Volunteer in Kenya with Village Volunteers

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About

Join Village Volunteers on a program in Kenya. Located in the heart of East Africa, Village Volunteers fully immerses its participants in Kenyan culture, offering volunteer opportunities to people from all experiences. Working alongside partner organizations in the area, volunteers will have opportunities to serve in all sectors of their village.

After application and acceptance, participants will be assigned a project based on their skills and interests. Notable opportunities include: teaching in schools, helping in an orphan home, working in a clinic, and assisting with micro-finance projects.

Village Volunteers assist every volunteer with each step of their preparation for their time overseas.

Learn more about Village Volunteer programs in Kenya on their website!

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Questions & Answers

Yes, based on my experiences on 3 trips to Kitale Kenya, I believe a conscientious mother with an 8 year old of reasonable temperament (i.e., not hyperactive, or prone to run away in a crowd...just trying to be safe here) , would do very well. We stay with Joshua Machinga, Director at Common Ground for Africa and Director of the Pathfinder Academy School. The 8 year old will instantly have 100's...

Reviews

98%
based on 19 reviews
  • Impact 9.8
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 19
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Brett
10/10

Village Volunteers - One of the most amazing organizations in the world!

I have had three trips to Kenya via Village Volunteers and will be doing a fourth next summer. Shana Greene and her organization are doing more to help the world be a better place than any group I have ever worked with. They work incredibly hard, are very professional and are always willing to take on the tough tasks that make living in this world so difficult for so many people. VV has connected me up with four different communities in Kenya and they always have me well prepared for my visits. I have run a variety of programs thru VV, including a High School Scholarship Program that now supports 11 students, and none of this could have been done without the support of Village Volunteers. Please support and help Village Volunteers in any way you can. Your resources could not be put to better use!!

How can this program be improved?
Village Volunteers works on a minimal budget. Given more resources they could do even more amazing things. Lack of resources is the only thing holding them back.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Molly
10/10

Still feel connected

After applying to Village Volunteers for a 3 week stint at Sister Freda's I was contacted by Shana shortly after ward to talk about my interests and to see if I would consider splitting my time between 2 different organizations to get a more rounded experience. My first impression does this normal happen in volunteer organizations? I don't think so. Needless to say, I took her up on her suggestion and have no regrets.

My first 2 weeks at Sister Freda's was full of new experiences such as watching a C-section, holding a kerosene lantern during a birth due to a power outage, preparing and helping out at a community health clinic, and giving one of their new wards a make over with a few cans of paint and plumbing repairs to the bathroom. On top of all these experiences I was also learning all about the organization, it's ups and downs and made a bunch of new friends that I think about a lot and have contact with to this day.

My week at the Sirua Aulo Academy was an equally rewarding experience where I was able to participate and get involved on daily with all the children attending the academy in and out of the classroom. And manage to help in a small way with the dining room construction.

In both locations I immediately felt connected and able to involve myself within hours of arriving. I think the key to this that both Sister Freda and Emmanuel welcome you with open arms, ensure you are comfortable and really do treat you as part of their family.

My experience in Kenya will forever remain in my heart and mind and I have full intentions of volunteering again at Village Volunteers(VV). My dilemma will be returning to Kenya or experience one of the may other organizations VV is affiliated with around the world.

How can this program be improved?
I honestly can't think of one thing within VV's control that can be changed. There was no shortage of support and information during the registration process,and the assistance/support provided on arrival and transfer between organizations was excellent.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
ryandrysdale
9/10

Transformative experience

My month with Emmanuel after my freshmen year of college changed my life. Visiting community development programs, schools, clinics, and watching his parliamentary campaign ingrained lessons from international development text books and lectures that I was receiving in college. Emmanuel was like a professor. I am now completing a masters in international relations after three years of working with small NGOs abroad. I still look back on the lessons learned from my experience in Kenya and the efficiency of Village Volunteers overall. Shana, the executive director, and I exchange long emails and phone calls 3-4 times a year. Even more than 7 years later Emmanuel and I still exchange emails as well. If you want a real, raw experience to see the world as it is and not as some organization or business wants to package it with cookie cutter itineraries, GO WITH VILLAGE VOLUNTEERS. It's worth every penny. The development world and voluntourism world can learn valuable lessons from the Village Volunteer's model.

How can this program be improved?
No program is perfect, but as I sit here reflecting on my time with Village Volunteers and continued exchanges, I struggle to think of anything relating to my experience that I would improve that wouldn't significantly take away from the authentic experience that I had in Kenya.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Linda
10/10

Review of my first trip (out of six) to Kenya with VV

In August of 2008, Shana Greene, the director of Village Volunteers, connected me to someone who was thinking of volunteering. He asked me some questions and this was my response, copied and pasted from the email with some bits only deleted for brevity.
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Around May 2007, I ended up with an unexpected [two-week] break in my work schedule in June. I told a friend I wanted to go overseas somewhere, anywhere, and she randomly suggested Africa. I thought, 'why not?' So I Googled "volunteer Africa" and came up with a ton of organizations. I had no idea what I was doing, but knew I didn't want a program with band-aid solutions that 'white people' came up with. I also avoided the websites that seemed to focus too much on marketing and promotions, because that's inevitably where peoples' donations were going, instead of the villagers. On a gut feeling, I applied to Village Volunteers and it has changed my life.

It was absolutely crazy because I had given myself only two weeks from the day my application was accepted to the day my flight left for Kenya. During those two weeks, I was on the phone with Shana every day, who stepped me through EVERYTHING clearly, thoroughly, and most importantly, sincerely. That confirmed right away I chose a good program. The fear of contracting some disease or any other travel fears never had a chance to sink in, so I can't give you any insights as to how someone new should prepare mentally for Africa. On the other hand, now that I've already gone twice and am planning a third trip in October, I can tell you with absolute certainty there's nothing to be afraid of if you are prepared.

Both my trips to Kenya have been flawless, with people constantly taking care of me, offering me more chai than I can handle and ensuring I've got plenty of clean water, food, etc. My last trip was for 3 weeks from June 19 to July 10, and I was the first Village Volunteer Shana had allowed back into Kenya after the post-election violence earlier this year. Shana took extra steps to ensure I was escorted every step of the way, and the villagers themselves were ecstatic that a mzungu (i.e., "white person" or "foreigner" in Swahili) has returned.

I didn't plan much on how I was actually going to HELP when I got to Kenya prior to my 2007 visit; I was too busy packing and getting my arms pricked with vaccinations. I view my first trip as an eye-opener, desensitizer, and brainstormer. This year, I went with clear culture-sensitive goals and knowledge as to how my specific skills could benefit the people. As a speech-language pathologist, I decided to focus on language and literacy development for school-age children while screening children with disabilities.

When I returned to the states last year, I decided to go to Seattle for my next job assignment (I do short-term contract work around the US) so that I can meet Shana and volunteer directly with her. So for over a month, I actually sat in her office and saw how she does things primarily by herself (!!!) maybe 80 hours a week (!!!). I'm fiercely loyal now to Shana because I've worked side-by-side with her and know that she sends donations directly to the villages, and then I've been to the villages and seen that money go where it's intended and I'm the lucky one to witness the sheer joy they exude. I find it hard to trust other organizations that charge unreasonable amounts for volunteer fees, or -- and I hate these the most -- the volunteer programs that address the symptoms by sending in their own idea of solutions. Village Volunteers supports programs that the villagers themselves have created and have already proven to work and intend to be self-sustaining, and sends volunteers to help them. This I consider to be VV's primary strength, that the villagers are enabled to do what they feel is necessary in their own country, their own way that has proven successful.

How can this program be improved?
Village Volunteers does not spend money on sleek marketing and relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals. While this is honorable and noteworthy for a non-profit organization, I think it makes getting a consistent stream of volunteers unpredictable. It probably also makes it harder to get the message out to potential travelers that there's nothing to be afraid of with Ebola or other hyped-up issues. I wish more people would give Kenya and Village Volunteers a chance. I wish more people would listen to the testimony of volunteers instead of the stereotypical, negative media coverage of Africa.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Elizabeth
10/10

Sirua Aulo Academy - Kenya - Village Volunteers

I traveled to Kenya in 2010 through Village Volunteers. I stayed in a host house in Nairobi and then went on to the Maasai community near Kilgoris. I stayed 21 days in Kenya and while there worked at the school - Sirua Aulo Academy. I spent time with the children and staff teaching them about Canada, introducing an anti-bullying program and kept a blog on my stay. I attended a Maasai funeral and was asked to pray for the family- it was a life changing experience overall. My host was Emmanuel Tasur and his wife Lily. I stayed in a hut and lived the Maasai life. I went on a safari during my last days in Kenya. This trip changed my worldview and left me with new friends across the globe. Village Volunteers ensured my safety through out my trip - this is a great agency that is doing marvelous work across the world and supporting many worthwhile projects through volunteerism. I could not recommend a better program.

How can this program be improved?
I would not have changed a thing.
Yes, I recommend
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Katie
10/10

A Different Perspective on Volunteering

I chose Village Volunteers (VV) because they are unlike most international volunteer organizations. They have a true concern for sustainable development on the ground and in reducing the impact of the volunteer program on local families, the local economy and the culture.

I am a professional business women who had just finished a secondary degree in Business in Developing Countries. I travelled to Kenya for some hands-on experience. What I got was much more.

VV arranged all of my ground travel, food, and accommodations. I was able to explore the programs of my host organization in three separate and very different villages. The independent nature of the program allowed me to contribute my skills where the villages needed. For a week, I learned about the local water filter plant and used my skills to map out the workflow that the employees used to gain added efficiencies. In another week, I developed a curriculum for teaching women's microfinance groups how to do basic bookkeeping. I led several seminars in multiple villages.

My hope is that what I shared made an impact. My visit certainly impacted me. The slower daily life, setting my own path, managing the daily struggles with a locals, living with the natural cycle - the day is over when the sun goes down and the day starts when the rooster crows. Because I created my own agenda at my own pace, I really felt like I was able to fully immerse in the local way of life. I'm not sure I could have gotten that from another organization.

How can this program be improved?
For me, there are no improvements necessary, although a journey like this is a very personal one and others may not be comfortable with the level of independence awarded. For me, it was essential to feel like I was getting an authentic experience and not just "viewing" the environment like I was on a tour through a zoo. My safety was never a concern, I always had trusted local partners watching over me. VV did a good job preparing me for the journey and kept in contact with the local partners during my entire trip to ensure all was going well.
Yes, I recommend
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Holly
9/10

The Best of the Best

I have made three trips to Kenya with Village Volunteers; the variety of opportunities available and the close working relationship between VV staff and the Kenyan project leadership make VV outstanding! You can trust that all your logistical needs will go smoothly, that your food will be delicious and abundant and that you will be safe at all times.

The project directors in Kenya valuable working partners because you can partner with them to develop sustainable programs that have true value within the Kenyan culture.

I have taken my daughter on all 3 trips; she was 14 the first trip and had much to offer! It is a valuable learning experience for kids from both cultures to meet each other, become friends, and enrich each other's lives.

How can this program be improved?
The number of volunteers has fallen to catastrophically low levels due to ebola hysteria and hype. VV needs the volunteers because the project sites depend on the creativity, innovations and energy of the volunteers. Volunteers need to research their geography before deciding against Kenya... it is as far from Village Volunteers' sites to "ebola" as it is from Orlando, Florida to Juneau, Alaska. GO!!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jana
10/10

Non-huggers Need Not Apply

I worked with three village programs with varying needs during my time volunteering in Kenya. The programs were run by three of the most dynamic people I have ever met. They are making a huge difference in the lives of children. All three have schools; Sister Freda's also has an orphanage and hospital, Common Ground has a huge number of programs including organic gardening and water filters systems and Namunyuk Maasai Welfare gave us the opportunity to get out on safari and see the beautiful Maasai Mara.

At Common Ground we were able to visit people in their homes and survey how newly made ceramic water jugs were working. We also set up a seminar to help the treasurers from women's microfinance groups with bookkeeping and goal setting. Most of the time though was spent with the children, many of them orphans.They were super intelligent, talented, rambunctious and full of love.

Village Volunteers and Shana, the founder were awesome and made every single arrangement for the trip. All I had to do was get the plane ticket and show up. I met the most wonderful people both in Seattle and Kenya. I made some lifelong friends and had an experience I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change the program, but I would extend my trip to include some time to explore on my own, possibly taking a tour to Mombasa.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Rev
10/10

Most Valuable Experience to Learn and Contribute

I have been a "Village Volunteer" three times now to Common Ground for Africa, located in Kiminini, Kenya. I feel I have contributed to the sustainability and improvement of life for the people of that area. Village Volunteers has wonderful partnerships that are accomplishing long-term, lasting results to improve the health and economic well-being of a wide range of peoples. The Clean Water project not only impacts the local community, but extends internationally as the clay water filters are now being shipped to other countries! To see this commitment and success not only helps and encourages the people of rural Kenya, but it is a win win for everyone. Volunteers who participate through Village Volunteers do not complete their volunteer experience feeling there is no hope for rural Africa, instead we left filled with great hopes--seeing the promise of quality education, permanent agriculture and people's lives being changed, including our own--for the Betterment of all!

How can this program be improved?
We had some logistical problems when we went on Safari, meals were not adequate and of poor quality. The Safari took place after our primary volunteer experience, which was completely wonderful, and we had expected the Safari to be more accommodating, as it was to be more of a fun time at trips ending.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
HollyCassandra
10/10

Village Volunteers is a life-changing experience

I volunteered in Kitale, Kenya with Village Volunteers at Common Ground. Myself and my two friends stayed in huts for 3 weeks right next to the director's (and his family's) home on the school grounds. We taught the pre-teen girls at the school dance classes, helped plant trees for a conservation project, and visited a local medical clinic. We ate our meals with the family and helped cook local dishes in the open-air kitchen. I really like how the local community leaders are directing the volunteers on what the community needs rather than an outside organization coming in and trying to implement changes that they assume are best.

My experience at Village Volunteers has forever changed me. More than five years later I continue to sponsor the education of an orphan I met during the program. Having the privilege to live with the locals game me an inside glimpse of the local culture, and it something that I never would have gotten if I've stuck to the tourist circuit or signed up with a volunteer program that was largely run by foreign aid programs rather than by the locals themselves.

Something I wish that I knew before I went was to bring lots of books, as evenings are quiet and the closest town is a matatu ride away. You get up early and go to bed early, and it's an adjustment if you're coming from a fast-paced city where you're used to going all the time. But that's part of the allure of volunteering in a remote area, where time seems to slow down and you have a greater change to reflect on your experiences. I'll always remember the time I spent with Village Volunteers, and I hope to be able to volunteer with them again--but next time through their program in India.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Pam
10/10

Our Daughter's Volunteer experience

I am writing this review from a parent's perspective as our daughter travelled to Kenya alone with Village Volunteers at the age of 19. I was most concerned about her safety and well being. Village Volunteers did an excellent job preparing her physically and emotionally for what ended up being an experience of a lifetime. From the time she arrived in Nairobi to traveling a great distance to her destination at Sister Freda's and then on to Masai Mara and back many weeks later to Nairobi she was treated wonderfully by the people involved in the Village Volunteer organization. I would recommend this organization to anyone young or old who dreams of becoming involved in an organization that whose goal it is to immerse people in a life changing atmosphere and experience.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lindsey
10/10

My Experience with Village Volunteers

I first volunteered through Village Volunteers almost five years ago and had a wonderful experience in all three villages I volunteered in. As clichéd as it may sound, the experience was life changing and has had a great impact on the life I’ve led since then.

I spent time at the Common Ground, Sister Freda and Namunyak Maasai Welfare programs in Kenya and loved my time at each of them. From the time I landed in the airport in Nairobi, I felt welcome and safe as Village Volunteers had provided me with numerous contacts in both Nairobi and the villages I was to visit. Once in the villages, I spent most of my time working on microfinance projects with women’s groups with a few other volunteers helping with bookkeeping, marketing, agricultural research and anything else the women asked us to assist with. I also spent time teaching at various primary and secondary schools, learning about bio-intensive agriculture, helping at mobile medical clinics and many other projects.

In addition to the volunteering aspect of the program, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteers to travel and see and learn even more about the beautiful countries they are in. Volunteer coordinators helped us plan weekend trips and sometimes even accompanied us on them. Rafting the Nile in Uganda and taking a bicycle safari in Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya were two of my favorite trips.

For me, the highlight of my volunteer experience was spending time with my host families and becoming familiar with local cultures and customs. Each day, volunteers eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with their hosts talking about the day’s events or anything volunteers have questions about. Volunteers are invited to partake in all family related activities including weddings, birthday celebrations and any community events that may take place while volunteers are there.

My experience with Village Volunteers left such an impact on me that I’ve spent much of my time since then working in East Africa for various international organizations and went to graduate school to study international development so as to better equip me with the knowledge I need to work in development. Many volunteers that I have met through Village Volunteers have had similar experiences and have also gone on to further their studies in international development as a result of the wonderful experience they had with Village Volunteers.

I highly recommend this experience to others and often refer my friends to Village Volunteers’ website.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sophia
10/10

My experience in Kenya

Last summer I found Village Volunteers and they helped me prepare for my trip to Kenya. I couldn't have been more prepared for my trip and it was exactly how they had explained it to me. Whenever I had a question Village Volunteers responded back to me within 24 hours at the most, every time. They provided help and support for me as I was preparing for my trip as well as after I returned home. I am returning back to Kenya, through Village Volunteers, to continue volunteering and working with the many wonderful people I met there. I couldn't be happier with the experience/adventure I had in Kenya and that was only made possible by Village Volunteers.

Yes, I recommend
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Kristine
10/10

Do It!

Loved loved loved traveling to Kenya. So much so that I have gone back three more times in three years! The people I met and lived with are no longer friends - they are my family - in the truest sense of the word.

My first trip in 2009 through Village Volunteers was intended to be a chance for me to have a little adventure, do what I could to help while there and immerse myself in another culture. I expected to resume my life as usual once I returned to the US. I had no idea how the experience and the people would affect my life forever. I have taken my husband back with me and my two teenage children have already been twice. I also now have a non-profit One Way Out (owokenya.com) providing educational opportunities to the children I met in two villages.

I would absolutely recommend a trip to Kenya and Village Volunteers!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
MeganLynn
10/10

Send Me Back!!!

Prior to my trip to Kenya with Village Volunteers, I did not know much about African cultures and I had never lived anywhere outside of the northwest corner of the United States. Three months is a relatively short period of time, in the scheme of life, but yet it is long enough to adapt to a new location and begin to feel as if it is home. Within the three months I spent in the small village of Kiminini, Kenya, I learned more than any book or website could tell me; the experience had an impact on my life that I will never forget. Even as I am writing this it does not fully grasp all that I learned and the true meaning of it, because a great deal of my learning came through the relationships and interactions that I had there.

Village Volunteers (VV) is a program that provides wholesome support prior to departure, while you are overseas, and once you return as well. In planning my trip I had close contact with VV staff. They happily answered all my questions, helped me prepare for the significant change in culture and life style, and ensured that all details of my trip were covered. While in Kenya I felt extremely safe and was always supported in activities, trips, or projects that I wanted to partake in. I was able to be a part of a multitude of wonderful programs and projects that VV has helped to establish that are truly improving the lives of women and children.

My experience in Kenya and what I learned about the people and culture is extremely meaningful to me because it is something that can never be replicated in exactly the same way. What I learned personally about myself, the friendships I made, realizations, and true understanding of diversity that I obtained, will always be a part of my life. I now have a better understanding of cultural competence, and I now have a passion for international development, especially in African countries.

I had absolutely no negative experiences with Village Volunteers and I would without a doubt recommend this program to anyone wanting to go to Africa or Asia!

Yes, I recommend

About Village Volunteers

Village Volunteers (VV) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works in partnership with rural village and capacity-building programs to support the development of sustainable solutions for community survival, education, and thoughtful growth.

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