Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Kenya - Nairobi
Want to be a Special Needs Care volunteer in Kenya? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Care project empowers volunteers to assist with programs that help people with a range of physical and mental disabilities in and around Nairobi. These people are often hidden from view by their families due to a lack of support, education and disability awareness. Volunteers can help change this by teaching local families and communities about special needs, while also providing care, attention and support for those with disabilities.
- Programs start on the 1st and 15th of every month
- Affordable fees from CA$394 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Help provide care to children and adults with disabilities
Discover Kenya’s diverse landscapes and wildlife
Experience daily life in Nairobi by staying with a local family
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
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 ultimately provide for themselves when they reach adulthood. However, there are large numbers of children born with disabilities who don’t have access to support and can’t provide for themselves. There are also many Kenyans who become disabled through the course of their lives.
As a Special Needs Care volunteer in Kenya you’ll provide hands-on support and care and help with disability education for families and local communities. Your tasks will depend on your experience and any relevant qualifications but may include:
- General supervision
- Interacting with and providing training for the family and their community
- Helping at meal times
- Preparing and serving meals
- Cleaning up after meals
Volunteers with appropriate qualifications and experience may also be able to assist with physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
Why do Special Needs Care volunteering in Kenya with IVHQ?
When you volunteer in Kenya you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Improving care and social inclusion for people with disabilities
- Supporting education for people with disabilities
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining experience caring for disabled people
- Immersing yourself in Kenya’s diverse culture
Please note, this project is not available during the school holidays. If you apply for the Special Needs Care project during this time, you will be switched to either the Sports Education or Women’s Education projects.
School holidays 2022:
- March 5th - April 24th
- May 26th - May 27th
- July 4th - July 10th
- August 11th - August 12th
- September 19th - September 23rd
- November 28th - January 20th 2023
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Kenya photo gallery
”I had an incredible experience with the kids from Kimuchu , I was able to have a very strong connection with all the children who welcomed me every daily with open arms, smiles and eyes that expressed a lot. The local language was not an impediment to communicate well with them, nonverbal communications very powerful. Tremendous experience, highly recommended, I could see with my own eyes how children were happy with the little things in life in the middle of the poverty.”
Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in KenyaSee more reviews
Nairobi is home to IVHQ’s Kenya program. The capital city of Kenya is a dynamic, diverse metropolis known for its natural beauty and wildlife safaris. Volunteer projects are set in and around Nairobi and the Kibera Slum which is home to hundreds of thousands of people living below the poverty line. Volunteers can help by providing support to local initiatives designed to improve their quality of life and access to basic essentials.
Arrival and orientation
The program orientation begins on the 1st and 15th of every month and volunteers need to arrive in Nairobi 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 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 – an introduction to Kenya, Kenyan customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Kenya, and an 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 schedule example
You will be escorted to your placement by a member of your homestay family or another volunteer and introduced to the placement staff.
You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Work and hours at the placement are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at, but 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. There is usually a morning tea break and lunch break.|
|2:00 - 5:00 PM||Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to their homestays, go sightseeing or do some shopping.|
|7:00 - 8:00 PM||Dinner with the host family|
During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Nairobi, wider Kenya and Eastern Africa. 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.
In Nairobi you’ll have the opportunity to get up close to a wide variety of wildlife including elephants and giraffes, visit the Nairobi National Park, shop at the many markets and malls, learn about Kenya’s history at museums, or tour Nairobi city, the Kibera Slum, the Maasailands, or the Bomas cultural center.
Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield including to Mombasa, Uganda or Tanzania, or to embark on a safari.
Accommodation and WiFi
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 of the same gender.
Bedrooms have single or bunk beds and bedding is provided. Living is comfortable and most homestays 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 and periods of time without power. Some rural homestays do not have electricity or running water and in these locations you can expect to find squat/pit toilets and bucket showers.
Our local team gives your host family a fee for your support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a host family, and you’ll have 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.
The wide range of Kenyan tribes, ethnicities and cultures are reflected in the diversity of the local cuisine. Volunteers are provided with three meals a day which are served at the accommodation and tend to be rich in carbohydrates.
Breakfast is served around 7am and generally consists of chai tea, toast, fruit and sometimes mandazi - African donuts. A typical lunch can include vegetables with rice, occasional meat and fruit and is served around 1pm. If you are not returning home from your placement for lunch, you will need to pack your own lunch in the morning. Dinner is usually served around 8pm and usually includes traditional food, such as ugali, a cornmeal porridge; mboga, a vegetable dish; irio, mashed potatoes with peas and corn; meat and vegetables.
Tap water is not safe to drink in Kenya, though bottled water is readily available. Volunteers typically drink around half a gallon, or two liters per day, which adds up to cost around US$10 a week.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please make a note on your application so arrangements can be made. However, it is important that volunteers should not expect to eat as they normally do at home.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||CA$394 Equivalent to CA$56/day|
|2 weeks||CA$564 Equivalent to CA$40/day|
|3 weeks||CA$733 Equivalent to CA$35/day|
|4 weeks||CA$902 Equivalent to CA$32/day|
|5 weeks||CA$1071 Equivalent to CA$31/day|
|6 weeks||CA$1241 Equivalent to CA$30/day|
|8 weeks||CA$1579 Equivalent to CA$28/day|
|10 weeks||CA$1918 Equivalent to CA$27/day|
|12 weeks||CA$2256 Equivalent to CA$27/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of CA$421 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, public transport to and from your placement each day, criminal background check and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Kenya generally find US$150-200 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
Check what's required to visit Kenya
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Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 upon arrival
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|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. As Nairobi is close to the equator the weather does not vary much. The summer months, from December to February are warm with temperatures ranging between 30°C and 14°C. June is usually the coldest month, with temperatures averaging between 13°C and 22°C.