Volunteering in Kenya

Volunteer in Kenya

What to Know Before Volunteering in Kenya

Kenya is a stunning country endowed with gorgeous sandy beaches, unique wildlife species and a rich culture. It’s no wonder tourists from every corner of the globe flock the country every year to experience firsthand it’s remarkable nature.

Aside from all this, Kenya is quite a great country for volunteering. As a matter of fact, there has been an increasing number of people interested in volunteering in Kenya. For starters, there are plenty of volunteering activities here. Secondly, you will never get bored in this wonderful country or run out of things to do. When you are not busy doing your volunteer work, you can go on a safari or visit a national park.

While this is a great country for volunteering, it’s also still developing. This means that it’s faced with a range of problems most notably poverty and some health issues. With that said, you may be wondering whether volunteering in Kenya is a good idea and if there are things that you have to keep in mind when making your decision. I have compiled a guide that will help you through the process. This is basically so that you get to know one or two things about this county. All in all, choosing to support a cause in Kenya will not only be an unforgettable experience but also will change the lives of many.

What to know before Volunteering in Kenya

Volunteering in Kenya can be the most memorable experience of your life. It may actually be a time for you to have some personal growth since you will be interacting with different people and communities. However, there are several things that you need to know before getting on that plane and preparing to start on your volunteering mission. Remember, this is a totally new country and things will definitely not be what you are used to. Here are useful tips to keep you informed;

Carry plenty of water to keep you hydrated

Water is everything most especially if you will be engaging in many outdoor activities. Basically, the weather in Kenya is hot most times of the year. That’s why it’s important that you carry enough water to keep you hydrated. Also, unless you are certain the water is clean, avoid drinking tap water. Buy some bottled water and carry it with you everywhere you go.

Don’t expect there will be wifi everywhere

As I had earlier said, Kenya is a developing country and until now there are still some areas that don’t have access to fast internet. For this reason, I can assure you some places you visit will not even have that internet at all. There are few restaurants and eateries that have wifi, some of which the speed is incredibly slow.

However, this shouldn’t discourage you at all. There are other ways to stay connected without having to suffer the lack of proper internet. The simplest and most reliable thing to do is buy a sim card. You will find these in many of the shops around and topping up is easy and everywhere. The best option would be a safaricom sim card because it’s common and has superb coverage across the country. The data is pretty cheap too and you won’t even have to rely on the WI-FI spots.

Choose the right volunteering opportunity for you

You know yourself better than anyone else. You also know exactly what you enjoy doing and the activities that you dislike. In this case, choose the perfect opportunity for you. It should be something that you are passionate about. You wouldn’t want to take on a cause that you will carry out halfheartedly.

Carry some cash

While it’s not advisable to carry huge amounts of money, having a bit of cash for emergencies will not hurt. Something might come up and there is no ATM machine anywhere around or you can’t use your credit cards. Many places outside the big cities don’t accept cards.

Get a yellow fever shot

This goes without saying for visitors coming to Kenya. Ensure you get a yellow fever injection before travelling. Check with the travel clinic to confirm if you are up to date on the shots.

Volunteerism in Kenya

Volunteering is such a noble cause. You are literally immersing yourself in a different culture and ethnicity in order to support the underprivileged. It’s for sure a life-changing experience and you are likely to develop lasting friendships with the natives and even fellow volunteers. There are a number of volunteer opportunities in Kenya;

Teach at a school

Teaching at a school is a great idea if this is something that you like. Many of the programs will put you in a school where the children are orphaned or come from underprivileged families. In such a community, the classrooms are both crowded and lack enough staff. Your main focus should be to give them enough attention, make the lessons interactive and teach them some life skills.

Work in healthcare

This is the perfect program for medical and nursing students who would like to go on a medical mission trip. It’s an opportunity to contribute in the healthcare sector. A good number of the public hospitals in Kenya have a shortage of medical staff. Therefore, you will find that many patients wait on long queues for hours just to see a doctor. This is the main reason why volunteers are considered to play a major role in this sector. They basically aid in the people getting better access to medical care. There are number of hospitals and clinics across the country where you can volunteer your services.

Animal and wildlife conservation

Kenya is known for its wildlife diversity; this is no secret. In fact, the annual wild beast migration takes place right here in the country every single year between the months of June and September. It’s even considered one of the wonders in Africa. Tourists from different parts of the world visit Kenya especially because it’s the home of the Big Five (the elephant, buffalo, black or white rhinoceros, leopard and African lion)

Unfortunately, there are people who don’t appreciate the beauty and awe these wildlife species bring to the country. That’s why you hear of increasing cases of illegal hunting and poaching. Wildlife species such as lions are decreasing in population as a result of habitat loss. For this reason, there is need for volunteer work in wildlife conservation. Many of the Kenyans don’t understand the importance of biodiversity and wildlife conservation. As a volunteer you can educate the communities on that. Most importantly, it’s your work to conserve and protect these animals.


Female empowerment and other community services

Given that this is a developing country, poverty and gender inequality is a huge concern. Community volunteers work day and night to ensure some of these social problems are effectively tackled. Volunteers in a women empowerment program can educate them on how to be independent. One of the ways is teaching these women skills on entrepreneurship so that they can start their own successful businesses. You can also empower and support through counseling.


One of the best experiences of going on a volunteering journey is mingling with the natives and getting to learn a few things from them. Most Kenyans speak both Kiswahili and English along with other local dialects. Therefore, it will do you good to learn few local words like Asante( thank you).

You have to remember that not all Kenyans speak English. In the rural areas, you are bound to meet such people and communication may be a bit of a setback. As I had earlier mentioned, learning a couple of words from the local language will be of great help.


The national currency is the Kenyan shilling. However, foreign currencies such as US dollars are accepted. Use the local currency when paying small bills such as meals at an eatery or buying a souvenir.


One thing about volunteering is that you get to stay with a host family. You basically become part of that family and so you will be interacting with them on a daily basis. Before travelling, reach out to the host family and try to learn more about their cultures, traditions and lifestyle. The accommodation you receive may not have world-class assets such as air conditioning or anything you are used to but embrace it with an open mind.


There are buses and taxi services everywhere in Kenya and their rates are super affordable. As a matter of fact, when you are in the big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa, getting home when out alone will not be a problem. If you have a sim card, you can simply call an uber taxi or motorbike and they will pick you up in no time.

Religious Diversity

The two main religions in Kenya are the Christians and Muslims. You will find a church or a mosque in every region of the country. There are also temples in a number of places especially in the urban regions. When visiting religious places, dress conservatively.


Kenyan food is pretty amazing especially if you are open minded and willing to try new things. In the big cities, you will find a good number of international restaurants that serve world class cuisines. This means that you have nothing to worry about in regards to food if you are working in the big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa. On the other hand, there plenty of local restaurants and eateries that serve local delicacies. Believe it or not, the local Kenyan food never disappoints. Just pick a good restaurant and order ugali, chapatti, matoke, githeri,fish or the local vegetables. All I can say is that you will keep coming back for more


The best thing to do when it comes to clothing is to dress moderately. The mode of dressing in this country is quite different from the western world. Not everyone will be just fine with tight clothing or shorts. This is especially if you are volunteering in the rural regions. Remember, you will be spending a lot of your time interacting with the locals. Therefore, it’s mandatory to dress accordingly.

Safety precautions

No matter where you go, it’s always advisable to stay on top of your game and be aware of the appropriate safety precautions. This is to avoid scammers, pickpocketers and thieves as well ensure your own safety.

Don’t carry large amounts of money

The truth is Kenyans are friendly and welcoming people. However, it’s a developing country with hundreds of people who are jobless and are forced to turn to crime. There is no need to feel paranoid because most of them are just petty crimes. Carry only a small amount of money with you and don’t walk around with expensive gadgets such as cameras or phones.

Don’t drink tap water

Many places in Kenya have access to clean water. However, a lot of tourists suffer upset stomachs after drinking it. This is simply because they are not accustomed to this kind of water. To be on the safe side, stick with the bottled water.

Don’t walk at night

Walking out at night a foreign country puts you at risk of getting your valuables stolen. What you have to do is call on a reputable taxi service or bus.

Consider taking malaria medications

It will be safer for you to talk to your doctor about taking anti-malaria medications while in Kenya. This is because there is a high risk of you contracting the disease. Also, take precautions such as sleeping under a mosquito net.


There are many great public as well as private hospitals in Kenya that will cater for all your needs when you fall ill. Simply research on some good hospitals within the area that you’ll be staying.

Timings and weekends

Kenyans are not exactly the most punctual people in the world but it’s advisable to arrive on time for important projects. People spend the weekends entertaining themselves and this can last all night.

Religious diversity

The two main religions in Kenya are the Christians and Muslims. You will find a church or a mosque in every region of the country. There are also temples in a number of places especially in the urban regions. When visiting religious places, dress conservatively.

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