Volunteer in Kenya
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 6 meaningful project options
- Projects based in and around Nairobi
- Accommodation in local homestays
- Between 30 and 60 volunteers start in Kenya each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Most affordable program fees
- Safari weekend options available
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Kenya to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Kenya will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Kenya with your new-found friends.
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. Volunteers are required to fly into Nairobi, which is an 11 to 13 hour flight from most major airports in Australia. 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.
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. The Music project is designed to give children the chance to let their voices and songs be heard. On the Music project you will provide students with a basic understanding of musical theory, as well as instrument and vocal training. If you are looking to teach music that requires an instrument, we recommend bringing this with you. Previous volunteers have taught an introduction to Music class or have focused on teaching specific instruments such as guitar, flute, maraca, etc. Singing is popular among the children, and if you have experience in singing or choir-directing, this can be highly beneficial on the project. In addition, you 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’s also important to note that you will need to show initiative in the planning, preparation and implementation of your lesson plans. The music project is mainly run after school and therefore you may be required to teach other classes during the day such as Math, English and Social Sciences (Geography and History). Please note that if you apply for the Music project during the school holidays (April, August, November and December), you will be placed on another project in Kenya, such as Childcare Work, for the duration of the holidays.
Due to on-going initiatives in place 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. On the Women’s Education project you will work closely with centers which support these women and their families, providing counseling, guidance, and sometimes childcare. Not all of the women suffer from HIV/AIDS and some have joined the centres to help improve their overall living situation and learn vital skills to help become self sufficient. The primary aim 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 subsidised 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, you can assist in a range of areas, including counseling, skill-training and campaign/education development. On the Women’s Education project you do not need previous experience or training in HIV/AIDS support or Women’s Education, however we strongly recommend you gain some understanding of these areas prior to your arrival in Kenya.
Due to the high incidences of poverty and illness, childcare centers in Kenya can host 20 to 100 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 pre-schools, baby daycare centers and orphanage centers, some of which house and foster abandoned and orphaned children. It’s important to note that some orphanages also have schools attached to them and volunteers may be required to assist teachers in the early childhood classes. Each center accommodates children of differing ages, however volunteers generally work with children between the ages of 1 to 16 years. Whether the children are at home or at school, the centers are always busy, and volunteers can help with all areas of daily activity. On this project you are often required to teach the children basic English and Math. In addition to teaching, you will help assist with the general running of the orphanage and daily chores. Other tasks include teaching, cooking, cleaning, caring for children and assisting with feeding programs
Special Needs Care
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 Care 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.
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. On the Sports Education project you will 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 you wish to teach new concepts or foreign sports, and it is up to you to create your 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. You do not need any previous teaching experience to participate on the Sports Education project, however it is important to note that you may be required to teach other classes during their project, such as Math, English, Science or Social Studies (Geography and History). Please note if you apply for the Sports Education project during the school holidays (April, August, November and December), you will be placed on another project in Kenya, such as Childcare, for the duration of the holidays.
On the Teaching project in Kenya you may be placed in either urban or 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. On this project you will be placed in community schools or government 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. There is also the opportunity for you to participate on a computer support placement. If either of these placements interest you, please make note of this when applying for the program. In Kenya, the school year is broken into three terms and there are breaks between these terms for the entire months of April, August, November and December. You should note that if you’ve applied for the Teaching project during the school holidays, you will be placed on another project in Kenya, such as Childcare Work, for the duration of the holidays. On this project you will work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff and you do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage you to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognised TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
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. On the Teaching project you will 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, November and December, during which time you 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. You do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate on this project, however IVHQ offers you the opportunity to upskill for their Teaching projects by gaining an internationally recognised TEFL certification.
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 for the additional transport, supervision and logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
Teaching - Mombasa
On the Teaching project in Mombasa you will be placed in community schools within Bamburi and Likoni. You will 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, November and December. You can apply for the Teaching project in Mombasa during the school holidays, however you will be placed on the Childcare project in Mombasa, for the duration of the holidays. You 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 recognised TEFL certification. Please note, the Teaching project in Mombasa has an extra cost of US$100 for the additional transport, supervision and logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
The program orientation begins on the 1st and 15th of every month and volunteers need to arrive in Nairobi on the day before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Kenya prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Nairobi on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our local 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 socialising. Once your orientation is complete, you will be transported to your homestay and introduced to your host family.
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.
Volunteers are accommodated in homestays with local families, who have been approved by our local team 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 home-stays have electricity, running water and western bathrooms. It is important to note that there are often power outages and water shortages, and volunteers need to be prepared to have the occasional bucket shower or some time without power. Some rural home-stays, and all home-stays in Maasai, do not have electricity or running water. In these locations you can expect to find squat/long-drop toilets.
Our local team 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.
WiFi can be accessed from local cafes and restaurants within walking distance of most homestays in Nairobi. If you’re a volunteering on the Teaching - Maasai project, WiFi can be difficult to access in Maasailand, so we recommend purchasing a local SIM card with data during your program orientation in Nairobi.
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.
“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)
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. 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.
See our Kenya Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Kenya!
|Languages||Swahili and English|
|Currency||Kenyan Shilling (KES)|
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.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Kenya.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.