Affordable Volunteer Programs in Kenya from $270

  • By IVHQ
  • Reviews (9)
  • 94% Rating

Volunteers are needed in Kenya to volunteer in a range of projects, including community development, sports education, HIV/Aids work, women's empowerment, teaching, and much more! IVHQ offers highly affordable volunteer programs in Nairobi and Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, giving you an incredible opportunity to volunteer and make a difference in the local community.

Current IVHQ Volunteer Programs in Kenya:
  • Teaching
  • Childcare
  • Sports Education: Coach enthusiastic students a variety of sports in addition to classroom instruction.
  • Music Education: Assist in instruction of the piano, guitar, and basic introduction to music. Volunteers should have a basic understanding of musical theory.
  • Women's Education

Highlights

  • Programs in Kenya start on the 1st and 15th of every month
  • Volunteer anywhere from 1 week to 12 weeks
  • All volunteer receive orientation upon arrival including a cultural and language introduction
  • Volunteers stay with a host family for an authentic immersion experience
  • Weekends are open for you to explore Kenya, and the East-African safari!
  • Learn more about IVHQ programs by reading the great reviews and interviews IVHQ alumni have left about their incredible experiences in Kenya

Program Info

Location: 
  • Kenya
Volunteer Types: 
Sexual Health
Orphan Care
Street Children
Sports
Women's Rights
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
Cost: 
$500 - $2,000 (USD)
See Additional Information
Age Group: 
50+
Languages: 
English
Housing: 
Home-stay
Application: 
Online Application
Age Requirement

Videos

Program Reviews (9)

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  • Impact
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  • Support
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  • Fun
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  • Value
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  • Safety
    97%
  • Tina
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Melbourne, Australia
    Deakin University
    A Kan-do attitude in Kenya!
    04/17/2015

    The countries of Africa are very often perceived as politically unstable and unsafe for young woman travelers.The security that IVHQ offered me (and my family) during my trip was invaluable. My parents had the reassurance of a NZ contact if they could not contact me and we knew what to expect in terms of being collected at the airport and being placed in a relevant role within a reputable organisation.

    The Fadhili and Marafiki community welcomed us with open arms and kicked off our orientation with a song. My friend and I were placed in the orphanage program and enjoyed every minute of it. We helped out with cooking, homework, entertainment of the children and cleaning of the house (african-mumma style!). We even had the chance to teach at the local school.

    Through the partner organisation we even went on safari at a seriously discounted 'volunteer' price.

    We had a private room and bathroom and had lots of opportunity for sightseeing during the day when the children where at school.

    How could this program be improved?

    We expected three meals a day, however this is not common in Kenya. Typically you will just have a hot drink in the morning and a large meal for dinner. This was somewhat of a surprise to us but now after having visited Kenya twice, I realise it is a cultural difference.

    Photos:
    Hanging out in the Orphanage
    Play time!
    In-house homework help. Who is paying attention here?
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  • April
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Canada
    Brandon University
    Kenya - Maasai Teaching
    11/12/2014

    My experience with IVHQ was overall very good. They placed me at a great school in an amazing community. The price was the cheapest I could find for similar volunteer opportunities, plus we were still provided a good orientation and additional transport to our communities no matter how rural. They place you either with a local family or at a volunteer house in bigger cities.

    I ended up returning to the community I taught in an additional three times, however I did this without IVHQ which saved me quite a bit of money. But, still, I would highly recommend them for your first trip since they can set you up in a program you likely wouldn't be able to be involved in if you just travelled to the country on your own for the first time.

    How could this program be improved?

    They set you up with another in country organization, which is too bad that you aren't working with IVHQ the entire time. Although the in country organization was good, it would have been better had they not contracted out to in country organizations and it's my understanding that they do this in every country.

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    Response from IVHQ
    11/20/2014
    Hi April, It's great to hear from you and it's awesome to read that your experience volunteering with IVHQ was just the beginning of your volunteer contribution in Kenya. As each country we work in is vastly different, we partner with local organizations in each volunteering destination who are in the best position to identify opportunities for volunteers to provide valuable contributions that address the needs of the local community in a sustainable way. Thanks for your feedback and for volunteering with IVHQ.
  • nicolette.rae
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Orange County, California
    Get ready for your life to be changed.
    07/20/2012

    Karibu Kenya. Welcome to Kenya. I signed up for an 8 week volunteer program and I ended up extending it to 12 and still didn't want to leave when that was over. I absolutely fell in love with the country and, as it turns out, that happens quite often. The Kenyan people are all so warm and friendly and always anxious to talk to new people. The food is simple, but hearty and all delicious. The staff at the volunteer office are all amazing and fun and offer amazing support and truly are some of the best people in the world. To do what they do, they have to be. This is one of the most popular programs in IVHQ and for them to be able to organize and coordinate with all the volunteers, all the host families, all the volunteer placements, and all the outreach projects all without missing a beat - they are amazing!

    So! My typical day would start with a breakfast of toast and chai with my host family in the morning, waving goodbye to my host brother as he trotted off to school, then leaving to walk to the orphanage around 8:30. It was about a 30 minute walk. I could have taken a matatu or a bus for about 25 cents, but and I loved the walk. Always something interesting to see along the way and I met some great people along that route. I would get to my work placement at the orphanage and would usually be greeted by one of the girls who were too young to go to school and then we would hang out with the ladies either chopping vegetables or sorting rice. Most of the girls who lived there were usually off at school when I was there, but there was a primary school on the property so I would get to hang out with the kids during break time. So! I would chat with the ladies, help with the food prep, and listen for the littlest baby to let us know if she needed anything (they don't have baby monitors, they have open windows). As soon as I would hear that baby cry I would race upstairs and get my baby-time. She was 2-weeks old when I got there. The most precious thing you can imagine. Once she was settled, I would go back and help until lunch time. I would have lunch there (with this program, all meals were included if you were at home or work) and then depending on the day I would hang out with the kids for a little while longer or get a head start with the food prep for the next day or sometimes I would just head out from there.

    After work my options were endless and I made so many local friends who were so happy to show me around and there were always volunteers either at my house or at other home-stays nearby who would be up for hanging out too. I always tried to stay aware and assess the situation whenever I was being taken somewhere I hadn't been before and I never felt unsafe. Sometimes I would take the bus into Nairobi town centre and meet up with a friend for a drink, or I would wander around the local markets and do some window shopping, or there was a local pub that I would go to with one of my boys to play pool. There were internet cafes all over the place, but for internet I would usually go to the big mall that was about a 10-minute matatu ride away. I ended up becoming friends with a couple of the guys at the Wine Bar and the Nairobi Java House there so it was a combined social visit/wifi stop for me. I would usually make my way home when it started getting dark which was when dinner would be ready. I would eat with my host family and the other volunteers and usually catch up on whatever soap opera series was on tv.

    The weekends never allowed for a dull moment either. Between Safari and Outreach (a weekend where we visited 3 slums, doing a feeding program for 2 of them, and rode bicycles through a national park where zebras and water buffalo and gazelles would just stare at you as you rode by) where you will really get to know the volunteer staff and your fellow volunteers. I did Outreach twice, it was so incredible. The whole experience of being in Kenya will change your life, but Outreach is where it's most intense. Driving up to these slums and playing with these kids, you really have to fight back tears sometimes, but it's so eye-opening and really puts things in perspective.

    On the flip-side of that, there are endless travel opportunities to any number of the diverse locations in East Africa and all of these trips can be done on your own, but the volunteer staff is always happy to help you make arrangements or even chauffeur, depending on where it is that you want to go. If you find yourself in Nairobi for the weekend, get ready! The Nairobi nightlife is so much fun! It starts late and ends late so make sure you are well rested or just have a red bull or something. If you're going out in a big group it's worth it to arrange for a driver for the night, but! Make sure that all of the volunteers and the driver are on the same page at the beginning of the night about payment. There is always room for negotiation, but that should always be done before you are taken anywhere. Also, keep in mind that yes, things are cheaper in Kenya than in western countries, but they are not free! Gas is expensive, cars are expensive to buy and maintain, not to mention the time that the driver is sacrificing for you. Most of the volunteers were cool when it came to this, but it was SO frustrating for everyone else when at the end of the night one person would throw a drunken fit because he felt like he was being ripped off by 2 dollars! I will step down from my soapbox now.

    Anyway, this is an amazing program with tons of support locally and through IVHQ. All of the volunteers I met loved their host families and their placements. On the rare occasion that they didn't love them, they were quickly moved to a place that was better suited to them and then everyone was happy. Endless opportunities to help and do good and every effort that you make is so greatly appreciated. And the people. If you let yourself be open to it, the connections you will make will be with you for life.

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  • Sarahellen
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Durham, UK
    Other
    The most wonderful experience!
    03/26/2012

    My time spent in Nairobi, Kenya with Fadhili Community was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. When I think back and try to figure out why this was the case, the same thing always jumps straight to the forefront of my mind. It was the wonderful people that I met each and every day, that have had such an impact upon my life that I dont think that I will ever be the same person that I was before I went to Kenya. I know that sounds cheesy but its true! The staff at Fadhili are the most kind, friendly, helpful people that I have had the fortune to meet, and I miss them so much even though its been 6 months since I last saw them.

    I joined up for the volunteer placement hoping to gain an insight into the work of small NGOs and try to figure out if it was a career that I wished to pursue, I thought that I would do my 6 weeks placement, that it would be difficult yet beneficial, and that would be it, I would go and travel africa and see all the things Iv always wanted to see. When it came down to it, I never wanted to leave! And the whole of my travels I spent telling people about my amazing time in Nairobi, and how much I wish I could be back there instead of traveling!

    The project itself was brilliant. I was placed on the Women's education programme, a subject that is really close to my heart. I got to spend most of my time in schools in Kibera slum teaching classes on sexual health and life skills to the young people there. It was one of the most rewarding things I think that I will ever do. At first I thought that I wasnt making any impact on the young people and just wasting their time, until I got a message from one of them, telling me just how much they appreciated my classes. It made it all worth while! I also got to help organise some one off women's education classes in the massai reserve, and at the gioto garbage slum. Both were volunteer initiatives and were really great to be involved in. The staff are really great with letting you have control over the things you want to do, and as soon as I saw a need at the gioto garbage slum for a class with the women, the staff were more than happy to help me arrange it.

    I spent time with a host family as well as in the volunteer house. Both were fantastic to live in, the host family and house sisters were both welcoming and friendly and I really felt part of the family. Plus the food was great too!! :) Getting to mix with other volunteers was a great experience, as you are able to share both your triumphs and fears.

    Overall, it was more than I could have wished for. I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the staff, and let them know just how much I miss them. I couldnt reccomend Fadhili more! I'll definitely be back!

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  • C
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Canada
    Other
    Great value
    03/22/2012

    Tremendous opportunity, great experience, reasonable rates. Supportive staff, great community of volunteers to be a part of. Amazing safari opportunity as well.

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  • Jake.morgen13
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Seattle
    Other
    The best two months of my life
    03/21/2012

    This program was exactly what I was looking for in a volunteering experience. I never wanted to be on a program where I had a set schedule for every second of my trip. With IVHQ you live with your host family and have your program close by, but its very much up to you to make sure you accomplish what you want to at your program. Nonetheless you are there to volunteer so everyone makes sure to go every day and give assistance however you have free time to hang out with your host family, hangout with the other volunteers, travel, explore your area etc. It was incredible, I could honestly live my life volunteering with IVHQ going from country to country. It is such a great program and you get to know the staff on such a personal level, where you can just text the people you met at orientation to ask questions.

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  • Ray
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Amman , Jordan
    Other
    Life Changing.
    03/07/2012

    I have done my share of trialling and this trip to Kenya was by far the best one . I met so many kind and friendly people from the natives to the fellow volunteers who are now close friends . The most touching moment was at one of the biggest garbage slums, I have already seen so many pictures of these places before coming to Kenya , but being there , breathing the polluted air , touching the little kids dirty hands , just being totally immersed changed the way i think and live my day to day life. all in all it is an experience that is highly recommended for everyone of every age. International Volunteers HQ made this experience perfect with its organized trips and its care for the well being of their Volunteers.

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  • Domonique Young
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Darwin, Australia
    Other
    Overwhelming hospitality
    03/06/2012

    Nick and I have just returned home after an amazing couple of months volunteering in Kenya. We were teaching at a slum school in Kajaido, about 2 hours south of Nairobi, in the heart of Masaai land.

    We were welcomed with open arms by the Fadhili community (IVHQ's program parnter on the ground in Kenya), our host family and a horde of happy kids every morning. Their smiles were infectious and their zeal to learn was inspiring. We taught years two to six every subject from english to creative arts, and singing and baking.

    Simply spending time with the kids was our biggest highlight. During our month-long stay they never asked for anything - only that we stay longer, continue to share our stories of home and play more games!

    There was no running water and limited electricity where we lived. Breakfast and lunch consisted of plain white bread and chai, milked straight from the cows, and dinner was usually white rice and potatoes with goat, beans or cabbage. Ugali was also on offer, but we never took to this like Kenyans!

    Every weekend Nick and I travelled including trips with IVHQ to other programs offered across Kenya and road trips with Fadhili staff and other volunteers to Mombasa. So many good memories!

    It's true that relationships run deep in Africa and we look back so fondly of our time there. I can't recommend IVHQ & Fadhili highly enough - they were supportive, prompt and genuinely amazing people!

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  • afontana
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Tucson, Arizona
    University of Arizona
    Volunteering in Kenya Changed My Life
    10/19/2011

    I went to Kenya the first time through IVHQ in May of 2009 and I have returned every six months thereafter. I went there looking for a chance to travel, volunteer, and step outside of my box. Well, I got that and much more, more than I could have ever asked for. I was placed out in Maasai land where i lived with a family. The family and community took me in whole heartedly, and I now consider them apart of my family. I taught 5th and 6th grade at Olmararoi Primary school five days a week for several months. I cant say enough good things about the children and the staff at the school. Where lived was literally in the middle of nowhere, it was amazing you would see giraffes roaming around, and millions of stars at night.
    Aside from my direct placement i became close with all of the IVHQ employees in Kenya, some of whom i still keep in touch with at home. They made me feel safe and welcomed from my very first day abroad. They were extremely helpful with helpng us set up activities for the weekends, like safari, river rafting, bungee jumping, and more. I would reccomend IVHQ to anyone who wants to travel, volunteer, and have an experience of a lifetime on a budget!

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Alumni Interviews

  • What inspired you to volunteer abroad with IVHQ in Kenya?

    One of the sweetest kids at the orphanage!
    Paula with one of the sweetest kids at the orphanage.

    Paula: I was inspired to volunteer in an African country when I was about 12 years of age and went to my first Me to We concert with my grade 7 elementary school. Since then, I have wanted to travel abroad to an African country to volunteer. And, well, my opportunity came along after graduating high school, when I decided to take the year off.

    Once it was decided that I would take the year off, I began looking for organizations with which I could go volunteering. Many of these organizations were pretty expensive. But after an extensive search including various organizations, I finally came upon IVHQ, which had really affordable prices. And it also offered volunteer opportunities in many different countries.

    After finding the organization, I had to decide between three countries to volunteer in Africa. After reading through all of the previous volunteers' experiences in all the countries, I chose to volunteer in an orphanage in Kenya, probably the best decision of my life.

    What was your favorite moment of the trip?

    Last day before the kids went back to school from their break
    Last day before the kids went back to school from their break.

    Paula: My whole trip was so amazing that it's definitely hard to point to just one of my best memories! My first favorite memory was when I slept over with kids at the orphanage. Two of the other volunteers and I decided to throw a little party for the kids since it was one of the volunteers' last weekend with them. We decided to buy food and a couple of movies, and we paid a lady to provide the kids with electricity for the night.

    That night all of the kids danced and sang with us to the upbeat African songs that play everywhere in the streets. The kids were full of energy, dancing and watching movies until almost 4 in the morning. Meanwhile I didn't even last past one in the morning.

    This is one of my favorite memories because I was able to spend time with the kids who went to school from 7am til 8pm, which meant I didn't really get to see them much. To say that these kids are the most beautiful human beings that I've ever met is an understatement; they made my whole trip that much more worthwhile.

    My second favorite moment of the whole trip was when a group of volunteers and I went to a music festival in Kibera. This is a place where there are over 2.5 million people living in the slum and yet they are able at the end of the day to forget their situation and just go grab a Tusker (East African beer, definitely recommended to try if you go to Kenya) and enjoy the live music. That day we all danced with the locals and shared great memories with some great people!

    Tell me about one person you met.

    Paula: Mamma Grace. She was my host mom for the time spent in Kenya who cooked for the volunteers and was always attentive to their needs. She is a mother of two who also takes care of her 2 nephews, with the help of her sister.

    She is a hardworking woman who is always looking out for the volunteers and her family. Mamma Grace and I were able to bond through telling stories of our childhood, and even stories of the crazy things that I experienced in Kenya. She has a big heart and up to this day I keep in contact with her.

    If you could go back and do something different, what would it be?

    Paula: If I could go back and change something from my trip, it would be the amount of time spent. I would have loved to have stayed in Kenya for 2-3 months longer. Six weeks just seemed too short of a time for me. Everything seemed to go at a good pace while living in Kenya, but once the time had actually passed and the sixth week came, I looked back and was amazed at how fast everything went. Other than that little change, everything was perfect and I wouldn't have changed one thing of it.

    Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

    The kids trying to teach Paula dance step to the upbeat Kenyan music.
    The kids trying to teach Paula dance step to the upbeat Kenyan music.

    Paula: My worldview changed completely after my trip to Kenya! When I left Kenya it was obvious that half of my heart was left behind. I left Kenya with the yearning to learn more about the country, the culture and the people, I fell in love with all of it. It even made me want to explore more of Africa and the whole world!

    This trip made me see how privileged I am, and how little I and the society I live in take the time to appreciate the little things that we are fortunate to have access to. Having the opportunity to meet people living in the most humble state and yet being probably some of the happiest people, made me see how much more I need to smile and acknowledge what and who I have, instead of concentrating on what I don't have.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with IVHQ in Kenya?

    Rayan: I have always dreamed of traveling to Kenya, but I didn't want to go just as a normal tourist. I wanted to visit the places that average tourists wouldn't normally visit, so I started searching for a good volunteering program. From around 5-6 different websites I found that IVHQ had a nice program with reasonable prices. I joined the IVHQ Facebook group and asked the past volunteers some questions. Two weeks later I was in Kenya!

    Rayan bumping fists with one of his students
    Rayan bumping fists with one of his students

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Rayan: I registered for the orphanage program so me and a couple of volunteers were assigned to an orphanage in the Nairobi area and stayed with the same host family. On weekdays, we all got up had breakfast and went straight to the orphanage where we had different tasks to accomplish. We started by organizing the orphanage's library to make it easier for the kids to find books to read. After the orphanage work, we had the rest of the day to freely explore our surroundings, buy souvenirs, or just have a friendly conversation with some of the locals. On weekends, IVHQ organizes some wonderful trips where we can go out and help others in need, explore different parts of Kenya and to simply enjoy ourselves.

    Rayan having a great time with his students in Kenya
    Rayan having a great time with his students in Kenya

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Rayan: It has certainly changed me from the inside. We all know that there are poor people living in this world we see them on T.V. and in magazines. But to be standing there amongst them, totally immersed, to be able to touch the children's little hands, breath the polluted air, and just take it all in is certainly an experience like no other.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with IVHQ in Kenya?

    Domonique: It's been my lifelong dream to travel Africa. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to traverse its plains, experience its cultures and live with its peoples. As an adult, this translated into volunteering and as close as it gets to calling Africa home. My search started online, looking for an organization that was affordable, had a proven track record and offered placements in remote parts of Africa where culture and tradition is still lived. IVHQ ranked high on Google and offered teaching in Kenya's Maasai Land. I poured through a few reviews, picture galleries and joined their Facebook group, but was basically sold instantly. With more than 15,000 active members (at the time, now it's more than 17,000) surely they'd got it right? And they have.

    Domonique volunteering in Kenya got a warm greeting at school each morning
    Domonique volunteering in Kenya got a warm greeting at school each morning

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Domonique: Nick and I aren't teachers at home - far from it - so it's fair to say we were both apprehensive about what to expect. Any concerns however, quickly dissolved in the warmth we received from the teachers, students and parents alike. They were just happy to see us there and have an extra set of much-needed hands to help!

    We were welcomed with a song and within 5 minutes the first class was ours. We started teaching about Australia, which was a hit, and geography soon became one of regular (and most popular) classes. We taught years 2 to 6 everything from maths and english to singing, baking, games and sport. The kids were so engaged and their zeal to learn was inspiring. Mostly, they just wanted to be with us and learn about where we were from and our games, foods and family at home.

    We walked about 3km each way to the school and were greeted by their happy, smiling faces every morning. They'd also walk part of the way home with us. On weekends, we travelled independently, with other volunteers and visited other programs offered by IVHQ. If you go with IVHQ, don't miss their Outreach Weekend where you manage food handouts in a number of slums and camps across northern Kenya.

    Volunteering with slum children in Kenya
    Volunteering with slum children in Kenya

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Domonique: I've traveled to some far flung parts of the globe, but it took me a good couple of weeks to readjust to life after Africa. It was raw, and at times tough, but the people and kids really get under your skin. It reinforced why we sponsor our sponsor child Diouf in Uganda and how a little can really change lives. Nick and I are still in contact with our host family and the students in Kajaido and they remain ever-present in our hearts and minds. We'll go back one day, but for now we'll support them from afar.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with IVHQ in Kenya?

    Sarah: I have always had a real interest and passion for Women's education and rights and would really love to work for an NGO. So I decided that I would like to volunteer abroad working in this particular area to see if it was something that I was both good at and interested in when put into practice. I did a lot of research into which organization to go through and initially found a lot of large organizations that charged a lot of money for a small amount of time volunteering. When I first thought about volunteering I decided that I would only go with an organization where I knew where the money that I was paying was being spent, with the majority of which going to the projects that I would be working with rather than on third party admin fees.

    When I found IVHQ I was really pleased that they seemed to tick all the right boxes! The price that they charged was considerably lower that most other large organizations, and also gave a breakdown of what the fees were for which I found really helpful. They were also amazing with correspondence whilst I was still in England, with personal emails being sent in answer to my often long and detailed questions! Responses were really helpful and it really made my decision to go much easier! And the Facebook group really helped settle my nerves, as you can contact previous and current volunteers with all your questions and get their first hand account. I decide to go to Kenya for the simple reason that they had a Women's Education program that sounded really interesting and just what I had been looking for! It's the best decision I ever made!

    Volunteer in Kenya with IVHQ
    Volunteer in Kenya with IVHQ

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Sarah: Describing a typical day as a Volunteer is quite difficult as days are really varied and diverse. I stayed with both a host family and in the volunteer house during my 6 weeks in Kenya, so on a morning I would get up and have breakfast and chai with the family, or the other volunteers and my host sisters, and then I would start my day.

    I was based in a high school and a Primary School in Kibera slum for a lot of my placement, so I would walk to the school and deliver sexual health and life skills classes to the students there. They were the most amazing young people I have ever met! However, we often went and held one off classes in other schools as and when they were needed or requested, answering questions that the young people had and making sure that they had all the correct information. Some of the questions I will never forget! We held Women's outreach days where we saw that there was a need for them. It is really a case of getting involved and adapting to where you see a need in the community. The staff were amazing with giving support and help constantly throughout the program. From personal problems when you just need to talk, to getting projects up and running and delivered. My Women's Education coordinator was amazing and was constantly there to help and assist and turned into not only a colleague but a friend!

    One thing that I would defiantly recommend for all volunteers to Kenya is the Outreach Weekend. It is a brilliant way to see what long term projects and help the team give to the community as well as a great way to see a bit of Kenya. The day often ended with having dinner with my host family or with the other volunteers and host sisters. It's a great time to sit around and talk about your day and catch up. And there is loads of free time on a weekend to either get involved with other projects or to do a bit of sightseeing, of which the staff were always really helpful with giving tips or helping to arrange. I think at the end of the day, you can do as much or as little as you want as a volunteer and it is definitely a case of you get out of the experience what you put in!!!

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Sarah: I know that it sounds like such a cliche but I most definitely left my heart in Kenya! I loved everything about my volunteer experience, from the work that I was fortunate to be able to get involved with, to the amazingly wonderful people I met including the staff, other volunteers and the community. I think the biggest way that it has impacted on my future is that it has re-enforced my passion for Women's Education and International Development, and given me more of a drive for working within the charitable sector.

    I'm currently back in England working for a large cancer related charitable organisation, and am determined to go back to Kenya at some point in the future. Hopefully my experiences gained will assist me in finally getting my dream job in an NGO working with Women's education. My time spent volunteering in Kenya has changed me as a person and helped me grow and develop, and I don't think that I can ever be the same person that I was before volunteering. Volunteering in Kenya was life changing and I'm so happy that I made the decision to go!!

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with IVHQ in Kenya?

    Volunteering in Kenya with IVHQ
    Volunteering in Kenya with IVHQ

    Laura: To answer why I decided to volunteer with IVHQ in Kenya, I must first tell you why I decided to volunteer with IVHQ. Before embarking on this adventure I did my research. I looked up dozens of volunteer organizations and emailed most of them. Between the reviews I read online, as well as my personal experience with IVHQ I can tell you they are one of the best out there!

    Not only do they have unbeatable prices, but also they were THE best as far as customer service. Of all of the organizations I emailed they were the only one to not only email me back with a personal response (as opposed to the dozens of automated replies I received) but also responded within a timely manner. This is a huge deal when you are looking at spending thousands of dollars to donate your time in a foreign country! I wanted to be sure that the organization legitimate, and also valued my experience with them!

    Once I decided on IVHQ, deciding where to go was easy. I am not sure why exactly, but Kenya just called out to me. I remember looking at the world map they have on their website and my mouse hovering over Kenya and it was decided. I knew that was where I wanted to go. Reading the reviews for the program there, as well as talking with volunteers via Facebook only made my excitement grow! I could hardly wait until my trip!

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Laura: My day to day life was not that of the typical IVHQ volunteer. I say this because during the majority of my time volunteering I lived at the volunteer house in Nairobi where I saw many people come and go, and I promise you we all had very different experiences. The most important factor in the experience was the person's attitude. Volunteering anywhere is what you make of it, and that is especially true when you are in an unfamiliar setting. I am one of those people who like to get involved in everything, therefore during my time in Kenya I helped out with several projects. My main program was a food distribution program in Kibera. This was a project that had been started just a few weeks before I arrived so it was still in the early organization phase. This meant that I spent time not only in Kibera working with other volunteers, but also time with the Fadhili staff helping to shape the project into what it has become.

    Working closely with the staff was a wonderful gift! It allowed me to get involved with many other projects that were going on during my time in Kenya such as several medical camps, as well as a food aid relief mission to Ludwar which was most defiantly the best week of my life.

    So, to answer your question, I don't know that I could describe my typical day. Each day varied depending on what project I was helping with. I will say that one thing that was regular was that we had tea with our host "sisters" every morning before all the volunteers parted ways to work on our respective projects! (a routine that I have kept now that I am home..the day just doesn't seem complete without a cup of tea in the morning) After morning tea I would take a nice walk to the office to either meet a group to go to Kibera with, or work on other miscellaneous projects that were in the works.

    As I said earlier there is a huge amount of flexibility surrounding these projects. You are paying to be there, so they strive to make the experience the best it can be. Volunteers are allowed to change placements every two weeks, so if you are truly not happy where you are, they will find a fit for you. Though I cannot imagine someone not being happy with their placement, I traveled to many different projects and I loved every one of them!

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Laura: The experiences that I had with IVHQ this summer affected me not only personally, but also professionally. In June I will be starting Physician Assistant School, something that I am certain would not be happening without my time in Kenya. I say this not for the typical thought of "volunteering looks good on a resume", but because this trip prepared me for grad school in a way that nothing else could have. The experiences I had at the medical camps and at the clinic in Kajiado reminded me of why I want to be a healthcare provider, as well as gave me wonderful experience working with a medically disadvantaged population! During my undergraduate degree, I entertained the idea of becoming involved with Doctors Without Borders, or something similar after I attained my masters degree and after my experience in Kenya I am certain that is in my future! My time in Kenya was something I originally thought of as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but now I realize was the beginning-of-a-lifetime opportunity - and I am thankful for it everyday!

About the provider

IVHQ (International Volunteer HQ) provides safe, unique, meaningful and extremely affordable volunteer programs in 30 countries around the world, with a constantly expanding base. Programs are available in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where IVHQ works alongside local NGOs to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities. Currently, IVHQ has programs in Bali, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Morocco, China, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Victoria Falls, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Laos, the Philippines, Transylvania, Italy and Fiji!

Whether you're taking a volunteer vacation, a gap year, or on a career break, IVHQ has a wide variety of programs ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks to fit anyone's schedule. Browse through the programs below and visit the IVHQ website for more information.