East Africa


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East Africa


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  • Meet our partners in Kibera (East Africa’s most populous slum) and internationally recognized artist and peace activist Solo7.
  • Take a different kind of safari and cycle through Hell’s Gate National Park, marvelling at giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest.
  • Volunteer in Kampala, a bustling city by Lake Victoria that exemplifies multiculturalism in East Africa.
  • Head deep into rural Uganda to meet with our partners that are working with youth through art, sport, and other community initiatives in the Gulu province.
  • Raft over class four and five rapids at the source of the Nile in Uganda.
Program Dates


May 25 – July 3

July 13 – August 21 



To Be Announced


Program Fee



Community Contribution



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Sample Itinerary

After getting picked up at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, our group will have an in-country orientation in Nairobi. We will acclimatize by trying local cuisine, picking up the basics of the local language, and acquainting ourselves with the city. Welcome to the fast-paced rush of life that is metropolitan Africa!

Kakamaga Rainforest and the Young County Change Makers – Kisumu, Kenya
The team heads through the beautiful western landscape to the town of Kisumu. We will visit the Kakamaga rainforest and get our first taste of African life outside the big city! We will stop and visit our Kenyan counterparts, the Young County Change Makers, where we always receive a warm welcome, some chai, and some interesting stories. It’s a great spot to see the positive and negative effects of development, and what we’ve accomplished together over the years!

Volunteer Work – Kampala, Uganda
From Kisumu, we will head to the bustling capital city of Kampala, taking time to learn about the history of development in the region. We will have the opportunity to meet with two non-governmental organizations, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders as well as the Human Rights Network of Journalists. They will give us the low down on Ugandan politics and how the media works to shine a light on injustice against government pressure.


Our volunteer work in Uganda begins right here within the city limits! We’ll be working with Rescuing Widows, Elderly, Youth and Orphans with AIDS (RWEYOWA) – a non-profit organization that has a number of programs with people affected by HIV/AIDS. They offer free HIV testing, sexual education courses, individual and family counselling, assistance with everyday life, and a family empowerment program. Last year we helped build chicken coops and delivered some fowl friends to different families.

Rafting Down the Nile – Jinja, Uganda
For a little adrenaline break, the team will move west to Jinja, Uganda where the source of the Nile flows from the massive Lake Victoria! In an unforgettable white water rafting experience, we navigate through Class 4 and 5 rapids at the base of the Nile!

An Intro to Rural Uganda – Gulu, Uganda
From Kampala, we will head into the interior of Uganda, to the village of Gulu. We’ll work with a small NGO that works with youth in the surrounding area, examining social issues and the after effects of the civil war through art and film. Last year, we organized a two-day festival to showcase their work and promote awareness. We also learned a bit of Lwo (the local language), ate some of the region’s best chapatti, and spent the day helping out on a farm as a weekly community-action initiative. It’s a big change from the hustle of the city. Volunteering in rural East Africa, you’ll quickly learn that time slows down and people are even friendlier (as if you thought that could be possible at this point in the program!)

Independent Travel Time
A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, you are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for yourself. Team members are given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice or safety concerns.


ITT is the ideal time for you to learn more about your specific interest, whether it be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing. You may choose to visit Zanzibar or Dar Es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania, climb the epic Mount Kilimanjaro, or see wildlife while traveling through the Maasai Mara lands. This will be an opportunity to use the knowledge and skills acquired over the past month to navigate East Africa on your own or in small groups.

Disorientation – Naivasha, Kenya
The group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. Following ITT, our team will meet up in Lake Naivasha, diving into the beautiful landscape and amazing wildlife Kenya has to offer. We’ll re-live memories of the program, summarize our experiences, discuss how to stay connected, and collaborate on projects in the future. Then off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes!


Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Climb the epic peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • Learn about the realities of genocide in the misty hills of Rwanda.
  • Visit Zanzibar Island’s Stone Town and relax on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.
  • See lions, elephants, rhinos, and other big game animals at one of East Africa’s many national parks.


With OG, you live like the locals.
Traveling as much as we do on the East Africa program, there will be a number of different styles of accommodation. Whether it’s at a youth hostel in Nairobi or under the stars in Lake Naivasha, you can expect to be cooking together and learning to make chapatti with the team. In addition to guesthouses and camping, we will be staying in community houses in northern Kenya, which will allow us to delve into local culture and integrate into the communities we visit.

Meet Your Program Leaders

Shamira LukomwaShamira once read we have two lives: the life we live and the unlived life within us. She plans to only live one fulfilled life; hence, her passion for travel. A Ugandan-American originally from Atlanta, Shamira graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in Global Studies and Communication Studies. She spent most of 2013 conducting research in Uganda and Kenya. She has worked with several organizations over the years, but is drawn to those that promote sustainability, minority empowerment, and ARTivism. She loves adventuring (and getting lost), filmmaking, herbal teas, and everything Lupita Nyong’o.

Henry OblieHenry was born in Ghana, raised in England, now spends a lot of his time in East Africa, trying to visit as many countries as possible in his spare time. His only real ambition in life was to get as many different experiences as possible – so on a said day, you may think he is a doctor, on another, a taxi driver. At present there is nothing that Henry loves more than being in the sunshine, so when he got a chance to lead OG teams out in the beautiful heat he jumped on the next plane to Canada… but almost turned back when he saw the snow on the ground. Henry cannot wait to receive his next group in East Africa and set about discovering the hidden gems of the region.

East Africa

The Way We See It

Kenya often evokes mental images of Maasai warriors, exotic wildlife in national parks, and acacia trees on the savannah. These images still ring true today, but there is so much more to Kenya than going on a safari. The country is incredibly diverse in its landscape–from the bustling metropolis of Nairobi to the coast of the Indian Ocean where Swahili culture has remained unchanged and untouched for centuries.

Tanzania, meanwhile, is known as the home country to the great Mount Kilimanjaro, unreal and idyllic beaches, and a centre for wildlife-gazing. But again, there’s so much more just a few steps off the beaten path. The country is a cultural mosaic home to over 100 ethnic groups all blending together to create a unique and vibrant vibe.

It only takes a moment to realize that these countries can’t be summed up in a few lines. The lessons we have learned here would take a lifetime to write. Hopefully though, you will find these truths for yourself.

If Not Now, Then When?


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