"I am always impressed with the dedication and professionalism of SWB's staff members—both those in the U.S. and in Uganda. And, as people often say about volunteer opportunities, I get as much, if not more, out of helping and volunteering with SWB than the kids in Uganda that I am assisting. I've made some great friends through SWB and I always look forward to planning and making my next trip to SWB Kampala."
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The Kampala Youth Festival serves as a platform to celebrate the new year and build community amongst the diverse residents of the Nsambya and Kirombe neighorhoods of Kampala. It joins student-athletes, coaches, and professionals from across the United States with the coaches and participants of SWB Uganda for a week-long event. The themes of teamwork and unity are universal throughout camp, kicking off the new year with high energy, new ideas, and tons of fun!  


DATES: January 3-12, 2020



The annual Youth Festival at SWB Uganda is a week-long community event and soccer camp for the youth of the Nsambya and Kirombe neighborhoods of Kampala. SWB's program in Kampala provides opportunities for newcomer and refugee youth on and off the field through soccer, English language instruction, life skills classes, team-building activities, and access to educational support and supplies as well as athletic clothing and equipment. SWB participants come from Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, and Rwanda. Through our year-round program and annual events, newcomer and refugee youth, ages 6-23, develop key skills and a sense of belonging that supports their pursuit of growth, inclusion, and personal success.  In a place where safety nets, support systems, and inclusivity are rare, particularly for newcomers, SWB has become a safe and welcoming space for the kids. The Youth Festival is an exciting event that celebrates the new year and builds community amongst the diverse residents of the Nsambya and Kirombe neighborhoods. Youth who attend the festival include both regular SWB participants and kids who are new to SWB.

The Festival takes place during the second week of January when Ugandan schools are out of session, and many of the youth in the neighborhood are idle. Volunteers ages 18 and older help our local coaches and staff manage the large number of participants that will take part in the Festival, while also immersing themselves in Ugandan and Congolese culture. Festival curriculum maintains a balance between fun soccer games and drills, music and dancing, and team-building activities. The week is designed around an overall theme to help youth work collaboratively, resolve conflicts, and appreciate each other.  The in country Volunteer Orientation will include a much more extensive description of the year-round program and themes, but please check out the program webpage for a deeper understanding of our year-round work.



Uganda is home to one of the largest populations of refugees and internally displaced peoples in Africa. In the UNHCR's 2017 Global Trends Report, Uganda was listed as #3 on the list of countries, worldwide, receiving the most displaced persons. Of the 68.5 million worldwide, 1.4 million of those displaced are living in Uganda, many having left from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Because of the relatively hospitable policies toward victims of forced migration, refugees from all over the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region come to Uganda to seek security and peace within its borders. Despite the fact that Uganda gives refugees a good deal of freedom and protection, as compared to other states around the world, refugees here are by no means living without great challenges. Most refugees are brought to one of the many refugee settlements in the area, where they are given a small piece of land, basic non­-food items and basic food rations from the UN/World Food Programme. But, there are now nearly 100,000 refugees who have opted out of the settlement life and are living in Uganda's urban areas, many of which make their way to the capital city. They are free to do so, but choosing a life in the city means foregoing all support, financial or otherwise, from the United Nations.

The life of refugees in Kampala and the surrounding areas is very difficult, at best. While they remain in Kampala in search of better social services including education, healthcare, communication, development, and opportunities for their futures, they face great obstacles. Language barriers, xenophobia, lack of local recognition of scholastic and professional diplomas, lack of financial resources, and absence of institutional support all inhibit refugees from starting their lives anew while living in a new place indefinitely and sometimes permanently. Among all of these barriers, refugees who have settled in urban areas often say that the biggest barrier they face in Uganda is a lack of access, for adults and children alike, to educational opportunities. As a result, there is a huge need for youth-centered programs to provide positive learning opportunities and create support networks to ensure that students progress academically, stay healthy, and reach their full potential.

Recap the 2018 Youth Festival with former Team Leader, Aldo Sainati, and former Volunteer, Ana Tantum!

Picture highlights from previous Youth Festivals.


The Youth Festival is a volunteer opportunity primarily for adults, current and former college student-athletes, teachers, coaches, professors, and soccer fans alike! For this opportunity you must be age 18 and older! The typical volunteer group size ranges from 12-15 volunteers.


Not 18 yet or still in high school? Check out our other international opportunities here.



This is a sample schedule. Actual, detailed schedules are shared with Youth Festival volunteers prior to the trip.

Friday: Arrivals to Entebbe, Uganda (EBB)

SaturdayVolunteer Orientation, Activity with SWB staff, Tour of Kampala, Welcome Dinner & Team-building


Sunday: Festival meeting and preparation, Cultural Seminar, friendly soccer match, Team Dinner 

Monday - Friday: The 2020 Youth Festival with SWB youth! (8:00am - 4:00pm)


Saturday: Visit to local attraction(s), Camp staff team-building event, Closing reflection

Sunday: Free time, Departures



It is important that the program is able to cover the costs of hosting this volunteer experience, and provide a quality festival experience for the youth of Kampala. Therefore each volunteer is responsible for:

1. $500 USD (minimum) financial contribution to SWB Uganda

2. Collecting & bringing (at least) 50lbs (typically 1 large checked bag) of new or gently used equipment with you to donate to SWB Uganda  

3. Purchasing your own plane tickets, Tourist Entry card ($50), and any travel medical insurance or immunizations you choose

Financial Contribution: $500

In order to support a week of activities for SWB players and provide a comprehensive immersion experience, we ask each volunteer to contribute $500 to SWB Uganda. This financial contribution is due to SWB by December 15, 2019. In the past, many volunteers have reached their minimum $500 contribution through fundraising initiatives and events. By engaging your family and friends to raise or even go beyond the $500 minimum, volunteers are able to make a huge difference to the program's efforts to provide year-round programming to the Nsambya and Kirombe communities. Should you choose to fundraise to cover your financial contribution, SWB staff will work with you to share best practices and provide you with a personal fundraising page that you can share with friends and family. Some schools also offer small grants for international volunteer work either through the NCAA opportunity fund or through the community service office.

**Please Note: If you are a current NCAA student-athlete, we strongly recommend that you check with your school's compliance officer before beginning any fundraising activities. 


During your stay in Kampala, your $500 contribution covers all costs associated with your volunteer experience including:

  • Housing: We organize housing for all volunteers for the nights of January 3-11.

  • Food: We provide three meals and snacks every day. Our goal is to introduce you to local food, investing in locally run restaurants and vendors.

  • Beverages: We provide purified water for your water bottles

  • Transportation: We provide private transportation to and from EBB airport, as well as to and from group entertainment and activities.

  • Per Diem: You will receive a small per diem in local currency to purchase additional snacks, sports drinks, incidental items, internet time, etc.

  • T-shirt: You will receive an SWB Kampala t-shirt​

**Please Note: For those that may have personal travel plans that bring them to Kampala/Uganda before or after the Youth Festival dates, SWB will not be able to provide additional housing or transportation. SWB will arrange housing, food, and transportation for volunteers only for the dates of January 3-12.


Equipment: ~50lbs (one, full checked bag)

Your 50lbs (minimum) of equipment donations can be collected in your local community. We usually have a large supply of donated equipment in Boston, MA and Bay Area, CA, and may have access to equipment in other locations - if you have extra room or need support check with SWB. Colleges, high schools, and local clubs are also great resources for gently used equipment. SWB will share an equipment "wish list" with items to focus on during your collection. Each volunteer is responsible for transporting their equipment donations to Kampala. 


Flights: Purchase on your own

Each volunteer is responsible for arranging & purchasing their own flights to and from EBB Airport. The cost of your flights is not included in your $500 contribution to SWB. Typical roundtrip airfare costs to Entebbe, Uganda range between $900-$2,000 USD. Volunteers must ARRIVE on January 3, 2019 and DEPART on January 12, 2020. SWB will provide transportation to/from the airport on these dates. Flight information should be shared with SWB by December 1, 2019 so that we can coordinate airport pick-ups for all volunteers.

**Please Note: For those that have personal travel plans that have them in Kampala/Uganda before or after the Youth Festival dates, SWB will not be able to provide airport pick-ups and drop-offs. SWB will provide transportation to/from the airport on January 3 and January 12 only.


Visa: Purchase on your own

Upon arrival to Entebbe airport, you will need to purchase a Tourist Visa at passport control for $50 USD, which grants you permission to stay in Uganda for up to 3 months. This cost is not included in your $500 contribution to SWB. SWB will share more information and tips about travel to Uganda leading up to the trip, but please see this page for more information about visas for travel to Uganda. 

Vaccinations and Travel Health Insurance: Purchase on your own

All volunteers are required to obtain the proper vaccinations for entry to Uganda and are responsible for any associated costs. We suggest that you visit the CDC Travel Website to view the recommendations and requirements for travel to Uganda. Malaria pills are recommended for Uganda and we recommend getting a prescription from your doctor. Uganda also requires that travelers get a Yellow Fever vaccine and provide proof of the vaccination upon entry. You will need to get your vaccinations at least one month before your departure and in order to obtain your visa you will need to bring documentation of your vaccinations with you when travelling.


If your personal medical insurance does not cover international travel, we recommend that you consider short-term travel medical insurance for your trip. Past volunteers have frequently used Patriot Travel but there are many other available options. SWB does not provide Travel Health Insurance for Camp Volunteers.


Other expenses: Up to you!

The costs of gifts, touristy extras, and snacks are not included in your contribution and will depend on the volunteer. It is possible to spend as little as $10 or as much as $50 during your time at the Youth Festival. For your reference, a Ugandan Cranes soccer jersey costs roughly $8 and an authentic, hand­-carved African bowl costs roughly $10. 



The national language of Uganda is English and the local language of Kampala is Luganda. Most of our participants are from the Democratic Republic of Congo and speak Swahili, Lingala and French. Many of the children we work with speak very little English. Our local coaches all speak a variety of languages including English, and will be present to ensure the camp’s success. 



Kampala is regarded as one of the safest capitals in Africa and SWB has become a mainstay member of the community. Nevertheless, you will be a visitor in a new city! We will go over safety precautions and other safety recommendations during pre-trip emails and in-country orientation, but know that Kampala and the people of Kampala are very welcoming. 

Should the need arise, Soccer Without Borders is fortunate to have a partnership with an amazing company called Global Rescue which provides Medical Advisory Services in cases of emergency. If you would like to purchase additional coverage from Global Rescue, they provide a range of additional services, including security and evacuation, at a discount to SWB volunteers. Mention SWB if you choose to purchase a membership! 



Kampala is located nearly on the equator and is therefore hot during the days; however, the night is cool and breezy due to Uganda’s elevation (night time feels about 10­-20 degrees cooler than the day). Prepare to spend many warm days on the pitch as a part of the Youth Festival!



All volunteers must sign a waiver indicating that they understand the risks associated with international work and will not hold Soccer Without Borders accountable for any injuries, accidents or loss of property that occurs while working internationally. Waivers are due to SWB by upon your acceptance to the trip




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Check out this video featuring SWB teacher & coach, Jules, to learn more about our work!


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