Here’s everything you need to know about this incredible project in Mombasa where all volunteers are welcomed and much needed. Below you’ll find placement details, how to get there, what to take and advice on staying safe and how to spend your free time.
About the Project
What are the aims of the street kids project?
Come and help these children who live at the project all come off the streets voluntarily to try to turn their life around. Between 8 and 20 boys attend at any time. Most of the city street kids are aware of the project, know where it is and arrive when they are mentally ready to give it a go. When spaces become available at the project, the staff also make visits to street kids in the city centre to spread the word which you may have a chance to assist with.
From experience, the staff know that it is the voluntary aspect of the boys arrival which will give them greater chance of success to progress. That is not to say there aren’t still challenges. Some boys find it hard to give up the freedom they had on the streets when they would have had some money of their own and perhaps a ‘patch’ of a street to work on that belonged to them.
At the project they will get used to a routine,learn to trust adults, follow rules and practise studying for the first time. For some boys with glue habits, without money, they will no longer be able to buy glue so withdrawal symptoms may affect concentration and focus.Training and further education opportunities exist for boys who do well and are ready to progress. Without volunteer support this would simply not be possible.
What is it like to be a teacher at the project?
Volunteering at the project’s centre usually takes place Monday to Friday between 9am and midday although often the afternoons are free if there are no organised activities planned. Volunteers work with small groups of between 5 and 10 boys sitting around a table together or at benches in front of a volunteer at a blackboard. Volunteers often choose what to teach and it is a good idea to cover a range of activities between reading, writing/handwriting/spelling and number work (nothing complicated: adding, taking away, times tables, adding up money). This also makes it more interesting for you!
On your first day, a test can be a good way to assess what level the boys are at. You may like to offer a little prize as an incentive. Do not be scared of teaching basic maths – this will be vital if they want to start their own business or want to sell things later on. Most Kenyans are self employed working hand to mouth so basic numbers will be vital for work involving buying and selling. If you are not into Maths (most volunteers aren’t!) some worksheets from home for ages 8 to 14 will be a great asset. The activities can then be copied onto paper or the blackboard for the boys to copy and complete. No need for lots of photocopies! All basic materials pencils/paper etc can be bought in Mombasa cheaply after arrival.
What are the boy’s backgrounds?
The boys all have different stories. For some they chose to leave home because of abuse and neglect. Some parents may have left to look for work and never returned, without the means to pay the rent, they took to the streets. Some boys may have been removed or encouraged to leave home by older brothers for what seemed like a better life on the streets.
The lucky boys will only be on the streets for a short time before hearing about the project. For others, they may feel trapped on the streets in a life of petty crime. Some boys may be living in a group with an older male who may psychologically control them through abuse, his bittersweet offer of ‘protection’ or supply of soft drugs like glue, making it harder to escape.
The ages vary but typically boys will be 7 – 15. Occasionally a 12 year old may arrive with his 5 year old brother because of abuse and neglect at the family home.
Do the boys have families?
During the whole process families are often traced to see if they are in a position to provide care and support. It is often the case that even in the most humble of families, home is often best. Sometimes family circumstances have changed for the better or extended family want to help or have a job available which is so important for when the boys reach adulthood.
What happens to the boys when they leave the project?
For boys without homes to return to, a more formal school outside Mombasa provides the boys with national qualifications, vocational training and help on finding sponsors and employment. There are as many as 75 boys at the school, all who started their new life through the street kids project in Mombasa.
Free time in Kenya Mombasa
Mombasa is an easy city to get around and with some afternoons and every weekend free you should be able to get round the main sights even on a short visit. Most volunteers visit the old town first then spend nearly all their free time at the beach, not surprisingly, as the beaches are what draw hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Historical Fort Jesus in Mombasa old town, a popular way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Old Fort Jesus
Price from just £8
Built in 1591 by the King of Portugal, hence the Christian name, it was intended to defend the old port of Mombasa. In 2011, it was declareda UNESCO world heritage site and is high up on the Mombasa tourist trail.
Trained guides are available Ask your guide if they can add on a guided tour of the Old Town.
Open daily 8am – 6pm. Approx. £8
Mombasa old town. A historical setting to pick up some gifts for family and friends.
Mombasa Old Town
Free to stroll around
Narrow streets, Indian/African/Arab flavour,great for gifts , the Old Town is well worth spending a couple of hours wandering around finishing with a visit to Fort Jesus.
Yes it’s a bit run down and you there are some touts but for most visitors this does not detract from its historical charm. Skip the Old Town until you’ve seen Fort Jesus and try to get the same guide to take you round.
OV volunteers at Mombasa beach. Only 20 minutes by bus from the volunteer house.
Famous Mombasa beaches
Price from just £10
For any volunteer, the beach will be the most popular (and cheap) activity and if you finish at the centre early you should be able to squeeze in a dip in the afternoons.
Top beaches, to the north of Mombasa; Nyali and Bamburi and Diani to the south.
Bus and snack from just £10
OV volunteer snorkelling over the reefs at Mombasa beach.
Price from just £30
For relatively low cost, hire one of the small boats and snorkel on the reefs.
Get closer to the wildlife at Haller Park.
Lovely transformation of a wasted quarry’s opportunity to feed the giraffes and witness feeding of the hippos, crocodiles and big turtles … very close to you.
Best to arrive 3pm for feeding time which can start between 3 and 4:30 , no need to hire a guide if on a budget, possible to walk around on own, only need 2 hours so plenty of time.
Go karting Kenyan style. Go easy on the gas!
Not for the fainthearted if you want an adrenaline rush, try some go karting, Kenyan style.
Recommended to take it slowly as these karts are fast!
Bamburi Beach, Mombasa 80101, Kenya.
Watch handicrafts being made at a disabled employment project.
Entrance fee £3.70
Take a driver to see handicrafts being made by disabled people working in challenging circumstances. It may be overpriced but textile and jewellery but you will know you are helping support local families in need.
Address: Mombasa 80100, Kenya
Visit Shimba Hills for forest views and wildlife.
A stunning patch of forested hills to the south of Mombasa, a pocket-friendly safari if you are based in Mombasa. Reasonably priced with meals provided. Hire a car and driver and a park ranger on arrival to have the best experience. If you are staying in Mombasa and not planning on going on safari elsewhere in Kenya, then this is a good option.
You’ll see antelopes, elephants, Sheldrick Falls and an ocean view from the hills. Allow approx. £60 for the day.
What Do I need to know?
What happens on arrival?
The project’s regular driver will be there waiting for you to take you to either the volunteer house or project to meet everyone, whichever is more convenient depending on your time of arrival. Once you are settled in, the co-ordinator will explain how things work and be happy to answer any questions you have about your new home. Other volunteers who arrived before you will often be more than happy to show you around too.
Volunteer Amanda donated a meal for the boys. Everyone’s contributions are welcomed especially where food is concerned.
Volunteers making a visit to the school in Mtwapa at the end of term. The boys move to the school after a successful transition at the street kids project when they’re ready for formal schooling.
What should I bring for the children?
Try to bring things you are unlikely to find in Mombasa. Activity books for the 8 – 14 age group which the boys can copy onto paper and complete are a good idea. Waterstones in the UK has a good range for teachers or try Amazon. Cheap calculators, 5 reading books of the same story so they can take it in turns to read and everyone can follow together, educational science ‘kits’ for beginners, (the sort we buy as Christmas presents for young boys). A couple of Meccano sets or technical Lego boxes to divide the boys into competitive teams to build the tallest tower or a remote control car in the fastest time.
Basic stationery and pencils can all be bought cheaply in Mombasa which will leave space in your luggage for more interesting resources from home. That said, it is a good idea to bring at least one pad of A4 plain paper, a handful of biros, pack of chalk and a game brought from home so you are ready for day one. This saves you having to go shopping for basics as soon as you have arrived.
Kenya, like much of Africa has a thriving secondhand market economy with many imported clothing from the UK and elsewhere. T-shirts, shorts, underwear (8 – 15yrs) and single sheets are always in need and these will be considerably cheaper to buy in bulk at the secondhand markets in Mombasa than at home. A pair of secondhand shorts for an 8yr old in Mombasa can cost as little as 70p for example compared with £5 – £10 if bought new in the UK. Volunteers have recently bought clothes and shoes in Mombasa. Plastic/enamel bowls are also in short supply at meal times.
What do I need to take for me?
A mosquito net is essential, the bigger the better as they can tear easily if they are too small. Don’t forget to bring malaria tablets too, and they need to be started before travel to ensure protection. The most practical and comfortable clothes for volunteering will be an OV T-shirt or other crew neck top and jeans or knee length shorts. There is a fairly strict dress code. Female volunteers should not strappy vest tops, short shorts or low cut tops whilst teaching as you will be teaching teenage boys. This would be no different to teaching teenagers back home. For other times, a smart casual outfit is recommended for the evenings and special occasions for a smarter restaurant or when there is a special day with presentations at the project or its sister school up the coast. Beachwear is an essential if you will be taking advantage of the beaches, you may also want to bring an underwater camera to take advantage. Flip flops good idea for relaxing, showering and beach trips.
Will I be on my own?
This project is a bit quieter than most but in desperate need of volunteers so you will know you are filling a vital gap. Uniquely for any volunteer on their own during their visit, it is often the case that you will find it easier to make friends with the boys and staff and do more in your free time with your new friends that you might have if you had been in a group. In fact two volunteers made such close bonds they revisit every couple of years. Read about Sarah’s first trip which she made on her own, you would never think she was so nervous she would message us regularly checking if another volunteer has booked yet or not. Sarah revisited the following year.
Are meals provided?
Some meals are provided at the project Mon to Fri but as there is so limited funding and food to go round it is recommended to make your own arrangements unless sharing the meal is encouraged by project staff. You may like to buy some meat and tasty bread as a treat. Speak to the staff about what the boys would like and perhaps go shopping with them, asking them to formulate a plan and help prepare it as a challenge.
Will I have free time?
Absolutely! At weekends volunteers relax or explore. Most tend to head to the beaches or go shopping in Mombasa; sometimes going to cafes and contacting home. Some volunteers organise themselves into a group and go on safari together, tours can be organised easily through the tourist office in Mombasa. A popular day out closer to Mombasa is the tropical island of Lamu. There are also a handful of guesthouses south of Mombasa offering sea kayaking and camping, so plenty to keep you occupied when or if you get bored of the beach.
Do I need a visa for Kenya?
Nearly all visitors to Kenya require a visa to enter the country. Despite Kenya announcing in 2015 that visas were needed in advance, they have since changed their minds and visas can now be obtained online easily or on arrival like before. If you are changing flights in Nairobi and do not have a visa already, you may be required to obtain your visa before your onward flight to Mombasa, be careful if your connection time is short. Take a clean $50 US Dollar note with you.
Are there fixed start dates?
It is recommended that all volunteers arrive between Monday and Wednesday before 4pm to settle in before the weekend. Weekends should be avoided as current volunteers may be on safari or at beach resorts and the staff may want to take advantage of an empty volunteer house to take a break or visit partner projects elsewhere.
There can be between 1 and 10 volunteers at any time. Being the only volunteer or one of many does not detract from the experience as you will be living with the staff as a welcomed guest and working at the one project which will quickly feel like your second home.
Volunteer Sarah provides one to one support at the centre.
How will I get around?
If not staying at the project itself, volunteers either walk (if staying closeby) or take a matutu to the street kids project each day. It is like a mini-bus and everyone goes together. It is relatively easy to get to the centre of Mombasa in your free time and takes about 20 minutes.
What happens if I book with a friend?
All friends are met and transferred to the project together. Let us know when you book if you are travelling with someone so we can let the team know. This will make is easier to organise the bedrooms for friends to be in the same room. Because everyone volunteers at the street kids centre you will be together during your time!
What are the facilities like in Mombasa?
Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, it is here where you will find everything you need. There is even a Barclays branch. There is also a local hospital nearby that is easy to get to should you need to see a doctor. Most volunteer stays are hassle free, the main concern being stomach upsets in the first few days of arrival due to the change of diet but this is usual for about 1 in 5 of all visitors to Kenya, after a few days your body should acclimatise without any problems.
The boys with their new DVD player, donated by a volunteer.
There is a large open space next to the center where afternoon sport and games can be organised. Bring balls, bibs and bats etc from home as quality sports equipment may be hard to find cheaply in Mombasa.
How will I get back to the airport?
The project staff in Mombasa will be happy to help organise a transfer back to the airport for you.
Is Mombasa safe?
Mombasa is smaller than the capital Nairobi and does not suffer the same volume of poverty and disruption however it is the feeling of crime which can unnerve some new visitors rather than any experience of crime itself. Our general recommendation is to dress down as much as possible in every day casual clothes like the locals and blend in, leaving sparkly jewellery, even if it is only cheap, locked away in your luggage. having said that, most of the political tension and large majority of issues take place in the capital Nairobi. Living in Mombasa you will feel that you are living amongst a new family and away from whatever is going on politically in Nairobi. You’ll feel worlds away when you spend the weekends or afternoons on Mombasa’s white sandy beaches. You couldn’t be in a better location in Kenya.
Boys are of all ages and sessions are informal and friendly.
Volunteer Laura Harris teaches the alphabet to a small group at the center.
What level of support is provided?
The project staff have many years experience between them having looked after more than 200 visiting volunteers over the past 10 years so you will be in safe hands but the boys welfare are the dominant focus of course so you may be required to be adaptable when the project’s needs change at any time.
What are the costs after I have registered and booked my space?
After you have registered and booked your space on the project for your chosen month of arrival you will need to cover project costs which are £125 pw directly to the project, a return flight to Mombasa (Moi International Airport, airport code MBA), insurance (allow £30 to £40 for a short visit, make sure your policy covers medical bills and repatriation). A visa is required to enter Kenya and British and most European passport holders can obtain this on arrival. If you are not flying direct to Mombasa from Europe and instead changing planes in Nairobi you may need to obtain this there but you will be advised when you arrive. The cost of a general tourist visa is US $50/£30/40 Euros. The airport pick-up and transfer is payable on arrival to the regular volunteer pick up driver and is approx. £15. After arrival at the project, sometimes a volunteer permit has to be obtained in order to volunteer, project staff will advise, the cost of this was at the last request £25.
For your daily living you should allow £10 a day if you require transport to the project which should cover small extra meals and snacks although some may be provided. If you are living at the project itself or in the hotel close by you will probably find £5 – £7 a day is plenty for eating. Living is fairly cheap in Mombasa and if you don’t take a safari, you will only cover basic living costs and possibly make a small contribution to the project, although this is completely at your own discretion, there is no requirement to do so but if you decide to help out, just £20 of food or second hand clothes or shoes will make a big difference to the boys.
How and when do I need to pay for my project?
We will send an invoice by email for your project shortly after we receive your flights. Try to get this paid no later than 3 weeks before travel so we can confirm with the project of your arrival and organise your pick up. Occasionally volunteers pay the project directly after arrival, if this is the case, please try and stay at the project if there is an option to do so and if practical at the time of your visit. One week stay living in rather than staying at the hotel will help them enormously. Unless volunteers are in a position to make a donation towards the project, the accommodation income by living in or at volunteer accommodation when available is the only extra help they will receive and donations are often in short supply.
What happens after I have booked?
As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip.
We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the Mombasa street kids programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to
You will also receive a Welcome Pack with some useful information which will include project specific advice on what to take, how to prepare and travel health recommendations
Below is what you need to do next after booking in time order
As early as possible : As soon as you have registered with us and received confirmation from us, buy your return flight to Mombasa airport to arrive before 4pm Monday to Wednesday if at all possible. Monday will be the best day if you only have a short time available because then you will have time to settle into a routine before the weekend when you will have time to relax and explore. A pick up will be automatically organised for you from Mombasa airport. If you are travelling overland from elsewhere in Africa, shortly before you travel we will put you in touch with your Mombasa team to arrange a suitable meeting point or to get directions. Most volunteers coming overland from Nairobi take the train which usually arrives between 8am – 11am.
Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates. We often post items of interest and volunteer stories from projects around the world.
3 to 4 weeks before travel: contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel). Malaria tablets are essential, please consult a good pharmacist a couple of weeks before travel. If you are short on time, a local independent travel clinic may have appointments at short notice.
Before travel : Send us a copy of your CRB or your Subject Access Data Request (if in the UK). Details on this and alternatives if you are not in the UK or travelling at short notice are provided after booking.
Before travel : Arrange suitable travel insurance – make sure that the policy you purchase covers medical bills and repatriation. No visa is required before travel for Kenya for UK passport holders- visas for short stays are obtained on arrival at the airport in Mombasa on direct flights (or at Nairobi if changing planes before the final flight to Mombasa), $50 US Dollars (or approx. £40). As soon as you have flights to Mombasa: email us your flight to Mombasa to organise your pick up.
At anytime : pay for your project – we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget. We will organise your pick up and transfer from Mombasa airport automatically when we receive your flights
Kenya Mombasa at a glance
Kenya is a stunning country on the east coast of Africa, from the reserves on the plains to the beaches on the Indian Ocean attracting tourists from all over the world. Wildlife safaris have been the mainstay of Kenya’s tourism for decades, and several Kenyan parks, like Tsavo National Park, are among the best places in Africa to see lions, elephants, leopards and the famous wildebeest migration. Amboseli and Masai Mara are also excellent for game viewing and in one typical two to three day tour you will encounter lions, hippos, giraffe, zebras, hyenas, antelope and elephant and can be booked easily in Mombasa at the tourist office for as little as £250.
Other activities for outdoor enthusiasts include trekking the glacial ridges of Mt Kenya, ballooning over the Masai Mara, snorkelling at the Marine National Park in Malindi on the Indian Ocean coast, and much more. The North around Samburu and Turkana are off the beaten track and an anthropologist’s dream. The climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro takes several days but is worth it. Not to be missed are Mount Kenya, Masai Mara, Thompson’s Falls, Lake Nakuru, Mt Kilimanjaro.
Festivals: January 1st; August 15th; October 2nd; also major Hindu, Christian and other religious holidays.
Kenya is bordered by Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan. The capital city is Nairobi. Kenya is named after Mount Kenya, which is the second among the highest peaks in Africa.Kenya gained independence in 1963 and a key figure in Kenya’s liberation was Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of the country.
Kenya has a tropical climate. Kenya gets a lot of sunshine all year round; however it is usually cooler in the morning and evenings. The hottest period in Kenya is February to March and the coldest is July to August. April to June is the longest rain season. The highest temperature in Kenya is 30 degrees and the lowest is 22 degrees.Most people visit Kenya in January to February or July to August as these are the most popular times for safaris.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions big or small on any aspect of this unique street kids project or would like to check dates please contact us at the earliest opportunity as they only have space for 5 at any time. Alternatively complete an easy enquiry form with your contact details and we’ll be in touch to advise and confirm next steps! On a budget? If you like the sound of working at the project but might not be able to stretch your budget this time round to Kenya take a look at our Morocco programme where flights from the UK and Europe start at as little as £50 return with Easyjet and Ryanair.
Placement at a glance
18yrs+ on arrival.
Informal teaching, care work, playwork, one to one support and outdoor games. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to visit children currently on the streets.
Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team and 24hr emergency support by project staff so you will be in safe hands!
Project is located to the west and north of Mombasa city.
At project or in hotel closeby. It is recommended that all volunteers stay at the project initially if possible.
Full or part time depending on project need Monday to Friday.
English spoken by staff. Children’s ability variable from a few words to fluent English.
2 weeks, longer stays possible.
All year except Easter/Christmas/New Year. Early booking advisable.
When to apply
Apply early to secure your place.
£125 per week & £125 (Registration to join OV which provides a year of volunteering without registering again)
Airport Pick-up Service
£20 approx. organised for all volunteers from Mombasa airport. Payable on arrival to regular driver.
Shop 10 minutes
Bars 10 minutes
Chemist 10 minutes
Bus 5 minutes
Taxis 5 minutes
Cash machine 10 minutes
Bank 10 minutes
Pay Phone 10 minutes
Laundry on-site + small fee
Basics, what to take?
Sheet and Mosquito net
Volunteers stay together at the project itself or a hotel closeby.
Support: Project staff support volunteers wherever possible.
In Mombasa, you could not be better supported throughout your stay. Volunteers live together with their volunteer coordinator and project manager, pictured above, in a spacious modern house just outside the city centre with good transport links.
They are on hand with you throughout your stay to help if you have any questions, or want to organise a weekend safari. In fact, you will probably be spending so much time together they will soon feel like your second family.
The support team have welcomed hundreds of volunteers over many years and are experienced in all aspects of supporting volunteers.
The benefits of your local in-country team
What is a volunteer coordinator?
Every project has a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking.
What experience do volunteer coordinators have?
All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information.
9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013).
If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will!
Who are volunteer coordinators?
At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India.
Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador.
Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both.
Is there only one volunteer coordinator?
Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators.
Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out
The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers!
What do coordinators do?
Airport pick up
Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.
Liaise with local projects
If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group.
Help organise specific placements
Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.
Show you around and help you to locate things
Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.
Provide an orientation on arrival
Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.
This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!
Help you when things go wrong
We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house.
If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.
But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away.
For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.
Help you when you feel unwell
Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!
Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again.
While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.
For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.
Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.
Return transfer back to the airport
Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!
Many of our returning Kenya Mombasa volunteers send us photos and videos of their positive experiences in Africa. Click on the images and films below to get an idea of what to expect volunteering at this project.
Do I need experience? No previous experience is required for this project.
When do I choose what I will be doing? The schedule is organised for volunteers by the staff at the project so there is no need to choose before or after arrival. Volunteers work together with the children in the mornings Monday to Friday with a handful of children each at tables helping them with basic Maths and English (handwriting, spelling, basic sentences). A Kenyan teacher when present, teaches the children Swahili. Sometimes volunteers will help organise additional sport and games activities in the afternoon. Occasionally volunteers may also sit in or support health education sessions or visit the street kids still living on the streets to assist and promote the project.
Will I be met on arrival? All volunteers are met at the airport in Mombasa on arrival.
Will I be on my own? This project usually receives between 1 and 2 volunteers on any month although this can be busier between July and August. For busier projects where volunteers work in larger groups you may like to visit our Morocco or Ghana project.
I need to teach 80 hours for my UK course? Teaching will often take no more than 2-3 hours if afternoon activities are excluded. Speak to the project staff about running activity sessions or a presentation on a subject in the afternoon to top up your hours. Before travel, check with your course to see if lesson planning and meeting time can also be included in your total hours.
How can I book a safari? You can easily book a safari for the end of your trip in Mombasa by visiting the Kenya Tourist Office in Mombasa. Allow at least £500 for a reasonable tour of 3/4 days although there are a few budget operators who can organise for £250. Another option is to spend a weekend in Nairobi and hire a taxi for a drive-through the game reserve which fringes the city. It is the only city in the world where you can get wild giraffes and skyscrapers in the same photo. Book in advance if possible and arrive at the park early to beat the crowds.
Most Mombasa volunteers find the coastal beaches the main attraction (Diani, Tiwi and swimming and kayaking on Funzi Keys island) and relaxing at beachside getaways up and down the coast.
What do I need to take? Paper, pens, pencils, general school equipment (rulers, geometry sets, calculators) , maths activity work sheets, graph paper etc and sport equipment are always in need for the children. If these are not used for your visit, this will be used for boys later on or donated to the sister project outside of Mombasa. In addition after living in the streets for a long time, some of the boys arrive with only one set of clothes, often ripped, so any clothes will be welcomed if your family has any to give away. Don’t forget Mombasa has some of Africa’s best beaches so – for yourself bring at least a couple of sets of beach wear as they will get a lot of use. Although most volunteers are in Mombasa between June and September, which is the Kenyan winter, temperatures can get as high as 28 Degrees Celcius, with 30 – 33 Celcius between November and March. As the beach is a popular excursion for the children, you may also like to buy extra beach equipment, goggles, beach bags and beach towels for the boys.
Where will I be staying? It is always hoped that volunteers will stay in volunteer accommodation with staff, about 20 min from the city centre but sometimes due to funding and lower numbers of volunteers this is not always possible to keep a house running. Where this is not possible, volunteers can stay at the project itself or at a hotel close by. If the volunteer house is not available and it is practical, volunteers are encouraged to stay at the project itself which helps keep the funding for the project from the weekly costs of your stay, rather than paying the hotel down the road and the project not receiving any funds. It is not that they require volunteers to pay or donate but they really run on such a tight budget that every £5 or £10 here and there really do make a difference.
Is Kenya safe? As with any city suffering from high levels of poverty and unemployment, there are some areas you are not recommended to visit and late nights out are discouraged. But as long as you follow the local advice given to you and take sensible precautions you should encounter no problems. There may be a curfew at the volunteer house for everyone’s safety. Whether you live-in at the centre or with the staff at their house or the project itself you will be in the best place. If there is more than one volunteer, you will be grouped together in the same place.
What should I wear? You will be working with boys between 7 and 18 so female volunteers should dress modestly when volunteering. Loose trousers, knee length shorts or long skirts are best together with a normal T-shirt rather than a strappy vest or low cut tops.
Do I need a visa for Kenya? Visas are obtained online before arrival or after arrival for UK/European passport holders. You will need 6 months left on your passport and a clean $50 US Dollar note (approx. £30). Take an extra $50 Dollar note in case it goes up when you arrive.
Are there fixed arrival dates? The project staff would like every volunteer to arrive between Monday and Tuesday before 4pm to settle in before the weekend. More than half of all flights to Mombasa arrive between 10am and 3pm, usually following a change in Nairobi in Kenya or Adiss Ababa in Ethiopia.
Will I be placed with friends? Everybody is placed together either at the volunteer house or on site at the project itself.
How do I organise meals? Some meals are provided for volunteers, local budgets providing, when not available volunteers can shop and cook at the house together or eat in local eateries.
Will I need jabs for Kenya? Please consult your doctor or travel health nurse before travel. The NHS website fitfortravel provides useful advice which many practitioners in the UK refer to. Do remember malaria tablets must be started before travel.
Is there mobile/ internet access? Buy a cheap unlocked mobile phone for your trip and buy a Kenya Sim card on arrival.
Should I take cash or cards? We recommend taking two cards if possible and cash. ATMs and banks can be found easily in Mombasa. Western Union is a good way for family to send money out if you overspend and there are many agents in Mombasa where you can collect the transfer.
How will I get back to the airport? Your coordinator will help organise your journey back to the airport, simply ask a few days before your flight to confirm what time you need the driver.
Contact us for specific questions
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 or email contact[at]originalvolunteers.co.uk to get the answers you need!
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