Gap Year in Kenya
According to anthropologists, Kenya is “the cradle of mankind”, as modern man is said to have originated on the east coast of Africa. Whether this is true is a hotly-debated topic among scientists, but a title Kenya certainly can claim, is inventor of the safari. "Safari" is the Swahili term for “travel”, and without the humongous animals dotting the Kenyan countryside, it never would have become such a popular term. Enormous buffalo and elephant herds roam the savannahs as packs of lions hunt their prey across the endless plains.
Can I participate if I’m not from the UK?
Yes. Participants from the United Kingdom and the United States are welcome to participate in the gap year in Kenya, as are citizens from other countries. If you are from another country, it will be necessary to check your country’s visa requirements to see if you can participate.
Do I need to take a test to prove my English skill level?
No test is required to prove your English skills, but you will need to have good English skills in order to participate in the gap year in Kenya programme. You will need to fill out the application documents in English, prior to your departure for Kenya. We will send you these application documents via e-mail.
Do I need special references or experience to participate?
No special experience is required for the gap year in Kenya. However, any special skills which you could use as a volunteer would be both helpful and welcomed. For example, if you have prior experience in the field of medicine, you could have a higher level of responsibility if you volunteer in the field of healthcare. In order to do medical work, you will need to send us a reference letter from your employer (or any former employer in the medical field), to prove that you do actually have medical experience.
Motivation, flexibility, and personal initiative are the most important qualities you can bring to your gap year in Kenya.
Is there an age limit? How old are typical participants?
You must be at least 18 years old in order to participate in the gap year in Kenya. Most participants are 20-25 years old, but there is no upper age limit, as long as volunteers are physically healthy enough to engage in volunteer work.
Can I participate with a friend?
Yes. When you apply, you can list a travel partner. As long as you sign up early enough and there are still two free places in the programme, you should have no trouble volunteering with your friend during your gap year in Kenya. You will also most likely be living in the same accommodation as your travel partner.
Can I combine my volunteer work in Kenya with a volunteer programme in another country?
Yes. It is often possible to combine programmes. Feel free to contact TravelWorks for more information.
Can I choose the city/region where I would like to volunteer?
The projects in Kenya are all located in Nairobi and Limuru (about 30 km away from Nairobi). Our partner organisation will provide daily transportation to the project sites during your gap year in Kenya.
Which projects can I work on?
There are various opportunities for volunteer workers spending a gap year in Kenya. For example, you could work in an orphanage, caring for children and keeping them busy. Or, especially if you have medical experience, you could volunteer in a hospital. Another possibility is promoting awareness of HIV-AIDS to people living in slum-conditions. Any relevant experience you may have in these areas of work will be an advantage during your gap year in Kenya, but flexibility, creativity, and personal initiative are much more important.
Kenya is a developing country. Many projects here are rather poorly equipped or cannot afford to employ enough people, making your work here all the more important. In the projects, there is often no one to tell you what to do all the time. Therefore, you will need to show a great deal of initiative and creativity as you pitch in and help during your gap year in Kenya.
How much time will I actually spend volunteering? Will I have free time?
You will be working Monday through Friday, about 7-8 hours a day, with a break in the middle of the day. Weekends are free, so you will have plenty of time to explore your surroundings in Kenya. If you want, you also have the option to work at the weekend.
Should I bring any special supplies for my volunteering project?
You do not need to bring any supplies for your volunteer work. However, you are free to bring along items such as toys, clothing, or school materials to distribute during your gap year in Kenya.
May I extend my stay in Kenya?
You may originally book your stay in Kenya for 2 - 8 weeks. It is only possible for you to extend your stay after you have already arrived in Kenya. You will need to speak with our partner organisation in Kenya as early as possible if you decide to extend your stay. An extra fee for accommodation and meals will apply.
What will my accommodation be like?
You will be living in a very nice dormitory in Limuru, about 30 km north of Nairobi during your gap year in Kenya. The accommodation is part of an international Baptist centre, and you and other volunteers will share a room with several beds. Volunteer accommodation is separated by gender.
Will I live and work with other volunteers?
Yes, you will be living and working with a group of other international volunteers, and will not have to worry about being alone during your gap year in Kenya.
Is there a volunteer “base”?
Yes, the office of our partner organisation in Kenya is located at the site of the volunteer accommodation in Limuru. You can turn to the staff of our partner organisation at any time during your gap year in Kenya for any advice or help that you may need.
Can I contact other volunteers before I depart?
Yes, 3-4 weeks before your departure, we will send you the contact information of any other TravelWorks participants who are going to spend a gap year in Kenya at the same time as yourself.
How will I get to my volunteer project each day?
The staff of our partner organisation will take you to your project sites each day during your gap year in Kenya.
What is the health/safety situation in Kenya? Do I need vaccinations?
Kenya is a developing country, where the health risks are much more serious than those in Europe or the United States. For example, the risk of malaria is quite high in Kenya. As long as you eat and drink hygienically and take care to protect yourself from mosquitoes during your gap year in Kenya, you can reduce your risk of contracting dangerous infectious diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea. It is important that you visit a doctor as early as you can before your departure for advice about necessary vaccinations and health precautions. Please wait to receive your vaccinations after you have definitely been admitted to the programme. You can find useful information regarding vaccinations at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.
Kenya has a high and ever-growing AIDS rate. It is of the utmost importance that you take this into account in regard to your personal behaviour in Kenya. Medical treatment is generally good in Kenya. Private hospitals in the larger cities are comparable to European health facilities, but the country’s public hospitals are overflowing and suffer from budget shortages.
You can find more detailed information regarding safety and health in Kenya and other countries on the website of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office: www.fco.gov.uk or on the website of the U.S. Department of State: travel.state.gov.
Do I need to apply for a visa?
Yes, if you are from the United Kingdom or the United States, you will need a visa in order to enter Kenya. It is possible to obtain a visa upon your arrival in Kenya, but we suggest that you apply for your visa at the Kenyan Embassy in your country before your departure Kenya. A visa fee will apply. You will also need a valid passport, which should be valid for at least six months after your planned return from Kenya.
If you are not a resident of the United Kingdom or the United States, it will be necessary to check your country’s visa agreement with South Africa to determine if you will be able to participate in the gap year in Kenya programme.
Should I buy travel insurance?
Yes, we strongly recommend that you get travel insurance to protect yourself abroad. WorldNomads offers flexible travel insurance for short-term and gap-year travellers like yourself. Note that this is only a recommendation. Feel free to search for the travel insurance which is right for you.
Are food and accommodation included in the programme price?
Yes. Your meals and accommodation in the dormitory in Limuru are included in the programme price. You will receive full board (three meals a day). Lunch and supper will be prepared by a cook, and you will be provided with food to prepare your own breakfast during your gap year in Kenya.
How much money should I expect to spend on extra costs such as travel and food?
Our partner organisation estimates that you will spend about £8-15 (about US$ 15-30 / 10-20 €) per day in extra costs, for excursions, souvenirs, etc. during your gap year in Kenya. Of course, this will depend on your personal lifestyle, so you may spend more or less than this. You should also factor the following expenses into your trip’s budget:
- Flight ticket
- Visa costs
- Travel insurance
- Miscellaneous personal expenses
When does the programme start? How long does it last?
The programme starts every first and third Monday in the month and lasts a minimum of 2 and maximum of 8 weeks. You should arrive at your project site on the Monday that the programme begins.
Will I earn money during my project work?
No, this is volunteer work! This means that through your work, you are supporting people in need and assisting in projects which usually have barely enough money to cover their own essential expenses. Please do not expect payment for your volunteer work. Instead, look at this as an amazing opportunity to help people and gain meaningful life experiences.
What are my next steps?
If you decide to participate in the gap year in Kenya programme, just fill out the PDF or online Booking Form. Please note that if you are booking online you will need a credit card (we accept Visa or MasterCard). If you choose the PDF booking form, please print, fill out, and sign the form before faxing it to TravelWorks. As soon as we have received your application, we will process your booking. At this point your application will be legally binding. We will contact you if we need any additional information.
You will receive various application materials by e-mail after you have applied for the gap year in Kenya programme. These documents need to be completed and returned to TravelWorks.