Karamoja Handbook


Quick Links
Introduction
The Work
Interested Visitors
Preparing to Come
Karamoja Life
Money Matters
Rules of Conduct
Contact Information

Introduction

Thank you for your interest in the Lord’s work in Nakaale, Karamoja, Uganda! The Orthodox Presbyterian Uganda Mission (OPUM) has been in Karamoja since 2000, serving Christ through the ministries of the Word and deed. This document is intended to introduce you to the work and what to expect should you consider visiting and working with us, but is by no means exhaustive.

The Work

The OPUM has been operating in Uganda since 1995 and in the Karamoja region since 2000. The goal of the Mission is to labor, with the grace given by Christ, to establish an indigenous church that is self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. The gospel of Christ is at the center of all we do. In addition to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, there exists a diaconal work designed to adorn and support the propagation of the gospel we profess.

Ministry of the Word

The Word of the Lord does not return void. Therefore, we take every opportunity to share it with our neighbors. Devotions begin the work day for every employee. Bible Studies are taught in the village on most afternoons. Translations are ongoing for vital documents of church doctrine and training. Of course, we have church on Sunday where the Word is preached. We have worship in Nakaale (within sight of the living compounds), preaching centers at Akuyam and Nakasien.

Timothy Discipleship

OPUM is presently sponsoring a small group of secondary (high school) boys. The program hosts classes taught by Africans, fulfills the Ugandan requirements and integrates a discipleship program with ongoing Biblical teaching and training. This program is hosted on the Main Compound Monday-Thursday and Saturday during the Ugandan terms (Feb-April, Jun-Aug, Oct-Dec).

Akisyon a Yesu Presbyterian Clinic (Compassion of Jesus Clinic)

AYPC exists to deliver quality medical care in the name and for the glory of Jesus Christ in support of the ministry of OPUM. Since 2002, AYPC has helped thousands of patients throughout Nakapiripirit district and Karamoja at large. In addition to the services provided at the facility, AYPC also has a community health program where teachers go into the village to teach people in their own homes about basic health, hygiene, recent epidemics, common diseases or other health concerns. The medical and spiritual care given by AYPC bring honor to Jesus, the Great Physician, and adornment to His Gospel.

Karamoja Education Outreach (KEO)

In 2013, OPUM opened KEO a nursery school (preschool) for local children to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills in their own language. Learning these basic skills makes it easier for the children to understand what is happening and learn in the primary (elementary) schools. In addition to numbers and letters, they are taught a Bible story with songs and exposed to English, which is the language of business and schools across Uganda. KEO is taught by local Karimojong and also serves as a discipleship program for teachers. KEO is funded through gifts from individuals and churches.

Diaconal & Farm Project

Karamoja is a very needy region where locals work hard to live on little. OPUM tries to address these constant needs through the church with wisdom, grace and encouragement. Over the years OPUM has cultivated its fields with the intent of creating work, teaching sustainable farming techniques, introducing new crops, food aid and discipleship of workers. We are constantly trying new approaches and want to remain sensitive to the needs of the community and our capacity to meet them through a platform they understand, always with the gospel as the focus.

Maintenance

OPUM in Karamoja maintains the clinic facility, housing for clinic staff, and three living compounds for missionaries that contain five houses, four bandas (round, one-room huts with thatch roofs) and additional buildings. There is always something that needs to be fixed! It is truly a ministry to the missionaries to have these facilities and to maintain them in working condition to free them for other labors.

Knox School of Theology

In Mbale, Knox School of Theology (KST) is a study center of Livingstone International University (LIU) which is designed to prepare men for pastoral ministry. Programs include Diploma in Christian Ministry (through LIU) and Degree in Christian ministry (through LIU). For purposes of instruction, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and Canons of Dort are believed to be sound expositions of Biblical principles of faith and doctrine.

Reformation Book Room

OPUM runs a coffee shop and book room in Mbale where everyone is welcome. The shop has bookshelves filled with theological and Christian literature. It acts like a Christian library and is intended to give access to otherwise hard to find literature and give opportunity for conversations about Christ.

In addition to the labors noted above, every missionary has their own unique ministry. Since we have multiple missionary families, there are constant homeschooling, MK discipleship and babysitting needs. Such a large work also means many administrative tasks and mouths to feed. You can see there is much to do for the Lord in Uganda! Your interest in and prayer for our work is a great encouragement to us.

Interested Visitors

We are thrilled that you are interested in serving with us. Here is a little about the process, how to prepare for your time with us, what to bring, and what to expect.

Timing

Visitors who come to OPUM are invited to join us for three months or less. We welcome people all year round, although teams most often come during the summer months. If you are interested in coming for longer than three months please contact us directly or the OPC for more information about a Missionary Associate position.

Application Process

We’d like to get to know you! Please fill out the visitor application on our website. You will note from the application that we request reference letters affirming the fitness of candidates for short-term service and whether they fit OPUM’s present needs. It is also imperative that you complete the Emergency Medical form. Karamoja is in rural Africa and we take the responsibility for your safety seriously.

Once the application, reference letters and medical form are received, the Mission will meet and discuss them. You will then be informed whether or not your application is approved. This process may take a few months. If approved, scheduling information will be sent to you. It is very important that you wait until you are invited by the Mission before you purchase airline tickets! It is possible that the dates you suggest will not work for us, or that our guest facilities are full and your trip will have to be postponed.

Preparing to Come

Traveling internationally is fun and exciting, but it also requires some preparation in order to make sure your trip as smooth as possible. Here are some things you need to know.

Documentation

You will need a valid passport from your native country to enter Uganda. Make sure your passport is valid for six months beyond your return date.

You can purchase your Uganda entry visa either upon arrival or beforehand at https://visas.immigration.go.ug. Please show a copy of your travel itinerary to the official at the airport, if purchasing upon arrival, and insist that your visa cover the duration of your stay in country. Make sure that you have a new $50 bill available in your carry-on bag with your passport in order to purchase the visa in the airport! Once you get the visa, please immediately check its expiration date and inform your missionary of oversight if it is before your departure from Uganda.

While a Ugandan visa typically costs $50 for three months, there is a possibility that you would have to purchase multiple visas if you are not issued a visa that covers your entire length of stay in Uganda. Therefore, please be prepared to have up to $150 available for visa expenses.

Travel Insurance

Most health insurance plans in the USA do not cover such things as medical coverage abroad or emergency medical evacuation. Click here to purchase IMG travel insurance. OPUM requires visitors to obtain travel insurance and highly suggests IMG. Please fill out this form with your insurance information prior to arrival.

Credentials for work in the clinic

The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Uganda has certain regulations for work in a health center. If you are planning to work in the clinic, please contact Dr. Flip Baardman or Christopher Verdick early on so that there is time to register with the MOH.

Your Flight

Planes fly into Entebbe Airport. OPUM will arrange your transport to and from the airport. You will not be expected to travel to Nakaale by public transportation, which is unpredictable. Out of consideration for the missionaries who will have a full day of travel to get to the airport, please do not schedule any flights that will arrive or depart on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Ask your travel agent about humanitarian fares as these are sometimes cheaper and allow for more luggage.

Vaccinations

Consult your doctor and/or local health department as well as Dr. Flip Baardman to see which vaccinations you need. You are responsible to find the status of your routine immunizations, but please see below under Health Issues for the vaccinations required for travel to a tropical country. Please take this form to your doctor, and contact Dr. Flip Baardman with any questions.

Packing

First of all, check with your airline to see how many pieces of luggage you are allowed and the weight allowances. If you’ve packed everything below and you have extra space, please let us know! We often have requests that we would appreciate being brought over.

Clothing

We will arrange for a Karimojong woman to do your laundry on a regular basis. The wash is all done by hand in cold water, so the process can be fairly hard on delicate materials. Bring such delicate articles at some risk. We recommend sturdy clothes that will hold up under the rigor of the washing process. Karamoja can be a dusty or muddy place, so do not expect your whites to retain their whiteness entirely.

The hottest time of the year is what is called the dry season which generally extends from November through February. The morning hours are cool and clear, with the midday sun bringing the temperature into the 100s. In the evening the temperatures drop to the 70s or even 60s. March through October is the rainy season. The temperatures are cooler at 75-95 degrees. Nighttime temperatures are in the 60s. You can judge the kind of clothing you will need for such temperatures, but here is a list of recommended articles:

For all visitors

  • Tee-shirts/short-sleeved shirts
  • 2 pairs of knee-length shorts
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Wide-brimmed hat or cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Walking/hiking shoes
  • Sweatshirt/cardigan and pants for cooler evenings
  • Light jacket—windbreaker/rain jacket/poncho
  • Lightweight socks
  • Modest bathing suit
  • Headscarves/bandanas
  • Rubber boots during the rainy season (can be purchased in country for about $10)

Additional articles for women

3 or 4 dresses/skirt outfits. Women are generally expected to wear dresses, skirts, capris or long pants in towns, but on the mission compound shorts are fine.

Additional articles for construction workers

  • More socks
  • Heavy shoes/work boots
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • 2 pairs of jeans or workpants
  • A long sleeve shirt for long days in the sun

Check with Mark for advice on any specialty clothing or equipment [i.e. welding gear] that might be needed during your stay.

Other items to bring

  • Flashlight/headlamp/book light and batteries
  • Basic medications like Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, motion sickness meds, allergy medications/decongestants, Neosporin
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Water bottle
  • Small backpack
  • Small photo album of your family/friends/hometown to show us (and our African neighbors)
  • Camera and accessories
  • Sunscreen and chapstick (with sunscreen)
  • Insect repellent with DEET
  • Regular toiletries
  • Ear plugs, if you are a light sleeper
  • Gatorade-type drink mixes

Food

If you have favorite snacks [i.e. granola bars, cheese and cracker packets, favorite candies or drink mixes, decaf beverages, artificial sweeteners], bring them along. They may not be available here. Anything that may leak should be packed in Ziplocs. If you have special dietary needs due to health conditions [diabetes, celiac, hypoglycemia, etc.] please inform us immediately. It may be that certain items required for your diet are not readily available in Uganda and we will need to make special arrangements.

Karamoja Life

Location and Facilities

Karamoja is the northeastern region of Uganda. Nakaale is the name of a little village just outside the trading center of Namalu. If you’re looking at a map, Nakaale is in Nakapiripirit District, South Karamoja, roughly halfway between Mbale city (where the other station of OPUM is located), and Moroto town.

Weather and road conditions have a significant effect on travel times. It takes 2-7 hours to travel from Mbale to Nakaale; 7-13 hours from Entebbe/Kampala to Nakaale.

There are three fenced residential compounds for missionaries. Visitors will stay on one of these compounds, with access to bathrooms/latrines, showers (but no hot water, brrrr!), and kitchen/living areas.

Our clinic is on the main road where you turn off to approach our homes, a few minutes’ walk from the main compound. We meet for worship on Sunday mornings under an open building along the small road leading onto the property, between the clinic and the missionaries’ homes.

Community Living

So that everyone can enjoy the community spaces, please follow a few simple principles:

  • Keep your belongings and space clean and tidy
  • Avoid clutter in common areas
  • Wash and store dishes immediately after use
  • Coordinate the use of the kitchen with other visitors
  • Do not keep food (even snacks) in your room or banda.
  • Be generous and considerate as you share the use of equipment and space
  • Consult the missionaries about quiet hours in the morning and evening
  • Use discretion and deference with respect to the music, reading materials and movies you want to use. Young children make use of common areas, so please consult missionary parents if you think an item is questionable.
  • Do not lend anything from the house to anybody without the permission of the missionaries
  • Whenever you leave your room or hut, please lock your door.
  • Do not ask the staff to do additional work for you. Our workers have a full load of regular duties, but will not want to refuse your request. In exceptional cases, secure the permission of the missionaries before asking.

It is customary in East Africa to call “hodi!” (hoe-dee) outside a person’s house or door to ask if you can come in. The host then replies “karibu!” (carry-boo, meaning “welcome”) and the visitor enters. These are Swahili words. This is also the practice of the missionaries in Nakaale. We also remove our shoes before entering a house.

Water, Plumbing, and Electricity

There are some unique aspects to the use of utilities in Karamoja that all visitors need to consider. Everything is run on either solar or generator power. Please conserve water, especially on cloudy days, because our solar water pumps have limited capacity. Turn off lights when not needed.

Do not flush paper products of any kind down the toilets, unless directed to by a missionary (some personal homes have better plumbing!). Even toilet paper is to be placed in a small trash can next to the toilet.

Avoid letting food (especially rice), or excessive grease go down the sink drains. Table scraps can be given to the pets or put in the compost. Dishwater should be strained through a sieve or dumped directly outside.

Please ask before using the power outlets. The power here is 240V, and adaptors are provided at the mission. If you plug in a regular appliance from the US you can fry it and damage the system. Electronics that run on 110V power much go through an adaptor. The solar/ wind power is finite. Please be considerate of other visitors and missionaries by conserving power and being aware if the power tends to go out. Anything that uses resistance heat coils should be left at home! This includes coffee makers, hair dryers, curlers, and irons. The best time to charge electronics is generally 10 am – 2 pm in the main house. Show all electrical items to Mark or Christopher before plugging them in to confirm their usability with our system.

Communications

The email/internet access is mostly good, but can be unpredictable in Karamoja. It comes through a wireless modem and is sometimes slow compared to U.S. standards. Limited Wi-Fi access will be available for visitors. It is paid for by each byte used. You may want to check your phones and computers or other devices to turn off any automatic updates or back-ups to the cloud as these will eat your internet bytes quickly.

There is cell phone coverage here and even a visitors’ phone available for your use. Discuss with the missionaries about purchasing airtime to make international calls.

Please do not expect to be able to maintain your same level of involvement in social media and electronic communications while in Karamoja. Although it is important to keep in contact with family and supporters, it is also essential to be present and available to serve.

Interacting with the Karimojong

Most people within Karamoja like to greet others and appreciate being greeted as well. As you are walking along, you may pass people who will say a quick ‘ejok’ or ‘ejok nooi’ (hello/good/very good – all meaning basically ‘hi’). Feel free to shake hands, or simply lift your hand(s) and say “ejok” (pronounced “eh-JAWK”).

It is also a major part of Karimojong culture to ask for things. Total strangers will plead with you for your shoes, clothes, money, soap, sugar, you name it. People will try to get you to commit to paying their children’s school fees. Please ask before giving away or selling anything to people, or committing to giving or selling anything. Giving material assistance [clothes, money, school fees, etc.] is not always beneficial to the poor in Karamoja. You can answer people who say ‘kingarakinae’ (‘assist me’) with ‘mam’ (sounds like “mom,” and means “no”). Do not use the word “Maybe,” as this is the same as saying, “Yes.” Do not give out telephone numbers, email addresses or other personal information.

Please be aware when buying anything that prices in Africa are generally negotiable, with the “starting price” being EXTREMELY high for Westerners. Be free to negotiate and ask missionaries for typical prices.

Security

Karamoja is considered a high risk area by most Ugandans and by the U.S. Embassy. This is largely because of the practice of raiding for cattle. Since the Ugandan government began removing guns from civilians in 2006-2011, raiding has decreased drastically and are not an immediate threat to the missionaries.

However, since Karamoja is still very rural we take a number of precautions to minimize general risk. We do not advise travelling at night. We have night guards on all four Mission compounds. If you hear anything at night that you’re unsure of, please contact a missionary living on your compound immediately. Do not investigate on your own.

There is a certain amount of petty theft here. As much as possible, be alert to the whereabouts of your belongings, especially when you travel. Always lock car doors. Do not leave valuables in vehicles. Do not leave money or other valuables lying around the living compounds. When you are in town, keep your wallet and handbag secure. Ask the missionaries about storing your money and documents in a safe until you need them. Always remember to lock your room or hut.

In Karamoja episodes of violence among the community members and mob justice are not uncommon. If violence is witnessed, do not go to help or to break up a fight. Report such violence to adult members of the mission.

Critters and Vermin

Most of the small animal life in Nakaale is completely harmless. You may see any of a variety of creatures: rats, mice, cockroaches, termites, ants, scorpions, to name a few. Harmless geckos can be seen climbing on the walls. The scorpions have a very painful sting, and some ants bite, but otherwise, most pests are harmless.

You should know that there are snakes, and many of them are venomous—some deadly. You should also know that no missionary or guest has ever been bitten by a snake.

To minimize your risk of snakebite or other unpleasant encounter with local vermin, the general recommendation is simply not to put your hands or feet anywhere you can’t see clearly. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Don’t get out of bed in the dark (use a flashlight or book light to check the floor first)
  • Dump out shoes or boots before putting them on (toads love sneakers)
  • Shake out clothes which were on the floor before putting them on (scorpions can climb into them)
  • Don’t walk in tall grass
  • Don’t reach in or around rocks, piles of wood, brush, or things covered with tarps, with bare hands – push them apart first with a long stick
  • Don’t climb trees
  • Don’t walk around outside in the dark without a light

Snakes are seldom seen in the houses. If you see one (probably small and thin but potentially venomous) move out of striking distance and find someone else to kill it. The word for snake in Karimojong is “emun” (pronounced “eh-MOON”). If you shout “EMUN!” or “SNAKE!” you will attract every Karimojong within earshot to come and kill it.

There are bees in Nakaale, so if you are allergic, please take note. Be sure to bring your own medications and/or Epi-pen.

Stay away from strange dogs. The compound dogs have had their shots, but village dogs most likely have not. Dogs are treated very harshly by the Karimojong, so they may not be friendly. As a rule, keep your distance from unfamiliar dogs and cats.

Health Issues

Most of our visitors enjoy good health during their trip here. We do take the health risks here very seriously, however, and will do our best to try to make sure you are well during your stay with us and when you go home as well. If you feel poorly please make use of the Clinic and Dr. Baardman. It is important that all visitors follow the medical advice of the missionaries and clinic staff. Do not self-medicate.

Below are a couple of things we want you to consider when travelling to Karamoja.

Immunizations

Make sure your “routine” immunizations are up to date. The immunizations you need before traveling depend on your purpose and length of stay. However, some are required for all visitors:
Required:

  • MMR completed as a child
  • Adult polio booster
  • Tetanus booster within the last 10 years
  • Hepatitis A
  • Yellow fever
  • Typhoid
  • Meningococcal

Recommended:

  • Hepatitis B (mainly for clinic workers)

To consider:

  • Rabies

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is transmitted by blood and sexual contact and so it is not a huge risk for the average short-term missionary, but is highly advised for any medical ministry.

Rabies

As mentioned above there are ‘street’-dogs running around the villages. We advise to stay away from these dogs since they are unpredictable and potentially carry rabies. The chance of getting bitten is very low but when staying in Karamoja long-term, it is worth considering taking the shots. Primary immunization requires a three-shot series, the second dose given 7 days and the third dose given 28 days after the first.

Tuberculosis

There is a vaccine for TB called the BCG vaccine, and it is administered routinely in Uganda where TB is endemic.  This vaccine is rarely given in the US anymore. It is unlikely that most missionaries would acquire TB—usually a person needs frequent in-home exposure to an ill TB patient to become infected. It is more important for medical and long-term missionaries to have skin tests (PPD) or blood tests (Quantiferon) yearly if possible to be sure infection has not occurred. Returning short term missionaries who have had any medical ministry should be tested by PPD or Quantiferon.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious problem in Uganda. It is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The most severe manifestations occur in non-immune people such as travelers who have not spent a life-time building up some immunity. The symptoms for malaria are varied. You may feel unusual neck or back pain, chills, fever spikes, overall achiness, diarrhea or vomiting. If you feel just a “little off,” it is better to be tested promptly than risk letting the illness worsen. Most medications you might need are in stock at the clinic pharmacy and are very inexpensive. The usual charge for a visit to our clinic is about $1.00.

The first and most important step in preventing malaria is to avoid being bit by the malaria-carrying mosquito, which feeds from dusk until dawn. When staying in missionary homes this is accomplished by being inside the screened windows and doors. When visiting out, wear long sleeves and pants/skirts, and use insect repellents that contain DEET. Sleeping under a mosquito net will also reduce your risk of malaria, particularly one treated with permethrin. This would be particularly essential if you are sleeping out in a house without screens. All of the missionaries use nets. The mission will provide you with a net for use while you are here.

The second-best defense (after avoiding bites) is to take medicine as prophylaxis. This means you take a small dose of anti-malarial medicine weekly (or daily, depending on the medicine) so that any parasites that a mosquito injects into your bloodstream are killed. All visitors must take prophylactic medications. If you do get a severe case of malaria, you may need to be airlifted out of the district or even out of the country, which will involve considerable expense and anxiety not just for you but for the entire mission team. It is our opinion therefore that short-term visitors should err on the side of caution, and take the required malaria prophylaxis diligently. Again, this is a requirement for visiting our mission station. The best options for prophylaxes are:

Mefloquine (Lariam): Many studies have shown that the side effects of mefloquine are no greater than any other anti-malarial when large numbers of people are studied over long periods of time, but some missionaries have been reluctant to use it because of word-of -mouth reports of problems. The only major contraindication is that people with psychiatric disorders or a history of seizures may have reactions. Since you take the first dose before you come, you should find out if you will react when you are still in the safety of your US home. Mefloquine is approved by the FDA for children and pregnant women.

Malarone: It has a very low incidence of side effects and is very effective.  The main drawbacks are: it must be taken DAILY, it is even more expensive than mefloquine, and it is expensive even in Uganda. Still if you are responsible enough to remember it every day and have good insurance, it would be a fine option to bring from the States for a short term trip.

Doxycycline: Only an option for adults and children over 9 years of age. This medicine is also taken daily. It can be purchased in Uganda. The main drawback is sun-sensitive rashes in fair skinned people since it is a type of antibiotic.

When you leave, make sure you get tested for malaria and take malaria treatments with you to use if malaria shows up while you are at home. This will cost you $10, but that is better than thousands of dollars in the USA for malaria treatments!

Food & Water

Preparing your own meals (or enjoying the meals of missionary families) and washing all vegetables and fruit thoroughly with clean water and bleach (or jik) will minimize the risk of contracting food-borne diseases. If you do get an amoeba or some other parasite, the right medications are readily available at our clinic. We recommend that you not eat or drink in the Karimojong villages. Whenever you come inside, wash your hands, especially if you have been shaking hands with others.

Do not drink tap water anywhere in Uganda except in the homes of missionaries in Karamoja who affirm its safety. Bottled water is readily available most everywhere. You will probably experience some episodes of gastrointestinal problems during your stay. These are usually brief and require no special treatment. Packets of oral rehydration solution (salts and sugar to be mixed with water) are excellent treatment for diarrhea and may be purchased widely in Uganda or our clinic or brought with you.  Occasionally diarrhea may be prolonged (more than a week), raising the possibility of parasitic infection such as giardiasis. Or you may see blood and mucus in your stools, which could be bacterial or amoebic dysentery. If you have these symptoms please seek medical care.

Medications

Please be certain to bring any prescription medicines you usually take (and inform us of what these medications are).  The medicines available in Uganda are very limited. Do not count on being able to buy extra medicine in Uganda.

If allergies are frequently a problem for you, they may be exacerbated in Uganda—the environment is tropical and many people have problems with the pollens and mold. Bring your allergy medications. Nasal steroid sprays, eye drops with antihistamine, or pseudoephedrine are all useful, and several missionaries find a need for Claritin or for a steroid inhaler, all of which must be brought from the States. A high SPF sunscreen will also prove valuable—we are right on the equator.

Other Considerations

Please be very careful about any wounds you may get, however small. They can become infected very quickly. Construction workers should be especially careful since even small cuts may quickly become serious. Make sure you cover wounds so they aren’t touched by any flies, and take note of their condition each day. It is important to shower with lots of soap. This will not only clean the skin; it will also help to remove bacteria that can cause infections. Watch out for any increase in pain, redness, or swelling.

There are jiggers and mango worms, which are both flies that leave larva under your skin. They are both easy to remove and will appear either like a zit or a blister. If you think you might have one of these, please consult a missionary or local Karimojong and they can help you remove them.

If you have any questions, please be quick to ask! We are here to help!

Please read over the preceding information and then discuss your specific needs with a physician in your country of residence before you go. We welcome the input of your physician.

Money Matters

Before you come, make sure to get crisp, $100 bills, minted in the year 2010 or later. Older bills may be rejected when you try to exchange them for Ugandan shillings, or at best they will draw a lower exchange rate. The same may be true if your bills are overly worn or wrinkled. Smaller bills and travelers’ checks will also draw a lower rate, so stick with new, crisp $100 bills. It is wise to travel with a Visa credit or debit card (MasterCard is seldom accepted). While they are not accepted in most shops in Uganda, it is good to have for emergencies while travelling (and they may be used at Ugandan ATMs).

Costs before your arrival

  • Passport: $150
  • Vaccinations: $200-$700(depending upon insurance coverage)
  • Travel insurance: $30/week
  • Malaria prophylaxis: Depends on duration of stay and type of prophylaxis used.
  • Airfare: $1100-$2500

These are all approximate costs. If possible, try to get as many vaccines as possible from the local health department. The health department is usually cheaper. Confirm this with your insurance. Yellow Fever shots can only be received at certified travel clinics however.

Costs while you are here

Each individual should plan to bring funds in the following amounts:

  • Room and Half Board $10/day
  • Transport to and from airport $150
  • Additional food supplies $25/week
  • Hotels (arrival/departure) $150
  • Restaurant meals (arrival/departure) $25-$30
  • Registering with the Ministry of Health (clinic workers only) $50-$200
  • Malaria testing and medications (for departure) $10
  • Miscellaneous $100-$400

Room and half board include shared accommodation, laundry service, lunch Monday-Friday (generally rice and beans), some evening meals with missionary families, and propane/diesel for a fridge, 1 gig of internet per month and outlet power. You will be able to purchase in country your own supplies for breakfast, some evening meals, weekend meals, snack foods and beverages.

The Miscellaneous category could include such things as in-country travel, a possible visa extension, souvenirs, etc.

If you are coming with a team of 5 or more, expect to prepare more meals yourselves. The Mission has a kitchen with plenty of room for supplies, along with a stove and small refrigerator—all for the use of our visitors.

If you are applying as a Missionary Associate, please contact the mission for information regarding your in country costs as they may differ from those listed above.

Rules of Conduct

It is a joy to work and live alongside our Karimojong brothers and sisters. As is true with all foreign missions, the culture, language (even body language), societal morays and paradigms are different from most people’s experiences in North America. The missionaries are dedicated to being a witness to the community through every element of our lives. As you are partnering with us in this work, please abide by the following rules of conduct to ensure that you are also a good witness for Christ in this foreign land.

For All Missionary Associates and Visitors

  • Live and work under the direction and authority of the Mission
  • Wear appropriate clothing. For women, this means shorts and skirts should be at or below the knee and no mid-drift exposed. For men engaging in ministry activities, this means wearing trousers and a collared shirt.
  • Everyone is expected to be at their assigned work site on a daily basis unless given permission by their missionary of oversight
  • Whenever you leave your compound after working hours, inform an adult member of the Mission who lives at your compound.
  • Attend Lord’s Day worship (a.m. and p.m.) and Wednesday fellowship
  • Engage in ministries other than those for which you were appointed (or those which are in keeping with the purpose of your visit) with the permission of your missionary of oversight
  • Do not leave the living/Clinic compounds without an approved escort
  • Return to resident compounds each night by 5:00 p.m., unless otherwise arranged with the Mission
  • Do not remain in any of the villages overnight
  • Secure permission of the Mission before inviting guests into the resident houses or onto the resident compounds
  • No visitor should drink or purchase alcoholic beverages off the mission living compounds unless under the oversight of an adult mission member.

For Single Missionary Associates and Visitors

  • Abide by the rules for all visitors and missionary associates (above)
  • Do not accept gifts from, a Karimojong person of opposite gender
  • Do not establish a dating relationship with a fellow worker without consultation with the Mission. All flirtatious behavior and coarse jesting is forbidden.

Construction/Maintenance Workers’ Guidelines

Please be very careful with all mission property. Your safety is important to us, as well as the safety of our equipment, so we ask you to be extra careful with everything you use here. Some items are the missionaries’ personal belongings and should not be used without the owners’ permission. Other things may be owned by the Mission, but require special instruction that may not be immediately evident even to an experienced person.

When tools break, it is a hardship for us because of the difficulty to fix or replace them. Spare parts are sometimes impossible to find in Uganda.

Please be sure to keep an eye on everything you’re using so it doesn’t get stolen. When you are finished with a tool, immediately put it back where it belongs. Do not let any tool leave the construction compound unless a responsible person has it. Do not loan tools to anyone without Mark Van Essendelft’s permission. If there are any Karimojong people hanging around the worksite, especially children, please keep them away from the equipment, for everybody’s safety.

Even the most experienced workers can make mistakes. Please ask if you have any questions before operating anything—trucks, tractors, trailers, generators, and power tools especially. Some of our tools are from the U.S. and are 110 volt, but some are African or European and are 220/240 volt. If you’re not sure, ask before you plug it in!

If you prefer to bring your own personal tools, feel free to do so. Large or heavy items might be a burden to you to pack in your luggage, but small things are great to have here as well.

Please do not try to repair anything without first checking with Mark.

Contact Information

Here is a list of the missionaries along with contact information.

Feel free to contact individual missionaries about aspects of the work that interest you. For general questions about the Mission and all correspondence relating to the application process, contact David Robbins.

Please carry some phone numbers with you (in your carry-on bag).

Thank you for taking time to read our handbook. We hope that its contents will help you prepare for your visit. We are looking forward to meeting you and working with you for the glory of Christ and the increase of His kingdom in Karamoja.

Your missionary friends of the OPUM

Last Updated: October 2018

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