Thank you for expressing your interest in our project! Makuyu Education Initiative is a
nursery/day care in rural Makuyu, Kenya. The children, aged from 3 to 5, generally
come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The mission of the Makuyu Education Initiative
is to provide underprivileged children with an opportunity to escape the vicious cycle of
poverty by providing the children with a safe place to learn so that they can reach their
Volunteers are needed for a variety of different reasons. We need volunteers to help
teach the children, interact with children to improve their English, and help with a wide
variety of tasks such as cooking and cleaning, We also need volunteers to take
pictures/videos of the children for fundraising purposes, introduce them to different
cultures from around the world, and work with organizational staff on new ideas to
improve our organization.
The Makuyu Education Initiative is located in the village of Makuyu, Kenya, and committed to helping underprivileged children escape the vicious cycle of poverty by providing a quality education, free meals to help fight malnutrition, and access to health care. The Makuyu Education Initiative (MEI) can always use volunteers on site in Kenya. Donating your time can go a long way to supporting our mission.
The Centre is a nursery in which we feed and teach classes to young children lacking opportunities. Volunteers help out our permanent staff members in doing chores, teaching, etc. Makuyu is in rural Kenya, and volunteers will be living on-site in our lodging. Volunteers can help out wherever they feel like, and can have opportunities to explore Kenya.
If you decide to volunteer at the Makuyu Education Centre, you will have a lot of flexibility in deciding how to help make improvements. Volunteers in the past have taken the children to the hospital for routine health check-ups, worked on upgrading the curriculum, painted the school and made bookshelves, discovered more about the backgrounds of the children, took pictures and videos for fundraising initiatives, and completed a variety of other tasks.
Vaccinations: You'll need to make sure you have all the vaccinations. Last time I checked,
visitors needed proof of Covid vaccination (or a negative test). I’d also recommend
getting yellow fever vaccine, malaria pills, typhoid, and TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, and
pertussis.) Check with your local travel clinic to see what they’d recommend.
Safety: Even though Makuyu is a relatively safe place, please still remember that Kenya
is a developing country with a significant amount of poverty. The community is very
supportive of our project, and, in my experience, the locals enjoy having volunteers, but
bad people can be found everywhere in the world and Makuyu is no different. It is
important to note that by coming, volunteers assume the risk of living in a developing
country. With that said, none of our volunteers have ever gotten hurt. Lastly, we
recommend that volunteers who decide to visit Nairobi are extra vigilant. Some
volunteers in the past have had their phones and other electronics stolen in Nairobi
when they have had them out in public. In general we don’t recommend walking around
What to Bring: In
general, volunteers should bring clothes for both hot weather and chilly weather (Keya
can get pretty chilly, surprisingly). Female volunteers should consider clothes that cover
the knees and shoulders, since rural Kenya is a bit conservative in that regard.
Additionally, it can rain in Kenya quite a bit, so bringing in some water-resistant jackets
and rain boots is also a good idea, especially if you are coming during the rainy season.
If you are considering bringing things for the children: It is completely voluntary. If
you would like to bring something for the kids, they are most needing: notebooks, pens,
secondhand non-branded clothes, shoes, school supplies, English children's books, or
sports items. Anything you bring I am sure will be very much appreciated, but please
talk to our team on the ground about how to best distribute them, as we don’t want any
children to be left out.
Makuyu has some of the most welcoming and warmest people we've ever met. It is an
agricultural community, and people live simple lives. Despite the poverty, we've also seen some of the happiest people in Makuyu and we hope you enjoy your trip!
The following information has been put together by past volunteers.
Feel free to send corrections to keep it current after your stay!
I. Volunteers are a team and should help each other. The volunteers who
have arrived first are welcome to show the new volunteers around
(buying mobile bundles, showing where to take the matatu, etc.).
II. Donations: Please do not give anyone cash without checking with
Pavel first. In general, all donations are made through the proper
channels so we can keep financial records of it. While our team is
incredibly trustworthy and our organization transparent and clean, we
also want to stay vigilant and avoid opening the door to even the
slightest appearance of impropriety. Similarly, no one from an
organization should never ask for money on behalf of themselves or
the children. This includes implying that volunteers should spend on
any particular projects. If that ever happens, please notify Pavel right
III. Extra Food: If the volunteers want to eat something outside regular
meals, they can purchase their own food. Otherwise, food will be
provided for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Please try not to eat “extra
food” in front of children (unless you have enough for everyone) and
don’t leave it in the room for too long so as not to attract
IV. If a volunteer “couple” comes, try not to publicly display affection in
front of the kids. Due to cultural norms, it is advised that volunteers
refrain from swearing and female volunteers wear shorts/dress that
cover their knees.
V. Volunteers should treat the kids equally, do not give a special treat to
just one kid and be careful not to put too much attention on one/a few
VI. The kids are not allowed to enter either the volunteers’ rooms or the
VII. While Makuyu is relatively safe, we advise against walking around at
night. If you decide to take trips, please be careful and consider going
VIII. Don’t let the cats in your room, which makes the beds dirty. Close the
door of your room when you’re out or at night.
I. We provide mosquito nets.
II. We also recommend volunteers take malaria pills while here.
III. However, with all that being said, malaria is surprisingly uncommon
at this altitude, so do not worry too much if you see a mosquito.
IV. Be careful with leaving doors or windows open for too long,
especially during the evenings/nights. While malaria itself is fairly
uncommon, a mosquito or a fly inside a room buzzing around can
keep you up for hours!
I. For Americans, your phone provider may automatically give you the
option to enroll in an international data plan. It seems like it works
decently in Makuyu.
II. In general, there are three choices to get the Internet connection
a. Mobile data: A monthly data bundle (1000 Shillings for 3 GB) is
available at Safari.com in Thika. Remember to bring your
passport to register the SIM card. Calling bundles (air time) are
also available there. Remark: bundle expires after one month.
b. “Top-ups” can be done by buying Airtime at local shops/stands
or paying through Mpesa (a paying system through phone).
Type #544 to check your balance and top-up.
c. Public Wifi: The Golden Palm Breeze Hotel in Kenol (10 minutes
walk from the highway) offers public Wifi connection. Order a
drink or a simple meal (80-200 Shillings), and then you can use
the Wifi for a while. The Internet speed is not ideal for
downloading/uploading, but good enough for browsing.
Internet cafés: There are plenty of Internet cafés in Kenol and Thika, 1
Shilling for 1 minute of connection. You can also print and make copies over
Showers/Bathing: This is your chance to live an authentic experience. A few
III. For showers, we advise warming up the water in a kettle, mixing it
with regular water and then taking “quick” showers in the shower
IV. There are outhouses for going to the bathroom. Do your best, but
don’t be embarrassed if you miss.
Electricity: You may need to use a Kenyan power adapter. Also, the outlets can be a bit tricky. Personally, I find it easier to first plug my charger into the
adapter before plugging the adapter into the outlet. Electricity is also very
unstable during the rainy season. It can go out for days after a heavy rain.
Prices of stuff (as a reference) at local stands (prices rise over time!)
V. Potatoes: 70-90 Shillings for a small bucket, 550-600 Shillings for a
big bucket (prices could be higher during dry seasons or periods of
VI. Bananas: 5 Shillings per piece
VII. Avocados: 10 Shillings per piece
VIII. Apples, oranges: 10 Shillings per piece
IX. Pineapples: 60-100 Shillings per complete one (Sharon can help
buy the pineapples directly from the farm at the price of 25-30
Shillings per kg.)
XI. Markets: The market in the Makuyu village center opens every
Sunday from noon. Ciumbo market opens every Thursday and
Sunday (this one is bigger and the prices are generally lower)
XII. Shops: Local shops and stands can be found in the Makuyu village
center. County supermarket in Kenol (2 minutes walking from the
highway) is the nearest supermarket.
I. The Equity Bank in Kenol is the nearest bank.
II. ATMS should work in most banks.
Transportation Costs in Makuyu
XIII. To Makuyu: by foot
a. 20 minutes walk to the highway entrance;
b. 15 minutes walk to the Makuyu village center
XIV. Matatu (small vans) (prices may rise over time)
a. Highway entrance Nairobi: 150 Shillings
b. Highway entrance Thika: 50 Shillings (20 km)
c. Thika Makuyu village center: 60 Shillings
d. Highway entrance Kenol: 20 Shillings (10 km)
e. Kenol Makuyu village center: 30 Shillings
f. Pikipiki/botabota (motorbikes)
*Note: It’s better to leave from the highway entrance, as there would
be more matatus waiting there. Prices could be higher in the
afternoon and on the weekend.
- If the volunteers are interested in teaching, check with Pauline.
- You can also help Grace and Sharon with cleaning and cooking. Please
don’t be shy and ask! They may also be shy in offering!
- At times, we also deliver food/supplies to our children (both older and
younger). If so, you are welcome to join in these deliveries.
- You have the flexibility to also work on your own projects. There are many
things we can do to improve things. While we need to be respectful of
customs and the fact that people have lived a certain way for a long time,
you are welcome to run ideas by Pauline or James. With that being said, I
would first start by getting to know the place and understanding how things
work before starting on the more ambitious projects. Nonetheless, even
the smallest ideas can sometimes make a big difference in Kenya. For
example, some volunteers have built bookshelves, hung up artwork of
students, came up with their own activities for children, painted the outer
walls, etc., which have all had a positive, lasting impact on our
Basic Kiswahili terms
- Mambo/Jambo/Sasa: Hello
- Poa/Mzuri: Fine
- Sawa (sawa): Okay
- Mzungu: White person (similar to “gringo” in Spanish)
- Sana: Thank you
- Karibu: You’re welcome
Other things to consider bringing:
- Copies of important papers (passport)
- Any personal health or hygiene items
- hand sanitizer, toothbrush, sun
block, towel, pillow (towels and pillow should be provided, but may be a
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Some volunteers like to drink from self-filtering water bottles (water
bottles can be bought at supermarket, among other things, if you forget
to bring them)
- Sandals (for showering)
- Malaria pills
- Mosquito Spray
- Kenyan power adapters. (Different countries have different outlets.
Please bring one that will work in Kenya).
- Consider bringing rain jackets and rain boots as it can get very muddy
during the rainy season.
- Leave ample time to get to the airport. You never know what kind of
circumstances may arise. For example, during the rainy season, cars may
get stuck on Makuyu roads. There may also be traffic in Nairobi.
- Please leave volunteer quarters as clean as possible.
- However, if you genuinely feel like future volunteers may use some things
you don’t need. Please feel free to leave them behind. For example,
books, towels, toilet paper, etc. can be left behind.