip locks or waterproof stuff sacks.  This also gives you the added advantage of having less little things roaming around in your bag if a zipper were to break, etc.  Additionally, take extra care with any liquids you pack in your check bag—screw the cap on tight, if there is a flip cap—duct tape it.  Pack liquids in at least 2 zip locks. There is nothing worse than a bag full of soap suds when you arrive.

You should purchase a TSA security lock for your checked bag.  This is the kind you need a combination for but TSA can use a special key.  It is sad to say but baggage handlers in some countries, including the United States, would not think twice about taking your belongings. Zip ties are not the best because TSA will simply cut them off if they need to get in your bag.  They will not replace them.  These locks can be purchased at Wal-Mart.

Avoid bringing too much.  Lighter bags and fewer things make life easier while traveling.  Challenge yourself to bring less than you think you need!


Appendix B:

Where to find information about Uganda


Currency conversion:


US State Department:






 Appendix C: Medical Clinic Information


We would like for each person to be involved in the work that they are comfortable with; the work they feel God has called them to do.  There will be many ministry opportunities during our trips. We will be doing medical work with the Busia Calvary Orphan Center and School, several other orphan centers, and for the community or a nearby village (depending on the number of team members we have.)


Jobs at the Clinic


  • Clinic set-up, which involves making stations for each doctor or provider; setting up and dividing areas where patients will line up, be checked in, and wait.  (When you have 500 people in line, you have to have a plan!)

  • During clinic:  Triage – checking in patients, taking blood pressure, temperature; assisting with ear cleaning, wound care, and respiratory treatments; working in the pharmacy; crowd control; checking vision and giving out eye glasses.

  • Evangelism:   There are many opportunities for evangelism.  At the clinic, after each patient is seen, they visit the “hut” as we affectionately call it.  This is where the gospel is shared with everyone.  We may also have hut to hut evangelism.  Along with a translator, you will go to the huts (the translator will take you into designated areas) within walking distance of the clinic.


Conditions and Diseases


You may see people, suffering from diseases and conditions, which will leave you heart-broken.  Just remember that we are there to heal them spiritually, not physically.  Many of these people have never seen a doctor, and will have no follow-up medical care after we leave.  So after our primary purpose, which is to share Jesus, our next most important rule is to do no harm. 


We cannot cure most of the patients we see.  We can give them spiritual hope, and we can show them Christian love. 


We may see AIDS patients.  You may or may not recognize their disease as AIDS.  They may simply show up with a respiratory or a skin infection.  We cannot treat AIDS, although we may have treatment for their symptoms.  Remember that AIDS (and most other diseases that we’ll see) cannot be transmitted by touching, hugging, or even kissing.  It is only through blood or sexual contact. 


Other diseases that may be encountered include:


  • malaria

  • parasitic infections

  • wound infections

  • typhoid

  • malnutrition

  • worms

  • respiratory infections

  • tuberculosis

  • eye and ear infections


Most of these cannot be transmitted by contact, however, we advise reasonable precautions when dealing with open wounds and obvious respiratory illnesses.



Medical Clinic Safety Issues


  • If you are working in the Medical Clinic, it is your choice as to whether you want to wear gloves at all times.


  • If you are attending a patient who has an open wound, or with obvious bleeding, you should wear a pair of sterile gloves (these are more protective.)


  • Any patient who is checked in at triage with obvious bleeding should be taken to a physician to be seen immediately.


  • A patient who has a bad cough should be taken to a more secluded area and have a mask put on until he/she leaves the clinic.


  • If you are a medical provider you should pack your stethoscope and two or three boxes of gloves for your use.


  • Approximately one month AFTER our trip, you should have your doctor perform a TB skin test (or this can also be done at the health department.)


  • Never be hesitant to ask one of the doctors a question about any medical or safety issues that you have.  The only dumb question is the one you do not ask!

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