Responsible travel: Kenya Coast community volunteering project
In the UK we aim to:
- be as energy efficient as possible by re-using or recycling our waste paper and printer toner cartridges.
- use energy efficient light bulbs throughout the office, and try to reduce electrical consumption as far as possible.
- staff lift share when possible.
- send all documentation to volunteers electronically; we only mail things if so requested by our clients.
- fully brief our volunteers on what to expect from a project, the community volunteer work and living within the village including any environmental issues.
- offer limited printed promotional material to reduce paper waste.
In Kenya, we aim to:
- advise all volunteers during their in-country induction course to be environmentally aware and to keep water and electricity consumption to a minimum whilst in Africa. Our local representative will talk to the volunteers about Kenyans and their history, and introduce basic Kiswahili phrases so you can integrate into the community.
- use local representatives for all of our projects to avoid unnecessary flights for staff from the UK.
- where possible, organise group travel for the volunteers to avoid using individual modes of transport, thus benefiting the environment and the safety of the volunteers.
- use locally sourced building materials that are used alongside skilled local builders, showing our volunteers their techniques and skills.
- encourage all volunteers to use local products and services
Africa is where our organisation originated. Placements in Kenya were introduced in 1993 by our Founders, Nigel Warren and Peter Bell, and we have strong links with the communities and schools throughout Kenya. We place volunteers in accommodation run by local Kenyans, providing them with a source of income.
Schools are poor and they lack furniture, textbooks, sports equipment and even windows and stationery. Therefore, you as a volunteer will be very useful in bringing not only the interest of the outside world but an extra pair of hands for the hard-pressed staff. We do not take away jobs from the local people - they are the ones who are skilled and we like our volunteers to work alongside them.
We normally use the same houses for volunteers each year so families in the community who host them are familiar with our volunteers and welcome them into their village. Volunteers are briefed on customs and cultures advising them to be responsible and respectful to their new neighbours.
Living with the Kenyans is a simple way of life - with no running water or electricity, you will learn to appreciate these luxuries we take for granted in the Western World. Post project reviews are always completed with volunteers to make sure your help is always needed.
In the long term we hope to continue and develop our projects to help with community development in more of the poor schools in this region. Volunteers bring an extra pair of hands on community project and a new dimension to teaching in Kenya – its more interactive and fun for the children. Volunteers are also able to offer extra-mural subjects like sport, music, art etc, which are not normally included in the school timetable.
Our charitable arm has supported Kapenguria Boys School, Kapsongoi School and Samoei Boys School, providing over £6000 for new classrooms and improving existing facilities, as well as sponsoring orphans through school.
There are many volunteers who choose to go on to fundraise for the their Kenyan schools and villages – donating school equipment, helping with funds for new or improved classrooms/facilities, and sponsoring children through education. Our Foundation has granted a total of over £20,000 in bursaries to 164 children in schools in Kenya , Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi. These bursaries are administered by the head teachers of schools so that a child, once sponsored, can complete his or her education. They are awarded to children who could otherwise not afford the costs (e.g. food and boarding charges if they live far from school) and therefore have to leave school early.