A guide to volunteer opportunities in the heart of Africa.
Each volunteer has given their time to achieve a goal bigger than any one person. Directly along the equator line with a backdrop of rich savannah grasslands and diverse wildlife lays Kenya. From the ‘Mountain of Whiteness’ otherwise known as Mount Kenya to the flat desert landscape this country is every adventurers bucket list destination.
A great desire when travelling such stunning places is to give something back, and to truly get under the skin of a community and understand its values. Volunteer services provide vital skills and conservation projects to the world’s most poverty stricken nations while providing an unforgettable experience to the volunteer. Regardless of education and experience you can gain valuable knowledge and become part of a warm welcoming community.
With so many volunteer options to choose from in Kenya, finding a program that’s just right for you can be a daunting task. To help you out, here are some really exciting experiences that we recommend. They are all run by well known, international organisations that we’re sure you’ll enjoy.
Helping rural communities in Kenya with Camps International
One of the most important areas a volunteer can make a difference is through helping to establish a sustainable way for communities in rural areas to create and farm their own resources. This is one area where you can get hands on experience and reap the reward of knowing you were a part of helping to improve the lives of so many. Camps International is a volunteering service that provides a vast array of gap year opportunities for students to work overseas while helping impoverished communities the world over. The permaculture volunteer programme in Kenya at Camp Muhaka, gives students a chance to gain an internationally recognised course with a certificate at the end in permaculture design. Through the charity you will learn all about how to help rural towns build a sustainable food supply, provide fresh water, control waste management and manage energy consumption. While you may learn a lot you will also have a chance to share this valuable knowledge with famers and schools in the outreach programs. This area of work is paramount to helping prevent the issues of starvation and squalor that occur due to lack of knowledge in this area.
Maasai Mara field work with Kaya Volunteer
A matter that is closest to the hearts of many people is the conservation of the many majestic and endangered species that are iconic to Africa’s landscape. Working directly with the local community, Kaya Volunteer organises the ‘Masai Mara Lion Wildlife and Conservation Project’. As a volunteer you will be housed in the heart of the Masai community, an area that is densely populated by lions and cheetahs. You will be heavily involved with the local animals, by taking part in tracking lions, mapping game routes, building a database of the big cats, and monitoring elephants. With this project you gain a chance to give something back through community outreach programmes that allow you to share your own knowledge with the community and educate them on the value of the lions and how important it is to protect them and other wildlife in the area.
Work in Kenya for medical students IFRE Volunteer
A sector where there will always be a thriving volunteer base is healthcare. You will need to have some medical experience such as medical student ID or paramedic certification to help with many of the projects available. The chance to assist doctors and personally interact with patients can be an incredibly rewarding experience where you can gain practical working knowledge of dealing with patients. In the group IFRE Volunteers they desperately need volunteers to assist with healthcare in understaffed outer city village clinics. A day here might see you distributing medicine or providing information on nutrition or dressing minor wounds. There are plenty of things to do in your free time taking part in some of the best safari trips in Africa or for the super fit you can attempt to climb Mount Kenya. IFRE also make sure you are integrated with into the community by providing you with a language and cultural programme that allows you to learn some of the native tongue before you start and even place you with a host family to make you feel more at home.
Teaching the basics in Kenyan schools with Global Volunteer Network (GVN)
In a country where there is often only one book per twenty students the importance of education has never been higher. Helping children who have often gone through hardship, such as losing parents to HIV, and giving them life skills and a proper education is monumentally important. The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) provides volunteers the opportunity to teach in some of Nairobi’s suburbs where the lack of skilled teachers is a growing concern. You need only a good knowledge of core subjects to teach here with teaching qualifications desirable but not necessary. You will be lodging in local homestays which gives you the chance to get to know the local culture and give you an insight into Kenyan life. The GVN also provide you with software and guides to help fundraise for your big trip.
Volunteering in Kenya gives students the opportunity to gain perspective on what they want out of life, perhaps even helping to shape a career path. Potential employers consider volunteering a valuable experience that demonstrates commitment to goals. What is most significant with any volunteering experience is the knowledge that when you do leave, you have been part of something amazing. Each volunteer has given their time to achieve a goal bigger than any one person. This is truly a once in the lifetime chance to make a difference in the heartland of life on this planet, Africa. The wild is waiting for you, go explore.