This week has been a truly difficult week as we called around all of our wonderful participant to inform them that their dream of coming to Uganda this summer is unable to happen due to the effects of Covid-19 worldwide. We want to thank all of you for taking the information with such grace and understanding.

Below is the letter that you will have all received and below that are the additional questions that you have asked us since we have informed you, we will continue to add to the list of questions as they come in, so then we can keep you all up to date and informed.

Letter about your Uganda trip 2020

25th March 2020

Dear all of fabulous volunteers,

I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.

Who would have thought that in a matter of just a few weeks all our lives would be turned upside down? At East African Playgrounds we have always prided ourselves on the excellent risk management processes we have in place to ensure the safety of our volunteers, staff, the vulnerable communities we work with and the on-going health of our  organisation - but like millions of organisations across the world - never did we conceive of something so devastating as this.

The global outbreak of Covid-19 has paralysed the entire world. We know that many of our supporters and volunteers are being personally impacted by the loss of their loved ones and economic uncertainty. Many of our University partners have already cancelled all international trips this summer. The UK is in lockdown for at least 3 weeks. Some airlines have suspended flights to Dubai and Uganda for the foreseeable future and anyone entering the country from a high-risk zone is likely to be quarantined. And just this week, Uganda confirmed its first few cases of the virus. The Ugandan government had already closed all schools, but a full lockdown is expected imminently to prevent this disease from getting a foothold that would devastate the vulnerable communities we work with in rural areas and refugee settlements. We have now suspended our operations in Uganda to ensure our team can be with their loved ones at this critical time and to prepare for a lockdown.

We have closely monitored and evaluated the unfolding COVID-19 situation with advice from the World Health Organisation, The Ministry of Health (Uganda) and the Foreign Commonwealth Office to ensure that we deliver an informed rationale and sound response that is proportionate to this crisis. We know that many volunteers will be required to settle the balance payment for their flights, spend out on vaccinations, visas and other trip essentials in the next few days/weeks. It goes against our ethics and integrity for us to encourage our volunteers to incur such expenses, at this economically uncertain time, when we have no reassurance that the trips can proceed this summer. It is therefore with a very heavy heart that we have taken the decision to postpone ALL our Uganda 2020 trips to April 2021 & June 2021.

This is one of the toughest decisions we have ever had to make in our 10-year history. We know the sacrifices you have made and how hard you have worked to raise funds to support our work and your adventure to Uganda. We know the impact the suspension of our activities in Uganda will have on the communities we serve and our beloved team. We know the impact COVID-19 will have on the financial health of our organisation – we are already feeling it deeply. Despite this awareness, we could not conceive of exposing our volunteers to further financial commitments at a time when so many of us are worried about the financial impact of the virus on our day to day living. This, alongside, the growing spread of the virus across the world – and in East Africa in particular – has forced us to make a decision now, to provide much needed clarity and certainty to our volunteers and their families regarding the forthcoming volunteer trips to Uganda.

We are aware that there is no single solution that would satisfy all our volunteers – other than wishing that COVID-19 had never happened and life could have carried on as normal. These are unprecedented times and we have worked hard to create an alternative solution that continues to offer an incredible experience to our volunteers whilst honoring the incredible work that has already taken place to raise funds for the charity. Full details of the 2021 Uganda Volunteering trips are enclosed but the main highlights are as follows:

  • All East African Playgrounds trips to Uganda, for summer 2020, have been automatically deferred to April 2021 and June 2021.
  • East African Playgrounds has waived the usual £100 deferral fee for all volunteers we are postponing to 2021 (even where students have had their trips cancelled by their University).
  • There are two 2-week trip dates you can choose from: 10-24 April 2021 or 19 June – 3 July 2021.
  • We have established a sliding scale for 2021 Fundraising Targets – the more you have already fundraised as of today, 25 March 2020, the less you will need to fundraise for your trip to Uganda in 2021.
  • As per government guidelines, the UK team is working from home so please email us at [email protected] if you have any questions – we will respond as quickly as possible.

I am truly sorry that you will not be able to directly experience the wonders of Uganda and our work this summer. It breaks our hearts to have had to make this decision. I know you will understand that your wellbeing and that of our staff and the communities we work with are always our top priority. Please read the enclosed information carefully – it should answer any questions you have. You will also receive a call from either myself, Jack, Shannon, or Amy over the next day or two so we can talk through the new trip arrangements with you.

Please rest assured that we remain committed to get you out to Uganda next year. East African Playgrounds has been built from the ground up from the wonderful support and passion of our volunteers, like you. You are part of our organisation’s DNA – you have helped us build our foundations and you will help us create our future as we recover from the effects of the virus.

I am sincerely grateful for your understanding of the difficult decision we have had to make. Please know that your friendship and support mean the world to all the team in the UK and Uganda at this critical time.

On behalf of everyone at East African Playgrounds, thank you for your support and stay safe!

Carla Powell

Founder of East African Playgrounds

Frequently asked questions

Who is Affected?

All volunteers scheduled to take part in the Uganda Volunteer Project between June to September 2020.

What Alternative Am I Being Offered?

Due to the vast number of volunteers we are having to reschedule, we can only offer our volunteers the 2-week Uganda Volunteer Project in 2021. As per the original details of Uganda Volunteer Project, you will support our local team to build a playground, deliver creative play sessions to school children, and experience local adventure activities.

 

When Will the Uganda Volunteer Project Take Place in 2021?

We are offering you the following dates to choose from:

  • 10th April - 24th April 2021
  • 19th June - 3rd July 2021

What Will I Be Doing on the new Uganda trip?

Saturday - Arrive in Uganda and stay at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, where you will get to see many of the Safari animals and have an educational tour.

Sunday  - Travel to Jinja, to your school to meet the teachers and children whilst explore your surroundings.

Monday – Friday - In the morning you will build the playground and, in the afternoon, run our creative play session with one of our playworkers. You will have Wednesday afternoon off to go to the local town or swimming pool. And on Friday you will finish after lunch when you can head to the local hostel overlooking the River Nile for a well-earned relaxing weekend.

Saturday and Sunday - The weekends are for you to relax and soak up the beauty of Uganda, you can choose to go horse riding, quad biking, kayaking, sup boarding or rafting. All completely optional. You will head back to the school on Sunday evening.

Monday – Wednesday - This week you will get a chance to finish off your playground by painting it all the wonderful colors of the rainbow and continue your creative play sessions.

Thursday - Final day off for souvenirs shopping and exploring the town.

Friday - Today yourselves, the community and the school will celebrate the opening of the playground, with lots of singing, dancing, speeches and of course playing.

Saturday - The bus will pick you up from the school to take you back to the airport after one incredible journey.

How Much Will It Cost?

There will be not additional cost to you, apart from the pre-exisiting optional in-country costs that you would have already incurred:

  • Personal spending money for souvenirs and additional drinks, etc. (estimated at £30)
  • Your optional weekend accommodation, food & activities. At the weekend you will have the option to stay at a local hostel overlooking the river Nile and take part in Horse riding, Quad Biking, Kayaking, SUP boarding or rafting. Typically, accommodation and food are estimated at £35 and activities are between USD$55-$160

 

How Much Should I Fundraise?

We have needed to revise the fundraising targets to account for costs already incurred by East African Playgrounds.

Unfortunately, the money raised to date cannot be recovered or carried forward to 2021 but will be used to deliver our charitable work. The new fundraising target is calculated on a sliding scale to reflect the funds already raised by volunteers. We have done this to ensure that those of you who have already raised significant funds are not penalized whilst also ensuring that the costs we need to cover for the 2021 trips can be paid without detriment to the charity or the communities we support. This is in no way ideal, but it is driven by the needs of this unprecedented time. The sliding scale is based on the total you have fundraised as of 25 March 2020. Please see the document you have been emailed for the exact figures.

If you have any questions regarding these targets, please do contact us. Our aim is to help you in every way we can to achieve your much-anticipated adventure of a lifetime. 

You have 10 months to hit your new target and the following deadlines apply:

  • By 1st October 2020, you will need to have raised 50% of your additional fundraising target
  • By 1st December 2020, you will need to have raised 75% of your additional fundraising target
  • By 1st February 2021, you will need to have raised 100% if your additional fundraising target

What if the postponed Uganda trip cannot take place?

At this time there is no clarity on when normal life will resume across the world. We do however fully expect the COVID-19 outbreak to have run its course within the next few months. We will continue to monitor the situation, as we always are and develop contingency plans as appropriate.

I can’t come on the new Uganda trip dates; can I have my registration fee and or participation cost refunded?

It is with deep regret, that as per our T&Cs, East African Playgrounds are unable to refund registration fees and participation costs.

 

I can’t come on the new Uganda trip dates; can I have my fundraising refunded?

As per the Fundraising Regulators Code of Fundraising Practice, all funds raised are donated directly to East African Playgrounds to go towards our general charitable purpose and therefore in are not refundable.

What about my flights?

Please contact STA Travel who can advise you on the particulars of your flight and insurance. We understand that most airlines are allowing travelers to change the dates of their flights without having to incur reservation change fees. However, if the cost of your flight has gone up you will be expected to pay the difference in ticket price. Early booking will ensure you receive the cheapest deal.

What will my insurance cover if I cancel the trip?

Please contact your travel insurance provider for details of what is and isn’t covered by your policy. With so many different policies on the market we are sorry, but we are unable to advise you on the particulars of your policy.

 

What do I tell my supporters and fundraisers?

We are sure your supporters will be as disappointed as you are that you cannot travel to Uganda this summer and yet will be reassured that your wellbeing is our priority. If you are now coming to Uganda in 2021 then we suggest you are open and honest about the situation and state something along the following lines:

“Thank you for your amazing support to help me go to Uganda and support the work of East African Playgrounds. As you can imagine, due to the global outbreak of covid-19 my Uganda trip has been postponed to next year. I am continuing to fundraise for this trip as it is something I really believe in and I would appreciate your continued support.”

If you are not coming to Uganda:

“Thank you for your amazing support to help me go to Uganda and support the work of East African Playgrounds. As you can imagine, due to the global outbreak of covid-19 my Uganda trip has been postponed to next year. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend the project, but your donation is with East African Playgrounds and will be put to good use to ensure the charity are able to deliver their charitable objectives.”

 

How do I confirm what dates I’d like to be moved to?

We will get in touch and ask that you fill out a short form online in order to confirm what dates you wish to be moved to as well as any other additional information we need at that point. We want to give everyone a chance to get their heads around everything that is going on and so if you don’t know right now it is not a problem, please just let us know, when we get in touch.

 

I’ve booked/ wanted to book an extension trip on project this year. What do I do?

We are confident that any bookings made can be re-arranged to suit your new project dates, but we will confirm this in the next few months. Likewise, all extension activities for your new project dates will be available subject to availability and can be arranged in the usual format.

 

I am graduating this year – am I still able to attend projects?

YES! You are still able to come out to Uganda. As your postponed project will be 2-weeks in duration, you will be able to request that as suitable annual leave with your employer if you are in employment. If you were planning on travelling next year, you don’t have to fly from the UK to attend project.

 

Can any of my fundraising from before March 25th go towards my Gorilla Permit?

Unfortunately, funds raised before March 25th are not able to go towards your Gorilla Permit for your postponed project dates in 2021.

 

What is the cost of the Gorilla Trek extension activity?

We will be providing further information about the costs of Gorilla Permits in the next few weeks as this has not been confirmed by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority.

 

Can’t see an answer to your question here? Please get in touch by emailing [email protected] and one of the team will get back to you as soon as they can.