Fighting HIV/AIDS and Poverty
Improving Education and Healthcare

Orientation Information

Inter-Community Development Involvment Orientation Packet

Click here for the document in MS Word.

Airport Pick-up and Transportation to Bungoma

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 $30-40 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.

If you plan to do a safari, you can book your safari and make the arrangements after you already get to the ICODEI farm in Kabula. You do NOT need to book your safari when you arrive in Nairobi and do NOT need to pay a deposit then. We recommend that you wait to make these decisions until you get to the Kabula farm and meet with other volunteers. This way you can schedule trips together. There are cell phones at the farm that you can use to reach the Safari company and make arrangements. If you as a volunteer feel uncomfortable at any time because you think the driver is trying to negotiate a new price with you, please let us know as well as Reuben and the international coordination staff through e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The taxi price should be 2500 Ksh (tip is already included).

Volunteers should stay in Nairobi for one night (or two if needed) and then take the 8:00am Easy Coach bus to Bungoma (8.5-9 hours – but with two stops for food and restrooms). The first stop is for 20 minutes and the second stop is only for 5 minutes. During the first stop, you can buy lunch at the diner (quickly) or go to the general store that is located to the right of the diner to buy basic lunch supplies like bread, cookies, fruit, etc. The Easy Coach bus is the most safe and comfortable transportation option for volunteers from Nairobi to Bungoma. Matatus and private taxis often break down. The Easy Coach bus ticket costs 1500 Ksh (around $20 USD) and can be purchased on the morning of your departure at the bus station. Please make sure to tell our representative (and Reuben) who picks you up at the airport that you wish to leave on the next morning’s Easy Coach bus to Bungoma so that he comes back to pick you up from by 7:30am. The driver will assist you in getting your bus ticket. If you wish to spend an extra day in Nairobi, you must tell the airport driver so that he knows when to come get you for the bus. If you do stay in Nairobi, it is highly recommended that volunteers do not venture outside of the Hostel, especially on their own. Nairobi can often be a dangerous city for visitors and so you should NOT wander around (especially at night). Thieves in Nairobi often target unsuspecting overseas visitors (even during the day).

We recommend you contact us after flight details have been submitted to confirm your arrival. Make sure that you have your plans set (arrival times and itinerary) and then email them at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. please remember to email your Flight Details form 2 weeks prior to your arrival in Kenya. Ask the Volunteer Coordinator for this form if you have not already received it. Volunteer Kenya needs this email form and that is how we know when to pick you up at the airport. If for some reason one of our representatives is not at the airport when you arrive (this is very rare – they are very good), wait 30 minutes.

If for some reason our representative is not at the airport, you can call us to ask if a driver is coming or if you should get a taxi to the guest house. Reuben’s phone 0725156704 Joyce’s phone (ICODEI Operations Manager) 0736437449 or 0715690525

This is very rare. Occasionally there are flight changes at the last minute and the new flight arrival information has not been received. If you are unable to reach us or Reuben take a taxi to the Upper Hill Campsite. There are many taxi’s available at the airport that can take you there. A taxi from the airport to the Upper Hill hostel should only cost around 2,500 ($30 USD) – make sure to still use the ATM in the airport to get some Kenya Shillings cash. If you take the taxi to Upper Hill, please call Reuben to let him know you have arrived.

In the morning, a Upper Hill driver will take you to the Easy Coach bus station. Once the volunteer boards the Easy Coach bus to Bungoma, our representative will call or text Reuben and Joyce in Kabula to let him know that the volunteer will be arriving that night. Reuben or Joyce will then send an ICODEI driver to pick up the volunteer at the Bungoma bus station and bring them to the farm in Kabula. Kabula is the village where you will be living (it’s where we are headquartered) and is a 15 minute drive from Bungoma town. The bus usually arrives in Bungoma around 5:30pm. Just stand by the bus station and an ICODEI driver will come to get you. They are usually already there when you arrive. If not, just wait a few minutes for them to show up. You will be easy to find since there aren’t many other non-Africans that travel to Bungoma

If there is nobody at the Bungoma bus stop to pick you up, please offer someone at the bus stop 20-50Ksh to use their phone and call Reuben at 0725156704, or Joyce at 0715690525.Reuben is well known in town and so you will likely find someone that would call him for you for free.

If you are traveling with a large group and want to take a private van to Kabula from Nairobi (this will shorten the trip by 2 hours), you can arrange for a van from the Safari company we are in touch with. This costs about $250 USD and the fee can be split among the group. You can fit 5-7 people in their van comfortably. You need to email us to arrange this prior to leaving for Kenya.

Once you arrive in Bungoma, you will not need to pay for any transport or hostel stays. All of that is included in your Volunteer Fees. The only transport you need to pay is for the arrival in Nairobi and bus ride to Bungoma. Once you arrive at ICODEI, you will be transported by ICODEI vehicles on all program activities. Please print this out and bring it on your flight. Also make sure to bring a copy of the Orientation Manual word document.

Other Options for Nairobi Accommodations:

If you plan to stay in Nairobi for a few days and want to travel around the city, there are two good hostel options. Upper Hill is a good hostel in Nairobi too. Feel free to check out their website for specific details of the accommodations, location, and amenities ( Upper Hill is a typical hostel with shared rooms (there are several bunk beds per room). It is very similar to the youth hostels throughout Europe. Sometimes, they may have private rooms available for a higher price. The other hostel option is Milimani Backpacker’s Hostel. Milimani is a newer hostel with dorm rooms , camping for cheaper, and private rooms for more. Some volunteers have preferred the atmosphere of this hostel. Is has a fun gathering point, bar, and food. See the new Lonely Planet Kenya book for more details. If you are traveling with a family or prefer to stay at a nicer mid-tier accommodation with your own room, you can stay at the Ngong Hills Hotel ( The hotel rooms are 4,100 Ksh ($65 USD subject to change) for a Double and 3200 Ksh ($50 USD subject to change) for a Single room( prices at theses hotel/hostels are not arranged by ICODEI ,as such they could vary at different times. Make sure you check with them first before you book in) . If you would like to stay at any of the above accommodations instead of the Guest House volunteer Kenya has specifically agreed with to host volunteers just email us in advance. You can chose where you’d like to stay. We suggest newly arriving volunteers stay at our selected Guest House since it is well organized for your transport to the bus station the next morning . If you do stay in Nairobi, it is highly recommended that volunteers do not venture outside of the hostel or hotel accommodations on their own or at night. Nairobi can often be a dangerous city for visitors and so you should NOT wander around at night. Thieves in Nairobi often target unsuspecting overseas visitors (even during the day). Watch your bags and never hand over your passport The guest house is very safe and offers everything a volunteer will need (food, bar, lounge, TV, outside areas to hang out, other travelers to talk with) – please stay inside the compound.

Living Accommodations

The housing situation can be by far one of the most interesting aspects of your trip. In the rural areas of Kenya , there are two predominant types of houses. Many families live in houses made of mud with straw roofs. The floors are made of a mixture of cow manure and water, which is spread smoothly over the surface of the ground (by hand!). Don’t worry, they only smell for a day or two after they are put down. The way these homes are made is absolutely amazing! The straw roofs provide for cool shade from the hot sun in the summer months and are totally waterproof for protection in the rainy season. Others live in cement houses with tin roofs or the mud house but with a tin roof. All options suffice and are plenty comfortable. Most rural homesteads don’t have electricity or running water. The farm now has a power generator that goes on right before dinner and goes off around midnight . Therefore, volunteers are able to charge any items with batteries and will be able to eat dinner with electricity on. Water is drawn from the well on the farm and is either filtered for drinking or heated for bathing. Beds usually consist of a wooden frame with a foam mattress.

Volunteer accommodations on the ICODEI/Volunteer Kenya compound consist of four of the mud huts with grass roofs. Each hut has two bedrooms with one bunk bed in each and a common area with table and chairs. All four huts have lockable doors and windows

Volunteer Huts

The currency used in Kenya is the Kenya schilling (KSh). Please visit The Universal Currency Converter ( for current exchange rates.

Most volunteer access their money through the use of ATMs. There is an ATM in the Nairobi airport once you pass through security. It is recommended that volunteers take out at least $100 USD in Kenya Shillings from the ATM when they arrive. This should be enough traveling money to have. Volunteer then use the banks in Bungoma to make larger withdrawals. There are several ATMs in Bungoma which allow you to make withdrawals of up to $400 USD per day. The Barclays branch in Bungoma has an ATM and volunteers have not had to go more than a couple of days without access to funds. It is a good idea to have a Visa/MasterCard with you just in case of an emergency. You are able to get cash advances at banks in Bungoma, Nairobi , Mombasa and Kisumu. It is advisable that you carry a small amount of cash with you upon entrance into Kenya for those little unexpected necessities. Optimally, you can use your bankcard to access funds from your home account and if you keep about $100 USD for emergencies, you’ll be covered if the ATM in Bungoma goes down.

The safest way to carry money in Kenya is your bank card. This way, if they would get lost or stolen you would be able to contact your bank back home and request them to block it or have a new one. We therefore, ask to have contact information of your bank somewhere separately in case this situation arises. With your card, you can withdraw money from ATM machines scattered all over town. However, withdrawing cash is subject to a certain transaction fee. Please check with your bank on international transaction fees.


Staying in touch with loved ones back home is very important and difficult. Letters are generally the easiest way of communicating. They usually take 1-2 weeks to reach home from Kenya . In-coming mail is a little harder to predict. Usually letters arrive within two weeks from the US or Canada but packages are not as regular. They can arrive in two weeks, two months, or not at all. Due to corruption in the postal service, please recommend to friends and family that they not send anything of value. There is email access in Bungoma. If you do not already have a web browser based email account such as Hotmail or Yahoo, please set one up before departing because most computers do not have other email software such as Telnet. While in Nairobi , email and telephones are readily available and much cheaper than in Bungoma. Phone calls can usually be made at local post offices, though they are very expensive (usually about $8 for a 3-minute call). Most post offices will allow your family/friends to call you back on their bill. It is usually a lot cheaper for someone in the U.S. to call Kenya than vice-versa. You can also buy phone cards that you can use at pay phones. There are also two cell phones on the farm that are available for volunteer use. These phones run on pre-paid cards and volunteers are responsible for buying their own cards and compromising phone time with each other. Here are the phone numbers to share with family and friends:

1. Reuben: +254 - (0)- 725156704
2. Betty (Reuben’s wife): +254 - (0) - 725156730

**Please note that if there is a problem with using any of these numbers,
please try to omit the zero. For example: Dial 254-725 - 156704

The following is the address of the family that you will live with while in Kenya :

Reuben Lubanga
P.O. Box 459
Bungoma , Kenya
East Africa

This is the address that you will be receiving your personal mail through as well. Have friends/family members clearly write your name, c/o Reuben.

Leisure Travel

If you have extra days built into your schedule while in Kenya , there are a great many things to see and do. The options include, but are not limited to, going on a safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve (one of the world’s best game parks), climbing Mt. Kenya or Kilimanjaro (Africa ’s two tallest mountains) or relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Indian Ocean . We will do what we can as far as local hikes and attractions but if you wish to book any of the above-listed excursions, you will do well to use a touring or safari company. Of course, you are welcome to decide on a company on your own but we have a partner safari company in Nairobi that can help you put something together.

The Necessities to Bring on Your Trip

Items indicated with * are those things which are available in Bungoma. Hence, if you are short on space or heavy on weight, you might choose to purchase them once you arrive in Kenya . Of course, there are markets with lots of used clothing so if you don’t bring a certain article of clothing and discover a need for it, you can always wander into Bungoma on market day! Most toiletries are available in supermarkets but if you are brand loyal, you might want to consider bringing enough for your whole trip. Insect repellent, anti-itch ointments (Benadryl, Calamine lotion, etc) and medications are best brought from home.


* Valid passport and photocopy of front two pages (in case of loss)
* Kenya VISA and photocopy
* Other forms of picture identification (drivers license, state issued identification card, Age of Majority card, etc.)
* Immunization Records
* Details of medications you are taking
* If you bring a syringe kit, you need paperwork from your doctor
* Documentation regarding any pre-existing illness/allergy which might require medical treatment


* Long sleeve shirts (for evening, light colors are a good idea)
* Hiking pants (comfortable, light-weight, fast-drying)
* Warm-up pants, jogging pants, tear-aways, etc
* Socks
* Underwear
* Shorts
* Skirts (they are comfortable in the heat and culturally acceptable if below the knees)
* Cool, comfortable T-shirts
* One ‘nice’ outfit (for church or other, should still maintain a high comfort level)
* A warm fleece (evenings, especially in the wet season when it gets cool at night)
* Something comfortable to sleep in (temperature will range from uncomfortably hot to cool at night, depending on time of year)
* Comfortable shoes (hiking boots, running shoes, sports sandals)
* Baseball cap/sun hat/bandana (protection from the sun)
* Rain gear (possibly Gore-Tex, depending on the season of travel)

Keep in mind that you need to be comfortable. It will likely be very hot and you have to hand-wash all of your clothes. Hence, heavier, hard-to-wash items are not recommended. In most circumstances, it is acceptable for women to wear tank tops, but discretion needs to be used. Ask Reuben if you are unsure. Opened-toed shoes/sandals are almost always acceptable and are worn by most locals and visitors

Other Essentials

* Sheets/Lightweight sleeping bag
* Pillow*
* Light-weight towel*
* Mosquito netting*
* First Aid kit
* Insect repellent
* Soap/Shampoo/Toiletries*
* Suntan lotion*
* Lip protectant (with SPF of at least 15, Blistex, etc)
* Sunglasses
* Hip pack for odds and ends
* Water filter/purifier (PUR brand with iodine treated filters works well as does FirstNeed purifier)
* Flashlight with plenty of extra batteries* and bulbs (we highly recommend a head-lamp style light with an LED bulb, check any outdoor outfitter store)
* Travel alarm clock
* Sewing kit
* Pocket knife (Swiss Army, Leatherman, etc)
* Water bottle (Nalgene, Platypus, or similar)
* Camera with plenty of film* / extra memory card
* Binoculars (splendid if you plan to go on safari)
* Journal

Suggested for your Travel Medical Kit

Many of these are available at local chemists but getting to a chemist when they are needed could be an issue.
* Prescription medications in original containers
* Analgesic (acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
* Antihistamine (Benadryl, etc)
* Medication for vaginal yeast infection
* Antiseptic
* Bandages, tensor, tweezers…
* Antibiotic and anti fungal ointments
* Antimotility medication (Imodium, etc)
* Antacid
* Oral rehydration salts (Gastrolyte, etc)
* Anti-itch ointment (such as Benadryl or Calamine)
* EpiPen/Anakit (for life-threatening allergies)
* Medic alert bracelet
* Vitamins
* Needles, syringes, with physician letter (ask your travel doctor)
* Antibacterial hand sanitizer (Purell, etc)
* Condoms

Visa and Passport Information

* Some contacts for obtaining a Kenyan visa are as follows:

Embassy of the Republic of Kenya
2249 R Street N.W.
Washington , DC
Tel: 202 387 6101
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kenya High Commission
415 Laurier Ave. East
Ottawa , Ontario
K1N 6R4
Tel: 613 563 1773/1776/1778
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

* Passport applications can be obtained through most local post offices. All you need to do is fill out the proper forms, obtain two passport-sized photographs and send them with a money order to the designated address. For more information about VISAs and passports, please visit Travisa’s web site (

Immunizations and other Health Concerns

As you are aware, there are health concerns that accompany travel to a developing country. Although the Kenyan government does not require any immunizations for travel into Kenya , the following vaccinations are recommended:

  • Cholera: There are three different strains of the bacteria that cause cholera. The vaccine gives good protection against the “classic” strain, 65% protection against the “El Tor” strain (currently the most common) but none against the newest strain (found mostly in the Indian subcontinent). The vaccine is offered as 2 injections or oral. As it is a live vaccine, it will not work if you are taking antibiotics. The vaccination is not often given in Canada and the U.S. but please ask your travel doctor about it, as there are options.
  • Hepatitis A: This inoculation is only good for three months and becomes less effective over time. Therefore, it should be taken about a week before entrance into Kenya .
  • Hepatitis B: Recommended if you might be exposed to blood, have sexual contact with the local population, are staying longer than 6 months or might be exposed through medical treatment.

Note: There is a vaccination that provides dual protection against Hepatitis A and B. Two shots one month apart followed by a shot after 6 months for lifetime immunity. You can take the last shot on your return.

  • Measles/Mumps/Rubella: The CDC recommends that if you were born after 1957 you repeat the MMR vaccine.
  • Meningococcal Meningitis: Prices may vary greatly depending on the frequency with which the hospital/clinic administers it, so please check around to get the cheapest price.
  • Polio: The polio vaccine is good for 3 years. Therefore, if a booster has not been taken in the past three years, one should be administered.
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria: The T/D vaccine is good for 10 years. Therefore, if a booster has not been taken in the last 10 years, one should be administered.

* Typhoid: The typhoid inoculation is offered in three ways: 2 shots given 4 weeks apart, one shot, or four tablets taken orally (one pill every other day for 6 days).

Note: The pills must be refrigerated.

  • Yellow fever: This is a requirement for entry into some countries so inform your doctor of all your travel plans. However, we suggest that you take the time to research and discuss with your physician before deciding to take it because the vaccine is active rather than passive.
  • Malaria: This is quite common in Kenya . It is transmitted through mosquito bites. Simple measures can be taken to prevent being bitten, such as sleeping under a mosquito net, wearing insect repellent, and wearing long pants/shirts and socks after dusk. Drugs can be used for treatment and/or prophylaxis. Prevention measures mentioned above should still be practiced even when taking preventative drugs. Please discuss with your travel doctor the side effects of all potential prophylaxis meds and any recommendations as to which ones might be better for short or long term use. Here are some of the common drugs taken to prevent malaria:

1. Mefloquinine (also known as Larium): This is taken orally once a week, starting three weeks before entrance into Kenya and ending four weeks after returning home. It has been known to induce strange dreams and can have serious side effects in certain individuals.

2. Paludrine (proguanil hydrochloride): This is taken on a daily basis, for one day prior to entry and 4 weeks after returning home.

3.Doxycycline: An antibiotic taken daily for 2 days prior to entry and 4 weeks after returning home.
4.Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil): Taken daily for 2 days prior to entry and 7 days after returning home. This drug does not have the side effect profile like Larium.

Note: There are vaccines that you may want to consider based on your intended travel plans during this trip (such as Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Influenza). Be sure to discuss your travel itinerary in detail with your travel doctor. Please keep in mind that most hospitals/clinics that administer vaccines will have some sort of travel advisory immunization list for each specific country. Due to the ever-changing nature of diseases and subsequent outbreaks, please use the most up to date source concerning required immunizations. The Center for Disease Control ( and World Health Organization ( update their travel notices frequently

  • Water and Food-borne Illnesses: Common sense precautions can reduce your risk of many water and food-borne conditions. Pay attention to anything that you consume.

There are many infectious agents found in water besides those included in the above list. Although many do not affect locals, visitors are susceptible due to lack of previous exposure. You should NOT drink water that has not been properly treated. This means it has been purified (filtered by a 0.1um filter) or boiled or treated with a chlorine or iodine treatment system. If you have a filter with a 0.2um filter, keep in mind that there are viruses that can pass through and you should also use the chemical treatments. If unsure, use bottled water. Tea has been boiled so feel free to drink as much as you want!

Always ensure that the food you are eating has not been washed in unsafe water or prepared in unsanitary environments. Raw fruit and vegetables should be peeled if you cannot be sure they were washed in safe water. Ensure meat, fish/seafood, and poultry are cooked well and eaten hot. You should avoid unpasteurized dairy products (milk boiled in tea is fine). Other things to be wary of include: street vendor or buffet food, raw shellfish, raw vegetables (including salads), watermelon, and airline food loaded in a developing country.

  • Traveler’s Diarrhea: Diarrhea is the most common health problem in travelers, affecting 20-50% of all people who travel. It is caused by organisms that enter the body through contaminated food and/or water. Replacing lost water and nutrients is the best way to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Try any of the following methods for effective replacement:

* 1 teaspoon salt and 8 teaspoons sugar mixed into one liter of safe water. Addition of lemon or lime juice is optional.
* Oral rehydration powder mixed in safe water. This is available at most pharmacies.
* Juice from green coconuts.

You can try over-the-counter anti-diarrheals such as Imodium but do not use them unless diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours OR if there is blood in the stool. Antibiotics (such as Cipro) can help with some types of traveler’s diarrhea.

After experiencing traveler’s diarrhea, you should eat soft, bland foods such as plain rice, poached eggs, or plain toasted bread and take lots of fluids. Avoid dairy products for 1-2 days after the diarrhea stops.

Note: There are also other, more serious types of diarrhea. Unlike these other diarrhea illnesses, fever should be low grade or non-existent, there should be no vomiting, and there should not be blood in the stool. Traveler’s diarrhea usually lasts no longer than 3 days. If you develop diarrhea that is bloody and/or accompanied by a high fever or vomiting, or lasts longer than 3 days, you should see a doctor for treatment.


At some point in your life you have probably heard about political instability and violence in Africa . You will be traveling to a third world developing country. However, please remember this: people are generally humane. As a general rule, volunteers should try to make it back to their homestead before dark. Though, if one must be out at night, it should be with a family member or another trusted Kenyan. After a long day of work, most are ready to head home, have some dinner and conversation, write in their journal and call it a night. A little common sense goes a long way! To check for an up to date travel advisory warning, please peruse the U.S. State Departments Travel Warnings (

You might want to consider visiting the following web sites for more safety information.

Another thing you may want to think about is setting up a "Phone tree" for your group. This has worked great in the past. You set it up with the parental/spousal contacts of each person from your group, and then whenever anyone calls home, the parent/spouse that gets the call can contact the other parents/spouses and give them an update. Something to consider.

Embassy Registration

U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Kenya are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy, where they may obtain updated information on travel and security in Kenya. Security updates are e-mailed to all registered Americans on a monthly basis. Contact information is as follows:

Street Address
The U.S. Embassy
United Nations Avenue , Gigiri
Nairobi, Kenya

Mailing Address
>P.O. Box 606
Village Market
Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: (254) 2 363 6000
(254) 2 363 6000 or 0722 204 445 (for after-hours emergencies)
Fax: (254) 2 363 6157

Hours of Operation
Monday-Thursday 07:15-16:30
Friday 07:15-12:15

U.S.citizens may complete a registration form on-line at:, or may request one by contacting the Embassy by phone. It is suggested that you visit the site and fill in the form prior to your arrival in Nairobi. Biographic information, passport data, and itinerary may be faxed to the Embassy.

Canadian citizens visiting or residing in Kenya are encouraged to participate in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) program. Registered Canadians will be updated as to safety issues by the Canadian High Commission while they are in the Kenya. Contact details are as follows

Street Address
The Canadian High Commission
Limuru Road, Gigiri
Nairobi, Kenya

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1013
Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: (254) 20 366-3000 Ext 3341 (ext for Passport and Consular Office)
Fax: (254) 20 366-3900
Internet Address:
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hours of Operation
Monday-Thursday 07:30-16:00
Friday 07:30-13:00
Monday-Friday 08:00-12:00 (for regular consular services)

Canadian citizens can create a registration file online at or can visit the office upon their arrival in Nairobi to fill out a form in person. If you wish to register by mail, you can print the form from the above website. When registration occurs online or via mail, the visitor must visit or contact the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi upon their arrival to request activation of their registration.

For Embassy/High Commission contacts for other countries, visit Embassy World to search for the appropriate one (

Kenyan Culture

There are more than 70 ethnic groups among the Africans in Kenya . Distinctions between many of them are blurred; western cultural values are becoming more ingrained and traditional values are disintegrating. Yet, even though the average African may have outwardly drifted away from ethnic group traditions, tribe is still the most important part of a person's identity.

English and Swahili are the languages taught throughout the country, but there are many other tribal languages. These include Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo and Kikamba as well as a plethora of minor tribal tongues. It's extremely useful for the traveler to have a working knowledge of Swahili, especially outside the urban areas and in remote parts of the country. Another language you'll come across is Sheng, spoken almost exclusively by the younger members of society. A fairly recent development, Sheng is a mixture of Swahili and English along with a fair sprinkling of other languages.

Most Kenyans outside the coastal and eastern provinces are Christians of one sort or another, while most of those on the coast and in the eastern part of the country are Muslim. Muslims make up some 30% of the population. In the more remote tribal areas you'll find a mixture of Muslims, Christians and those who follow their ancestral tribal beliefs.

Kenyans love to party, and the music style known as benga is the contemporary dance music that rules. It originated among the Luo people of western Kenya and became popular in the area in the 1950s. Some well-known exponents of benga include Shirati Jazz , Victoria Jazz and the Ambira Boys.

*Above excerpt taken from the Lonely Planet

A general rule of thumb is to always be SENSITIVE. There are many things that North Americans do that can be offensive to some, such as men not wearing a shirt. One must keep in mind that there will be an exchange of culture. You might do one thing a certain way, and they might do it the total opposite way. Neither way is right! They are just different. An open mind is all one needs. Remember, if you are not sure what is appropriate, all you have to do is ask the family you are staying with. The best way to avoid conflict or offending someone is to ask questions. This can and will lead to stimulating conversations. Get to know the people where you are staying. Keep in mind that some groups may be more receptive to you than others. Please don't be so afraid of breaking a cultural rule that you forget to interact with the people! Most will realize that you are not from their culture and are likely to do things differently. It's amazing what a smile can do!

* Displays of affection: You will most likely never see men and women engaging in any form of affection in public. However, be prepared to see men holding hands and laying together in public. This has nothing to do with homosexuality but is a form of male bonding.
* Dress: The dress code in Kenya is rather formal. Kenyans take pride in their best formal wear. However as volunteers, you will not be expected to carry with you elegant outfits. It would suffice to bring one "nice outfit". Again, depending on your area of placement, the dress codes can vary. The very poor areas will have less of a “formal” dress code. Many volunteers get away with wearing jeans and t-shirts. Under most circumstances, casual, comfortable clothes are fine. In some areas of Kenya , shorts are rarely worn. If it is hot and shorts are a must, then it can be one of those "cultural exchanges". It would be in your best interest to check with your host family about matters such as dress
* Food and Drink: Kenyans are generous people. They will always offer food and soda to guests. If you visit more than one home in a day, be prepared to eat a full meal at each. It is not necessarily rude to refuse, but it is not exactly polite. Sodas are provided to the ‘big’ people in a crowd so as a volunteer and someone from the western world, you can expect to be offered a soda at almost any gathering. Kenyans take pride in being able to provide food for visitors and will always encourage you to eat, eat, eat!
* Greetings: Kenyans love to formally greet each other, so be ready to shake a million hands. If you really want to impress them, shake their hand with your right hand while simultaneously placing your left hand on your right bicep/inner elbow. This is a sign of respect. You will most likely see this every time you are greeted.
* Meetings: In the past, it has been common for the local Kenyan officials to want to meet with visitors on their arrival. This has been less common with the new government. However, if it is requested, please take these meetings seriously. The last thing you want to do is upset a local official the first day you arrive in their community. Kenyans take pride in their official status. Please be respectful.
* Time: "African time" is a concept that volunteers either love or hate. In the rural areas of Kenya we have visited, punctuality is not too common. If a meeting is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. , it could very well be 1:00 p.m. or even later before things get started. That's just how things are. Many volunteers have found it enjoyable to leave their watch in the bedroom and just go with the flow. People are very relaxed and in no hurry. You will hear "Hakuna haraka" many times, which means "No hurry."
* Tea: This is a tradition from the British influence. Even when the weather is extremely hot, be prepared to take a break three times a day for hot chai (tea). Some of the past volunteers grew accustomed to this, while others never took a liking.
* Street children: Due to the AIDS epidemic, as well as the poverty in this developing nation, you will inevitably encounter orphaned children living on the streets begging for money. Some volunteers in the past have always given small amounts of change, while others simply tried to ignore them. One of the big problems is that when you give the children money, they often spend it to buy glue from shoemakers. Street children sniffing glue is a common scene. It is sometimes a good idea to give the kids food instead of money. Besides street children, you most likely will encounter others asking for money or sponsorship to come to North America . In regards to this issue, it is quite effective to tell the person that you work with a non-for-profit Community-Based Organization (CBO) that all of your donations go towards the programs. This lets them know you are not a tourist that’s just there for a brief stay. People respect that.

Please note that list is by no means exhaustive. It is meant to simply give you an idea of some of the situations that you will most likely encounter during your trip.

Common Foods

The staple diet in Kenya consists of ugali (a cornmeal paste) and sukuma wiki (like spinach). It might take a little while to get adjusted, but you will not run into any problems with food. Meat is a delicacy in Kenya , and you will probably be served this quite often as a sign of respect. Be prepared to eat a lot of pasta, corn (maize), beans, rice, green grams (lentils) and chapati (like tortillas). Many of the past volunteers have been vegetarians and have had little trouble maintaining a proper diet. Be sure to indicate your meal preference on the “Personal Details” form. When you reach the farm, please discuss your specific dietary needs with Betty so she can accommodate them. For more information about the foods of Kenya , please visit the University of Penn’s African Studies Cookbook page:


For the most up to date weather forecast in Kenya , please visit either Kenya Web ( or The Weather Network ( The following table will give you an idea about the weather conditions one might encounter at different times throughout the year:






˚ C

˚ F












































































Good Books

The following list is composed of books that might be of interest to you and could possibly enhance your experience in Africa . With the certain knowledge, ordinary things can take on a whole greater meaning. If you plan on doing any leisure traveling, it is a good idea to pick up either The Rough Guide ( or Lonely Planet ( version on Kenya or East Africa . These books contain an enormous amount of information about where to go, what to see, what to buy, how much to pay, etc. We suggest you get the most recent one as some things do change, especially if you are touring any of the cities

The books listed below are good if you want to learn more about development related issues in Africa :
* The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities For Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs
* The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad
* How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein
* Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus
* The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International
Charity by Michael Maren
* Promises Not Kept: Poverty and the Betrayal of Third World Development by
John Isbister

Basic Swahili

English and Swahili are the two main languages spoken. However, there are many tribal dialects of Swahili. Swahili (or Kiswahili as it is called when one is speaking the language) is the national language of Kenya and the official language of Tanzania . A useful attribute of the Swahili culture is its ability to incorporate outside influences and ideas. The grammar of Swahili is almost purely Bantu, and while its vocabulary is also largely Bantu there are also a significant number of borrowed words from Arabic-primarily cultural and religious words. Swahili has taken many words from English and other languages, in particular, words having to do with western culture and technology.

Learning some Swahili before you travel to Kenya can prove to be quite useful and beneficial. Kenyans are much more receptive to those mzungus (foreigners/Caucasians) that attempt to speak their language. Regardless of how pathetic you might sound, they will still respect you for trying. Please check out the Swahili On Line Dictionary ( and The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary ( for more information.

Related Web Sites

For more information on Kenya and traveling, please visit the following sites:
Kenya Web:
* The Rough
* My Travel Guide:
* Information Sources on Kenya:
* Kenyan Newspaper :
* World Fact Book - Kenya

For more information on development in Africa , please visit the following sites:
The World Bank
* The ONE Campaign
* UN Millennium Project
* The Earth Institute – Millennium Village Project
* The Indiana University / Kenya AMPATH Program – AIDS Antiretroviral Treatment Program
* World Health Organization
* USAID – HIV/AIDS Initiative in Kenya
* Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator
* The Center for Disease Control: Global AIDS Program - Kenya

Other Important Information

As a volunteer participating in the Volunteer Program, you will be required to sign an “Assumption of Risk and Hold Harmless Agreement.”

Volunteers must download the Liability Release Agreement from the Flight Details section of the website, read it, sign it, and then mail a copy to the designated address. This must be done well in advance of your arrival in Kenya. It is best to do this right when you book your flight so that you don’t forget.

The information contained in this Orientation Packet is by no means exhaustive. Please feel free to ask us as many questions as you have. Also, if any of your family members have questions and/or concerns, please tell them to feel free to contact us.