About Us

Firefly Uganda is tackling global environmental issues, while working hand in hand with the local communities of the Ssese Islands region of Uganda. We provide sustainable infrastructure and basic healthcare, while also teaching at the local school. No longer can we sit back and focus on just one of the many problems facing this region and the world. Healthcare, education, conservation, and sustainability are all part of the cycle of life, and connecting them in one project is the only way that any part of the whole can be successful. We promise transparency, honesty and effectiveness. 

Firefly Uganda was officially started by Andrew Smith and Nora Hinrichs in 2015, after over twenty years of planning. Andrew is a builder by trade,  and has been working and living in Africa since 1992. Nora is currently working on her Master’s degree in Environmental Science, has had nearly a decade of experience volunteering and traveling within the East Africa region. Both are highly skilled and knowledgeable in education and sustainable construction. Since 2015, our team of two has grown to a large “Firefly family”, including several children, dogs, a paralyzed cat, a goat, chicken and a big goofy pig.

Join our quest for a better future. 
For you, for our children, and for all living things.

The Ssese Islands

We are currently situated on Bugaba Island, the second largest island in the Ssese chain, at approximately 275 square kilometres in size. The island is teeming with wildlife with a diverse ecosystem. Bugaba offers us the ideal environment to develop the projects we are invested in, as well as being an excellent destination for a volunteering experience full of adventure and fun.

The Ssese Island region  of Uganda is an archipelago situated in Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. It is formed of 84 islands, 48 of which are inhabited. There are roughly 100 villages with a total population of over 100,000 people, which is served by only 1 secondary school and 6 primary schools, nowhere near enough  to serve all the children.

The region holds some of the highest rates of HIV and primary school to secondary school dropouts in the world. An estimated 80% and 75% dropouts respectively. These statistics only account for the children who ever get registered for school in the first place. It is impossible to get exact numbers, but statistics show that as many as 40% of all children never do.


Firefly Uganda aims to provide a high standard of education that nurtures the students imagination and curiosity, whilst maintaining their cultural heritage. By working with both local teachers and international volunteers, we provide a diverse learning environment that is playful, safe, and encourages children to explore with their minds. Alongside essential academic subjects, our children are introduced to cultural studies that stimulate a passion for learning and an inquisitive outlook.


We work hand in hand with the local community to identify the primary  issues that need to be tackled. We spent the last 5 years on Banda Island, integrating with and gaining trust from the local community. Following our recent move to Bugaba Island, we have already started to gain that trust and support that is integral to our quest to bring long-lasting solutions. By keeping the community involved in all decision-making, we are able to offer effective solutions to the issues we've identified together.


Here at Firefly Uganda  we believe that in order to succesfully overcome the obstacles many face both within our region and globally, we must tackle all issues as one. The aim of our project is to create a working system that is applicable to all aspects of the community, which is why we are working to make healthcare and sanitation accessible to all. This will be achieved through purification and composting methods, as well as introducing a sewage system and floating medical services.


Using our volunteer camp as a test model, we promote a lifestyle that is environmentally sustainable and welcomes innovation. Our natural setting on the island is what inspires our projects: this allows us to work within our means to develop a diverse infrastructure that can be applied throughout the whole region. By learning from our surroundings, we are aiming to provide the population of the region with a lifestyle that can be self-sustaining and respectful of nature.



Transparency is one of our most important values, and we promise to always be open and honest with our plans. We gain ideas, advice and expertise from the community, our volunteers and donors worldwide. Creating a diverse environment allows our projects to develop in a way that not only brings about effective solutions, but also respects the values and traditions of the community. This means we are able to learn from the community and our supporters just as much as we can expect others to learn from us. It is only by working together that we can achieve better things.