Since 1998, we have been implementing community development programs in the rural villages of Western Kenya, where large international aid programs rarely venture.
Our on-the-ground operations are all run by local Kenyans who are trained in development, education, HIV/AIDS counseling and home-based care. All of our program activities are coordinated through the local Kenyan staff and then run on a day-to-day basis by volunteers from abroad. We have had over 250 volunteers from all over the world with various educational and professional backgrounds.
As of 2011, we have had volunteers from 24 different countries travel to Kenya to work on our programs. We have had undergraduate student volunteers, medical students, doctors, business professionals seeking a “vacation” from work, families seeking to experience a different world and get a once in a lifetime experience, and world travelers looking to take an adventurous trip that has a social purpose and impact.
HIV/AIDS Education has been our main area of focus since 1998. Over 300,000 Kenyans have been sensitized about the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS. In the past two years the number of international volunteers working in Kenya has grown dramatically and as a result we now reach over 75,000 rural Kenyans each year. In April of 2003, an intensive HIV/AIDS peer training program, EMPOWER, was launched. In the first 18 months of this “training of trainers” program, over 1,000 Kenyans were trained to teach about HIV/AIDS and serve as resources for their peers.
Through our Healthcare Program, we operate the Bill Selke Memorial Clinic (which is located in the rural village of Kabula ) and mobile clinic services. Our mobile clinic program is done on a rotating basis through very rural village centers, churches, and homes in the Western Province . The program is most active during the summer months (May-August) when more overseas medical students are on the ground. During these periods we treat anywhere from 20 to 250 patients a day that likely otherwise would have no access to quality healthcare.
Through our Education Program, we run a Primary school that has a pre-school class and Grades 1 through 8. The school, Epico Jahns Academy , currently has over 400 students enrolled and is run by a staff of local Kenyan teachers and overseas volunteers. We accept not only experienced teachers but also international volunteers who have an interest in teaching the local children. The school has consistently received the highest marks in the area in terms of the quality of education and student development. The school also provides lunch to the students, which for many is the only guaranteed meal each day. Volunteers in the Education Program take an active role in not only teaching at the school, but have recently been active laborers in helping to build the additional classrooms (through funds they raised before their trip). We also offer support for our most poverty-stricken students through our “Sponsor a Child’s Education” program.
Recognizing that Kenyan women in rural areas often lack access to capital and the ability to generate income, we assist rural women’s “Self-Help” groups start small-scale income-generating activities through our Microenterprise Development Program. Since 2001, we have provided start-up technology, capital, and other resources to over 80 women’s groups to help them initiate income-generating projects such as sewing and tailoring shops, bee-keeping projects, horticulture projects, and fisheries. We have also built a network of over 100 rural microenterprise groups to whom we provide project advice and guidance, as well as assist in facilitating knowledge and resource sharing between the groups.
During June of 2001, we constructed and opened the first Public Library in Western Kenya . The library is filled with book donations from universities and libraries in the US and is open seven days a week for the local community.
As Volunteer Kenya continues to grow, we strive to improve upon our existing programs and are always looking for new ideas and input. All of our programs are volunteer initiated, funded, and run. We have had past volunteers interested in starting small projects such as women’s reproductive health education courses, clean water access research, cow rearing/breeding and donation projects, etc. Each volunteer has unique ideas and insights which they use to develop and test new types of programs during their time in Kenya. Therefore, while our main programs are described above, volunteers are always free to do research and discuss the possibility of organizing their own small-scale projects and programs during their trip.
Please click on one of the links listed below for individual program details:
Note: The name Volunteer Kenya is used as the international name for our organization, but we are known as ICODEI (Inter-Community Development Involvement) within Kenya