This volunteer project brings you to the vibrant coastal city of Mombasa, East Africa and the Bombolulu slum where impoverished communities live next to the upmarket residences of Nyali.
Volunteer at a children’s centre to provide education to vulnerable children and help improve literacy levels as well as environmental and social awareness. The centres provide free or affordable education to children who are from a local orphanage or whose families have little or no income. Out of school arts and sports programs help combat social pressures that lead to substance abuse and crime.
During your time in Kenya, you may have the opportunity to take the kids on day trips, learn Swahili, go on safari, explore Mombasa and its beautiful beaches, and learn how grass-roots organisations offer real opportunities and care for needy children.
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This project offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the project for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
Mornings are typically spent assisting with literacy and numeracy education at the children’s centres. You usually start off shadowing a local teacher or longer term volunteer and support them before taking over your own classes when you are comfortable with the work.
Afternoons involve one–to-one reading lessons with students who are falling behind, followed by sports or physical activities. After work our group heads back home to prepare tomorrow’s lessons. This is a social activity with volunteers and staff working creatively together to make the lessons as fun and interactive as possible with the limited resources available.
You will live in shared accommodation with a team of international volunteers and you all share domestic duties. Weekends are free for you to explore and enjoy the local area.
GVI assist the children’s centres by planning and providing:
- Literacy and numeracy tuition
- One-on-one reading lessons
- Sports and exercise programs
- Educational games and activities
- Lesson plans and resource preparation
The children’s centres wish to develop arts, music, drama, sports and environment programs to encourage social development and stem the temptation to engage in crime or substance abuse. The centres also recognise that developing one to one relationships with the children and providing counselling provides them with the security and confidence to excel in education which remains their only route out of poverty.
How this project makes a difference:
This project delivers opportunities (including free education and meals) to children from disrupted homes where illiteracy, crime, poverty, prostitution, drug/alcohol abuse and HIV are commonplace. GVI volunteers not only make a direct contribution to caring for and educating the children, but they also increase the capacity of the centres (which have already achieved remarkable results) to improve facilities, programs and funding.
I felt confident teaching from the training and being able to observe the actual teachers beforehand. Having another volunteer with you really helped the lessons as there was less chance of ideas running out or being overwhelmed by the children needing help. Trips to Mombasa Old Town, Diani and Malindi were wonderful. I felt safe and secure thanks to the staff who were always friendly, chatty and helpful. A GVI project gives you more of an experience than a holiday, and you feel as though you're contributing positively to the community rather than just observing it as an outsider.
I spent a total of four weeks volunteering on two separate projects in Kenya; two weeks in Shimoni doing wildlife surveys followed by two weeks teaching primary school in Mombasa. It was a truly memorable experience, allowing me to see a totally different world while at the same time providing me with the opportunity to make a small but valuable contribution.
Working daily in the Shimoni forest for two weeks was incredible; a must for lovers of nature and the great outdoors. I can say without a doubt that the work GVI is doing in Shimoni - in partnership with the local organisations - is truly important for the preservation of the forests unique biodiversity. The residents of Shimoni are also unfailingly kind and friendly, making for a great place to spend a couple of weeks.
Teaching at Olive's and Precious in Mombasa offered similarly unique and enjoyable experiences. Managing a huge class (45!) of 12 year-olds was certainly a challenge - even for two teachers - but the students were genuinely interested in learning and lots of fun. Again, the contribution being made by GVI to both the facilities and the curriculum at these schools cannot be overstated.
All-in-all it was an awesome experience; and I can't wait to do it all again!
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Mombasa field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Kenya!
Included Side Trips
Volunteers will be taken on a guided tour of the city’s “Old Town”. The Old Town is well known for its ancient buildings, spice market, ornately carved doors and windows, extravagant art designs and shops that sell antique and popular Kenyan souvenirs. The streets are too narrow to accommodate most vehicles so walking tours are the perfect way to be introduced to this fascinating location.
Optional Side Trips
Please note these additional side trips are not included in the program but can be easily organised on the ground after arrival.
Enjoy a boat trip in Mombasa Marine Park, where you can snorkel or dive to Indian Ocean coral reefs. Just make sure to keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins! An amazing day trip is to Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, a community reserve in the hills near Shimba where game drives will bring you close to herds of protected African elephants. You can also see how the community turn elephant dung into recycled paper products for sale to tourists as an income generating scheme.
Similarly, you can visit Haller Park in Mombasa, an ecological restoration project that offers opportunities to get close to giraffe, hippopotamus, buffalo, waterbuck, crocodile and the giant Aldabra tortoise.
For something longer than a day, you should consider an overnight trip to Shimba Hills National Reserve, home to African elephants, buffalo, giraffe, warthog and Kenya’s only breeding population of sable antelope. Over a weekend, a popular destination is the lively tourist beach resort of Diani or the quieter, more tranquil Tiwi beach. Further down the coast is Shimoni, home to GVI’s marine and wildlife expedition, where you can take a traditional dhow boat trip to the Kisite National Park to view dolphins and snorkel or dive Kenya’s finest coral reefs. Shimoni is also home to coastal forest that is part of a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and one of Kenya’s most important populations of the beautiful but vulnerable Angolan black and white colobus monkey.
The community-based eco-tourism Slave Cave Tour in Shimoni village allows you to explore the natural caves that are currently home to bat colonies but over the years have served as a refuge for local people during tribal clashes, and as a slave holding pen en-route to markets in Zanzibar.
Further Travel Opportunities
Kenya is a large and extremely diverse country in terms of both culture and nature. Over three to four days you can undertake a safari that takes in the vast Tsavo East and West National Parks, or the famous Amboseli or Maasai Mara National Parks, all home to incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. You can journey further up Kenya’s coastline to visit Watamu and Malindi home to the Gedi Ruins and Arabuko Sokoke Forest National Park. Or for something less active, try Lamu Island, a tranquil getaway, steeped in Swahili history, tradition and culture.
Even further afield in Kenya including Lakes Naivasha and Victoria and national parks such as Nakuru, Hell’s Gate and Samburu. Our operations lie close to the Tanzanian border and onward travel here offers some of Africa’s most famous names; the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Zanzibar Islands.
Summary...spoilt for choice!
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- Introduction to communicative teaching training
- Swahili lessons
- Tour of Mombasa
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Airport transfers