The team will spend their days as an international volunteer team living and working in the breathtaking Shimoni Archipelago, located on the eastern coast of Kenya, a region known for its coral reefs, marine wildlife and coastal forests.
Volunteers will have varied tasks, ranging from local community development projects including teaching English and sustainable travel programs. GVI’s full time education staff will provide all necessary training, which will prepare volunteers for a hands-on experience resulting in direct contribution to the friendly and warm community’s development.
While on site, you will be completely immersed in the surrounding culture and your free time will provide you with the opportunity to learn Swahili, snorkel with dolphins, visit Diani Beach’s stunning views or take a safari up in the Shimba Hills.
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This program offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the program for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
Most of your days you will work with the children teaching English or working with the surrounding community to develop their sustainable development projects. You will occasionally have the chance to teach adults and local orphans.
There are several programs that GVI operates in the area, and you will gain insight into these by living with volunteers who are working on dolphin or monkey research. In this way you can learn more about GVI’s local reach, and other projects we have going on – you may even have the chance to visit a few of them!
Your living conditions will be shared, and you will have communal areas that provide space to eat and relax as a group. You will also share the cooking and cleaning duties.
The essential aim of this program is to make improvements to the educational standards in the Shimoni Archipelago through teaching. The daily tasks include designing English lessons with children and fine-tuning the English spoken by the local adults.
On occasion you may assist with physical education classes, creative arts or an array of other disciplines. In addition, you may work on reading, talking and drawing with the local orphanage children. There is also time provided for volunteers to prepare the next day’s lesson.
Another facet of the program addresses the sustainable development initiatives taken on by the community members. A few examples from past volunteers include alternative charcoal production programs and a local women’s craft group.
How this project makes a difference:
GVI is working with the local community in three different capacities; cetacean research, terrestrial ecology studies and community development. Volunteers choosing to join this project will focus on the community development side of the program which will ultimately aid all aspects of this long term multi-focused initiative.
I wanted to visit Africa since I was a child but I did not want to go as a tourist - I wanted to see the "real" Africa. I enjoyed the visits to the orphanage, the weekend side trip, meeting other volunteers from all over the world, interactions with the local community members, learning Swahili, African cooking, buying local crafts, etc. GVI was well organized and helped to make a difference and I would love to do this again. It also provides a unique opportunity to see another country as it really is.
It is not unusual for me to do crazy things. However leaving my cosy life in Sydney to fly to a small island with no electricity or running water probably takes the cake. The classes range from 20 to 30+ students all of which seem completely unaffected by the fact that their exercise books are falling apart and their text books look like they were made before I was born. All of the students have this real want to learn and the determination to overcome any obstacles in their way is written all over their faces.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Shimoni field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Kenya!
Included Side Trips
During project you will embark on the fascinating community-based eco-tourism Slave Cave Tour in Shimoni village, exploring the natural caves that are currently home to bat colonies but over the years have served as a refuge for local people during tribal clashes, a slave holding pen on the way to markets in Zanzibar and more recently a kaya shrine.
Optional Side Trips
Please note these additional side trips are not included in the program but can be easily organised on the ground after arrival.
Closer to base, you can support various eco-tourism initiatives in the surrounding communities, such as traditional fishing trips with the Mkwiro fishermen in their dug-out canoes, Swahili cooking classes or trips through large underground limestone caves at Tswaka.
An amazing day trip is to Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, a community reserve in the hills near Shimba where game drives will bring you close to herds of protected African elephants. You can also see how the community turn elephant dung into recycled paper products for sale to tourists as an income generating scheme.
For something longer than a day, you should consider an overnight trip to Shimba Hills National Reserve, home to African elephants, buffalo, giraffe, warthog and Kenya’s only breeding population of sable antelope. The south coast of Kenya is dotted with several stunning white sand beaches where some of the more popular beach towns offer ocean sports such as kite-surfing, kayaking and diving. Tiwi Beach offers a more relaxed experience with very few tourists present.
Mombasa can also be visited over a weekend, a city that combines the historic old town and traditional Swahili culture with modern city life, restaurants, bars and clubs. As well as its beautiful beaches, the nearby Haller Park is an ecological restoration project that offers opportunities to get close to giraffe, hippopotamus, buffalo, waterbuck, crocodile and the giant Aldabra tortoise.
Further Travel Opportunities
Kenya is a large and extremely diverse country in terms of both culture and nature. Over three to four days you can undertake a safari that takes in the vast Tsavo East and West National Parks, or the famous Amboseli or Maasai Mara National Parks, all home to incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. You can journey further up Kenya’s coastline to visit Watamu and Malindi home to the Gedi Ruins and Arabuko Sokoke Forest National Park. Or for something less active, try Lamu Island, a tranquil getaway, steeped in Swahili history, tradition and culture.
Even further afield in Kenya including Lakes Naivasha and Victoria and national parks such as Nakuru, Hell’s Gate and Samburu. Our operations lie close to the Tanzanian border and onward travel here offers some of Africa’s most famous names; the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Zanzibar Islands.
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- Tour of the village
- Introduction to teaching
- Training and teaching materials
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes