|What to Bring (MDs)|
Should I bring this, or not? Can I get it in Uganda, or not? How much will it cost? Those are questions you will be asking a lot. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you make those decisions.
As a general statement, all household and personal items necessary to run a household are available in Uganda. Considering shipping and customs costs, we strongly recommend that you bring as little of your household as possible, and simply purchase all items in Uganda. From furniture, appliances, sealable containers and dishes, TVs and other electronics, you will find the prices are higher than those found in the USA, but the duty and shipping has already been paid. Therefore, you really need to bring very little with you.
Now to be more specific, you may wish to bring a few small items such as cookbooks or photo frames or a special “feels like home” tablecloth or blanket with you, which could help make your adjustment to Uganda easier.
WGM owns four houses in the Kampala area. Two are large homes, semi-detached, within walking distance of Heritage International school. One is about 2 kilometers from Heritage. This one also has a small guesthouse on its property, which is used for VIA. Our newest house is the field director’s house, located near HIS. As there are only four houses, some missionaries will have to rent other homes. Houses with secured compounds in Kampala can be found from $700-$1000 per month, depending on size and location. Most do not have large yards. If a house has been sitting empty for a while, a larger house can be rented for a lower rate. Generally, however, a smaller 3-bedroom house would cost about $700.
Depending on your ministry and family size, you can get a good used vehicle for $6,000-$20,000. The lower end is for a small, low to the ground vehicle (suitable for use in Kampala and on main roads). The higher end is for a very durable large 4-wheel drive vehicle suitable for going all over Uganda. (Traveling to Buvuma, for example, is on a main road until you need to go on a boat. Traveling to one of the other mainland training centers will entail driving over more difficult terrain.) Your WGM Ministry will have a budget established, at the recommended amount by the Field Director and Field Treasurer. Most families will raise $10,000 to spend on the vehicle, with $5,000 in reserve for maintenance and insurance. You may only spend the money if you raise the money, without going over budget.
All large home appliances (such as refrigerator, gas stove/oven, washing machines) can be found in Uganda at reasonable prices. We do not recommend you bring/ship any large appliances to Uganda, but purchase them here. Supplied within your ministry account budget are a refrigerator and gas stove/oven. You can also find smaller hand-held appliances here, as well. Coffee makers, hand mixers, curling irons, hair dryers, etc. are samples of some of the items found at reasonable prices. We encourage you to purchase these items in Uganda, so the voltage will be correct for your equipment. If you bring a small appliance with you, remember that you will also have to buy a transformer here to run it. These transformers are expensive, costing around $90. If you have a question about a specialty item, don’t hesitate to ask.
Good batteries are readily available in Kampala. Prices are about 25% higher than US prices, though. You might want to consider bringing rechargeable batteries and a charger.
Furnishings for the master bedroom is a personal expense. Good mattresses are available. Check the finance manual for specifics on furniture budgets.
Mobile (Cell) phones
Mobile phones are widely used in Uganda and can be purchased here at very reasonable prices. If you have a mobile phone in the US which uses a SIM card, you can bring it and use it here. See the financial manual for more information.
Battery operated wall and alarm clocks can be purchased in Uganda and are very cheap.
If you do carpentry, auto mechanics, etc., bring your own tools. They are costly here. Keep in mind, however, that most tools are heavy, and will take up a lot of your luggage allowance in space and weight.
Computers and printers bought in Uganda are a bit more expensive than in the US. For printers, but we recommend purchasing them here instead of shipping one from the USA. Ink and toner cartridges are much more expensive here, so bring a supply with you. You can contact the Field Business manager about purchasing a printer here just before you come, so you can know what number print cartridges to bring with you. We recommend if you plan to have a ministry computer, that you bring a laptop from the USA versus purchasing one in Uganda. Budget approval is needed for mission-owned computers before the purchase is made. It is recommended that you bring a replacement battery for laptop computers. All software must be licensed copies.
There is a large variety of clothing available at the markets and in stores/shops, but if you are particular on your style of dress, bring what seems best with you, making sure it meets cultural guidelines. During the dry season, it tends to be warm. So you will need mostly lightweight clothes. The evenings are generally cool throughout the year. For the rainy season you may need long sleeves. It is advisable to bring undergarments for your entire term for the whole family. Umbrellas and boots are locally available. If you sew, selected materials can be purchased here. However, patterns are not available.
Bring a basic cookbook with you. You will find an older version of Better Homes and Gardens, More with Less, or one that has “from scratch recipes” very useful. The field also has a very helpful Newcomers Cookbook with a lot of helpful tips for cooking in Africa.
As Ugandan and European current provide 220 volt 50 Hertz (as compared with 110 volt 60 Hertz in the USA and 100 volts in Japan), you may need a transformer and an adapter for electrical appliances such as video cameras, hair dryers, curling irons and electric razors if you will need to use them in hotels, guest houses, rental homes or while staying in national homes. It is possible to purchase some appliances with dual voltage and their own adapter kits in the USA, but we recommend that you bring few if any appliances, and purchase them in Uganda instead.
We recommend you make local purchases of all toiletries if possible. All toiletry items are available in Uganda. However, if you have a favorite brand of deodorant, shampoo or other toiletry, you may wish to bring some with you. If you want home permanents or hair coloring you should bring a supply adequate for your whole term. There is a very limited supply of hair colors, but to date, no supply of permanents. Contact solutions can be found here but if you are looking for a certain brand, please ask before you come. Feminine products are available here but usually it is only certain familiar brands. Tampax, OB and Always are the most commonly found.
If you have questions about your particular toiletry product or medicine, and if it is available, please do not hesitate to ask.
Many regular food supplies are available. The following are some items which are imported and may be expensive or not available on a regular basis: cake mixes, marshmallows, pie fillings, dried fruits, canned cranberries, dream whip, chocolate chips, pickles, salad dressing mixes (Ranch is not available), maple flavoring for syrup. Do not pack food items together with soap, cleaning products or anything with a strong odor. Remember, if you have questions about your favorite kind of food, and if it is available, please do not hesitate to ask.
It is best to bring some holiday decorations from home if you want things to be a certain way. Many cards and gift items, as well as certain holiday decorations are available here, such as Christmas trees and lights, tinsel, balloons, Easter baskets, etc.
Because the sun is very intense in equatorial Africa, you are encouraged to bring a hat. These can also be purchased here.
If you want a microwave oven, we recommend that you purchase one in Uganda so it will run on 240 volts/50 cycles.
You might want to bring a roll of US stamps with you,(including stamps for .1 or .2 cents, as prices for stamps increase for US postage while on the field sometimes and the smaller-valued stamps can make up the difference in the increases). Oftentimes visitors or someone going on furlough will take letters back to the States to mail for you.
Gas stoves purchased in Uganda are often smaller than ones from the U.S. Some of the ovens may be small so regular sized cookie sheets will not fit in them. You may want to purchase some smaller cookie sheets. It is advisable to also bring an oven thermometer.
The WGM field strongly encourages you to purchase these items in Uganda. This is due to electrical systems here as well as weight and probability of damage to your TV/item if you were to bring one with you. The costs are about the same as in the USA for all of these items.
A variety of sized washers and dryers are available for purchase in Uganda. We do not recommend you bring one with you.