New Hope Volunteers
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FAQs Kenya

Are there any necessary requirements to participate in the Kenya-based volunteer programs?

The only qualifications are:

  • An open mind and a willingness to teach others as well a passion for helping those in need.
  • Enthusiasm for living abroad and meeting new people.
  • Be in good health.

Visa Information

Any traveler in Kenya can stay on a tourist visa for 3 months at $50 US dollars. You can get the tourist visa at the Kenyan embassy in your country or at the Nairobi International Airport upon arrival. A non-tourist visa is both difficult to obtain and twice as expensive as the tourist visa. It is the responsibility of volunteers to purchase and manage their own tickets and visa. New Hope Volunteer suggests volunteers do not stay more than 3 months. Please call the nearest consular or embassy of Kenya to confirm that you can get a visa at the airport and for more information regarding how to obtain a visa for travel.

All participants need a valid visa to go to Kenya unless you are a citizen of Ethiopia , Turkey , Uruguay , San Marino , Eritrea , or most Commonwealth countries (excluding Britain , Ireland , Nigeria , Australia , New Zealand , Pakistan , and Canada ). Visas are available at the airport in Nairobi or any Kenyan embassy or High Commission. If there is no Kenyan mission in your country you can apply for a visa upon arrival in Nairobi . You will need to obtain a visa ahead of arrival in Nairobi if you are a national of Afghanistan , Pakistan , Armenia , Libya , Senegal , Mali , Nigeria , Azerbaijan , Somalia , Cameroon , Tajikistan , North Korea , Yemen , Iraq , Iran and Lebanon .

New Hope Volunteer suggests that ALL volunteers acquire the tourist visa in their home country BEFORE arriving in-country to avoid any unnecessary hassles at the airport.

Who manages the volunteer projects in Kenya?

New Hope Volunteer's In-Country Coordinator in Kenya is responsible for researching appropriate volunteer projects as per the qualifications and skills of the applicants.

What are the daily schedules of the projects?

Project schedules vary for each project in Kenya. Most projects are from Monday to Friday for 5-6 hours a day. Most volunteers have the weekends off to sight-see or explore Kenya on their own.

Where are the projects located?

Most programs in Kenya will take place outside of the cities in rural areas.

What is the language spoken in Kenya?

Swahili and English are the official languages of Kenya.

When are the Kenya-based projects available?

New Hope Volunteer organizes language and culture orientation programs twice a month for the entire year. New Hope Volunteer suggests that volunteers adjust their flight schedule according to the language program schedules, because it is very difficult to make extra arrangements for missed classes. Interns and volunteers can stay and wait at the hotel on their own expense to start the program from the beginning.

How long can I volunteer in Kenya?

We normally suggest participants volunteer from 2-12 weeks.

Who will arrange my flight to Kenya?

Airfare is the responsibility of the volunteer.

Which airport should I book my flight into?

As our partner office is located close to Nairobi, so all international flights should arrive and depart from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi . You are responsible for your ticket; but once you are in the country, our representative will meet you at the airport.

When should I arrive in Kenya?

Our volunteer programs in Kenya start on 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month. Sometimes they can start on other Mondays also. Please arrive on Sunday to start your program from the next day.

Will someone pick me from the airport? If so, how do I know about the person?

You will be picked up at the airport, but you must send your travel itinerary to our Kenya in-country Coordinator and to us at New Hope Volunteer before your arrival in Kenya (we'll pass it on to the Coordinator). You will be picked up by a staff member or our in-country coordinator who will be holding a sign with your name written on it, awaiting your arrival outside of the airport.

In case no one is there, you can call our in-country coordinator, who can help with the picking-up or arrange the accommodations immediately. You will be supplied with all contact information in-case of the rare instance that you are not picked up. Make sure you look carefully for your pick-up, as it will be extremely busy outside of the airport.

What should I do if my flight is delayed?

  • Try to call our Kenya in-country Coordinator from the airport and inform him of the possibly-delayed arrival time.
  • Check your placement instructions pertaining to details of hotels that have been recommended for late arrival if your flight is to arrive after midnight;
  • Call/email our Kenya in-country Coordinator once you arrive so that he can help with a pick-up accordingly.

How can I get to the hotel from the airport if I did not see New Hope Volunteer's local representative in the airport?

In the event that your arrival time is changed/delayed, requiring you to stay overnight in a hotel (or if you failed to meet New Hope Volunteer's representative at the airport), you should hire a taxi at the airport who will take you to a hotel designated in your placement details/pre-departure information (and do remember to request a receipt from the driver).

ALSO: make sure that you call New Hope Volunteer's In-Country Coordinator BEFORE boarding the taxi. Participants are advised to contact New Hope Volunteer's Kenya In-Country Coordinator the next day and let him/her know their whereabouts.

What do I need prior to departure from my home country?

  • Please make sure that you pack all your necessary documents – Passport, copy of passport, and at least one other form of ID.
  • Prepare financially, in advance, to cover various expenses up to $100 USD/week for extra expenses and travel to your project each day.
  • Get your mind and spirit ready for the duration you have committed to. Culture shock affects everyone and may be so strong that you want to quit the week after arrival.

If I want to arrive earlier than when the program begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations?

You can arrive several days earlier or even up to a week early for your project, however, you will be responsible for these arrangements (including accommodations and food), and must still meet the Coordinator at the airport on the designated date.

When should I depart from Kenya ?

We ask participants to depart from Kenya on the Sunday after their project is completed.

Which airport will I fly out of?

All volunteers will depart from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi .

Who will drop me off at the airport?

New Hope Volunteers does not offer airport drop service. You will need to arrange a taxi or bus ride to the airport after your project is finished. This is an easy process and our in-country coordinator in Kenya or your home stay family will be more than happy to assist you with this.

Can I store my luggage if I arrive earlier than my program starts?

Yes, you may, but please note that this service is usually charged and/or calculated on an hourly basis. So, do not leave your luggage at the airport for an extended amount of time.

Who will arrange my accommodations and what are they?

The living conditions of the placement will all depend on the area to which you are assigned. Although a beautiful, friendly place, you should not expect luxurious accommodations in Kenya . You will be placed within a welcoming family setting, and you will have your own room. Also, most placements will have electricity. Our host families are mainly educated, well-respected people, who have experience with international students. In addition, some members of host families may speak English.

Are singles rooms available?

Yes, in most cases you will have your own room unless you request to stay with another volunteer. In some cases you will share a room with another volunteer.

If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?

Contact our office about this issue, since it may depend upon individual circumstances.

Will there be other foreign volunteers/interns at my placement?

This depends on the exact placement and your preference in this issue. If you want to travel with others, we allow people to come with a friend or even as a group. You may be placed in different homes, but these homes will be located within one to two miles of each other. In addition, we can place any volunteer near another volunteer already working in the field. Please be reminded that two different genders of volunteers are not allowed to stay in the same house unless they are a married couple.

What are the bathroom facilities?

A shower with hot & cold water is usually installed in the bathroom.

What are the laundry arrangements?

Laundry may be done by hand.

Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?

Yes. Electricity in Kenya is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. You will require a voltage converter if you are carrying a device that does not accept 240 Volts at 50 Hertz.

What are the local cuisines? Who manages food?

New Hope Volunteer manages food and accommodation from the very first day to the last day of the program in collaboration with the local host families involved. Kenyan foods include ugali - a porridge-like mash made from corn meal; chapatti - bread similar to a tortilla made from wheat flour; irio - a mash of corn, beans, greens and potatoes; rice. Due to monetary constraints, for the volunteers who arrive earlier or who want to stay longer, it is impossible to offer extra accommodation or food. In this case, New Hope Volunteer will help volunteers to find good reasonably-priced food and accommodation.

Can you supply special diets?

New Hope Volunteer can provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Occasionally, in the event that you require a special diet, you are responsible for your own meals. Participants are strongly urged to inform New Hope Volunteer of any special dietary need prior to arrival in-country.

Is the running tap water safe for drink?

Kenyan tap water is not safe to drink. We recommend that you purchase bottled water for your consumption, but make sure that the cap's seal is not broken! You can request that your host family boil water for you each day to consume.

Are there hot and cold water facilities available?

Specifics pertaining to availability of hot water will be included in participants' placement details.

Will bottled water be provided?

No, if participants require bottled water, they are responsible for obtaining it themselves.

How safe is Kenya ?

Stay alert when walking or driving through Nairobi . You should be careful to always be aware of your surroundings and if possible ensure that you have a guide with you. Nairobi is not nicknamed 'Nairobbery' for nothing and even daylight muggings on crowded streets are not uncommon. Particularly avoid walking after dark (take a taxi if you can afford it, at least a bus if you can not). Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth and property, particularly tempting objects such as cameras, mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players etc. (Source: wikitravel.org)

  • Do not show off your wallet or valuable goods in public
  • Keep enough money for your immediate needs in your pocket, and hide the rest on your body or leave your backup supply in a safety deposit box at your hotel
  • Always keep valuables in a safety deposit box at your hotel instead of leaving them in your room
  • Remove any jewelry that may draw a thief's attention before you go out for strolling
  • Never wear a bag or purse on your street-side shoulder in order to avoid becoming a target of the "snatch-and-ride"
  • Never carry your passport/visa, credit cards, traveler's schedules or other travel documents in your shoulder bag.
  • Ensure that you aware of the values of different local banknotes to avoid being deceived
  • Be particularly cautious about your possessions in crowded areas such as local festivals, markets, tourist sites, railways, bus stations, or on trains and buses.
  • Always let your hotel or guides know where you are on your free days during your tour.
  • Respect the customs of the local ethnic groups.
  • Do not quarrel with anyone during your trip.
  • Any disputes should be reported to your local guides for resolution.
  • Avoid traveling in any areas or sites that are not open to foreigners.
  • Do not voice publicly any opinions contrary to Kenya 's laws and code of ethics and morals.

What are the principle health risks?

We use the Center for Disease Control traveler's health recommendations (www.cdc.gov). Your travel doctor will be knowledgeable about current epidemics and should be consulted.

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa . Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B , especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa , including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to East Africa .
  • Meningococcal (meningitis) if you plan to visit countries in this region that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June, (see Map 4-9 on the Meningococcal Disease page ).
  • Rabies , pre-exposure vaccination, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
  • Yellow fever , a viral disease that occurs primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America , is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is also present in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago . Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to endemic areas and may be required to cross certain international borders (For country specific requirements, see Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country .). Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10 year intervals if there is on-going risk.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria , measles , and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.
  • Required Vaccinations
  • A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries in East Africa . For detailed information, see Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country . Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center .

Source: www.cdc.gov

What health precautions should I be aware of and tend to?

Carry a first aid kit and have contact phone numbers with you. Malaria is very common, and you should carry anti-malarial medication and mosquito repellent. Travelers may experience illnesses like upset stomach, which if it continues, may be caused by a parasite. In this case, you should go to a private hospital for treatment, since government hospitals don't have very good service. To avoid these kinds of health problems, make sure to wash your hands before and after you eat, avoid tap water, and hydrate yourself thoroughly.

Source: wikitravel.org

Do I need health insurance?

New Hope Volunteer takes out comprehensive medical insurance for its volunteers. Western and traditional Kenyan medicines are widely available in most urban areas in Kenya . So, your health insurance is crucial. It is suggested that you pay up-front costs and then file an insurance claim to get reimbursed back home after medical expenses such as doctor's visits, medicines, etc. For some larger expenses, the insurance company may be able to arrange direct payment to the hospital or medical provider, but this is rare.

Who do I contact in case of a health-related emergency?

East or west, home is the best. There is no place better than home when you are ill. But if you do get ill, don't panic. Participants can obtain information pertaining to medical assistance through a number of channels:

  • New Hope Volunteer's In-Country Coordinator;
  • Assigned host-family;
  • Your country's embassy in Kenya – participants are greatly encouraged to obtain and maintain contact information for their respective embassy; keeping it on their person for easy access.

Is the food safe if I buy it from a street vendor?

No! While you are in Kenya , food safety should be the major factor in your decision to abstain. You can hardly resist the tempting novelty of street vendors and their food variety. Our suggestion is to avoid eating on the streets until you get familiar with the general situation. The food will likely taste quite different than anything you have had before. Food safety problems can range from chemicals and contaminants, to bacteria as well as some other diseases. In Kenya , poor food cooking, preparation, and storage, as well as improper cleaning and disinfecting of cooking supplies is very common among street vendors. So, we do not suggest buying food from street vendors.

What are the sanitary conditions in Kenya ?

  • Be prepared and never expect a clean toilet 100% of the time. Carry some tissue in-case you need to use the public toilet.
  • Kenyan toilets generally do not do well when flushing large amounts of items or feminine hygiene products so do not flush them and throw them away in the trash.
  • In some areas/restaurants, toilet systems are old and have very narrow plumbing and get blocked easily. In these cases a small basket is usually placed beside the toilet (for your used toilet paper).
  • Use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are always clean. Still, they may not always have toilet paper. It depends on the class of hotel that you are using.

Are ATMs easily available? If yes, which debit and credit cards are accepted?

Credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, JCB, Master and Visa are accepted at the local large hotels or tourist stores. You also can withdraw cash from most international banks from ATM machines, but $2-4 USD surcharges apply for each transaction.

What is the local currency and how do I know the exchange rate?

The official currency is Kenya currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). You can find the current exchange rate at currency website like www.xe.com, or by looking in a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal.

Where do I exchange my money and how much?

Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, but all major international credit cards, including Diners Club and MasterCard, are accepted in the main establishments, although outside major cities, facilities may be limited. Traveler's checks will be very difficult to exchange in small towns and villages, and travelers are advised to have cash on hand. You may exchange money at the airport or at a bank.

How much money should I bring with me?

New Hope Volunteer manages food and rooms for their volunteers from the very first day to the last day of the program. Therefore, you won't need more money to pay for these expenses. However, if you plan on taking part in activities outside of the organization, or if you just want to buy some souvenirs, you will need to bring extra money in order to do so. On a side note, you must also remember the visa fee, which can range from $50-100 US dollars depending on the length of stay. There is also an airport tax that you pay upon your departure from Kenya . This is about $20 US dollars. You will want to determine the amount of extra money you bring based on these factors.

How do I contact my family once I arrive in Kenya ?

International Direct Dialing from Kenya is available in cities. Phone cards are widely available and calls can be made from post offices, hotels and phone booths on the streets. In hotels, local calls are generally charged at a nominal fee. Internet cafes are available in most towns, although they can sometimes be noisy as they are a popular spot for the youth to play online games. You can use any type of communication to call back home.

Are internet services easily available?

Internet cafes are available in all cities including Nairobi.

How can my family members contact me?

This all depends on your placement. Almost all placements will have access to a Post Office. If you are in a city placement, there are many places in which you can use the phone or access your e-mail. But this information will all be given to you before your departure to Kenya , so you will know before your arrival what forms of communication will be available to you.

What is weather like in Kenya ?

Kenya 's climate is pleasant throughout the year; however May to September is the best time to view the wildlife of Kenya . During this time the famous Serengeti-Mara wildebeest migration follows a reasonably predictable pattern that tracks the rains. The wildebeest migration normally reaches Kenya in late July, when the wildebeest disperse onto the plains of the Maasai Mara for several months.

The climate can range from humid, tropical areas on the coast to arid and cool regions in the northeast. Generally, the weather is warm, though sometimes at night the temperatures can dip quite low. There are two rainy seasons, one from April to June, and one from September to December.

Required Clothing

Lightweight clothing and rainwear is recommended as well as warmer clothing for the evenings (light jacket and/or light sweaters). A solid pair of walking shoes is highly recommended for trekking.

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