Volunteer Overseas in Kenya with IVHQ

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Volunteer in Kenya

Volunteer in Kenya with International Volunteer HQ! IVHQ has a wide range of volunteer abroad projects available in rural and urban Kenya, including Teaching, Childcare Work, Sports Education, Music Education, HIV/AIDS Work, Special Needs and Women's Education.
Map of Kenya
Capital: 
Nairobi
Population: 
43.18 million
Official languages: 
Swahili and English
Currency: 
Kenyan Shilling (KES)
Time zone: 
UTC+03:00
Weather and 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.

LOCATION OF KENYA VOLUNTEER ABROAD PROGRAM

The IVHQ Kenya volunteer program is based in Nairobi with volunteer placements located in suburban Nairobi and Kibera (the largest slum in Africa), Nakuru, Mombasa and rural Kenyan villages. 

START AND DURATION OF KENYA VOLUNTEER ABROAD PROGRAM

Volunteer programs begin on the 1st and 15th of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.

KENYA VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS

Volunteers must be 18 years or older on the volunteer program start date and have at least a high school education. All volunteers must provide a criminal background check to IVHQ partner staff on arrival in Kenya. 

HOW MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS WILL THERE BE?

Between 50 and 80 volunteers start on our Kenya volunteer program each month. What does this mean for you? More people to socialize and travel with, more people to meet from different cultures, more people to volunteer with, more projects to work on, more staff support, better infrastructure for volunteers and lower fees!

KENYA VOLUNTEER ABROAD REVIEWS

"I felt like the local staff were family, even though I really did not know them! They always made sure that we were aware that we could contact them no matter what. The orientation was excellent! It was a great time to meet with other volunteers, get familiar with the staff, and start to feel at home in an unknown country! My favorite moment from the volunteering experience was spending time in my project, getting to know the kids, staff, and doing my best to help around with chores." - Romie Garcia (Teaching Volunteer in Kenya)

Visit our Volunteer Abroad Reviews page to read more reviews from IVHQ Volunteers in Kenya.

Kenya volunteer project descriptions

Teaching

Volunteers on the Teaching project in Kenya are placed in both urban and rural schools, where the presence of volunteers is beneficial in opening the minds and broadening the horizons of students, along with exposing them to native (or fluent) English speakers. Volunteers on this project are placed in community schools, government schools or orphanage schools, and assist local teachers with daily classes in Math, English, Science, Social Studies (Geography and History), Art and Physical Education. For those interested in Health and Hygiene education, there are schools that offer after-school classes this area for older students. These classes were initiated by volunteers and rely on volunteers to continue. The classes focus on Health and Hygiene and can also cover reproductive education and awareness of puberty and hormone growth for teenage boys and girls. In Kenya, the school year is broken into three terms and there are breaks between these terms for the entire months of April, August and December. Volunteers should note that if they apply for the Teaching project during the school holidays, they will be placed on another project in Kenya, such as Childcare, for the duration of the holidays. Volunteers do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate on this project, however IVHQ offers volunteers with the opportunity to upskill for their Teaching projects by gaining an internationally recognized TEFL certification. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn more.

Childcare

Due to the high incidences of poverty and illness, childcare centers in Kenya can host 50 to 300 children at any one time and there is always high demand for volunteer assistance. Volunteers on the Childcare project in Kenya are placed in a range of orphanages and childcare centers, some of which house and foster abandoned and orphaned children, some that have schools attached, and others where volunteers live at the centers full time. Each center accommodates children of differing ages, however volunteers generally work with children between the ages of 1 to 16 years old. Placements can include pre-schools, baby daycare centers and orphanage centers. Whether the children are at home or at school, the centers are always busy, and volunteers can help with all areas of daily activity. Tasks can include teaching, cooking, cleaning, feeding, washing, and caring for the children, in addition to entertaining and playing with them.

Special Needs

Due to lack of support and education around disability awareness in Kenya, many disabled children and adults are hidden from public view by their families. The Kenyan culture is built largely around family values and beliefs, and it is expected that children should be able to contribute while at home and then ultimately provide for themselves when they reach adulthood. However, there are increasing numbers of children born with either mental or physical disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome, who do not have access to support and cannot fend for themselves. There are also many children and adults in Kenya who become disabled through the course of their lives. Volunteers on the Special Needs project assist with providing daily hands-on support and disability education among families and local communities. Volunteer tasks include assisting with physiotherapy and rehabilitation for the children or adults, and providing training for the family and supporting community. Volunteers on this project do not need to have previous experience or training in Special Needs care, as they will be working closely alongside local staff.

Sports Education

The Sports Education project is designed for volunteers who have passion for sports and wish to work with children in schools, but would prefer not to spend all their time teaching in a classroom. Volunteers on the Sports Education project help to broaden the children’s knowledge of sports, teach foreign sports, and educate the children on general fitness, health and wellbeing. The children are extremely enthusiastic and willing to learn, however previous volunteers have found it is important to come prepared if they wish to teach new concepts or foreign sports, and it is up to volunteers to create their own lesson plans. While football/soccer is extremely popular in Africa, many volunteers have found it rewarding to teach the children other sports from their home countries, such as baseball, lacrosse, basketball, cricket and rugby. If you wish to teach a foreign sport, you will need to plan ahead and bring the required materials and equipment with you, as it is unlikely you will find this equipment at the local stores in Kenya. Volunteers do not need any previous teaching experience to participate on the Sports Education project, however it is important to note that volunteers may be required to teach other classes during their project, such as Math, English, Science or Social Studies (Geography and History). Volunteers should note that if they apply for the Sports Education project during the school holidays (April, August and December), they will be placed on another project in Kenya, such as Childcare, for the duration of the holidays.

Women's Education

Due to on-going initiatives to support those affected by HIV/AIDS, many women living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya are still able to function on a day-to-day basis, but require support to be able to do so. Volunteers on the Women’s Education project work closely with centers which support these women and their families, providing counseling, guidance, and sometimes childcare. The primary aim of these centers is to empower the women through income-generating projects, education and skills training. At many of the centres, women are able to learn sewing, tailoring, candlemaking and jewelry-making through subsidized courses. The women also have access to finance and small business management courses, enabling them to start their own craft-making or tailoring businesses to generate an income and provide for their families. In these centers, volunteers can assist in a range of areas, including counseling, skill-training and campaign/education development. Volunteers on the Women’s Education project do not need previous experience or training in HIV/AIDS support or Women’s Education, however we strongly recommend volunteers gain some understanding of these areas prior to their arrival in Kenya.

Music

Music is a universal language and spans all corners of the globe. In East Africa, music is best described as a pure and true representation of cultural richness by means of worship and devotion, celebration and mourning, and overall communal strengthening and enjoyment. Through music, people are able to see through the shroud of suffering and sorrow to a life worth living. The Music project is designed to give children the chance to let their voices and songs be heard. Volunteers on the Music project provide students with a basic understanding of musical theory, as well as instrument and vocal training. Previous volunteers have run the project as an after-school activity, taking classes in guitar, flute, maraca, piano, organ and introduction to music. Singing is popular among the children, and if volunteers have experience in singing or choir-directing, this can be highly beneficial on the project. In addition, volunteers can facilitate traditional music lessons, where students share and learn cultural and tribal songs from each other. A background in music, a basic knowledge of musical theory and practical ability are imperative to be a successful volunteer on this project. It is important to note, volunteers may be required to teach other classes during the day, such as Math, English and Social Sciences (Geography and History). Volunteers should note that if they apply for the Music project during the school holidays (April, August and December), they will be placed on another project in Kenya, such as Childcare, for the duration of the holidays.

HIV/AIDS Work

HIV/AIDS continues to be a major issue in Kenya, however over the past decade, there has a great deal of development in regards to the response to the disease. Projects have been established to provide free Antiretroviral Drugs and Therapies to those living with HIV/AIDS and this has seen a shift in the mentality of Kenyans towards the disease, where the emphasis has developed from providing emergency care and relief, to focusing more on empowerment and “living positively”. The majority of volunteer work on the HIV/AIDS project involves working alongside local staff on outreach campaigns, aimed at local slums and rural communities. While each campaign will have a specific purpose, the overriding aim is to highlight the importance of HIV/AIDS education and awareness among all ages, through classes on hygiene and how to prevent transmission.

Teaching - Maasai

With the introduction of free primary school education in Kenya, the Kenyan government was faced with a dilemma; a larger number of students with access to an education and not enough teachers to accommodate the growing class sizes. The majority of Maasai schools are required by law to have at least one teacher per class, however there are often up to 50 children in one class. Volunteers on the Teaching project assist local teachers with daily Math, English, Science, Social Studies (Geography and History), Art and Physical Education classes, providing one-to-one attention to the children and sometimes relieving the teacher of a class or two per day. In Kenya, the school year is broken into three terms and there are breaks between these terms for the entire months of April, August and December, during which time volunteers can assist with holiday programs, participate on another project, travel or take advantage of tourist activities, such as a safari. Teaching at a Maasai community school is an experience like no other. Giraffes, gazelles and dik-diks often wander freely across the school grounds and it is not unusual for wild animals to burrow holes through the school field overnight. Volunteers do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate on this project, however IVHQ offers volunteers with the opportunity to upskill for their Teaching projects by gaining an internationally recognized TEFL certification. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn more.

Teaching - Mombasa

Volunteers on the Teaching project in Mombasa are placed in community schools within Bamburi and Likoni. Volunteers assist local teachers with daily classes in Math, English, Science, Social Studies (Geography and History), Art and Physical Education. In Kenya, the school year is broken into 3 terms and there are breaks between these terms for the entire months of April, August and December. Volunteers who apply for the Teaching project in Mombasa during the school holidays, will be placed on the Childcare project in Mombasa, for the duration of the holidays. Volunteers do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate on this project, however IVHQ offers volunteers with the opportunity to upskill for their Teaching projects by gaining an internationally recognized TEFL certification. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn more. Please note, the Teaching project in Mombasa has an extra cost of US$100 to cover surcharges, transport from Nairobi to Mombasa and the return trip. This cost will be included in the Program Fee quoted to volunteers when applying for the program.

Childcare - Mombasa

Volunteers on the Childcare project in Mombasa are placed in a range of orphanages and childcare centers within Bamburi and Likoni. Each center accommodates children of differing ages, however volunteers generally work with children between the ages of 1 and 16 years old. These centers have been established within the community to assist disadvantaged children and families. Volunteer tasks can include cooking, cleaning, feeding, washing, and caring for the children, in addition to entertaining and playing with them. Please note, the Childcare project in Mombasa has an extra cost of US$100 to cover surcharges, transport from Nairobi to Mombasa and the return trip. This cost will be included in the Program Fee quoted to volunteers when applying for the program.

VOLUNTEER ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS​

Volunteers are accommodated in homestays with a local family, who have been approved by our local staff in Kenya. Volunteers can expect to share a bedroom with two to four other volunteers, comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. Living is comfortable and most homestays have electricity, running water and western bathrooms. Some rural homestays do not have electricity or running water and you can expect to find squat/long-drop toilets. We give your host family a fee for your support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a host family, providing you with a unique opportunity to learn about the Kenyan way of life, meet local people, try local food, speak the local language and engage in local customs and traditions.

Volunteers in Kenya are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), which is served at the homestays. Breakfast generally consists of chai (tea), toast, fruit and sometimes mandazzi (deep fried dough). A typical lunch can include vegetables with rice, occasional meat and fruit. Dinner usually includes traditional food, such as ugali, chapatti, mboga and irio, alongside meat and vegetables. Bottled water is readily available in Kenya and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this (2 liters per day). If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. 

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION

Orientation is taken by our Kenya team in Nairobi. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Kenya – Introduction to Kenya, Kenyan Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Kenya, Introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. Once your orientation is complete, you will be transported to your homestay and introduced to your host family.

VOLUNTEER WEEK

First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays: A typical volunteer day would be as follows:

7.30 AM Breakfast with the host family.

8.30 AM - 2.00 PM Volunteers travel to their placements and meet with the placement staff. Work and hours at the placement are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. There is usually a morning tea break and lunch break.

2.00 PM - 5.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to their homestays, go sight seeing, or do some shopping.

7.00 PM - 8.00 PM Dinner with the host family.

Please note, this schedule can vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating on.

VOLUNTEER WEEKENDS

During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Nairobi, wider Kenya and Eastern Africa. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield (i.e. Mombasa, Uganda or Tanzania), or to embark on a safari. If volunteers wish to volunteer over the weekends, they can join local teams to visit orphanages and spend time playing with and entertaining the children. Sunday is a religious day of rest. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Kenyan church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

Kenya Volunteer Fees: 
Volunteer periodProgram fee US$
1 Week270
2 Weeks370
3 Weeks470
4 Weeks550
6 Weeks740
8 Weeks930
10 Weeks1130
12 Weeks1330

To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
Please note: All programs attract a Registration Fee of $279 USD on top of the Program Fee.

What do my fees pay for?

Registration Fee (refundable if you choose not to go*) – ongoing support from IVHQ staff, program marketing costs, information pack, administration costs, IVHQ Fund, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee – airport pick-up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation and meals during volunteer program period, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs.

What additional costs will I have?

Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), criminal background check, vaccinations, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours, transfer back to the airport from program, spending money (volunteers in Kenya generally find US$20 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses).

* - Terms and conditions do apply.