Volunteer in Kenya
Kar Geno Asembo is an innovative and responsive community based organization by activating social solidarity, organic agriculture, technology, business development and environmental sustainability as a road map to turn the tides against the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS has had on this region.
Common Ground for Africa (CGA) has numerous and effective programs at work to mitigate poverty, the single largest threat to human well-being and social stability in Kenya. As a volunteer you’ll have an incredible range of opportunities from working at Pathfinder Academy to promoting public health/clean water awareness at the ceramic water filter facility to working with women in business development and organic agricultural trainings.
Dandelion’s mission is to stimulate awareness and encourage involvement while creating sustainable solutions to improve the health and economic livelihoods of women and youth in these marginalized areas. The vision is to contribute to opportunities for rural marginalized women, girls and youth to improve their health, economy and education through creating safe spaces for them to receive information and service that will improve their lives and alleviate poverty.
The focus of Dandelion is on disseminating information and on helping women develop skills that will improve their health, economic livelihood, and overall life.
Mama Maria Hospital and Clinic (MMH) provides healthcare to under-served communities in Kenya through an essential package of health services offering basic ambulatory and inpatient care, prenatal and maternal care, immunizations, pediatric care, and emergency transport. Medical professionals and students have an extraordinary opportunity to work side by side at this wonderful health care facility that is driven to provide access to fair, affordable, and quality healthcare, using systems built on operational excellence. To learn more about the Founder, Peter Kithene, take a look at this inspiring video honoring him with a CNN World Hero Award and his award with the University of Washington Alumni.
Mama Na Dada Africa (MnD) empowers girls and women through education so they can gain social and financial independence and escape the prevalent consequences of gender discrimination. This is an immersion program opportunity that allows volunteers to participate in a wide range of diverse community enriching activities.
Namunyak Maasai Welfare (NMW) alleviates the harshest conditions for the most marginalized individuals in Maasai communities by creating access to education, public health practices, micro finance opportunities, organic farming and moringa tree nursery. Your volunteer experience will expose you to a variety of social services including primary education, working with special needs children, economic development with women, building and construction projects.
Sister Freda’s Foundation (SFF) provides hospital and clinic services, a nursing school, a girls school, and community outreach health care clinics. SFF provides a clinic for counseling for HIV/AIDS patients and they operate a daycare/feeding program. Sister Freda seeks volunteers with both medical and non-medical experience to work in the hospital and clinics and with the children.
Visitors may be surprised by the stark contrasts of the Kenyan landscape. From the towering, 5199 meter high Mt. Kenya to the pristine white-sand beaches of the Indian Ocean coast, the barren land of the Turkana desert to the lush green pastures of the Great Rift Valley, the traditional thatched huts of the villages to the modern skyscrapers of Nairobi, Kenya is a land of contrasts.
In recent years, Kenya has made a name for itself with international tourists seeking adventure, exotic cultures, and stunning scenery. Kenya is popular worldwide for the extensive and diverse wildlife found on its vast open plains. Of the numerous national parks, nature conservatories, and animal sanctuaries throughout the country, the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in southwestern Kenya is the most famous. The Maasai Mara is a 200 square mile area that encompasses open grasslands, forests, and rivers. Within each region of the park visitors will be greeted by an incredible array of flora and fauna, from the basking crocodiles and hippos of the marshlands to the daily dance of predator and prey in the open savannas. Perhaps the most spectacular event in the Maasai Mara is the great Wildebeest migration to and from the Serenghetti, which occurs each year from July through October. During this migration, 1.3 million wildebeest gather as one herd as they travel towards more fertile grazing lands to the north. It is a truly amazing scene for any nature lover.
Official Name: Republic of Kenya
Currency: Kenyan Shilling
Population: 31,339,770 (July 2002 est.)
Tribes: 22% Kikuyu, 14% Luhya, 13% Luo, 12% Kalenjin, 11% Kamba, 6% Kisii, 6% Meru
Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official/national), numerous indigenous languages (tribal)
Religions: Protestant 38%, Roman Catholic 28%, indigenous beliefs 26%, Muslim 7%, other 1%
Labor Force (by occupation): agriculture 75%-80%
Industry: Small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour), agricultural products processing; oil refining, cement; tourism. Coffin making is a fast growing industry due to AIDS.
Agriculture: coffee, tea, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, flowers
Exports: tea, coffee, horticultural products, hand crafted items
Imports: machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, iron and steel
Natural Resources: gold, limestone, soda ash, salt, wildlife
With more than 30 million people, Kenya is a land of diversity. The population of Kenya is made up of countless ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. The majority of the population is made of native Africans and many represent a number of Kenya’s indigenous tribes.
Kenya’s majority tribes are represented below:
In the rural areas, tradition is still very strong and the culture is rich, with tribal languages still spoken by the majority of the people. In urban areas, the Western world has had much more influence over the Kenyan people. English and Kiswahili are the predominant languages in Kenya. Although Kiswahili is spoken by most people in Kenya, English is the official language and is used in public places, such as schools and business offices.
A large majority of Kenyans identify with a religious group. While Christian faiths are predominant, Islamic influence is concentrated along the coastal areas. Other religions, including traditional tribal beliefs, are also quite common in Kenya.
38% – Protestant 28% – Roman Catholic 26% – Indigenous Beliefs 07% – Muslim 01% – Other
While it has enjoyed a high level of social and political stability since it became a nation in 1963, Kenya faces a number of challenges as a developing country. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been declared a national disaster, more than half the population lives below the poverty line, crime is high near urban centers, and the inherent problems with infrastructure make it difficult to maintain roads, sanitation and water quality.
Africa is facing a tragedy of enormous proportion. Beyond the inherent suffering and loss of life, HIV/AIDS has decimated the workforce, impoverished families, and orphaned millions. As African nations lose adults in their prime working years, orphans have no alternative but to quit school and work to provide for themselves and their siblings. The economic, social and political aide for the children has disintegrated, adding to an already desperate situation.
- AIDS is now the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Of the 40 million individuals living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 29.4 million are Africans.
- More than 20 million Africans have died from HIV/AIDS.
- More than 12 million African children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
UNAIDS estimates that 60% of new HIV infections occur among young people between the ages of 15-24. Girls in particular appear to be most vulnerable. Recent data indicates that teenage girls have much higher rates of infection than boys of the same age; the reasons lie in the greater social and biological vulnerability of girls.
In Kenya, the government reports that 2.5 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS, and more than 1.5 million have died from AIDS related diseases since 1984, leaving behind about 1 million orphans.
- An estimated 430,000 Kenyans have developed full-blown AIDS since the epidemic was first diagnosed in the east African country in the early 1980s.
- Today an estimated 1.5 million Kenyans are HIV+.
- Out of the total of 83,750 reported cases of AIDS from Kenya’s eight provinces, Nyanza has about 20.6 percent of the reported cases and Nyanza Province in western Kenya has the largest population of HIV+ mothers in Kenya.
- Between 20 and 30 percent of expectant mothers in Kisumu, the center of commerce in Nyanza Province, are HIV+.
The majority of African children grow up in rural areas. Life in the rural areas is not materially comfortable for any child, but it is especially difficult for an African girl. Girls do not have the same opportunities in education or development that boys receive.
Girls are especially disadvantaged because most families would rather educate their sons than daughters. In the whole area of approximately 10,000 people, there are no more than 10 girls who have completed secondary school education, and no more than four girls who have gone to the university level.
Improvement in women’s lives cannot be sustained if girls are not given the tools and opportunities to realize their full potential. These tools and opportunities can only be given to girls through education and vocational training.
Girls often lack the information and power necessary to negotiate for delayed or safe sex. Girls living in the rural areas are particularly vulnerable: they are living in poverty and have limited opportunities for education and employment. Many girls and young women are forced into sexual trading in order to survive. Some are forced into marriage at an early age, becoming parents and family caretakers while still in their teens. They are deprived of their rights as children and are denied rights to develop at the natural pace.
In the years before adolescence, inappropriate sexual socialization acts as a kind of brainwashing, shaping the girl’s sense of who she is and what she can do. If a girl’s first lesson of sexuality is taught through force, violence, coercion or trickery, her capacity for self-efficacy is negatively affected. She may lose the sense that she controls her own destiny and can by her actions make a difference. Thus, premature and exploitative sexual socialization affects later self-competence, as well as self-care, by creating a defeatist attitude. Such an attitude can lead to dangerous and self-destructive relationships with men and with self.
Read A Day in the Life of a Village Family by Loyce Asigo Mbewa, President of the Rabuor Village Project
Future of Kenya
Kenya is a country with great potential for a prosperous future in the international arena. With help from volunteers like you, we hope to be hand-in-hand with Kenyans to overcome its obstacles and thrive.
Kenya’s geography is diverse. The coastline on the Indian Ocean contains swamps of East African mangroves while, inland, you’ll find broad plains and numerous rolling hills. Central and Western Kenya is characterized by the Great Rift Valley home to three of Africa’s highest mountains, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Kilimanjaro. The Kakamega Forest in western Kenya is relic of an East African rainforest. Much larger is Mau Forest, the largest forest complex in East Africa.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Kenya is among the world’s best spots to go on safari, from its undulating countryside to its beautiful beaches, from imposing mountains to the wonder that is the Maasai Mara. If you would like to go on safari while in Kenya, you may want to consider one of the options listed below. Please note that only Option 1 is affiliated with and coordinated through Village Volunteers.
Safari from Namunyak Maasai Welfare
Maasai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s portion of the famous Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is known for hosting the “Big Five” large mammals: lion, African elephant, African buffalo, leopard, and black rhinoceros. As an option within a stay at Namunyak Maasai Welfare, the program’s executive officer — who has become one of the most experienced Mara guides — offers volunteers a personalized day-long trip including transportation to and from the Mara, admission to the park, and a sumptuous lunch at a nearby resort. $340 USD. (The net proceeds for the safari go to support Sirua Aulo Academy run by Namunyak Maasai Welfare)
Namunyak Maasai Welfare is approximately two hours away from the Maasai Mara. On the day of your safari, you will depart early in the morning to allow the maximum time to explore the park and take pictures.
How to Register
To include Namunyak Maasai Welfare and Option 1 safari, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org The safari fee will be added to your volunteer program invoice.
Other Options: from Nairobi by Car or plane Additional safari choices can be tailor-made to fit within your schedule and budget. These options are not coordinated through Village Volunteers and each volunteer should make his or her own arrangements directly with Wendy Gaya.For more details or to sign up for Options 2 and 3, please contact Wendy Gaya directly at email@example.com.
Day excursions in and around Nairobi
Spend a day in Nairobi where you can visit museums, the Nairobi National Park (the only park in the world right next to a major city; parkland with skyscrapers in the background!), sample local and international cuisine, go curio/souvenir shopping, visit the Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Center and more depending on your preference. From $100 USD.
Day excursions out of Nairobi
With one day, it’s possible to drive to Hell’s Gate National Park (the only park you can cycle through) where you can view wildlife, climb rocks, hike through the gorge and see some hot springs. From $250 USD. You can also drive to Lake Naivasha, a bird paradise famous for its flamingos. While there, you’ll also get to see zebras, giraffes, antelopes, impalas and warthogs, among other animals. Also from $250 USD.
2 Day/1 Night Safaris
A minimum of 2 days is needed to enjoy a safari to most of our national parks. Game drives to view animals are done in the early morning and late afternoon when the animals aren’t hiding from the noonday sun. The parks you can visit include The Maasai Mara, Samburu National Park, Amboseli National Park, and Tsavo National Park. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a leopard and cheetah or two while on the game drives – they are stealthy creatures. From $280 USD.
In addition to the above, you can go mountain climbing. Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro are two of the most notable peaks in Africa, towering to 5199m (17,057 ft.) and 5895m (19,340 ft.). This typically takes 3-5 days. From $350 USD.
Traveling to Kenya’s Coast is quite a treat to unwind and experience new spicy cultures with awesome beaches, resorts, islands, historic sites, and a world of Swahili cuisine. To really enjoy the Coast you need to devote at least 2 full days. From $400 USD.