Volunteer FAQ

By Cynthia Alwizer

This section will address frequently asked questions by volunteers like:

What are the volunteer requirements?
What’s needed – visa, immunizations?
What’s the language in Kenya?
What do I need to carry?
What’s the procedure?
Can I get school credit?
How long can I volunteer for?
How much is it going to cost?
What type of accomodations are available?
How do I find out what specific volunteer opportunities are available?
How will I communicate with my friends and family? Can I carry my cell phone and laptop?
What is the local currency and how do I access money while I am in Kenya?
What are some cultural aspects I need to know about (insight from other volunteers)?
How can I contact you?

What are are the requirements to volunteer at Maji Mazuri?
Volunteers are required to complete the application which is divided into four short sections. We will find suitable project for you based on your skills and preferences provided when you contact us.

What’s the procedure?
Let us know you are interested in applying by filling out the volunteer form. Once you have completed the online volunteer form, download the International Volunteer Contract and email along with your resume and essay to volunteer[at]majimazuri[dot]org. Once we have received all your information the Maji Mazuri office will review to find you the best fit, and provide you with further details about volunteering.

How long can I volunteer for?
One to twelve months.

What type of accomodations are available?
Volunteers may request for Maji Mazuri to arrange for accommodation with a home owner known to Maji Mazuri but recommends volunteers stay at the ACK Guest House. Their website URL: www.ackguesthouses.or.ke/nairobi you can email them for reservation on Email: anglicanghnbi@swiftkenya.com or make their own suitable accommodation arrangements during their stay in Kenya.

Can I get school credit?
We can write a letter of recomendation upon request.

What Specific Volunteer opportunities are available right now?
We are looking for health care providers like occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses and doctors.

How will I communicate with my friends and family? Can I carry my cell phone and laptop?
It is easy for you to communicate while you are here. You can purchase a cheap cell phone from here as soon as you arrive together with the SIM Card. Just carry the numbers you may want to call. Alternatively, if you have to have a cell phone that is not locked to a cell phone service provider from USA you can come with it and purchase a SIM Card from a local cell phone service provider here to insert into your phone.

You can use your lap top in Kenya as long as it has a voltage capacity adapter of 100 to 240 V or 50 to 60 Hz. If not you may need to purchase or borrow an adapter. Most of our volunteers carry their laptops for use while here.

What is the local currency and how do I access money while I am in Kenya?
It is important that you change some of the currency you come with into Kenya shillings either at your departure airport or entry airport here in Kenya as it will be easy for you to purchase what you need for your use while here for the first few days before you can change more money later at a forex bureau.

If you have a VISA ATM Card that you can withdraw funds from anywhere in the world from your bank that’s better. There are multinational banks here where you can utilize the VISA ATM Card to withdraw funds in Kenya shillings from your bank if you find carrying lots of cash on you risky.

What do I need to get to prepare logistically before I come?

Kenyan Visa
Apply for an R visa (preferably with multiple entry if you intend to travel to any of the neighboring countries) at the Kenya Embassy in your country of domicile. You would need a passport with a validity of at least 3-6 six months. Ensure you obtain a visa for the whole duration of your anticipated stay in Kenya. Please contact info@majimazuri.org if you need an official letter from Maji Mazuri for your visa. Visa costs, including any travel expenses associated with visa applications or renewals, are borne by interns. On obtaining a visa please check the conditions imposed on the visa to avoid unpleasant experience on arrival. Please also note that renewal or extension of visa within Kenya is difficult. In order to avoid hassle while in the country, candidates must obtain the R visa from the Kenya embassy in the country of domicile.

Healthcare and Immunization
You will require the following immunizations:
Malaria
Yellow fever
Hepatitis

Please contact your doctor well before traveling to Kenya in case of any additional immunisation requirement. It is strongly recommended that you purchase medical insurance prior to your departure for Kenya.

What is the language in Kenya?
There are 42 different dialects spoken in Kenya.
Official language: Kiswahili
Second Language: English
Most Maji Mazuri staff can communicate fluently in English but once in the country, you will find people speak other dialects. Learning basic words in Kiswahili could help with communication outside the city.

In the field, volunteers and research interns who’s native tongue is not English are recommended to take a translator to the field to carry out their research. Maji Mazuri may facilitate a trained interpreter for your field visit, provided that the intern meets all related costs: accommodation, meals and transportation of the translator, translation fees etc. please mention in your application if you would like Maji Mazuri to arrange a translator for you.

Maji Mazuri can organize customised Kiswahili learning classes in consultation with local language tutors to cater to the needs of international interns. Please contact info@majimazuri.org to find out about Kiswahili classes, rates and for registration.

What essential items should I bring with me?

General:
• Clothes
• Toiletries
• Basic medical supplies
• Anti mosquito Spray
• Water bottle
• Towel
• Sunglass
• Sun lotion / Sunscreen
• Raincoat and umbrella (for rainy seasons)
• Hand sanitiser
• Journal/ pens
• phone (with SIM card)

For the field:
• Shoes for field
• Dry food
• Clip board
• Backpack
• Flash light
• Bug spray
• Bed sheet, pillow cover
• Flask to carry water
• Camera (preferably digital)
• Laptop (preferably with wireless internet setting)

What are some cultural aspects I need to know (provided by previous volunteers)?
• You can run and exercise here
• Learn how to speak Kiswahili as much as possible before hand
• People dress up in Kenya, so bring fun clothes if you wanna go dancing
• Bring small gifts to give away to kids you meet or people you live with, like pens, etc.
• Come with your own idea of how to assist- like have a lesson plan ready to go before hand
• Read about the culture as much as you can before you get here — know the political issues like the constitution, so you can participate and interact with people while you are here.
• Ask the tough questions… don’t be scared
• Bargaining: always go down 50%. 🙂

How can I contact you?
Email: mmc@sedsmmc.org
Cellphone: +254 722 466 971
Landline: + 254 300 32 74 or +254 020 271 4869

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at all. We are happy to help.