Uganda - Gulu (BOSCO)

Population facets: 

Partner Organization:  BOSCO Uganda

Location:  Gulu District, Uganda

Number of Students:  2 students

Dates:  Site determines dates with some flexibility and prefers early June arrival.

In person opportunities summer 2022: Yes

Virtual opportunities summer 2022: To be determined (see scope of work below)

Additional Information:

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, if we are unable to deploy students in person, students will not be obligated to complete the ISSLP and may withdraw without penalty. For students wishing to continue with the ISSLP in virtual mode, ISSLP staff will work with them to be placed with a virtual international service option.

Participation Requirements:

  • Language & Proficiency Requirement: None required but students should learn basic Acholi.  Most people speak English in Gulu but some prefer to speak Acholi especially in the neighboring community.
  • Gender Requirement:  None
  • Required Experience:  None
  • Major Requirement:  None required but students in computer science or electrical and mechanical engineering can utilize their skills to be of particular assistance. The availability and scope of work is proportional to and reliant on the students’ skills and abilities. Where work can be found for students of all abilities and technical backgrounds, the more extensive the students’ background with various computer systems, network systems as well as general computer science knowledge will dictate the available work for each student.
  • Student Minimum Age:  None
  • Special Requirements:  Some technical skills in information and communication technology (ICT) would be helpful, e.g. programming, circuitry lab experience.  Students should possess good verbal communication skills, good writing skills, and openness to learning from other people.  Experience or comfort teaching community groups and youth is also helpful because, as in some years, students could be teaching classes from 5-20 students in computer use. 
  • Other:  Students should have background knowledge about the recent war in northern Uganda and the current political situation. Interest in peace studies and/or or African studies would be beneficial. It is helpful if participants have already taken or plan to take an African related course prior to summer. Because students will be living with either Sisters or priests in a religious centre, students should be open to participating in the community and Catholic faith life. 

Special Training Required Prior to Summer Deployment: 

(The following sessions and workshops will be organized and provided by the ISSLP during the Spring semester. Additional training sessions may be added as needed.)

  • Self Defense Session
  • Technology training may be necessary
  • Meeting with U.S. BOSCO advisory board members

Site Description:  

See the official BOSCO Uganda website

BOSCO Uganda (Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach) is an NGO operating under the Archdiocese of Gulu in northern Uganda and provides innovative ICT (Information and Communication Technology) solutions using a collaborative, web-based approach to foster social and economic development in peace building in rural communities in northern Uganda.

The organization was started by a few Notre Dame alumni and is partnering with the Archdiocese to install communication systems in former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in war-affected northern Uganda. Specifically, BOSCO is installing solar powered PCs connected to Internet and VoIP telephony, creating a network of sites across the region in schools, health centers, NGO offices, and local government offices. BOSCO is helping to increase collaboration among service providers using these communication systems while also ending the isolation that the rural Acholi people have experienced because of the war in northern Uganda. BOSCO also implements computer training courses in the rural sites using a collaborative, "Web 2.0" model of training that emphasizes Internet use as a method for human rights monitoring, enhanced education, and more efficient access to service providers (e.g. tele-medicine).

Scope of Work & Responsibilities:

Notice: Scope of work may have some changes based on the needs of the partner organizations at the time of student arrival/engagement.

This site will be in person for summer 2022. Virtual opportunities are still being determined (see below).

This section reflects the most recent scope of work for students who deployed in the last few years to BOSCO, Uganda. This scope of work may change based on the needs of the organization at the time of student arrival and/or due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Scope of work in person:

Notre Dame interns are expected to carry out an individual project in alignment with BOSCO's mission, while also helping out with the day-to-day operations of BOSCO, observing how BOSCO operates, and forming relationships with local community members. These daily operations-oriented tasks may include participating in wireless feasibility surveys, wireless installations, network maintenance, radio configuration, site set-ups, or client interactions. In addition, participants may lead computer and entrepreneurship education classes or help out at an ICT center.  Students are supported and receive training and guidance from the BOSCO technical staff. Student technical skill level will increase the number of individual projects available to participants.

Over the course the spring semester the ISSLP  and BOSCO will determine 2022 projects.  Some of BOSCO's 2022 potential projects include:

  • Education content enhancement for e-learning
  • Business development to support prototyping a business model for one of BOSCO Uganda ICT center located in the center of Gulu town (Bardege ICT center) to see how best this center can generate revenue while providing ICT/internet connectivity services to clients. Skills in business consulting together with ICT skills will be essential. This would include a study of how the center needs to be managed/run.
  • CE3 project - solar PV system installation to support schools with reliable 24-hour power supply. Special knowledge and skills in Solar PV systems would be well received.
  • Data management and analysis. Interns with skills in data management and analysis are needed to work alongside BOSCO Uganda staff to conduct an assessment of the ICT centers and establish a system for monitoring the centers. Study how the ICT centers could be better used to support rural folks with connectivity and access to e-library, e-business information, e-agriculture information, etc.
  • BOSCO Uganda would like to increase uptake of ICT services by women. It has often been a challenge getting rural women learning ICT. We will appreciate creative ways of how to get women trained in ICT skills and how to use knowledge of information technology to run their businesses.
  • BOSCO Uganda would also like to integrate or support persons living with disability.
  • BOSCO Uganda would also like to keeep up to date with new technologies, e.g. Zoom. Any intern with special skills of how BOSCO could take advantage of opportunities arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic in enhancing its work with clients would be appreciated.
  • Potential for community-based research (CBR) and impact assessment. One idea may include a study of the establishment of IT in an African rural setting with attention on positive and negative challenges within the broader context of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) in the lens of Catholic Social Teaching. Another idea is to conduct qualitative interviews with “site managers” who are involved at ICT sites where they conduct trainings in order gather data and evidence of BOSCO’s impact. Students interested should discuss these possibilities with the U.S. BOSCO board and on-site BOSCO staff.
  • Assist writing or researching future funding grant proposals for BOSCO-Uganda. In consultation with BOSCO staff, ISSLP students can also innovate their own projects to help BOSCO.
  • Technical Assistance.  ISSLP interns may provide assistance to BOSCO’s technical team wherever they have relevant technical expertise. Tasks may include troubleshooting wifi connectivity problems, working with the CISCO operating system, and possibly expanding BOSCO’s network by establishing new long-range wifi links.

2019 ISSLP scope of work included working on a software project to help in collecting demographic data, and writing grants. Some of BOSCO’s potential projects include:

2018 ISSLP scope of work included leading and designing data policies, procedures, and standards to improve the organization’s overall information management

ISSLP 2017 participated in wireless feasibility surveys, wireless network implementation, device configuration, and equipment construction and maintenance. 

ISSLP 2016 worked with the technical team to establish and maintenance WiFi connectivity in Lira and nearby communities, BOSCO website work and establishing a website to track the status of borehole sites in Paimol. Additional work included training on set up and use of up a simple photo-voltaic system, basic networking and with other interns from Gulu and Makerere Universities set up a point to point WiFi connection. 

An ISSLP 2014 computer science major used Perl and Bash scripts to automate the data fetching of power consumed and generated in different sites and work on a program to accept Mobile Money payments.

In 2011, ISSLP students worked with computer science interns from Gulu University on more advanced topics such as PHP and HTML and such opportunity may exist for subsequent summers. The technical team may also have special projects with which ISSLPs can assist.

ISSLP 2014 and 2015 installed and serviced point-to-point antennas across northern Uganda to provide internet access to schools, seminaries, health centers, and NGOs. They also installed solar panels to run low-power PCs and connected them to the BOSCO network and internet. 

ISSLP students, with site supervisor, may visit the Uganda Martyrs Paimol wiPolo Shrine in Paimol, approximately 135 kilometers from Gulu, where BOSCO Executive Director Fr. Joe Okumu now resides.

Scope of work virtual:

If international travel is not possible, this site may be able to accommodate virtual opportunities. In summer 2021, one ISSLP student interned with BOSCO Uganda. The virtual scope of work included providing assistance with the organization’s website e.g developing content and website design; working on a system for adding e-learning content for schools, and researching on the energy grid system projects.

Housing & Lodging Information:

Students live at the Comboni Sisters guest house each with their own room. The Guest House has indoor plumbing, hot water, internet and private bathrooms. Meals are provided.

When visiting Fr. Joe Okumu or doing community-based research in Paimol, students will stay at the Paimol wiPolo Shrine lodging in the Shrine Guest House with similar accommodations as at the Catechist Training Center in Gulu.

For More Information:

Visit the official BOSCO Uganda website 


Former ISSLP Participants:

*Did not deploy due to COVID-19 pandemic
Notice: Certain sites may be canceled and other sites added at any point during the selection and orientation process.
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