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Canadian Volunteers Abroad in Kenya with IVHQ

Volunteer in Kenya

Volunteer in Kenya with International Volunteer HQ on a wide range of volunteer abroad projects, including Teaching, Childcare Work and Women's Education. Volunteers are based throughout a variety of Kenyan communities, volunteering in and around Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Maasai, and surrounding rural villages. You will not find a more affordable and trustworthy volunteer travel organization.
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Watch Canadian IVHQ volunteers abroad 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
My first experience living and working in another country was fully satisfied through IVHQ. My host mom, fellow volunteers and local staff made the transition very easy and accommodating. Without hesitation I would recommend IVHQ for first timers abroad as well as people who are very experienced travellers, you will be hosted with the best Kenyans around.
IVHQ Volunteer - Myranda Laursen
Myranda Laursen
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Destination: Kenya
  • 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 a 15 to 18 hour flight from most major airports in Canada. 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.

Childcare

The aim of the Childcare project in Kenya is to provide much-needed assistance in childcare centers in Kenya which can host between 15 and 100 children at any one time. Due to the high incidences of illness and poverty in Kenya, the centers are always busy and there is a high demand for volunteer assistance.

This project is well suited to volunteers who love children and have a high energy levels to keep up with the number of children in these centers. The children love interacting with volunteers and will be sure to keep you on your feet!

Childcare volunteers in Kenya can expect to help out with the day-to-day operations of a range of pre-schools, baby day care centers and children’s homes, some of which house and foster abandoned and orphaned children. Each center accommodates children of differing ages, however you will typically work with children between the ages of 1 and 16 years-old. Some orphanages also have schools attached to them and volunteers may be required to assist teachers with the early childhood classes. You are often required to teach the children basic English and Math, and you can expect to assist with the general running of the orphanage and daily chores, such as cooking, cleaning, helping with farm work, caring for children and babies, and assisting with feeding programs.

This project is open to to all volunteers and a background in childcare is not required as you will be working alongside local placement staff.

Teaching

As a volunteer on the Teaching project in Kenya, you may be placed in either urban or rural schools, where your presence is beneficial in opening the minds and broadening the horizons of students, along with exposing them to native (or fluent) English speakers. Volunteer placements are located within both community schools and government schools where you will assist local teachers with lessons each day.

This project is well suited to aspiring teachers as well as volunteers with an interest in education and supporting youth development opportunities in communities with limited access to education.

Your tasks may include teaching classes alongside local teachers in Math, English, Science, Social Studies (Geography and History), Art and Physical Education. If you are interested in health and hygiene education, there are schools that offer after school classes in this area for older students. These classes were established 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. There is also the opportunity for you to participate on a computer support placement. If either of these after school placements interest you, please make note of this when applying.

On this project you will work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff and you do not need to be a qualified or experienced teacher 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-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.

Please note that if you apply for the Teaching 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.

Music

Music is a universal language and a colorful representation of the rich cultural heritage of Kenya. The aim of this project is to support local children to embrace a positive form of self-expression and to let their voices and songs be heard.

This project is well suited to volunteers who have a passion for music and are able to independently create and implement their own music lesson plans.

When volunteering on the Music project, you can expect to 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 to Kenya.

Previous volunteers have ​​taught an introduction to Music or have focused on teaching specific instruments, such as the guitar, flute or maraca.​ ​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. 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).

This project is open to all volunteers and a background in​ ​music, a basic knowledge of musical theory and practical​ ​ability are imperative to be a successful volunteer on this​ ​project.

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, such as Childcare for the​ ​duration of the holidays.​​​

Women’s Education

As a volunteer on the Women’s Education project in Kenya, you will work closely with centers which support women affected by HIV/AIDS in providing counseling, guidance, and sometimes childcare. The primary aim of this project is to empower the women through income-generating projects, education and skills training.

If you have skills in arts and craft-making and an interest in supporting women to become self-sufficient, this project will be a good fit for you.

When volunteering on this project, you will assist in a range of areas, including counseling, skill-training and campaign/education development. At many of the centers, women are able to learn sewing, tailoring, candle-making 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. Not all of the women suffer from HIV/AIDS and some have joined the centers to help improve their overall living situation and learn vital skills to help become self sufficient. While volunteering you may also have the opportunity to help on outreach work taking place within the wider local communities and slum areas.

As you will be volunteering alongside our local placement staff, 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.

Special Needs Care

As a volunteer on this project you will assist with providing daily hands-on support and disability education among families and local communities. 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 provide for themselves. There are also many children and adults in Kenya who become disabled through the course of their lives.

This project is well suited to caring and open minded individuals, with an interest to help those those with special needs.

Your tasks will depend on your experience and any relevant qualifications but may include assisting with physiotherapy and rehabilitation for the children or adults, teaching, general supervision, interacting and providing training for the family and supporting community.

You are not required to have previous experience or training in special needs care to participate as you will be working closely alongside local staff, although relevant experience is required for physiotherapy tasks.

Sports Education

As a volunteer on our 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.

If you are someone who has a passion for sports and wish to work with children in schools, but would prefer not to spend all of your time teaching in a classroom, this project will be well suited to you.

Your tasks may include teaching both locally-known and foreign sports, and many volunteers have found it rewarding to teach the children sports from their home countries, such as baseball, lacrosse, basketball, cricket and rugby. 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. The children are extremely enthusiastic and willing to learn, and therefore it is important to come prepared with your own lesson plans.

As you will be volunteering alongside local teachers, you do not need any previous teaching experience to participate on this project, however it is important to note that you may be required to teach other classes, such as Math, English, Science or Social Studies (Geography and History) when required.

Please note that 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.

Teaching - Maasai

The aim of this project is to provide teaching support within small Maasai communities which are in desperate need of volunteer assistance. 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.

This project is well suited to volunteers looking for a teaching 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.

When volunteering on this project, you can expect to 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.

This project is open to all volunteers and you do not need to be qualified or an experienced teacher to participate on this project. However IVHQ offers you the opportunity to up-skill before your Teaching project by gaining an internationally recognized TEFL certification.

Please note that 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 will switch to another project based in Nairobi.

Childcare - Mombasa

As a volunteer on the Childcare project in Mombasa, you will be offering support within orphanages and childcare centers in Bamburi and Likoni, which have been established to assist children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

If you love working with children and are willing to help out wherever your support is most needed, this project will be a good fit for you.

Your tasks may include cooking, cleaning, feeding, washing, and caring for the children, in addition to entertaining and playing with them. Each center accommodates children of differing ages, however volunteers generally work with children between the ages of 1 and 16 years-old.

Please note that 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.

This project is open to to all volunteers and a background in childcare is not required as you will be working alongside local placement staff.

Teaching - Mombasa

The aim of the Teaching project in Mombasa is to help increase access to education within community schools in Bamburi and Likoni.

This project is well suited to aspiring teachers, as well as volunteers with a keen interest in teaching and education.

As a Teaching volunteer in Mombasa, you can expect to 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.

This project is open to all volunteers with an interest in teaching, and you do not need to be qualified or experienced to participate. However, IVHQ offers volunteers the opportunity to upskill for their Teaching projects by gaining an internationally recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.

Please note that 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 socializing. 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. ​I​t 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)

Read more reviews from IVHQ volunteers in Kenya here

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!

Capital Nairobi
Population 43.18 million
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.

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.

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