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Volunteer Abroad in Kenya

Kenya Program General Information

In Kenya, about 9 million people suffer from extreme poverty and a quarter of the population earns less than $1 per day. In the United Nation’s human development index, Kenya has been ranked 154th in a study of 177 countries based on life expectancy, literacy levels and overall gross domestic product. Kenya’s tourism industry is booming, but it rarely provides economic opportunities for most local residents. As a result, Kenya is in desperate need of international volunteers and you can make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.
On the other hand, you may be wondering what Kenya has to offer you. Kenya is a definite destination for these who are into cultures or wildlife. Breathtaking sceneries can be found in 19 national parks and game reserves. In this magical land, you will be able to see pygmy hippos, lions, monkeys, zebras, a variety of birds and other African wildlife. Kenyans are generally very relaxed and friendly people. They are extremely welcoming to foreigners.

Locations of Kenya Volunteer& Intern Programs

We have volunteer work placements in both urban and rural areas all over Kenya.

Possible locations include but not limited to:

  • Nairobi Area
  • Mombasa Area
  • Nakuru Area
  • Kisii Area (Recommended)
  • Other areas can possibly be arranged upon request

In urban and suburban locations, most homes will have electricity and running water. In rural areas, resources are very limited and the condition can be very basic.

Start Dates and Durations

We pride ourselves for our flexibility. You can arrive any week of the year with enough advanced notice.

You can volunteer for periods of 1 week to 6 months. Programs can also possibly be extended with enough advanced notice.

Kenya Volunteer Work Placements

There are volunteer work placements available in both urban and rural Kenya. Our volunteer/intern work placements include 5 major categories:

    (1) CAREGIVING

    • Orphanage Work
    • Caring for the Elderly
    • Caring for the Disabled

    (2) COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

    • Business Coaching
    • Women’s Empowerment
    • Sharing Your Skills

    (3) HEALTHCARE

    • Medical Placement
    • Assisting Health Professionals

    (4) HIV/AIDS WORK

    • HIV/AIDS Testing
    • HIV/AIDS Counselling
    • Awareness Campaigns
    • Caring for the HIV Infected
    • Conducting HIV lessons

    (5) TEACHING

    • Teaching Children
    • Tutoring Help
    • Teaching English
    • Sharing Your Skills
    • Sports Education
    • Special Education

    (6) Other

    • Micro-Finance Projects
    • Business Coaching
    • Environmental Work
    • Wildlife or Animal Work
    • Journalism or Photography Work
    • Construction Work
    • Agriculture Work
    • Tourism Work

Please note that some work placements may require a surcharge since they are harder or more costly to arrange. Also, more works can possibly be arranged upon request.

Kenya Volunteer/Intern Requirements

  • Age Requirement: You can apply on your own if you are 18 years or over at the start of the program. For participants who are 15-17 years old at the start of the program, it is possible to enroll if the legal guardian gives permission and signs our waiver form to waive our liability.
  • Language Requirement: You must be able to speak English.
  • Cooperation and Adaptability: You should be able to work well with others, including people who are quite different from yourself. Also, you should be able to adapt to foreign environments, other cultures, and new situations. There is a need for international volunteers to be cooperative and flexible. The success of doing a project abroad also depends on you.
  • Some positions may require volunteers/interns have relevant training or certification.

Kenya Program Prices

Our fees are among the lowest in the industry and extremely affordable. Our program fee starts as little as USD$180. Program fees mainly help us cover the variable costs, such as meals, accommodation, orientation, etc. Program fees vary according to the length of your program.

Program Length Program Fee USD$
1 Week 180
2 Weeks 350
3 Weeks 470
1 Month (4 Weeks) 580
5 Weeks 680
6 Weeks 770
2 Months (8 Weeks) 980
10 Weeks 1150
3 Months 1320
4 Months 1630
5 Months 1950
6 Months 2300

To see an estimate of these prices in your local currency click here.

Note: There is an additional fee of USD$290 (enrollment fee) on top of the program fee for all the programs. This enrollment fee helps us cover mainly the fixed costs, such as program inspection, staff salary, marketing cost, etc. Also, certain work placements and certain locations may require a surcharge since they are harder or more costly to arrange. Participants are fully responsible for any surcharges and transaction costs.

Total Price = Program Fee + Enrollment Fee (plus transaction costs and any surcharge)

What is included?

  • Arrival Welcome
  • Accommodation and Meals
  • Program Orientation
  • Volunteer Work Placement
  • Hotline for Local Support
  • Regular Cultural/Recreational Activities (Personal spending not included) are Provided by Most Hosts

What is not included?

  • International and Local Transportation Costs (One way local bus tickets cost around $0.5.)
  • Medical/Travel Insurance (Optional buy recommended)
  • Visa Application Costs and Personal Spending

Working & Living Agenda of Kenya Programs

Accommodation and Meals

Accommodation and meals are included. Volunteers live with a local home-stay family or guest house or orphanage home.

Most of our home-stay families in urban locations can provide the following features:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Bedroom with basic furniture (either private or shared with another volunteer of the same gender)

In the rural areas, the resources are very limited and the living condition can be very basic.

Meals

Three meals a day are provided by the home-stay families.

Lunch is usually packed by your host family in a lunch box so that you can eat at your project if you wish.

If you are a vegetarian or if you have other special eating needs, you can indicate that while applying. Even though special eating needs are not something we can guarantee, we will do our best to meet your needs.

It is exciting to live with a local family. This way, you can easily learn the local way of life, meet local people, and feel more like a part of Kenya rather than just a tourist. We strongly encourage you to try the local flavors and experience the local culture and traditions as much as possible. Keep in mind that it is important to be open-minded and to be flexible. You shouldn’t expect that you would eat the same food or have the same lifestyle as you do at home. Actually, one of the most important things you will learn abroad is how their way of living is just as correct as ours.

Arrival and Orientation

Day 1 (Arrival Day)

On Arrival Day, we will

    1) Give you a warm welcome upon arrival.

    2) Then we will take you to your home-stay family in Kenya.

    3) Introduce you to the home-stay family members.

    4) Then we will leave you to rest after your long flight. Keep in mind that the program orientation usually takes place the next day.

Day 2 (Orientation Day)

This orientation is very important and it is mandatory for ensuring a safe and pleasant stay.

    1) Introduction to Work Program

    • You will be introduced to the expectations of the institution and the host project.

    2) Introduction to Your Environment

    • We will show you how to take bus from home to some important places (such as workplace, town center, the supermarket, the ATM, etc.
    • (Usually it costs around US$0.5 or $1 for a one way bus ticket in town.)

    3) Introduction to Kenya

    • Culture
    • Language
    • Communication
    • Transportation
    • Safety
    • Travel Opportunities

    4) Getting Connected

    • After the Introduction to Kenya, you will be given some time to exchange contact information with other volunteers.
    • It is a good opportunity for you to get connected with other volunteers. After getting connected, you may want to socialize or plan your weekend trip together.

Workweek and Workdays

Our volunteer programs are highly flexible and can be customized for you. You can either do full time or part time work depending on your preference. Some volunteers would like to work a lot, while others like to have more free time to travel, socialize, and relax.

The amount of work will be customized for you. Certain work placements do require full time volunteers or have a fixed schedule, but many works can be very flexible.

  • If you think it is more important to get your favorite placement rather than your preferred work schedule, please indicate that while applying so that we can put more weight on work type when we customize the program for you. If you don’t indicate anything, we may give your preferred work schedule more consideration while we customize the program for you.

Workweek Options:

  • Workweek option 1: (Regular) Work from Mon. to Fri.
  • Workweek option 2: (Long weekend) Work from Mon. to Thursday.
  • Workweek option 3: (Work and Rest) Work only on Mon., Wed. & Friday.
  • Workweek option 4: (As Much As Possible) Work 6-7 days per week if possible.
  • Workweek option 5: (Fully Open) Come in and help whichever day you want.

Workday Options:

  • Workday option 1: (Full day) Approximately 8 hours from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
  • Workday option 2: (Part time early bird) Approximately 4 hours from 9am to 1pm.
  • Workday option 3: (Part time afternoon) Approximately 4 hours from 12pm to 4pm.
  • Workday option 4: (Fully Open) Come in and help whenever you want.

(If you have different preferences, you can let us know so that we can try to customize further for you).

Leisure Time (Enjoyment and Friendship)

Our volunteers usually form life-long friendships with their host family, workplace co-workers, and other volunteers. Kenyans are very friendly and welcoming people, especially to foreigners. The chances are that you will find it easier to make friends in Kenya than in your home country.

We aim to fulfill your leisure time with enjoyment. Most of our partners abroad arrange recreational activities regularly. You can join weekend tours or add a wildlife safari and/or a coastal tour after your volunteer program for an additional cost. We have partners who can perform tours and can offer discounts to volunteers. We recommend that you book Safari or tour through us since the our long term relationship with the local tour operators usually mean more reliable services.

Other Useful Information

Kenya Entry Requirements (Visa Information)

Most people coming to Kenya get their tourist visa upon arrival. Upon arrival at the airport, tourist visas are issued for a fee of $50 USD (cash only). You can also get your visa pre-arrival from a Kenyan embassy in your home country, but it is generally less time-consuming to get it upon arrival.

The issue of a tourist visa is very straight forward. You don’t need to have hotels booked or tours booked. For a trouble-free entry, we recommend that you write the purpose of your entry as tourism or vacation, which is true since our volunteers are classified as volunteer tourists.

The initial tourism visa is valid for 3 months. For these who plan to volunteer for a longer period, our program staff will help you with renewing your visa.

Travel Services (Tours and Flights)

Whenever our volunteers need, we provide travel resources/advices. The tour prices from our partners are usually discounted for volunteers, thus we recommend that you book with us. If you are going to buy flight and book tours on your own, we strongly recommend that you get price quotes from different sources and compare them before you make your purchase. Booking a 2-3 day wildlife safari through us can cost from $350, but prices may vary depending on season and availability.

Kenya Country Profile and Pictures

Kenya Capital: Nairobi

Population: 37,538,817

Official Language: Swahili and English

Time Zone: EAT (UTC+3)

Climate

Kenya enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country.

The average annual temperature for the coastal town of Mombasa (altitude 17 metres) is 30.30 Celsius maximum and 22.40 Celsius minimum, the capital city, Nairobi (altitude 1,661 metres) 25.20 Celsius maximum and 13.60 Celsius minimum.

There is plenty of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning.

The annual migration of wildlife between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya takes place between June and September. The migration of almost two million wildebeest, zebras and other species is nature’s greatest spectacle on earth. The animal trek has been captured by filmmakers worldwide.

The Local Currency

The local currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). US$1 is approximately 80 Kenyan Shillings. There are exchange bureaus where you can change your money. You may also carry traveller’s checks. However, out of all the options, we strongly recommend that you bring a debit or a credit card for ATM cash withdraws. ATMs are easily accessible in Kenya and most of them accept international debit and credit cards. It is probably the safest and easiest way for you to access your cash.

Personal Expense in Kenya

As food and accommodation are both included, you don’t need to expect to spend much money at all. Actually, you will probably find that $20 is enough for your weekly personal expense. You will expect a much bigger spending if you plan to take wildlife tours. A wildlife tour may cost you $100 or more for a day.

Safety

Going global can be an exciting experience and nervous at the same time. Regardless of where you are in the world, safety can never be guaranteed. However, Kenya is considered to be a safe country comparing to many other African nations. It is politically stable and one of the few that haven’t had civil wars in recent years. However, for your own safety, we recommend that you take the following precautions while living there:

  • If you must carry a handbag, try to keep your handbag in front of you.
  • Try to keep in groups at night and never walk alone dark streets.
  • Try to leave your valuables behind.
  • Be careful when crossing the streets.
  • We recommend that you bring two bank/credit cards when you travel but keep them in different places. You can probably keep one in your wallet with you for daily use and keep the other card in a very safe place for back-up purpose. In this case, if anything happens, at least you won’t loss both cards at the same time.

While it is unlikely for something to happen to you, we do recommend that you take these precautions.

Communication

Communications infrastructure is reasonably good in Kenya. It is easy to call and to send emails. Internet cyber is also affordable (around US$0.5 per hour). The country code of Kenya is +254.

Vaccinations for Kenya

Yellow Fever is the legally required vaccination for Kenya. Don’t forget to take your yellow fever certificate with you while you travel.

The following are recommended:

  • Tetanus Diphtheria Polio
  • Polio Hepatitis A
  • Conjugate Meningococcal
  • Malaria – Tablets

Things to Bring

  • You should at least bring a sleeping bag, a lunch box, a water bottle, and other personal necessities.
  • A plug adapter is strongly recommended as you will probably need to charge your electronics.
    • Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information for Kenya:
      • Primary Socket Type: British BS-1363
      • Voltage: 220-240 Volts
      • For Multi-voltage electronics/appliances (laptops, etc.), you only need a plug adapter.
  • A digital camera is recommended.
  • Laptop is not necessary, however many volunteers like to bring their own personal computer.
  • Mosquito-net could be nice to have in some areas, but again it is not absolutely necessary.
  • If you forget to bring some things (such as basic shampoo or basic water bottle), it is easy to buy them in Kenya. Other things (such as electronics or a special brand of body wash) can be hard or more expensive to get in Kenya.