Frequently Asked questions
PIVS has operated international volunteer programs since 2003.
Our volunteer programs are organized in a unique African way of life, Volunteers get first hand experience by working/volunteering with the local organization, learn the ways and life of local community, in this process they get fully integrated in their volunteer program. PIVS offers both short and medium term opportunities to volunteers and variety of programs for volunteers to participate, whereas other organization offer only short term opportunities or long term opportunities. Also, PIVS is a local NGO operated and managed by experienced and qualified young people. As an independent organization our volunteer(s) work is matched to the needs of the community, local people, and partner organizations with whom we work.
However, if you are going to volunteer program abroad, especially in a developing country, Pamoja is the organization. Even for locals, navigating a developing country is a constant challenge. PIVS takes on the role of organizing, preparing and co-ordinating everything required for you to have a successful, productive, safe and secure volunteer experience.
Our participants have found us invaluable for several reasons:
- Safety and security is paramount for everyone going abroad. It is highly important that your safety and security is taken care of. We know all the neighborhoods where our participants stay and we have friends in the neighborhoods.
- We provide structured experience which leads to a more meaningful learning experience. Institution/organizations are engaged in their day to day activities. While they welcome the presence of and help from international volunteers, they don’t have the time or adequate staff for international volunteers. PIVS bridges that gap. We have worked with several institutions/communities/organizations to develop programs hence you get to have an idea of what you will do when and where.
- We know the institutions we collaborate with very well and have cultivated strong and productive relationships with the administrators. In terms of specialties, we know the strengths and weaknesses of all the institutions where the volunteer/students participate. Depending on your interests, we can quickly match you with the right institution for you to get the experience and exposure you need.
- Our program has also cultivated strong relationships with staff other consultants/professionals and they have a genuine interest in mentoring international volunteers. When you take part, you are not just another foreigner, you are a Pamoja volunteer/intern and they go the extra mile to make sure your experience is a learning and worthwhile experience.
- You meet volunteers from other parts of the world in the same program and you also get to meet local staff and community, an interaction which only enriches your experience.
PIVS has 3 main programs:- International Work Camp Program which runs for 2 – 3 weeks and medium term volunteer Program which runs for 1 – 6 months, Internship program 2 – 8 weeks and Music program. Volunteer/interns can participate in the following activities/projects animation, social work, construction, renovation, manual work, ecology, agriculture, environment, gender issues, micro finance, teaching in Schools, volunteering in Hospitals, wildlife, volunteering in Human rights and Justice Institutions, teaching music among others.
PIVS is a member of Co-ordinating Committee of International Voluntary Services (CCIVS), Eastern Africa Work Camps Association Network (EAWA) and PIVS has working relationships with organizations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. We have promoted/published/listed our programs to several volunteer search engines.
The volunteers are fully integrated in this program once they begin, through an orientation session where they are introduced to the project by our qualified staff, given an opportunity to volunteer in the project, to learn about the local culture, take part in cultural activities, leisure activity, and the same time making contribution to the local community. It is important volunteer understand the social context where the work camp is based as only in that way there will be a real interaction with the community and understanding of their work. Work camps provide an opportunity to explore the potential of an international group living together, to work, to have fun, to spark community interaction.
Medium term volunteer program is designed for volunteers who have knowledge, expertise and experience in a particular subject to further their knowledge or get a practical first hand experience in a particular field. The volunteers work/volunteer closely with the staff of that particular project. This program also caters for volunteers with no particular background knowledge or experience by experimental learning. This program offers volunteer enough time to get fully immersed in the specific project they are undertaking.
First of all the volunteer is familiarized/ oriented about the program, expectations, the volunteer actively participates in the community work and dedicates him/herself in the project, we monitor and evaluate the volunteer impact towards the community initiative. On the other hand this program helps to broaden and expose the perspective of the local people.
Our Volunteer programs are programs designed for people who want really to learn, share and get actively involved in community development projects. It is not touring a particular area or leisure holiday but rather integrating oneself in the local community. We seek for serious and motivated volunteers.
We invite participants/volunteers aged 18 years and above from all around the world.
PIVS can give you contacts of some of our past volunteers who have participated in our programs.
PIVS staff is composed of young dedicated professionals who have worked in community development work, social work and youth programs. In addition our staffs have worked in other organizations in facilitating youth exchange programs in other countries, in addition we have part-time volunteer consultants who assist to develop systems that improve relations and services to our volunteers.
We support the initiatives of our communities/institutions through the recruitment of volunteers from around the world to work on diverse programs.
All programs are run by specialists in their field who are specifically trained to impart their skills and experience.
As a volunteer, you’ll be carefully placed by our experienced team who will ensure maximum enjoyment of your Experience.
PIVS team will give you the best possible service and support. Our dedicated team members, work together to ensure your experience will be thoroughly memorable as well as being hassle-free.
Our programs have been set up with the needs and requirements of each volunteer and community in mind. This ensures that you get the best experience, whilst actually making a real difference on the program of your choice.
Our programs allows for flexibility on start dates. Our team ensure to find a co-ordinate and plan program that will fit in around your schedule.
All our programs require no previous knowledge or qualifications. All you need is a passion, dedication, motivation for the program you have chosen.
The accommodations vary from project to project. We have host families where volunteer(s) stay with a family, residential project house, classrooms, Social halls and independent living. PIVS typical housing in case of host family: host family offers accommodation, normally live in 2-3 bedroom house, 1 bathroom and 1 toilet You will be placed within a welcoming family setting, and you will have your own room. Our host families are educated, well-respected people who have experience with international volunteers. In addition, most members of the host families speak English. The family will provide the food (breakfast & dinner) for the volunteer. In case of residential project the volunteer is given a room including 2 meals and lives within the project site, all the facilities like bathroom, toilet and kitchen are within the residential project. Classrooms and social halls are mostly for international work camp programs when we have a large group, where the volunteers stay together cook, for themselves but we have one of our staff staying with the volunteers. In rural areas where there is no electricity and running water, volunteers use buckets to wash and bath, pit latrine is used, but we make necessary arrangements for volunteers have access to clean water for their use, we use lamps and pressure lamps for lighting. Independent living which is not popular volunteer stay alone in rented apartment which is not fully furnished, it is a self contained house i.e. it has electricity if in urban areas, piped and tap water bathroom, toilet and Kitchen. In mid and long term volunteer program volunteer(s) are assisted to cook by the host family, after a while they learn how to cook local food.
Volunteer/intern will eat 2 meals a day i.e. breakfast and dinner in some cases they will be carrying packed lunch depending on the distance between project and where they stay. In all cases volunteers will be eating local food, we do not offer western type of diet. Vegetarians are also catered for. Kenyan foods includes:-“ugali”-a porridge like mash made from corn meal,”chapati”-bread made form wheat flour;”irio”-a mash of corn,beans,greens & potatoes, rice, green bananas, green grams, cow peas, and plenty of fruits and vegetables available.
In all PIVS programs, safe drinking water is provided. Our staff will also inform you about health issues when eating and drinking outside of the PIVS projects.
It is recommended that you drink bottled water during your stay in Kenya both in Nairobi and whilst upcountry or on a safari. You can buy bottled water from any supermarket and most shops in Kenya. The most common water-borne diseases in Kenya are typhoid, cholera and dysentery. Other less common ones include gastroenteritis and amoebiasis.
Volunteers/interns are always free to independently explore local eating establishments. PIVS staff is available to recommend wonderful, unique restaurants in the community.
We allow people to come with friends or even in large groups. You may sometimes be placed in different accommodations, but they may be located within 1 mile away from each other. We do our best to accommodate requests, however please know that we take into consideration a number of factors, including;
- the total number of volunteers/interns
- how many family members there are
- the total capacity at the Home-Base; and
- gender breakdown of the overall volunteer/intern group.
Kenya is a safe country. Safety is our first priority. PIVS operates programs in carefully chosen areas that offer a safe environment for the volunteer. We take great strides to ensure the safety of our volunteers. We register our volunteer with their respective embassies or consular to inform them that we have they citizens in our program(s). We work with the local administration in all our projects and inform the government, the purpose of PIVS and its volunteers/interns in these projects. We do community mobilization to inform them that they will be having visitors in their areas and require their full co-operation. If you use some common sense, you are OK in Nairobi and anywhere else in the country
Our programs do not require that you speak the local language. However, a basic knowledge of English is necessary to follow the instructions provided by the local staff. Most Kenyans are multi-lingual and can speak & understand English. However, it is helpful to learn some basic words and phrases of Swahili and this is covered during our training and orientation program.
No foreign language proficiency required. English is the official language .Learn some Swahili words if you can. However, nearly majority Kenyans understand and speak English well so communication should not be a problem.
No. Our placements are designed to accommodate all levels of skills and experience. However, PIVS has some requirements to be fulfilled by its volunteers/interns:
- Age above 18 years (If you are below 18 years you need a written consent from a guardian)
- A positive attitude towards independent progress of others
- A willingness to adapt to local conditions
- A desire to interact and understand other people’s culture and philosophy of life
- Be open-minded and willing to freely exchange ideas, information and experiences without imposing your own values on others
These simple ideas will make your time in Kenya a great success for you, your project and the community.
We do two orientations once the volunteer/interns arrives, there is an orientation that is done in our office and another orientation done at the project site.
On arrival, you will be met at the airport by one of our representatives and depending on time and airport of arrival, you will either proceed directly to one of our accommodation houses or you will need to stay overnight in a hotel and proceed to your new temporary home the following day.
We use the first day for basic orientation on your surroundings, where to do basic shopping, cultural orientation and meeting other program participants. Part of orientation is to explain to you the type of work and expectations. We assign you a host mentor to help you with navigating your new environment
Free time is available some afternoons, most evenings, and every weekend. Our local staff can give you suggestions for places to visit, or you can create your own agenda. During your weekend you can take excursions to other parts of the country, or you may choose not to travel, and stay in town to get to know the community better. You may also choose to travel before or after the program.
We offer volunteer work in the areas of education, health, social services, environment, micro finance, wildlife, music and creative arts, agriculture, human rights, language programs, volunteering in children homes among others. We have a variety of projects to give volunteer/intern(s) an opportunity to take part in these projects.
You can go to as many programs consecutively as you want; some of our volunteer(s) have gone on more than several programs at once! Each program has a separate program participation fee.
The PIVS International Work camp program ranges from 2 – 3 weeks, all our work camps have start dates. Medium term volunteer programs range from 1 – 6 months. The projects are on going except for education projects i.e. Schools run from January – March April – July, September – November, when applying for school projects keep in mind this dates. In addition when applying for a visa, apply for a tourist visa which is 3 months and while in Kenya you can renew the visa for another 3 months. The internship programs are 8 weeks long.
Your intern work will vary based on your level of knowledge and experience in the field of health. In most countries, only legally certified healthcare professionals can perform delicate hands-on work in medical settings. If you’re not yet a licensed healthcare professional, your experience may be limited to observation and sometimes given minor task. Keep in mind that you can still learn a great deal from observation; volunteers working in health clinics or hospitals have been able to help out in pediatric nutrition centers, change bandages, observe traditional medicine practices, and even sometimes observe surgeries and births.
Depending on your project work, International Work camps, volunteer work from morning to afternoon i.e. 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. but this may depend with the project in other case volunteers may work in the afternoons i.e. 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Medium term volunteer and Internship programs work is from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. with lunch our break. Saturday afternoon and Sunday are free days.
We monitor and evaluate volunteer performance from time to time by using questionnaires or personal interviews together with the local community, as much as the volunteer sometimes they feel their input is minimal depending with time, the community appreciate the effort put by the volunteer and they know what is suitable to their needs, but we make sure the volunteer feels they input or goal is met. Assignments are given to internship program, there is a weekly meeting for assessing interns work. MTV programs reports are given on a weekly basis to evaluate their performance.
You will have a specific work, however depending on your skills, interests, and the need in the community, you may be involved in more than one. If you are unhappy with your project, we do our best to find another project that better suits your needs.
This depends from project to project, location, work to be done, objective and volunteers skills, through experience community differ from one another, but we prepare and arrange the program together with the community and also identifying areas where volunteers may be needed depending on their skills and experiences. We usually send a detailed information sheet regarding each specific project.
The program fee includes accommodation and meals for the volunteer and running expenses for PIVS.
All PIVS programs, volunteer pay a participation fee which covers operating and logistics expenses. PIVS is a non governmental organization that does not operate for profit, neither is PIVS funded by any Government, donor or individual, our programs are self financing.
All payments will be done at our offices. PIVS doesn’t accept monthly installments and payment is done on lump sum. If you wish to stay longer than your committed period, we will be happy to extend your volunteer/intern program, so please notify PIVS to arrange the extension and payment details. Commitment fee is paid in advance.
Carry extra money, you may need if you want to buy gifts or souvenirs for your friends/families, if you want to travel within the country or do a safari, the amount will also depend on your habit e.g. if you like drinking or going out, transport, buying personal stuff or shopping.
No – We advise our volunteer to have travel and or medical insurance which is mandatory requirement for a volunteer to participate our projects/programs.
Please make sure you get the recommended immunization against Yellow fever, Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis, Typhoid fever, Rabies but the doctor will advice you more. In addition we recommend you get medicine for malaria and purchase a mosquito net, repellants.
We encourage you to apply at least 5 weeks before the start date of the program in which you plan to participate. We do accept applications with less advance notice if there is space available and enough time to take care of the necessary arrangements. Many start dates close each year due to reaching their maximum capacities and project completion in case of international work camp program, so we encourage you to apply as early as possible.
The minimum age requirement for volunteers in our programs is 18 years and above. If under 18 a consent is required in writing from your parent/guardian/school/sponsor/affidavit from a lawyer/priest
Yes, you can go in a group as long as the program is not overbooked, depending on the size of your group.
We welcome volunteers from all over the world to join the PIVS team.
Visa requirements vary for each individual country and depend on your citizenship. You can apply for a Kenyan visa at the nearest consular office in your country. Alternatively you can apply for the visa at the airport Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Please note there is no volunteer visa, so you will apply for a tourist visa which is a 3 months visa
Your visa can be extended once at the Immigration Office in Nairobi after 3 months. You may use the address of PIVS Office when filling in your visa application.
Working shoes preferably boots and clothes, mobile phone, sleeping bag; you can buy a mosquito net here. Flash light/torch, heavy and light clothing, iodine tablets for water purification, personal effects (i.e. soap, toiletries), first aid kit for minor ailments and cuts, family and friends photos, sunscreen lotion, sandals, hat and other things that will make you comfortable during your stay here (FORGET NOT YOUR SMILING FACE) you can bring books, toys, medicine, clothes, stationery for community/children
The program participation fee is comprehensive. This ensures that the local communities we work with are not financially burdened by our volunteers.
- Volunteer Placement with one of staff including all the coordination in case of international work camp program, in-person visits in case of medium term volunteer program, internship program and communication necessary with each local organization.
- PIVS provides you with a comfortable accommodation, safe place to live, the basic amenities, all of your meals.
- Experienced staff, to provide orientation, supervision and guidance throughout your stay.
- Costs associated with obtaining a visa or immunizations (when needed).
- International and domestic airfare and corresponding airport departure taxes.
- Personal Internet time and long-distance (domestic and international) phone calls.
- Laundry service.
- Insurance, both general and medical.
- Recreation (going to safaris, alcohol, outings).
- Pocket money.
- Transport (to and from site).
- Personal stuff (toilet paper, soaps, washing detergents).
Volunteers can communicate with their families or friends back home via e-mail, telephone, mail and mobile which are locally available here. Communication should not cause worry, in addition the volunteers can still keep in touch with their families/friends even in rural areas via mobile and mail. Volunteers can use PIVS mailing address in case they want to send or receive parcels/letter.
The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 volts/50 Hz (240V 50 Hz D & G). The electric sockets are three-pin square.
Countries with different voltages and frequencies will need a power converter. It is important to check this as incorrect use may damage your equipment. Check your electrical equipment to see if you will need a power converter and/or a plug adapter. Volunteers may purchase power converters in their home countries or here in Kenya. For plug adapters, these are widely available in shops and supermarkets all over the country. We advise volunteers to purchase them after arrival in the country and after confirming what type of sockets they have in their accommodation.
Volunteers need to bring their own towels, toiletries and other personal effects. Please note that volunteers are responsible for their own laundry. It is safe to bring your hair dryers, shavers and other electrical products.
Bring along some comfortable, casual and semi-casual clothing such as sweat shirts, shorts, jeans, skirts and any other clothing that you would ordinarily wear. Include warm clothing for nights, especially if you volunteer in the rainy season (April to May) or the cold season (June and July).
When out in the community, it is good to follow local etiquette. Dressing in Nairobi is quite liberal. However, approach it with cultural sensitivity in mind and you will be fine. Avoid excessively flashy or revealing items. Please ask when you are not sure what is and is not appropriate.
Footwear can be any comfortable walking shoes such as sports shoes. It is also advised to carry a pair of open-toed sandals, especially for those who will be volunteering in the hot season (December to February; August to September).
Carry a few smart outfits for special occasions that you might be part of e.g. dinners or parties.
PIVS official will pick you up from the airport at any time of day or night. Before you start your journey to Kenya, please confirm with us, we have received your correct flight details. There is airport transfer fee for international work camps and medium term volunteer program. Airport transfer is included in the internship program participation fee.
Pamoja will arrange accommodation for your volunteer duration with us. The following scenarios are possible:
During the orientation
- Nairobi – either in a host family or a hotel in Nairobi.
While volunteering in your program
- Directly in the program
- Host family
(Depending on the place and type of your program)
The last day (evaluation day)
- Nairobi – either in a host family or in a hotel.
Pamoja will inform you about the exact accommodation during your orientation. Any accommodation costs before or after your project term will be borne by yourself.
Make copies! Important documents (passport, data page and visa documents, credit cards, travel insurance policy, air/bus/train tickets, driving license etc.) should be photocopied before you leave home. Leave one copy with someone at home and keep another with you, separate from the originals. We strongly advise you to leave a copy of your passport and your visa at Pamoja office.
There are ATM’s in every big town in Kenya. You don’t need to carry traveler cheques or lots of cash. You should acquire in advance from your bank about the conditions and possibilities of withdrawing money with your bank card. Having a master/visa card is in every case advisable.