Fighting HIV/AIDS and Poverty
Improving Education and Healthcare

FAQ's

I am interested in volunteering. What do I do now?

First, you need to believe that Volunteer Kenya is the right organization for you. Learn about us: our programs, our goals, and our members. If you want to be certain, go through the following steps and it will help you to make a decision:

  • Read through these FAQs. You will likely find that many (hopefully most) of your questions will be answered here.
  • Look through the Orientation Packet. It will help you get a feel for Volunteer Kenya and for Kenya in general.
  • Contact us if you have specific questions at volunteercoordinator@volunteerkenya.org.
  • If you would like to communicate with a past volunteer about their experiences, just ask our Volunteer Coordinator for contact information.

Now, if you are comfortable with Volunteer Kenya and wish to come to Kenya, continue with the following steps:

  • E-mail us volunteercoordinator@volunteerkenya.org for details on how to fill in the on-line application.
  • Ensure that you have the qualifications and/or training required for the program(s) you are interested in. Once you decide which program(s) you wish to be involved with, we can send you the appropriate documents. You should review these before your arrival. We will also put you in touch with the Director(s) of the program(s) you are interested in.
  • Let us know when you are thinking of coming to Kenya. Then we can ensure there is a vacancy on the farm during that time. Once we are sure there will be space, you can look into flights, insurance, visa and passport details. Once you book a flight, let us know exactly when you are coming so we can make arrangements for your arrival.

How do I apply to be a volunteer and how long is the application process?

If you wish to apply to volunteer with us, email us at volunteercoordinator@volunteerkenya.org with any questions and then complete the online application.

Our Volunteer Coordinator will review it and get back to you as soon as possible. This should not take more than a week or two and likely less. Once your application has been reviewed and accepted, you will need to follow through on other preparations. The length of time before you will be able to come to Kenya will be determined by how long these preparations will take. Make sure you have the necessary training for the program of your choice. Finalize your flight itinerary. You will have to communicate with us to make sure we have space available for you during the time you wish to come before you purchase your flight.

Make sure your documents are in order (valid passport, Kenya visa, etc). See a travel doctor and have all required immunizations. Two weeks before you are scheduled to depart, you will need to complete the "Flight Details" form (found under the Resource Center link) concerning your flight details, health issues, emergency contact, and meal preferences.

Do I have to specify a particular program I'm interested in or can I work on several programs while in Kenya?

It is possible to work on several of the different programs during your stay in Kenya. However, we require that you have a focus for your time there. It will help those who are in Kenya to organize your time and their time if they know your area of focus before you arrive. Since most people have limited time in Kenya, it is a shame to waste the first week deciding what you want to do. Your "game plan" will be centered about your primary program of interest. However, you will always be free to contribute to the other programs given the circumstances permit this.

I am unsure what program I want to work on. Is that a problem?

Not immediately. We will work with you to determine where your interests, skills and energy can be best put to use, and then develop a game plan from there. Read through the program information on this website and then email us with any questions you have concerning specific programs. It is best if we sort this out before your placement for the purpose of scheduling. This is especially true during the busy months of May-Aug, when demand for placements is high and most programs will be full. Since each program has an individual limit as to volunteer numbers, it is essential during this period that we know where each volunteer will be working. Outside of these months, there is slightly more flexibility.

Do I need to have any qualifications and/or training to participate in any of the programs?

Yes. All volunteers must be 20 years of age or older by the time of their volunteer placement. Volunteers under the age of 20 may only come if they are accompanied by their parents.  We have had several families come volunteer with us in the past.  The qualifications and required preparation work specific to each program is detailed on the Programs website section for each program. Please read those sections for more details on this. We have extensive training manuals that volunteers in the AIDS Education, Healthcare-Mobile Clinics, and Microenterprise Development programs that you will receive prior to leaving for Kenya. You will receive the orientation training manual for your program after you have submitted an application. You can review these orientation training manuals before making the final decision to confirm your placement.

Will there be other volunteers in Kenya when I go?

Yes. We have volunteers working on the ground in Kenya year round. Since there are volunteers coming and going to Kenya at various times throughout the year, there will be at least a few other volunteers already there when you arrive. Mid-May to Mid-August and Mid-December to Mid-January are the busiest time periods of the year for us, since this is when the students from undergrad and medical school universities are on vacation from school.  During these months we are typically fully booked with 15-20 volunteers. If you are able to schedule your trip outside of these time periods, that would be great.  If not, just make sure to book your placement with us far in advance so we can reserve you a spot.  During the other months of the year we have 3-10 volunteers on the ground working (plus all our Kenyan staff).

Will there be an experienced health professional present at the clinic, or will I work on my own?

Local health care professionals staff the clinic so that the services are still available in the absence of volunteers from abroad.

Is it possible to communicate with patients at the clinic in English?

Many of the people in the village speak English, since English and Swahili are the official languages of Kenya. However, if the language barrier is ever a problem, one of the family members from the farm or one of the health-care workers can assist in translation.

Is there any time during the year when placements are not available?

No. We have volunteer placements 12 months a year. We have volunteers arriving and departing during every month.

What is the minimum length of stay required for a volunteer?

Although we do not strictly prohibit shorter stays, we do request that our volunteers are able to offer at least one month of voluntary services. Things in Kenya happen at a very different pace than in the Western world. It can take some time for a volunteer to travel to the farm, settle in, become accustomed to the lifestyle, learn their schedule, and understand their role. If a volunteer stays for only two weeks, most of their time will be spent getting settled in and little time will be left during which they can make a contribution. We want every volunteer to feel that their time in Kenya was put to good use and that they had adequate time to make an impact. Traveling around the world to try to “make a difference” is a big commitment and it is important that everyone feel they accomplished this desire.

Ideally, volunteers should stay for 6-8 weeks.

Is there a maximum stay for Volunteer Kenya volunteers?

Yes. We allow maximum stays of 3 months for a volunteer's first trip.Volunteer Kenya does not have external funding and therefore, the running of the programs depends on the program fees provided by volunteers, as do the salary fees. The extension rates listed above have been established to help those volunteers who wish to stay a bit longer, to ease the financial burden. However, these fees are not necessarily enough to allow the programs to run for long-term stays.

Life in Kenya is difficult and very different from what most of our volunteers have ever experienced. Kenya is a developing country and most of the people we interact with are living in extreme poverty. Volunteers will need to adjust to living in conditions that can be very foreign to them. No running water. No electricity. Lizards, mice, rats, cockroaches, and even snakes for roommates. This can be a tough change for many people.

A visiting mzungu (non-Kenyan/”white”) can be seen as an opportunity by some. This means that volunteers are likely to be approached by locals in need of food, money, staples, etc. and that many people will see them as a chance to get out of Kenya or to receive support money for themselves, their families, or their “organization”. It can be difficult to make people understand that not every person from the Western world has an unlimited supply of money available to them. Coupled with the differences in culture and the rustic lifestyle, these demands can become trying for volunteers and are compounded the longer a volunteer is in Kenya.

If a volunteer wishes to return to Kenya for a second trip, as many of our volunteers do, they are welcome to stay longer than the two month maximum as long as they discuss this with and get approval by our Executive Director, Reuben Lubanga.

Who will help me organize a game plan prior to my arrival in Kenya?

Your initial correspondence will be with the Volunteer Coordinator. Once you have been accepted as a volunteer, then the Volunteer Coordinator will put you in touch with the director of the program(s) you want to assist. You will then work with the specific Director to organize a game plan

What is a typical day like?

Obviously, the day's events will vary. Events like the launching of a women's consortium can take an entire day and community HIV/AIDS presentations can sometimes extend throughout a day as well. The EMPOWER Peer Education Program takes about 2.5 hours per session so when a course is underway, this can change the daily schedule. Some programs are happening in neighboring districts and therefore may involve more travel time and can alter the daily time-line. Nothing is set in stone due to the rotating locations and program schedule. The below outline is very general and meant to give an idea of what to expect without being a strict daily itinerary. There are times when you will have half or even whole days off and you can choose what you want to do with your free time.

  • Wake up between 6-9am
  • Go on morning run (or sleep longer)
  • Shower
  • Have breakfast (bread, butter, jam, peanuts, chai)
  • Go to a local school for an AIDS Education presentation or go to the Clinic, or go to the school (Epico Jahns) to prepare your teaching plans and start class.
  • For those participating in EMPOWER or mobile clinics, head out around 9am
  • Eat lunch at the farm, at the school, or eat a picnic lunch that you pack in the morning
  • Continue your volunteer program activities (school, clinic AIDS, presentations)
  • Take tea between 4-6pm when you return home from the day's work
  • Hang out, chat, relax, write in journal, run, go to the market, etc.
  • Eat dinner around 8pm

Hang out, chat, relax, write in journal, etc

Will I enjoy every day in Kenya?

Probably not. While you will most likely have the experience of a lifetime, there will inevitably be days when you will ask yourself "Why did I do this?" Living in a rural African village can present difficult situations that you have never encountered before. You will experience the realities of poverty firsthand. There will probably be a few times when you want to just quit and go back home. However, for all this hard work you will do, you will have many very rewarding and enriching experiences. A great deal of satisfaction can be gained from making a positive contribution to the local community through the development programs. You will most likely leave Kenya with a better understanding of the human condition.

What is the difference between "Volunteer Kenya" and "ICODEI"?

The above two names represent the same group and work. "ICODEI" (InterCommunity Development Involvement) is what the Kenyan community based organization has been known as locally since 1998. However, there is no name recognition with "ICODEI" internationally (i.e. ICODEI is not descriptive of the work). The name "Volunteer Kenya" came about during 2002 as a way to better reflect what we do. Hence, "ICODEI" is the local name for our work and "Volunteer Kenya" is the name internationally.

How much are the Volunteer Fees and what do they include?

Total Volunteer Fees for one month are $1,500 USD. This includes pick-up from the Nairobi Airport (assuming you are doing a safari), program materials and expenses, program transport (such as vehicle repair and gas), salaries for the Kenyan staff, and Room and Board.  Volunteers receive 3 meals a day, 7 days a week while on the farm.  Volunteers are housed in our 4-person volunteer huts located on what used to be a sugarcane farm in the heart of rural Africa.  This “sugarcane farm” now contains a primary school, public library and clinic (all built and funded by volunteers and local community members).

Not included in this fee are airplane tickets, bus tickets to/from Nairobi / Bungoma: $20 - 25 USD, safari fees, leisure travel, souvenirs, and food/drink outside of the home stay.  It does not include your flight to Kenya. Volunteers need to purchase and pay for their own flight separately. The breakdown of these Volunteer Fees and a more detailed explanation of them can be found in the Volunteer Fees & Dates section of the website located under the Resource Center tab. Click here to be directed to this section.

Do you have any discount arrangements with safari companies?

Due to the volume of volunteers we have coming to Kenya each year, we have worked out a special deal with a Safari company so that our volunteers (who are usually on a tight budget) can go on a safari at a reduced rate.  For $600 USD, volunteers can take a 3-day safari in the Masaii Mara National Reserve, one of Africa’s most popular safari destinations.  The $600 fee includes transportation to and from Nairobi and all accommodations and meals while on safari. Volunteers going on a safari also get a free night stay at a Guest house in Nairobi when they first arrive in Kenya and free pick-up at the Nairobi airport.

Almost all of our volunteers take advantage of this great opportunity.  All arrangements and payment for the safari is handled directly between the volunteer and the Safari company, which can be done either before or after you arrive in Kenya . Most volunteers wait to book the safari until they arrive in Kenya and typically go on the safari at the end of their trip.  You do not need to book the safari during your first days in Nairobi. You can communicate with the Safari company while you are volunteering in Kabula and make arrangements then.

Is there any financial support provided for the volunteer's plane ticket or other Fees?

No. Unfortunately, we have no external funding and operate on a shoestring budget. However, we can assist you if you are interested in fundraising before you travel to Kenya

Can I raise money for my trip and have the donations be tax-deductible?

Yes. If you are interested in fundraising for both the programs and your personal travel expenses, please contact us and we can give you the details. Donations made towards the programs can be tax deductible whereas donations towards personal expenses cannot be tax deductible. Volunteer Kenya is registered in the U.S. as a 501c3 public charity.

What has worked for other volunteers for fundraising?

Past volunteers have found that talking to people you know and asking for direct support has proved successful. If you or your parents are members of any organization (Rotary Club, Churches, etc.), contact them and see if you can give a presentation about your trip and solicit funds. You can put together events as well. Many companies are willing to donate prizes that you can use to entice people to game days or challenges with entry fees, etc. Please be sure that you are clear where the funds will be used. Some people will give only to personal travel. Some will give only to the programs. Some do not care where their donation is used. Be persistent. It will work out.

Do you have a Power Point presentation I could use to solicit funds?

Yes. If this is of interest to you, please contact us so we can give you directions on how to access this file.

Do you suggest I make my own plane reservations?

Yes. Volunteers are responsible for their own round trip transportation to and from Nairobi . Cheap flights can be purchased from www.flycheapabroad.com , www.cheapflights.com , www.airfareplanet.com , www.CheapOAir.com , Council Travel, STA Travel, and TravelCuts.  Round trip flights from the Midwest and East Coast of the US cost around $1,300 USD (as of April 2007).

Who will pick me up at the airport? Where do we go from the airport?

A representative from Volunteer Kenya (who is the driver) or a taxi driver hired by Volunteer Kenya will meet you at the Nairobi airport when your flight lands. They will be holding a sign for you at the gate in the airport lobby once you exit the security check point (right after you get your luggage). Once you meet our representative, you should use the ATM in the airport (it is to the right side of the lobby once you leave the luggage area) to get 8,000 (KSH) Kenya Shillings (that is about 100 USD)  so that you have Kenyan currency.  The driver will bring you to a Guest House in Nairobi located in a very nice suburb within Nairobi. It is a clean, nice guest house with hot showers, electricity, and enough beds. You will need to pay the taxi driver the taxi fare of 2,500 Ksh (about $30 USD) for the ride from the airport into Nairobi. The fee for staying at the Guest House is $20 USD per night. They will cook you food for $3-6 per meal. For those who will be booking a safari, the taxi from the airport to the guest house is free..  All volunteers need to pay for their departure transport to the Nairobi airport. Payment must be in Kenya Shillings and payment must be made in Kenya Shillings – so make sure you use the ATM at the airport. You are welcome to stay elsewhere if you choose. If you choose to stay elsewhere in Nairobi, you are responsible for all extra transportation expenses and making arrangements to get to the bus station for onward travel.

How will we get from Nairobi to the farm in Kabula?

The transportation details are outlined in the Orientation Packet. We recommend that volunteers use the Easy Coach bus., which leaves every morning from Nairobi to Bungoma at 8: 3 0am . This is a very safe, reliable, an inexpensive mode of travel. It costs around $20 - 25 USD and takes 8 hours.

Do you have any information about travel insurance?

STA Travel (USA) offers travel insurance. For more information, please call 1-800-543-3797 or visit their web site at www.statravel.com. In Canada, check with Travel Cuts for Bon Voyage Insurance (also available in the US). For info, call 1-800-361-3119 or email bonvoyage@pottruffsmith.com.

I am interested in doing some traveling besides the safari. Do you have any information about possible trips and their prices?

Please e-mail volunteer Kenya coordinator for further information on this: volunteercoordinator@volunteerkenya.org

 

What type of visa do I need?

Although it may seem like you would need some type of service or non-tourist visa, the Kenyan Embassy in DC and the Kenyan High Commission in Ottawa have said that anyone not earning any money in Kenya need just apply for a Tourist Visa. Please contact Immigration in Nairobi to confirm this (The Principal Immigration Officer, Department of Immigration, PO Box 30191, Nairobi: Tel. 254 2 222022). Let us all know if you receive different advice. Contacts for USA, Canada, and the UK are below.

Embassy of the Republic of Kenya
2249 R Street N.W.
Washington, DC
20008
Tel: 202 387 6101
E-mail: info@kenyaembassy.com

Kenya High Commission
415 Laurier Ave. East
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 6R4
Tel: 613 563 1773/1776/1778
E-mail: kenrep@on.aibn.com

Kenya High Commission
45 Portland Place
London, England
United Kingdom
W1N 4AS
Tel: 0870 162 0849

A single entry visa for Kenya will allow you to re-enter Kenya from Uganda or Tanzania without paying any extra fees. If you are planning on traveling to any other countries while in Africa, with the intent of coming back into Kenya, you should consider getting a multiple entry visa. US citizens can get 6-month visas for Kenya. However, the entry stamp needs to be updated after three months. Canadian citizens can only get 3-month visas so if you are planning to stay longer, you will need to extend your visa (and update the stamp) in Nairobi or Kisumu. Try Kisumu as they seem to be a little more accommodating and it is closer to Kabula. Although Visa applications are most often processed and returned in 7-10 days, it might be a good idea to deal with this sooner rather than later, just in case there are complications and/or delays of any kind. Send in your application as soon as you book a flight. However, for those of you planning an extended trip, keep in mind that the visa is good from date of issue so if you apply a month before you leave, you will have one less month in Kenya during which your visa will be valid.

Will I live with community members or in separate housing?

You will live on a large sugar cane farm with Rev. Reuben Lubanga and his extended family of 50+ members in the rural village of Kabula .

Volunteers stay in the four grass-thatched mud huts which were built in 2003 for the specific purpose of housing volunteers. Each has two bunk beds and hence, they can house 16 people in total. The huts are very nice and have a locking door, a cement floor, glass windows, and a dry roof. Camping on Reuben’s property is an option for those who are more adventurous (but the Room & Board fee is still the same). The Orientation Packet and Photo Album sections on this web site contain a picture of the volunteer huts. There is also a picture of the huts rotating through on the Home Page.

Will the farm have running water and electricity?

Water is drawn from a well on the farm. It can then be boiled and/or filtered for drinking. It can also be boiled for showers. There is a power generator on the farm which often runs in the evenings. This is an option only when there is money available from program fees to maintain the generator (ie repairs and/or fuel). Since the program fees are usually required for specific program-related expenses, this is a luxury that cannot be expected regularly. It is recommended that you bring a flashlight (the LED headlamps mentioned in the Orientation Packet are a good idea) for reading (especially in bed) and trips to the latrine.

What are the washrooms like? Are there showers or toilets?

While on the farm, you will have use of an outhouse on Reuben’s property. There are three shower stalls and three latrines. All have doors with locks. One of the latrines is a long drop, which means there is a hole in the floor and you need to practice your aim. Two of the latrines have actual toilets in them, which is a luxury and not common in Western Kenya . The shower stalls have a small hole in the ground for drainage but do not have a showerhead. You can boil some water and mix it in a bucket with cold water from the well to use for ‘showering’. Each volunteer hut is equipped with a plastic pitcher that you can use to get water from the bucket for washing. When you are in town, traveling, or on presentations, be prepared for some less-than-ideal washroom set-ups. Most will be long-drops and many will be very dirty.

Is the water safe to drink?

No. Although most often the locals drink the water without treatment of any kind, it is not recommended that volunteers do. Having not been previously exposed to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be found in the water, we are more likely to become ill.

Should I bring a water filter with me? Are there other options for water safety?

It is strongly advised that people bring a water filter or purifier with them to Kenya. They can be used on the farm, as well as when you are traveling throughout other parts of Kenya. Please pay close attention when buying a filter or purifier, since you will want to purchase the best equipment possible. Try to find a water purifier as opposed to a water filter.

They usually have filters with smaller pore sizes and the water will not have to be treated further after purifying. The employees of any store that sells outdoor equipment will be able to assist you. Another option is treating the water with chlorine or iodine treatment systems. Boiling is also an option, although must be organized around the cooking times.

What is the availability and cost of bottled water?

Bottled water can be purchased in Bungoma. A five-litre bottle costs approximately $3 USD. Volunteers who do not have a filter often purchased bottled water for drinking while they are in Kenya.

Are there cultural restrictions as to what I can wear while in Kenya?

While you are on the farm, you can be somewhat less cautious about the manner in which you dress. When you are out in the community, we ask that you follow local etiquette. Due to the local culture, we advise that women wear pants and/or long skirts when out working in the community. Footwear is anything from hiking boots to open-toed sandals, basically anything you would wear at home. If you are a female volunteer that enjoys wearing shorter skirts and shorts, please ask Reuben if the attire is appropriate for any given situation. However, feel free to bring shorts since there will be plenty of occasions when this attire is fine. As with any other issue, if you approach it with cultural sensitivity in mind, you will be fine. Please ask questions when you are not sure what is and is not appropriate.

What is the political situation in Kenya right now and do you think it will affect any potential trips?

During late December 2007 and January/February 2008, Kenya went through a very difficult and contentious situation that resulted from the Presidential election held on December 27. The results of this election were contested by various political and tribal parties and it caused rioting and violence in many parts of Kenya. Therefore, we had to stop most of our volunteers program and make accommodations for the volunteers to leave Kenya.  None of our volunteers were in any immediate danger - we just want to take the safety precaution.  Since all of our programs involve daily traveling (using our vehicles) to rural villages in western Kenya, we can’t take the chance of running the programs when the roads may not be safe. As of mid-February 2008, we have still put a hold on accepting volunteers in Kenya. We don’t know if the situation will stabilize in weeks or months. Hopefully, the situation will be resolved soon and Kenya will be back to the stable country it once was.

Most of the rioting and violence during January 2008 involved the tribal groups of the two presidential candidates (Kikuyu and Luo). Many of the violent activities in Kenya that were being shown on the news involved clashes where Kenyans were targeting members of these tribes.  All of our staff members and families in the village area where we are located are members of the Luhya tribe. Therefore, our staff members were not targets of the violence. Once the situation in Kenya stabilized during March 2008 we restarted all our programs. Since then, we have had over 75 volunteers and have had no complaints or problems regarding the past political situation. Please review travel websites such as:

http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/
http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/africa/archive/
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_kenya.html
http://travel.state.gov/index.html

I am a young female and very concerned about safety, especially since I have never traveled to Africa before. Will I be working together with some local people?

When you are out in the community working on the programs, you will always be with someone from the farm where you'll live. After some time in Kenya, you might feel more comfortable and go out and about on your own. Always use common sense.

How should I take my money to Kenya?

The ATM’s in Nairobi and Bungoma are the best way to get money. There is an ATM at the Nairob airport once volunteers walk outside of the security points. Volunteers should use the ATM to get some travel money for their trip to Bungoma. Once you arrive on the farm you can use the ATM’s in Bungoma. There is a Barclays Bank ATM in Bungoma that most volunteers use. Traveler’s checks are also a good way to carry your money. You can cash the traveler’s checks at the Barclay’s Bank in Bungoma or in Nairobi at a Forex before you travel to the farm. It is also a good idea to carry with you $100 USD to use in case of an emergency. It is also recommended that you have a VISA or MasterCard.

Are there ATMs in Bungoma?

Yes. Barclay's Bank has one ATM. The machine does go down on occasion but not usually for very long. If you keep the $100USD (7,000KShs) on hand for emergencies, you won't be terribly inconvenienced if this happens. Past volunteers have never had to go more than a couple of days without access to an ATM.

Where can I keep my money safe?

Your possessions are generally safe while they are on the farm, so you need not be paranoid about people stealing your belongings. However, there are a lot of people coming and going on the farm due to the Public Library, Primary school and Clinic being located there, so if anything is ever missing, you need to tell Reuben immediately so he can straighten things out.

Depending on your housing arrangement, there are various options. If you live in one of the volunteer huts, there will be a lock on the front door. If you live with Reuben, there is lockable furniture where you can store valuables. You can purchase small locks in Bungoma for $2 USD, so there is no need to bring them with you.

How often will I be able to contact home via phone or email?

Email and phone services usually operate daily in Bungoma, which is a seven-mile (10km) ride from the farm. We also have two cell phones available for volunteer use. The frequency of calling/emailing is up to the volunteer. However, keep in mind that a trip to Bungoma just to send an email can take several hours if you are relying on public transport (i.e. you have to wait to be picked up on the main road; there's no set schedule; you have to wait for the vans to fill completely before they will leave Bungoma heading towards the farm/Kabula). However, the trip to Bungoma only costs 25 cents (US). On the return trip you can hire a taxi for $6-7 USD total, which can be worth the extra money as you won't have to sit in Bungoma waiting a long time for the vans to fill up. There will also be times when many people head into town and can use the 4-wheel drive truck we own (so long as it is not needed for anything program-related).

Do you recommend buying a cell phone once in Kenya?

It is up to you and depends on how long you will be staying. You can purchase cell phones in either Nairobi or Bungoma for $50 USD. You do not have to sign a service agreement. You buy “Scratch Cards” which give you service. Once your minutes are exhausted, you can buy more cards or you can just receive calls but not place any. You only use your minutes when you initiate the call. Hence, you can still receive incoming calls when your minutes run out. Not only is this convenient for communicating with the people working on the programs, but family and friends from home can call this cell phone too. Sometimes you have to leave the farm and walk 10 minutes toward the main road or high ground to get service. You are welcome to buy scratch cards for one of the two phones already available on the farm and put the minutes into one of these or give these numbers as your contacts while in Kenya . You will need to have open communication with the other volunteers so that phone-time does not become an issue.

How long does it take to get mail and/or packages to Kenya from North America?

Letters can take from 5-14 days from North America. Packages from the United States/Canada usually take 2-3 weeks to arrive in Kenya. However, volunteers have had experiences in which packages never arrived or arrived after several months. It is very inconsistent. Due to corruption in the postal service, it is not advisable to ship items of excessive value.

What is the direct mailing address for volunteers in Kenya?

Name of Volunteer
C/o Reverend Reuben Lubanga P.O. Box 459
Bungoma, Kenya
50200
East Africa

Will there be any free time?

Yes. Your schedule will be determined by the amount of work that you want to do while in Kenya. If you are tired and need a break, just tell Joyce and there won't be any problems.

When will I have free time?

Your schedule is flexible. If you are working on the EMPOWER Peer Education Program, then you’ll be working Monday-Saturday. Most of our volunteer programs run Monday through Friday and so volunteers have the weekends off from work. Some weeks there may be program activities on the weekend, so you can adjust your schedule accordingly during the week. Taking a break is never an issue.

You are there as a volunteer, so it is important that you are working in the areas of your interests and within your limits. Please keep in mind that nobody is going to be breathing down your neck saying, "Get to work". You have to be self-motivated. Most people that go to Kenya to volunteer are there for a reason: to make a contribution to the community while also gaining rich personal experience and insight into the human condition. So you are free to take breaks, just let Joyce know a little in advance.

What can you do with your free time?

You can always travel around to other communities nearby. The Kakamega Rainforest is only 1.5 hours away. Kisumu, one of the larger cities in Kenya , is only two hours away. This is where most volunteers go for their souvenirs, since it is a lot cheaper than in Nairobi. There are also some great hikes close to the farm. When you are not volunteering, you will probably spend some time in Bungoma running errands (i.e. sending email, buying chocolate, toilet paper, etc.). Spending time with people on the farm is a great way to learn more about the culture, the family, and people’s perspective on life. Since the farm is off the main road, running on the dirt roads can be a fun activity. Most of the time you will end up with a bunch of little barefoot kids running with you and laughing (probably at you!). For those that enjoy beer, there is a small bar near the farm that welcomes volunteers. Occasionally there will be live music in Bungoma, which makes for a fun evening.

Most volunteers also take a weekend trip to go white water rafting on the Nile River in Jinja , Uganda (which is only about 3 hours away from Bungoma). We recommend that volunteers use Adrift Rafting Company (http://www.surfthesource.com/home.htm).

If I do not want to travel alone (either on a day trip, or for a few days), will someone from the farm be willing to go with me?

Yes. However, you will be responsible for all travel costs, including transportation, food and lodging. Please keep in mind that the family members from the farm enjoy showing you around, but they lack the financial resources to do so. Basically, if you weren't there, they would not go do this on their own.

If I am interested in doing some leisure travel, can you help me organize this?

Yes. As mentioned earlier, we have a partnership with a good and reliable Safari company in Nairobi. They give our volunteers a good deal and can arrange safaris as well as other excursions for you

What type of clothes should I bring?

Please read the Orientation Packet. There you will find a list of the "Necessities." Let us know if you have any other questions about clothing.

Will I be able to buy some of the essentials in Bungoma or do I have to bring enough for my entire trip?

There are several grocery stores in Bungoma where you can get most anything you need. If you are brand-loyal, then you might want to bring enough supplies for your entire trip. Essentials like shampoo, soap, cotton buds, feminine hygiene products, razors, shaving foam, etc are available. Items such as insect repellent, anti-itch ointments (such as Benadryl or Calamine) and medications would be better to bring from home.

Will I be able to buy some of the essentials in Bungoma or do I have to bring enough for my entire trip?

There are several grocery stores in Bungoma where you can get most anything you need. If you are brand-loyal, then you might want to bring enough supplies for your entire trip. Essentials like shampoo, soap, cotton buds, feminine hygiene products, razors, shaving foam, etc are available. Items such as insect repellent, anti-itch ointments (such as Benadryl or Calamine) and medications would be better to bring from home.

Should I take a sleeping bag?

Sleeping bags are a great item to take with you. Not only will you use if for bedding in your home on the farm, but you can also take it with you during your leisure travels. It is a good idea to also take a sheet because there will be times when your sleeping bag will be too hot.

Is Volunteer Kenya , ICODEI, and/or any of its employees/volunteers responsible for my safety and health while in Kenya ? Can I hold them liable for any problems I may encounter?

No. We care very much for the safety of our volunteers and work to do our best to prepare you for the trip and watch over you during your time in Kenya . However, we cannot be held responsible for your safety or health while in Kenya. Volunteers must accept full responsibility for their own actions, safety, and health while in Kenya .

We cannot watch over every volunteer every day since many of our volunteers go off on their own personal trips throughout their time in Kenya . Even while partaking in volunteer activities, the volunteers must assume all responsibility and realize that they are in a third-world country with a lower level of healthcare, safety, hygiene, and development than in their home countries.

We cannot guarantee that a problem will not occur in the future and we cannot be held liable if it does. All volunteers must agree to the guidelines set forth in the "Assumption of Risk and Release and Hold Harmless Agreement" and the"Proof of Insurance Agreement" before they submit their "Flight Details" form before they depart for Kenya.