Most Affordable Kenya Volunteer Programs in 5+ Locations from $270

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About

Every year, hundreds of volunteers join IVHQ's highly affordable volunteer projects in Kenya. Based in Nairobi, Kibera, Nakuru, Mombasa and rural Kenyan villages, volunteers are welcomed to experience Kenya while assisting on a range of community-driven projects and gaining an understanding of the Kenyan culture and customs. Volunteers can choose to participate on projects for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks and are accommodated in local homestays alongside other international volunteers.

IVHQ Volunteer Projects Available in Kenya:

  • Teaching
  • Childcare Work
  • Sports Education
  • Music Education
  • Special Needs
  • Women’s Education

Highlights

  • Programs available year-round, starting the 1st and 15th of every month
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
  • Highly affordable program fees from $270 for 1 week
  • Community-driven projects focused on supporting local needs and delivering sustainable positive impacts
  • Superior support services both pre-departure and while volunteering
  • Free online volunteer training for all IVHQ volunteers
  • Between 30 and 60 IVHQ volunteers start in Kenya each month
  • Weekends are free to explore Kenya with fellow volunteers - go on Safari and more!

Questions & Answers

As long as you are 18 or over you can volunteer!

Reviews

94%
based on 36 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 15 of 36
Kimberly
10/10

Special Needs in Kenya

I had a wonderful experience in Kenya with IVHQ. I was there for four weeks and volunteered with the special needs program. While it's not required on the website or through IVHQ to have experience, I highly suggest only doing the special needs program if you do as there isn't specific training for working with kids with special needs during orientation and some of the placements are very challenging. The classroom I taught in had 43 students with moderate to intensive special needs and only two teachers! I am a special education teacher, so while I was definitely overwhelmed the first day, I was able to jump in and adapt quickly. Others who were in the special needs program without any prior experience were very overwhelmed and ended up switching placements. There isn't any training as it relates to teaching during orientation.

Overall my time with IVHQ was incredible! My placement was AMAZING and the kids absolutely stole my heart! I still keep in touch with the teacher at the school as well as others I met in Kenya. The staff on site in Kenya were so kind, personable and easy to reach for any sort of help. I would definitely travel with IVHQ again.

How can this program be improved?
More training at orientation specific to the placement that you are going to, general training on teaching
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ruth
10/10

IVHQ Kenya

You think 2 weeks are enough until the last day arrives, and the first thought that comes into your mind is “I need more time.” All the ideas of volunteering started with one of my friends saying “I volunteered in Africa 2 years ago, let’s do it together this year!” One year passed by and now I’m here returning from the volunteering program of IVHQ and NVS Kenya.

I volunteered alone for two weeks in Ngong Kenya, and I can’t find the words to describe how wonderful was the life I experienced there. From meeting incredible people, to playing, to taking care of children, to hearing people screaming “Muzungu” in the streets, to giving hi-fives to all the kids, to learning the culture, to helping, but most importantly, to learning about myself, something that has changed my life forever. IVHQ gave me the most memorable experience of my life, and I will definitely travel with them again!

Throughout the trip, the staff supports you, gives you attention and make sure you are safe. Everyone is incredibly friendly and just want you to be happy. In my placement, I was able to meet people from all around the world, that now I’m so glad to call them my friends! Now I feel I have a family in Kenya that is waiting for me to come back.

Before coming there, I was just an 18 years old girl who wanted to help. My mom, obviously, was scared for me to go alone to Africa. She wasn’t sure if IVHQ was safe, but after talking with some volunteers, She let me go to this fantastic adventure. Now if I were to ask her for permission again, she would let me go anywhere with them. IVHQ and NVS Kenya had changed my life.

Reading this, if you are thinking of volunteering or you are going to, here is my best advise: - Come without expectation, be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, be yourself, put yourself out there and embrace the culture, respect other people and just enjoy the adventure :)

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Ruth is sounds like you had an amazing experience in Kenya and I'm glad IVHQ and NVS played a part in it. We're stoked to hear that you felt safe and comfortable the entire time and that your Mom would love you to volunteer with us again. Kenya is such an amazing country and I'm glad you got to experience it's true beauty. We look forward to you joining the program again :)

Yes, I recommend this program
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Ainura
10/10

It was amazing and unforgettable trip.

It was amazing and unforgettable trip.
Organization of the program deserve all credits, everything was ready and especially you wouldn't face insecurity or safety concerns.
Orientation day was full of information and even if you are alone or worried all needed is described and acknowledged.
I think that volunteering mostly about taking rather than giving, because you cannot count how much kids, country, people, experience, other volunteers contribute to your development, joy and happiness and you think that you never can do the same or more to community.
If you have doubts - try, if you are worried - try, if you just started to think about - try. It would be one of the best decisions of your life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Yezi
10/10

Teaching program in Kenya

I'm so blessed to have taught children in different cities of Kenya. They said I impacted them, but really they impacted me with their hard work, kindness and love more than they'll ever know. All the staffs and volunteers helped and taught me a lot so that I can have a wonderful time there. The three months memories will be cherished for my lifetime. Plus, I seriously would love to come back again!

How can this program be improved?
Before the volunteers arriving in country, I recommend that the placement can provide some informations like schedule or routine something like that to help preparedness.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Alessandra
10/10

Amazing Experience in Kenya for childcare

I spent one week with IVHQ in Kenya and this was my first time doing a volunteer trip in Africa.
This experience was fantastic!! I loved everything about Kenya: the people, the food, the culture, the animals.

The school I worked for was filled with amazing kids who were able to teach me so much. On my first day at the school I was overwhelmed with the ammount of love and affection that I received. Working with those kids was a heart warming and spirited experience that changed my life!

The accomodation was simple and modest, but it had all the necessities needed for every day´s life. It was great to stay with locals and spend time with them. They provided us with great meals and support when we needed it.

The organization offered many opportunities to explore the country, to grow and learn. They were available 24/7 for any issues or help any of us might have needed.

The trip was well beyond my expectations. It changed me as a person in a unique way and it was by far the best experiece I have ever done! I am already planning my next trip with IVHQ :)

How can this program be improved?
Maybe by knowing beforehand the placement location
Yes, I recommend this program
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Vladlena
7/10

Care

My last trip was in Kenya . Our team worked in baby rescue centre in Mombasa . For us it’s vwry important to make our own impact to make world liitle better ! I hope we can be useful in your program ! There are three elements that permitted me to succeed in life through volunteering: passion, determination and patience. Volunteering has helped me to become a job creator not a job seeker.One secret in volunteer work is to avoid thinking about money because that is where the problem is.

How can this program be improved?
We need to attract more people !!
Yes, I recommend this program
Betina
10/10

Special Needs in Kenya

I just finished my time in Kenya volunteering with Special Needs! The time spent was not long enough! I was so pleased with the communication of the team for local placement, local transportation, and even back at the office with IVHQ. You have to be open minded and ready for anything, and you will have a GREAT experience. The orientation really helped prep me for what to expect as far as making Kenya home for my time here, and my home stays were welcoming and treated me like family. Plus I have made friends for life with the other volunteers! I fell in love with all the children at my placement, and I was so sad to leave! I am already planning my return back to stay longer. I also got the opportunity to go on a safari and see an amazing city tour, thanks to the companies IVHQ partnered with. I always felt taken care of, which is important! Highly recommend and to come ready for anything!!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for sharing your experience about your time in Kenya. It's awesome to hear that you enjoyed your time at the Special Needs Care placement and at your home stay. Kenyans are incredibly friendly people so it doesn't surprise me that the host family treated you like family. Maybe next time you volunteer in Kenya, you could stay for longer :) Thanks for being a great volunteer! ^Will - IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kelsey
9/10

Time in Kenya

I spent the last two weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Something I never imagined myself doing, but there I was. Moments after stepping off the plane and meeting other volunteers, from all around the world and who were a similar age, I could tell this was going to be an amazing experience. Fast forward two weeks and I was right. During my time at the orphanage I was able to spend time with many young children who were disadvantaged but were so happy and loved. We played games, did some sport, helped teach and just spent time with them. We helped prepare their meals, and even brought them pizza on my last day which made their faces light up. During my time in Kenya I was also lucky enough to go on a 4 day safari, with all the other volunteers. The main thing I realised on this trip is that when you volunteer you really get to see the country through the eyes of the local rather than a tourist which to me is so much more authentic. This is an experience I will never forget and I can't wait to start planning my next volunteering trip with IVHQ!

How can this program be improved?
Make volunteers know what it can be like when interacting with locals such as being pestered when walking down the street, or consistently confronted at markets etc
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Kelsey, Thanks for your awesome review. There is something about Kenya which is extremely unique and being able to see it from a local's perspective is definitely eye-opening. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your two weeks on the program and made lifelong friendships and memories in the process. I appreciated your suggestion on how the program can be improved and this is definitely something that we could add to the orientation! We would love to help with planning your next IVHQ trip so once you're ready to volunteer again, please get in touch :) ^Will - IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jenalee
10/10

Kenya Changed My Life

I have always wanted to volunteer overseas, specifically in Africa. I knew this was something I wanted to do, but I did not even know where to begin. I also had never been to a third world country, and did have some reservations about travelling alone. I wanted to volunteer with a company that was honest, trustworthy, compassionate, and had a clear vision. That's when I stumbled upon IVHQ. I spent only minutes looking at photos on their website and reading articles from former volunteers before I found myself applying. The volunteer coordinator who I was assigned; Will, was fantastic. He answered all of my questions and made me feel confident and reassured, but most of all excited. This experience truly was one of the most life changing experiences of my entire life. The local family I was assigned made me feel so comfortable and at home, I am forever grateful for their hospitality and kindness during my stay. I volunteered at an orphanage during my stay. The children who lived their had the most amazing personalities which was a huge contribution to making my trip as amazing as it was. I travelled to Kenya with the intent that I would make a difference, that I could help, to teach others. I came to find out that I would be the one who would do the learning. The children taught me so much. They taught me to always be humble, thankful, kind, and that in even in the most devastating situations of poverty, fun is still free! For anyone who has ever considered travelling to this country, all I can say is DO IT. It is the biggest favor you will ever do for yourself. It really was the most amazing life changing experience, you will never regret it. I would recommend IVHQ to anyone looking for a fun, caring, and safe organization. THANK YOU IVHQ!!!!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jenalee, Wow! What an awesome review! Thanks so much for sharing these kind words – it was our pleasure to help you prepare for your program in Tanzania and we are stoked to hear that you had an amazing and life changing experience. Thanks for recommending IVHQ to others and for being an outstanding volunteer.
Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Clouie Mae
10/10

Best experience of my life - Women's Education, Kenya

Kenya was my first volunteering trip as well as the first country I have ever travelled to on my own. Despite knowing the economic and political instability in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, not once did I feel scared or anxious before my trip. IVHQ and NVS' very prompt response to every question I had made me feel at ease and comfortable with everything. I fell in love with this vibrant place and its beautiful people on my first day. I can now say that I've definitely left my heart in Africa. It's been over a week since I've been physically back in England, and yet my heart and mind is still in Africa.

I had the absolute pleasure of working with the most selfless and courageous women at Positive Life Kenya in Mlolongo during my Women's Education programme. PLK is an NGO that supports HIV+ families living in the slum areas surrounding Mlolongo and Athi River. They're a safe haven to so many families in numerous communities by providing them with health care, education, income generating programs, rehabilitation and counselling making them healthier, empowered, happier and more independent people.

My 2 weeks at PLK was mostly spent on accompanying their social workers on community support and outreach, doing home visits and food distributions in Mlolongo, Kicheko Slum, City Carton and the Athi River Area. The other volunteers and I also spent most of our mornings guest teaching at Tumaini. This is one of the schools that PLK runs. Tumaini is Swahili for "hope" and is an education and nutrition centre in the Kicheko Slum which provides an education for the children that cannot access it otherwise. One of my favourite memories from Kenya happened here. On the children's last day of school, before their August holiday, we surprised them with new PE equipments, biscuits and enough notebooks, pens and pencils to last them until the next school year. Everyone was so excited that we ended up having an early break time to play with the new PE equipments. Seeing all the children with so much hope, happiness and energy was incredible. This is definitely a day I will never forget.

PLK also runs a Women Empowerment Centre where the women are taught bead-making, tailoring, dressmaking, entrepreneurship and micro-finance. This enables them to be financially stable and positively contribute to the society. I had the opportunity to run a business and financial workshop which further inspired me to pursue a career working for sustainable economic development in less economically developed countries. Furthermore, the other volunteers and I have become so passionate about the work of Positive Life Kenya that we are currently in the process of setting up their first Junior Board of Directors. We, as founding members, have all committed to supporting PLK’s mission and vision through outreach, fundraising, recruiting, and volunteer service.

My overall experience in Kenya has been so unique due to my amazing placement, my lovely host family and fellow volunteers. This programme was everything I could’ve possibly ever asked and wished for, AND MORE. I’ve tried my best to keep this review short because I can literally write a whole book about my time in Kenya. I’d love to re-live this experience over and over again! I would like to say a massive thank you or “asante sana” to IVHQ for making this happen.

How can this program be improved?
It would be really helpful if IVHQ provided more information about the projects of every possible placement of the programme. Although I absolutely loved guest teaching at Tumaini, I was very unprepared for my lessons and had to improvise without any lesson plan/structure as I was unaware that I would be teaching in this programme.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Clouie, Thanks for your awesome and inspirational review! We are so happy to hear that the prompt responses from IVHQ and our local team helped you to feel confident and prepared for your volunteer program in Kenya – that is what we are here for! Thanks for being an exceptional volunteer and for going above and beyond to help support your placement. We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing more about your ongoing involvement with the Women Empowerment Centre!
Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Felicia
10/10

Volunteering in Kenya - Experience of a lifetime!!

Words are not enough to describe the absolutely incredible experience I've had in Kenya for the past month! Without a doubt this trip changed my life in every way and I cannot think of one single thing I would change about my time volunteering. Thanks to IVHQ, everything from food to accommodations to safety went above and beyond my expectations... I miss the Kenyan food and my amazing host mom, Joyce, everyday! At no point did I ever feel unsafe. The children that I taught and spent my days with were hands down the highlight of my time in this beautiful country. I went to Kenya with the hope of teaching and making an impact on children in need but they truly taught me more than I could have ever taught them. The moments I shared with my students are some of the best one in my life and they have touched my heart in a way I have never experienced. If you're hesitating about volunteering in Kenya or with IVHQ, don't!!! It will be the best decision you ever make, just like it was for me. Already planning my next trip back!

How can this program be improved?
It can't!! Everything was completely taken care of
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Felicia, Thanks for sharing this awesome review! We are stoked that you had an incredible experience in Kenya and would not change a thing – that is what we like to hear. Thanks for your recommendation and we can’t wait to have you join us again!
Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

No, I don't recommend this program
Jillian
10/10

Kenya

I spent 3 weeks in Kenya for the sports education program. Unfortunately the need at the school I was at was not for sports education by for teachers so I ended up being a teacher and it was the best experience I ever had. The first weekend while there we wanted to go to Mombasa but we were unsure how to go about it so one of the program leaders were able to help us organize and he even joined us. It made our trip amazing!! My home stay was close to my school and I was placed with a girl my age who I became best friends with. If we ever need anything we were able to call the program leaders and the would help us on the spot, it made me feel safe and was nice to know I had someone to rely on. In the future it would be nice to know what kind of attire to bring and maybe baby wipes because it is very dirty there. I loved this experience because I was able to live in the culture of the people and live through experiences instead of seeing life through a hotel room. My favorite memory was coming back from Mombasa and we took the cheaper bus and it was so bumping for 12 hours that we were falling out of our seats, it was a bus ride to remember. All in all the kids and the people I met were my favorite I would go back in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
Be more clear on the duties that the volunteers will be doing in the schools, most schools need teachers and not teacher assistants
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jillian, Thanks for sharing! We are so happy to hear that the kids and the people you met were the best part of your time in Kenya. It sounds like the program allowed you to have a fulfilling volunteer experience and that you were well supported by the local team. We would love to have you join us again!
Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
IVHQ Kenya
Barb
9/10

Kenya with IVHQ January 2017

Visiting Africa has been a dream of mine since I was a child. The opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat while learning more about African culture where the perfect combination. A couple of years ago a close friend was diagnosed with cancer and I knew I couldn't wait any longer. I went online researching volunteer opportunities and found IVHQ.

Since my experience I have said many times that I was happy I didn't have friends who wanted to go on safari with me as otherwise I wouldn't have traveled with IVHQ and I wouldn't have had the experience I did. My month long trip started the first of January although I arrived in Kenya on January 30th. Over the course of the weekend more people started to arrive. Most had arrived by Saturday and James from NVS arranged for us to do a city tour on New Years Day. This involved a trip to the giraffe centre, the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage, the crocodile/turtle farm, an all meat meal at Carnivore and a visit to the monkey park (it was a holiday and too many people meant no monkeys in the park). The bond between our group was instant and tight. I was concerned that I would not fit in as I was twice the age of the oldest other participant but the gang was very good to me and accepting of everyone. This bond was only enhanced by us all doing outreach our first week. The other volunteers would be one of my reason for recommending this company.

I had plied for and been accepted to do teaching. I was concerned that I might not remember basic elementary stuff to teach. As luck would have it I was placed at a nursery school for kids 3-5. Kids in Kenya start school young. I loved the school I was at and I felt very much appreciated by the teacher in my room. Teachers don't have photocopiers like we do in Canada so all work needed to be entered manually in each individual students workbook (19 three year olds and one teacher). This is what kept me busy. I had lots of opportunities to interact with the kids although being three their English was about as good as my Swahili. We managed. I did enjoy speaking to the five year olds at lunch and break as their English was much better.

I loved the students and the school. On my last day the students preformed a special concert for me. I was so moved. I think of my babies (the name of my class was baby class) every day. The kids were so cute and honest. I was told my nose was big, my skin was pink (only one side and the other side is white), that my double chin was "so big" and that my hair was the colour of a simba (I am a red head). Despite the comments I certainly felt the love from them haha.

My time in Kenya was much more than just volunteering. One of the advantages of having other volunteers is that you could always find someone to hang out with. One weekend we went to Diani beach (awesome trip) and I also did a safari weekend. Initially I was worried that three days wouldn't be long enough for a safari but in one day we saw the big 5 and every other animal I wanted to see. The safari was great with a wonderful guide and a beautiful camp. The trip was further enhance with a cultural trip to a Massi village.

Through the week life at the volunteer house was much quieter. For two weeks there were four of us living at the house plus our wo house moms. After that three more people joined the house. Keep n mind that weekends were packed at the house as other volunteers used it on weekends as a central meeting place. Life through the week consisted of DVDs (a local will download anything you want for fifty cents), occasional trips to the bar for happy hour, trips to Junction for wifi/water/Java/and any other shopping needs, trips to the local market etc. These trips were either with another volunteer or alone. With so many people around all the time walking during the day or taking a matatu wasn't worrisome at all.

My house "moms" (I was older than them haha) were Sara and Miriam. They are great women who work very hard. They were great cooks and they cooked a variety of yummy food although typical African food is rather bland. I certainly became friends with these sweet women during our time together. The house is close to Kibera but is still in a posh neighbourhood. The compound had security and a gate. School was about 2km away from the house. The walk became part of my day and I began to look forward to it.

Overall my trip to Kenya was fabulous. The support from NVS staff esp James was great. I never felt unsafe during my time in Kenya although one of the other volunteers did have his phone stolen in a matatu (definitely a part of the culture). The people of Kenya are very welcoming and they are so friendly. I hear mzungu so often that I just responded to like my own name. I've never been touched as I was at school by the students nor have people ever been as interested in my hair. I usually had at least three hairdressers at a time during lunch at school.

I was surprised at the acceptance of violence towards children. Children getting beatings by teachers is expected. As a Social Worker this was hard to see. Ironically the children don't behave better because they're afraid of the beating re-enforcing that it's not the most effective way of disciplining children. I also noticed that the children are much more physical with each other often kicking or punching one another. I attributed that to the presence and acceptance of violence in their lives. But I digress...

In general a great experience. I made friends from around the world, meet great Kenyans esp the children, saw all the animals I wanted to see, experienced the Indian Ocean, saw baby elephants, kissed a giraffe, tried new foods, realized again how privileged North Americans are all while avoiding a month of Canadian winter. Win, win, win! I only wish I hadn't wasted so much time before doing this. It won't be my last trip with IVHQ

How can this program be improved?
Minor issues but here are some suggestions

The volunteer house needs new mattresses and some fitted sheets would be nice (I recommend you bring one from home).
Mosquito nets were on the list to bring but weren't needed.
I found the hike at Hells Gate challenging. The level of fitness needed shouldhave been told to us prior to starting the trip.




Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Barb, Thanks for sharing this great review of the IVHQ Kenya program! We often hear about how welcoming other volunteers are and this just warms our heart – we love our volunteers! It sounds like you made the most of your experience by providing valuable assistance to your teaching placement, exploring Kenya during your weekends, and getting to know the local team and the other volunteers. Thanks for providing valuable insight for future volunteers and for being an awesome IVHQ volunteer. We are thrilled to hear that you are joining us again and we look forward to seeing where you will be heading to next!
Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Gabrielle
2/10

Unsafe, Unsupportive staff, and Mediocre Volunteer Initiatives

I suppose I'll start at the beginning:
I read through the program website and decided it looked like a good fit for me. I was interested in the teaching program, and the description only said schools were closed through December, so I figured I would be ok to apply for 4 weeks starting November 1. I was accepted and happily went straight to the facebook group to seek advice from former volunteers. When I mentioned what program I was doing, an alumni told me she was pretty sure the school term (and thus the teaching program) ended in October, so I sent an email to IVHQ asking why I would have been accepted to start in November if this was the case and clearly stating that I didn't want to be on the Childcare program and wanted to be on Women's Education if not teaching. I was told not to worry, the school term didn't end until November 18 and after that I could definitely be put on the Women's Education project. Excited to be a part of both, I told all my friends and family this was the plan. When I arrived in country, however, I was informed the schools closed in October and sent straight to the childcare program. I would have complained, but I didn't want to lose all the time it would have taken to switch programs and had been placed with only one other volunteer (who was really cool). Because they explained they always put at least two volunteers in each placement at a time, I knew that if I moved, she would have to as well so I didn't want to put that on her.
The orphanage we went to was delightful; the staff and kids were friendly and they cared about making the best life they could for the kids living in the facility. The in-country partner organization had us pay for our lunches while we were volunteering there and had generally poor communication. We were frequently kept late or called on the weekend by the manager asking where we were because they had no idea what hours we were supposed to be there. Additionally, there wasn't really much for us to do at the orphanage. There was already a schedule laid out for cooking and cleaning by the staff and kids, they didn't have any scheduled activities for us to help with, so we spent most days at the orphanage sitting around and casually playing with the kids who didn't have anything better to do. Partially because we had nothing to do there and because he insisted we needed to 'learn something,' the manager of the program used most of the days to take us away from the orphanage on field trips, without the kids, at our own expense. These trips included things like visiting farms or sewage treatment plants, watching him shop at the market, and promoting his book at a local school which was out of session. For the most part, these trips were interesting, but very quickly became expensive and took away from time we should have been spending with the kids.
The accommodations provided were nice upon first impressions, but unfortunately involved a number of security breaches which made them unsafe and at times uncomfortable. We were not allowed bring outdoor shoes inside (I was once scolded by the house manager for putting a pair of flip-flops I had worn beside my suitcase in my bedroom) so we had to leave them outside the front door. One night, another volunteer's new hiking boots were stolen by a neighbour. The program does not provide volunteers with their own keys to the house, not even for a deposit, so if we were going to be home before the house mom, she would leave the keys in the kitchen window within easy reach of anyone outside, giving the neighbours multiple opportunities to enter the house. Finally, and worst of all, the house manager frequently allowed her boyfriend, who I later learned was unapproved by the program and had not completed a record check like everyone else, to be in the house, often overnight, occasionally sleeping in the same room as me and another volunteer. She did not ask us if we were comfortable with the situation at any point. Because the other volunteers seemed so ok with it and it was so frequent, I assumed the boyfriend had already been approved by the program. I didn't complain because I didn't want to seem like a princess compared to the others and was afraid I would be treated poorly by the house manager if I said anything to the program about something the other volunteers were fine with. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have said something the first time I woke up to find a man who was not a volunteer in my room, however there were many steps the program could have taken to prevent this ever happening.
Not surprisingly, I was robbed while staying there, and the program staff were the opposite of supportive. My trip involved 1 month volunteering in Kenya and then I was heading to South Africa, France, and England, so I had a stash of currencies for these countries totaling over $300USD hidden in separate baggies inside a pocket of a purse in the bottom of my suitcase in my bedroom. I noticed as I was packing to leave Kenya that the vast majority of the money (all paper bills worth over $5 USD) had been stolen, and the thief had left the small bills and coins. I knew it had been within the last couple of weeks because I had checked on my stash that much time before. I first told the other two IVHQ volunteers about this and one of them said she had also noticed about $80USD worth of Kenyan shillings gone missing from her stuff, but she had blamed herself for probably misplacing it at the time. I then reported it to the house manager and the staff member listed to 'call in case of emergencies' and neither offered any sympathy or support whatsoever. Both accused me of misplacing the money, even though I proved it hadn't been misplaced by emptying my entire suitcase in front of everyone in the house and explaining that only the paper money was missing, not the coins. The house mom gave me weak excuses as to why it couldn't have been her boyfriend, asked me not to tell the program he had been staying there (and mentioned that he had lost his job two weeks before so was relying on her for money), and later accused me of lying about being robbed. The staff member I reported it to said he would contact the manager of the other volunteer program which had volunteers staying in the same house and the general manager, but he never contacted either of these people on the issue. I was told that if I suspected other volunteers of taking the money, I had to confront them myself, so I was put into the incredibly uncomfortable position of asking my friends if they would be willing to empty their suitcases the same way I had done. All of the other volunteers and the house mom willingly subjected themselves to this, but I was unable to search the boyfriend because he didn't have a bag in the house. I flew to South Africa that same night so I was unable to take any more action in Kenya. When I arrived in South Africa, I contacted the general manager about the situation and it was the first he was hearing of it (because no one had reported it to him) but he promised me they would take action. Weeks later, I emailed again asking for follow-up information on what had been done to investigate the theft or resolve the security breaches, and the only thing they could tell me was that they were 'recruiting a new host family for next year'. In response, I sent a list of steps I believed they could have taken to make their accommodations more secure and offer more support to volunteers, but received no response for this email.
Orientation was short. It wasn't exactly bad, but it wasn't great either. It included them telling us a little bit about our placements, teaching us about the safari company they recommend (which I never got to try because the phone numbers and email they gave us didn't work so I had to go with another company) and then dropping us off at our homestays.
In short, I do not recommend this program as a safe or effective volunteer program. However, dealing with the staff at IVHQ was just fine, the program fees (if you choose the right country) are reasonable, and I do recommend IVHQ as a good way to explore a new country if you have no prior connections in that corner of the world.
Thanks for reading and I hope that if you do choose to volunteer with IVHQ or IVHQ-Kenya, you experience is much better than mine was!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Gabrielle,

Thank you for your feedback. After receiving this feedback directly, your IVHQ Program Manager has been proactive with following up with the local team in Kenya to ensure the necessary changes have been made.

In regards to the school holidays, the Kenyan government unexpectedly changed the holiday dates at late notice, and the disruption was unfortunately outside of our control and that of our local team.

As discussed with you, we are sorry that we were not able to make some changes for you while you were on the program. We encourage volunteers to raise any concerns while they are in country to ensure these can be addressed. We assure you that we are working with our local team to ensure future volunteers do not have a similar experience.

The feedback regarding your homestay has been addressed and this homestay will no longer host IVHQ volunteers in the future. We are sorry that your home stay experience was not up to the high standard that volunteers can expect from IVHQ and we assure you that this is not the norm on our programs, as we know you are aware from volunteering with IVHQ in South Africa.

Thank you again for sharing your feedback. If there is anything you wish to discuss further, your IVHQ Program Manager will be happy to help.

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
Tasha
10/10

AMAZING experience!!

This was my first time leaving the country and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I spent 6 weeks volunteering in Kenya with the childcare program and it was the best experience I've ever had! The staff was helpful, my host mom was amazing, the volunteers were fun, and the kids were the absolute best! I was expecting to go to Kenya and teach the kids great things, but in reality they were the ones that taught me. They taught me how to truly be happy. All of the kids are always so happy with the simple things in life and there is so much to learn from them.

While volunteering there is plenty of time to work and play. I spent every Monday-Friday with the kids and then on the weekends had plenty of cool places to go visit with other volunteers. It is really the best of both worlds. You get to experience and explore a new country while also having a life changing experience volunteering.

If you want to have a truly life changing experience in a different country I strongly recommend Kenya. Everyday is a new adventure and there is so much to learn from the people you will be surrounded by. Volunteering abroad is expensive, but it was definitely worth every penny. I am definitely planning to go back in the future!

How can this program be improved?
It would be nice to have a break down of where exactly our money is going. Just because it is a big chunk of money and it would be nice to know exactly how all of it is getting spent.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Tasha, Thanks for posting such a beautiful review. It is great to hear that as a volunteer you were able to learn from, and influence, those you were working with. You have been an awesome volunteer and we would love to have you join us again in Kenya.
Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program

About International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 40+ destinations around the world.

Over 80,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the...