Volunteering in Kenya
Updated: Feb 24
Volunteering in Kenya can be a rewarding and enriching experience, but it's important to prepare yourself before you go. Here are some things you should know before volunteering in Kenya:
Research the organization: Before committing to a volunteer program, research the organization thoroughly. Look for reviews or testimonials from previous volunteers and check their reputation with local authorities or other trusted sources.
Obtain the necessary documentation: Depending on the nature of your volunteer work and the length of your stay, you may need to obtain a visa or work permit. Make sure you have all the necessary documentation and that it is valid for the duration of your stay.
Get vaccinated: Kenya is a tropical country and is prone to diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and typhoid. It is recommended that you get vaccinated and take other necessary precautions, such as using insect repellent, to protect your health.
Learn about the local culture: Kenya has a rich and diverse culture, and it's important to learn about local customs, beliefs, and social norms to avoid offending or alienating the people you'll be working with.
Be prepared for the conditions: Depending on the location of your volunteer work, you may encounter challenging conditions such as extreme heat, limited access to clean water, or basic living facilities. Be mentally and physically prepared for these conditions.
Have a plan for your spare time: While volunteering, you may have free time to explore the local area or take part in activities. Make a plan for how you will spend your spare time and be mindful of your safety and security when exploring.
Overall, volunteering in Kenya can be a life-changing experience, but it's important to prepare yourself for the challenges you may encounter. By doing your research and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure a safe and fulfilling experience.
Slums of Nairobi
Nairobi, like many other cities in Africa, has slum areas that are characterized by high population densities, inadequate housing, and poor sanitation conditions. Kibera, Mathare, and Mukuru are some of the largest slums in Nairobi, with an estimated population of over a million people combined.
Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi and one of the largest in Africa, with an estimated population of up to 700,000 people. The slum is located near the city center and is known for its crowded and congested living conditions, inadequate sanitation facilities, and poor access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and clean water.
Mathare is another large slum in Nairobi, with an estimated population of over 500,000 people. The slum is situated to the east of the city and is characterized by poor housing conditions, limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and high levels of poverty.
Mukuru is a collection of several slums in Nairobi, with an estimated population of over 300,000 people. The slum is located near the industrial area of the city and is known for its poor housing conditions, limited access to basic services, and high levels of crime and insecurity.
Despite their challenges, slums in Nairobi are also home to vibrant communities with their own unique culture and traditions. Various non-governmental organizations and government agencies are working to improve the living conditions in these slum areas, through initiatives such as providing access to clean water, improving sanitation facilities, and offering educational and vocational training programs.
NGO's & NFP's in Nairobi
Nairobi, as the capital city of Kenya, is a central hub and home to a large number of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and NFPs (Not for Profit Organisations) working in various sectors, including health, education, human rights, and development. Here are some examples of NGOs in Nairobi:
CARE International: This organization works to promote women's empowerment, social justice, and sustainable development in Kenya and other countries.
Amref Health Africa: This NGO focuses on improving health outcomes in Africa through training and capacity building, advocacy, and community health programs.
Save the Children: This global organization has a presence in Nairobi and works to improve the lives of children and families in Kenya and other countries through education, healthcare, and protection.
Haki Africa: This human rights organization works to promote and protect the rights of marginalized communities in Kenya, particularly in the areas of justice, equality, and security.
Ushahidi: This technology company provides software tools for crisis response and open data, and it has been used in various humanitarian and development projects in Kenya and other countries.
These are just a few examples of the many NGOs operating in Nairobi. There are many more organizations working on different issues, and visitors can explore and learn more about these organizations through their websites, social media pages, or by visiting their offices.
Nairobi is home to one of the four main United Nations (UN) headquarters in the world. The UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) is the UN's headquarters for Africa and hosts several UN agencies and programs, including:
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the UN system.
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat): UN-Habitat works to promote sustainable urbanization and improve the living conditions of people in cities and towns around the world.
United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS): UNOPS supports the implementation of sustainable development and humanitarian projects around the world.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): UNDP works to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, and promote sustainable development around the world.
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): UNICEF works to improve the lives of children around the world, providing access to health care, education, and protection from violence, exploitation, and abuse.
These are just a few of the UN agencies and programs that are based in Nairobi. The UNON also plays a key role in supporting peace and security initiatives in Africa, and it hosts several international conferences and events throughout the year.
Overall, Kenya is home to many NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) that work on a wide range of issues, including health, education, human rights, environment, and poverty reduction, with a large proportion of them being bases in the country's epicentre, Nairobi.
The Ruben Centre
The Ruben Centre is a community-based organization located in the Mukuru slums in Nairobi, Kenya. The center was founded in 1986 by the Christian Brothers as a way to provide education, healthcare, and other social services to the local community.
The Ruben Centre offers a range of programs and services to the community, including a primary school, a health clinic, a child protection program, and a vocational training program. The center also provides support to vulnerable groups such as children living on the streets and people living with HIV/AIDS.
One of the center's main goals is to empower the local community and promote sustainable development. They work closely with community members to identify their needs and develop programs that address those needs in a holistic and sustainable way.
The Ruben Centre is widely recognized for its work and has received several awards, including the Kenyan presidential award for community service. They rely heavily on volunteers and donations to support their programs and welcome volunteers from all over the world to come and work with them.
Overall, the Ruben Centre is an important community organization in Nairobi, and their work has had a positive impact on the lives of many people in the Mukuru slums.
Edmund Rice Centre Nairobi
Edmund Rice Centre Nairobi (ERCN) is a community-based organisation that provides educational, vocational and livelihood services to vulnerable communities living in the informal settlement of Kibera. In 2022, ERFA is supporting ERCN project Education for Children living with disabilities.
It is a new formation arising from a merger of three small ministries then known as Edmund Rice Advocacy Network (ERAN), Mary Rice Centre, and Edmund Rice Karibu Group (ERKG), all in Nairobi. The merger was necessary to avoid duplication, reduce on cost of operations and to foster effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the ministries.
The project aims to enhance learning and developmental outcomes for 77 Children with intellectual and Autism spectrum disorder, by improving their cognitive and adaptive abilities. They will be recruited, assessed and then enrolled at ERCN. Those enrolled will be taught basic learning skills based on their abilities; which will include reading ,writing, outdoor/ creative activities and activities of daily living. Their guardians will be empowered through various trainings on how to handle and offer continued support to the CWDs during non-school days. The project will transition the children every 3 years having empowered their parents.
An empowered and transformed society (Kibera community) where everyone enjoys fullness of life.
To restore the dignity and quality of life for most vulnerable households with children with disability in Kibera through advocacy, special education, and socio-economic empowerment.
Presence, Compassion & Liberation
At Indy Escapes we are affiliated with a number of NGO's around the world. In Kenya, we spend time at and support the Ruben Centre Nairobi and ERCN. Both are incredible initiatives that create opportunity and support for those who are living in these slums, and are without access to basic necessities. For more information on what we do, how you can help or to connect directly with the organisations, please see our Donating and Volunteering in Kenya Page.