• Overview - Kenya


    kikuyuwomanKenya inspires. Today, as for decades, nature lovers, wanderers, artists and writers are drawn to Kenya's dazzling wildlife, varied landscapes and rich cultural heritage. The snow capped peak of Mount Kenya overlooks the Rift Valley where thousands of zebras, wildebeest, and other animals make their yearly migration.  The Rift Valley is home to a fantastic array of animals including elephants, lions, cheetahs, baboons, flamingos, and many more.  The Rift Valley is also known as the cradle of humanity.  Humanoid remains dating back 6 million years have been excavated on the shores of Lake Turkana.  Pastoralist and agricultural tribes still live throughout Kenya, carrying on cultural traditions that date back thousands of years.  And the Kenyan coast was home to Persian and Arab traders and continues to be a trading center of East Africa.  These cultural and natural elements combine to create a fascinating country, ideal for a volunteer or internship experience.

    Even though the Kenyan economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, many Kenyans are still facing incredible poverty. ELI partners with local organizations in Kenya devoted to bettering their communities to create volunteer and internship opportunities for international participants.


  • Youth

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    Orphanages and Youth Centers:
    UNICEF estimates that approximately 2.3 million children in Kenya are orphans. Many of these children move in with relatives after the deaths of their parents. Orphans are often put to work, denied the opportunity to attend school, and suffer physical abuse. Many run away or are forced out of the house. These children turn to the street or an orphanage for refuge. ELI partners with orphanages in Nakuru, Nairobi, and the base of Mt. Kenya, as well as with day centers for street children in Nakuru. These organizations all place a large emphasis on the education and empowerment of the children. The orphanages are very good at providing the children with basic daily needs, but the children are often lacking the personal attention they need to really thrive. Volunteers have the chance to serve as a role model and mentor as well as to motivate the children to study. For more information on these projects, see Kirsten's Photo Journal, Alexandra's Photo Journal, and Kaitlyn's Photo Journal.

    Kaptembwa Soccer Club:
    The sprawling Kaptembwa Slum is home to an estimated 140,000 people on the outskirts of Nakuru. The children of the slum face many serious challenges in their day-to-day lives. By some estimates 30% of Kapetembwa's population is HIV-positive. Many of the children are the main wage earners in their families and do not know when their next meal will come. Others are forced to care for their younger siblings when their parents succumb to disease or abandon the children. The Kaptembwa Soccer Club was started to give adolescents the opportunity to play in regional soccer tournaments with the goal of empowering the local kids. The soccer games give them the opportunity to play with more well-off kids in Nakuru – a valuable and rare social interaction in this city of disparities. Volunteers assist with daily practice and attend matches. Please note that this is a part-time, volunteer placement. It may be combined with another volunteer opportunity.


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Women

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    Kenya is home to many strong and inspiring women, but many Kenyan women find themselves marginalized by lack of education, sexual violence, and limited opportunities. Volunteers can work with a women's center that provides support services for women in the largest slum of Nakuru. The center supports women by providing counseling, education, short term accommodation, vocational training, and a positive environment. Volunteers may teach English conversation, adult literacy classes, vocational training, basic financial literacy, and also support the women in their group meetings.

    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Wildlife/Conservation

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    ELI partners with the Kenya Wildlife Service to set up exciting internship and volunteer placements working with wildlife and conservation! Participants work directly with park rangers and conservationists in the beautiful Lake Nakuru area, assisting with all aspects of the operation of a full-sized wildlife reserve. Participants should be in good physical health and exhibit an interest in conservation issues.

    This program has a maximum length of 8 weeks.


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Microfinance

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    The World Bank estimates that the rate of poverty is dropping by about 1% per year. Given that in 2005, 47% of the population lived in extreme poverty, Kenya's success is muted by the staggering scale of the problem. The field of microfinance has received a lot of attention since Muhammed Yunus received a Nobel Prize for founding the Grameen Bank. Thousands of microfinance institutions (MFIs) provide financial services at a community level in Kenya and have changed the lives of many small scale entrepreneurs. Interns work with the staff of MFIs in Nakuru to learn about all aspects of microfinance, from assessing credit-worthiness to assisting with education programs and working on the day-to-day tasks within the main office. Placements are made with successful MFIs that place an emphasis on entrepreneurial development in the education of their clients. Short and long term loans are given primaily to groups/collectives, but individual loans are also available for school fees on an individual basis.


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Health

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    Medical Professionals:
    Kenya has one of the smallest health worker to population ratios in the world. Kenyan health professionals are stretched thin by the demands made on them and welcome qualified volunteers to assist with day to day tasks in a hospital or small clinic. Conditions are very basic, and due to the lack of staffing, many patients are forced to endure long waits before receiving treatment. Tasks are assigned by the local staff based on what they feel is appropriate given a volunteer's background. Many volunteers also assist with educational outreach programs in addition to time spent with patients in the clinic. This is a great opportunity for doctors, nurses, PAs, and other health professionals to learn about Kenya while also giving back to the community in a very appreciated way. Please note that this volunteer opportunity is designed for experienced medical professionals.

    Medical and Pre-Medical Students:
    ELI works with the Nakuru Provincial General Hospital and Municipal Health service to create programs for pre med and medical students. Interns will shadow the doctors and other medical staff in order to gain an understanding of the day-to-day practice of healthcare in Kenya. Participants in this program will have no medical responsibilities, but may be given tasks such as assisting with patient histories, taking vitals, and anything else the permanent hospital staff feels is appropriate. Interns at the hospital are encouraged to get involved in the health education outreach programs in order to give back to the community as well as learn first hand about the health challenges the community faces. Pre-dental and dental students have the opportunity to work with a Kenyan dentist in a private practice. Interns shadow the dentist to gain insight into the practice of dentistry in Kenya as well as gain valuable work experience. This opportunity is ideal for participants wanting to gain first hand experience working in a government hospital in Kenya, learn about tropical diseases, and learn about public health issues in East Africa.To Learn more about the day to day activities in the Medical program, see Alexandra's Photojournal and Kaitlyn's Photojournal


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Education

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    As in many countries, the Kenyan school system is facing many challenges including limited resources, overcrowding, and lack of qualified teachers. Volunteers can work in a primary or secondary school in Nakuru. The primary schools are especially in need of English teachers. English is one of the official languages in Kenya and students must pass an English proficiency test to move on to secondary school. The schools also warmly welcome volunteers able to assist subjects such as math, geography, the sciences, and entrepreneurial classes. Volunteers are also encouraged to assist with extra-curricular activities in order to serve as mentors and role models to the children.

    Deaf Education:

    This internship provides practical classroom experience and insight into Kenyan Deaf culture in one of Kenya's few schools for the deaf. Interns will assist with day-to-day classroom activities, especially focusing on one-on-one tutoring. Participants in this program must be conversational in sign language and have past experience in the field of deaf education. The minimum time commitment is eight weeks. This internship is a great opportunity to gain insight into strategies for deaf education, an understanding of attitudes toward the deaf in Kenya, and the challenges deaf people face in a developing country.


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Community Development

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    For people looking to be fully immersed in rural Kenyan life, the long term community development internships are designed to give participants the opportunity to gain significant experience in international development through working with local organizations in small communities far off the tourist trails of Kenya. These internships have a three month minimum time commitment and can last up to a full year. All projects are initiated by the community and designed for long-term sustainability without outside donations. Projects are available in the areas of education, capacity building, social work, HIV/AIDS education, environment, public health, microfinance, conservation, human rights, cultural heritage, female genital mutilation, and performing arts.


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Legal

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    Legal issues vary widely in different areas of the world. The Court Systems are not always as efficient, organized, and fair in some countries. For this reason, experience in a legal internship in another country provides valuable insight into the workings of Justice issues both at home and abroad.

    In Kenya, law and pre-law students have the opportunity to work with local lawyers and justice officials working in Legal Aid type fields. Interns work closely with lawyers who are actively representing under-served communities in the region. Participants attend courtroom proceedings and assist with client interviews and dealing with the bureaucratic paperwork that exists everywhere. This is the chance for interns to experience the differences, and more surprisingly, the similarities between the courtroom process at home and abroad.


    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • International Camps

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    The International Work Camp Program is a low-cost alternative that gives volunteers the opportunity to work on a three week long project with other volunteers from all over the world. The projects are organized by the Kenya Voluntary Development Association and serve all areas of Kenya. Volunteers meet in Nairobi for a 1-day orientation before heading off to the work camp site as a group. We work with many other organizations worldwide to provide volunteers for these projects.

    Participants in these projects need to be ready to adapt to life in poor communities in Kenya. This is a program requires participants to be flexible and ready to camp for the duration of the program. Sleeping arrangements are made in spaces provided by the community and there may not be cots or beds available, and toilet facilities consist of pit latrines. Bath shelters provide privacy for taking bucket baths. Participants must plan to not have access to running water and electricity. All meals are included in the program fee, but please keep in mind that the meals will be typical Kenyan meals and may not include luxuries such as meat with every meal.


    See our full list of International Camp projects

  • Feedback

    For similar resources on other countries and programs, please see the "Experiences" tab above.


    Alexandra's Photojournal

    Kaitlyn's Photojournal

    Kirsten's Photojournal

    Staff Galleries:

    Kevin's Gallery


    "[The doctors] were fabulous and explained everything they were doing. I learned so much from them and they wanted it to be a hands-on experience, so they talked me through simple procedures, etc."
    -Theresa K.

    "I really had a phenomenal experience during my internship and would recommend Nakuru as a perfect placement for anyone interested in third world community development."
    -Rachel M.

    "The house was way beyond my expectations—it was beautiful, the housekeeper Mary was wonderful, not to mention our host Rosemary was incredible! I feel very safe—never had to lock anything.  I enjoyed the dinners as well! We got along very well and I miss everyone greatly."
    -Johnny X.


    "Masai Mara, Lake Bogoria, Thompson Falls (very cheap day out!), Menegai Crater, Hells Gate are all great things to see. Wouldn’t recommended Hyrax Hill as I personally found it a little boring (unless you’re into prehistoric sites!)"
    -Stephen F.

    "Embrace the local culture, and learn to haggle!"
    -Sean D.

    "If you're staying in a homestay allow your host to help you figure out safaris so that you can get good deals and go with someone that the host knows plus trusts."
    -Zuri K.


    "Make relationships. The doctors work very hard and don’t need [interns] flaking and getting in the way. If you take the time to make the relationships they will make sure you get to see and do the cool stuff."
    -Clare B.



    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Details

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    Program Includes:

    * Pre-departure information
    * Pick up from the airport in Nairobi and transportation to Nakuru
    * Orientation and welcome pack
    * Volunteer Position
    * Accommodation
    * Two meals a day for General Program
    * Daily food allowance for Conservation Programs
    * 24/7 emergency service 
    Program Does Not Include:
    *Round-trip Airfare
    *Return trip to Airport in Nairobi (the shuttle from Nakuru to Nairobi costs $12)
    *Required Travel and Medical Insurance
    *Visa Fees

    Volunteers in Kenya stay with local host families.  ELI truly believes that this is the best way to fully immerse in another culture and get the most from an international experience.  All families are carefully screened and are well-respected members of the community with at least one family member who speaks English.  Participants will have either a private or shared bedroom with secure storage (volunteer must provide own padlock).  Bathrooms are shared with the host family.  Volunteers will be provided with breakfast and dinner daily. Please note that accommodation with the International Work Camp Program will be in group living situations. 

    Arrival Dates:
    Start dates are completely flexible, but we ask that volunteers arrive in Nairobi on a Saturday or Sunday if possible in order to start working on Monday.

    We ask that participants not arrive December 23-26 in order to allow our coordinator and staff to spend the Christmas holiday with their families.

    Apply Now
    After you fill out the application form on our website, our application advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.  We have set up a checklist here for you see exactly what steps you need to take to go abroad with ELI.

    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now


  • Cost

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    Application Fee: $100
    (refundable only if we are unable to find a placement that matches your request)

    Program Fee:

    Length of Program ELI Youth Initiative Volunteer/
    Animal Conservation
    2 Weeks US $650 $850 US $1050
    4 Weeks US $890 $1090 US $1295
    6 Weeks US $1060 $1260 US $1660
    8 Weeks US $1230 $1430 US $1825
    10 Weeks US $1400 $1600 N/A
    12 Weeks US $1570 $1770 N/A

    International Work Camps:
    Two Week Camps: $520
    Three Week Camps: $575

    Medical Internships:
    Additional $25 per month for hospital and clinic fees.

    All prices are listed in US Dollars. The program fees reflect the costs ELI faces when setting up a program. We work hard to keep our costs as low as possible. ELI is a registered 501(c)3 non profit. US taxpayers may be able to deduct some or all of the program fees (for volunteer projects only). If you are outside the US and wondering what these costs translate to in your currency, click here for an online conversion tool that will give you the approximate current exchange rate.

    Click here to inquire for more info   Apply Now