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Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Kenya - Nairobi

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.

Highlights:
  • Programs start on the 1st and 15th of every month
  • Affordable fees from £311 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

'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

Key information

Provide care & connection for those with disabilities
Based in and around Nairobi
Homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Fully hosted experience from £311 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 12 weeks
Try a safari adventure
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Caring and open-minded volunteers with an interest in helping those with special needs. You aren’t required to have previous experience in special needs care, as you’ll be working closely with local staff. Qualified physiotherapists may be able to help with treatment and rehabilitation.
Who is this program suited to?

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:

  • Teaching
  • 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. While we will try our best to take this into account when placing you, we cannot make any guarantees as it is subject to availability and volunteers are typically placed where help is most needed at the time.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

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

School holidays 2024: Please note, this project is not available during the school holidays. If you apply for this project during school holidays, you will be switched to either Sports Education or Women’s Education. If you apply for this project during a half-term break, you will have these days free to explore the local area, embark on a safari, or another other tour/excursion.

  • February 29th - March 1st (half-term break)
  • April 8th - 28th (school holidays)
  • June 20th - 21st (half-term break)
  • August 5th - 25th (school holidays)
  • October 24th - Dec 15th (national exams & end of year break)
  • December 15th - program closes for 2024

Volunteer requirements

  • 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.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

SM
Sarah Macdonald
22 Feb 2024

I'm so, so grateful for my time volunteering in Kenya. After feeling a bit stuck and lacking that spark in my heart, I decided to sign up to go to Kenya... It's been a dream of mine to do a trip like this since I was 16 (I'm 39 now). I'm so glad I did!! I was, of course, nervous before going, but once I arrived and was greeted by the local team, all of those nerves melted away and I was able to immerse myself in the experience. The entire experience was eye opening, humbling, heart warming, and wonderful. That spark I was seeking has certainly been ignited and I can't wait to volunteer more and find more ways I can help. Thank you IVHQ for providing such a professional and safe avenue for this kind of experience!

To anyone hesitant, those are normal feelings. There's always nerves and fear when stepping into something you've never done. But the only way to experience the great things in life is to feel the fear and step out and do it anyway! Great things never come out of comfort zones. Go for it and book the trip... you absolutely won't regret it!

...
CR
Chanel Rivera
24 Jan 2024

This program has made me feel truly humbled. I feel like I connected with the people in my program, everyone was helpful and there wasn't one moment where I questioned the program. If you are considering the Special Needs Program in Kenya, or IVHQ in general, I would say sometimes you have to give life a go. Fear stops you from seeing the world. On your trip it is important to be cautious and safe. But I promise you, if you come with an open mind, you will have an unforgettable experience.

...
DM
Daniela Madrigal Lozano
23 Aug 2023

The two weeks that I was there I learned many things and grew as a person. I liked being able to help the children of my school to be able to improve their knowledge. It is a very nice feeling to see how the students were taking steps forward and to know that IVHQ helped make that happen. It is a unique, moving and very beautiful experience. I take with me many memories, joys, smiles, friendships and above all, learning. I was delighted to see myself as part of this volunteer program and without a doubt I would go again.

...
LC
Lucy Calio
19 Jul 2023

Your life will be changed forever I can guarantee it! The guidance and preparation resources I received from IVHQ were very handy and easy to understand! My host family who I lived with for my duration were super warm and welcoming - I will miss them all very much. On the Special Needs Care project, I was working with a young boy who had a physical disability. He wouldn’t usually play outside and participate physically in class due to his disability, however, we worked on specific rehab exercises to build his confidence. It was insane to see the difference just one day of work could do. He was out playing soccer with the other kids at lunch time, standing up in class and dancing. The increased confidence this young boy had, just with someone taking focus on him, was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.

I enjoyed my experience to the point where I want to volunteer more regularly now and influence others as well. Volunteering is not an easy thing to do and it was definitely out of my comfort zone, but 100% one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I have ever experienced. Seeing different cultures, environments, meeting new people from around the world and realising how happy you can be with so little made such an impact on myself and my own personal growth.

...
JN
Johane Nieuwoudt
19 Jul 2023

When I was planning my trip, my Program Manager was very helpful and she never made me feel like my questions were silly! The IVHQ program guide was also very helpful and really allowed me to gather the information needed to feel ready and safe for my trip. My accommodation was 100/10 - my host Mum and her children welcomed me into their home with open arms and saying goodbye was extremely hard. The kids I met in the special needs unit will always have a special place in my heart. I feel like I was able to make an impact in their lives and they definitely made an impact on mine. Another favourite moment of mine was teaching the kids and my host Mum to crochet and it was so heart warming to share something I love with them.

You'll regret not doing it - the stories I have and the friendships I've made are things I'll cherish for the rest of my life. It can be scary and overwhelming to travel across the world and be thrown into an unfamiliar situation, but you have SO many people who are there and ready to help you. It's an experience of a lifetime!

...
DG
David Garland
11 Dec 2022

Seeing how a school with no electricity or indoor running water could still have such an amazing impact on other's lives made an impact on me. Playing games, learning about countries, and getting taught how to make bead jewellery were some of my favorite moments.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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Volunteer Abroad in Kenya with IVHQ

Location

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, a member of the local team will greet you at the airport and bring you to temporary volunteer housing in Mlolongo, just a short drive from the airport in Nairobi, where you will spend the night before your orientation and before being transported to your homestay. 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 overland in Nairobi the day before your program orientation

Orientation is hosted by our local team in Nairobi 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

First day

You will be escorted to your placement by a member of your homestay family or another volunteer and introduced to the placement staff.

Weekdays

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

Weekends

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 centre.

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.

Meals

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 7 am and generally consists of chai tea, coffee, toast, fruit and sometimes mandazi - African donuts. A typical lunch can include vegetables and lentils with rice, occasional meat and fruit 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 8 pm and typically 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 costs around US$15 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.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $375 Equivalent to $54/day
2 weeks $515 Equivalent to $37/day
3 weeks $655 Equivalent to $31/day
4 weeks $795 Equivalent to $28/day
5 weeks $935 Equivalent to $27/day
6 weeks $1,075 Equivalent to $26/day
8 weeks $1,355 Equivalent to $24/day
10 weeks $1,635 Equivalent to $23/day
12 weeks $1,915 Equivalent to $23/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £273) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Kenya generally find US$50-100 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Meals
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return airport transfer when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit Kenya

Safety and support with IVHQ

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.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Nairobi
Population 52.57 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. 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.

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How to get started

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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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