Volunteering in Africa in a special needs school

Kenya (K15) | View map
£195 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
< 1 month

Volunteering In Africa in a special needs school

  • Be a part of the development of this special needs school on the edge of the game park
  • Volunteers with art & crafts talents and IT knowledge welcomed
  • Teaching the deaf and speech therapy skills wanted
  • Teach vocational skills such as sewing or baking to provide lifelong skills
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Project summary

Volunteering in Africa

Join one of the few special needs school in Kenya, striving to provide education and vocational skills to children with who are deaf, or suffer from intellectual or physical disabilities. The intention of the school is summed up in the school motto “disability is not inability”.

It operates as part of a mainstream school, but with a severe lack of funding and resources. The initial struggle in Kenya is to bring children with special needs out into the open, as so many are hidden or contained in the home through a misplaced sense of shame. Schools such as this one are helping promote inclusiveness, attracting children from 100kms away to receive education and join in life more fully, but there is a long way to go. Volunteers joining this programme can do a lot to boost the profile and approach to disability.

The children are resident, living in sparse conditions, with the girls lacking a proper dormitory and being forced to sleep in a cramped classroom. The boys have recently had a dormitory built for them by the state, but have not had the toilets and washrooms constructed, so continue to live in challenging conditions.

However, the positive energy of progress fills the school, fed by the commitment of the staff and the natural buoyancy of the students. Local sponsors help supplement the diet of the children, and the provision of a few computers and an internet connection helps create new horizons for the children.

But they need help. When we recently met with the teaching staff they were enthused by the prospect of volunteers coming to help them and identified a wide range of needs that volunteers working in Kenya could satisfy.

Volunteers with professional knowledge of teaching deaf children or speech therapy for deaf children would be welcome.

Volunteers with modest art skills would be a huge hit. The teachers would love to have key learning aids painted on the walls of the school, as well as providing lessons and art recreation to the children.

A volunteer who could help teach the children (and staff) about the internet and some basic IT skills would be particularly relevant. Computers and the internet could be a lifeline for the deaf children in particular, yet the teachers do not know how to use a computer and so the children just ‘play’ on the donated computers without understanding the potential.

Any volunteers who can bring vocational skills such as baking, arts & crafts or tailoring skills could help transfer skills that will potentially provide an alternative form of income in later years.

And any volunteer who can help enliven the students during their day, after school and during the weekend would be warmly welcomed. The children are living away from home, in sparse conditions, with caring teaching staff who just do not have the resources, time and energy to provide a broader programme of activity that engages the children in sport, games and hobbies.

Volunteers on a placement for 2 months or more can combine their volunteering experience in Voi with working at one of our other projects on the coast at Watamu.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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Volunteering in Africa

The wide range of potential volunteer activities means there is huge scope for volunteers wanting to work in this special needs school in Kenya.

Volunteers might work alongside teachers, or work more independently providing their own activities, both during the normal working day, or after school and at weekends.

This is the sort of grass roots initiative that is entirely flexible and welcoming of the impact a volunteer could make.

This project is a true example of volunteering in Africa at its best – where the proactivity, commitment and modest skills of volunteers can overcome some of the local challenges

How you can make a difference

This humble school is starting to deliver education to the children with special needs. The children are resident and you can play a huge part in enriching their school environment and learning, providing stimulating activities that teach new skills and create a more vibrant atmosphere.

The school has a very real limit to their resources (struggling to buy food) and so the capabilities and talents of a volunteer in any capacity give a welcome boost to the children and staff. If you are able to transfer any skills or knowledge, from art, to IT, to sewing, then you can help make a better future while volunteering in Africa.

What is distinctive about this project:

Volunteering in Africa

The special needs school is one of few in Kenya, and as a very diverse volunteer opportunity it gives volunteers of all different backgrounds the chance to create a very personal impression on a developing school, with staff and children who are so very keen to have your support.

Blue Tiger Features:


This is an opportunity to go volunteering in Africa in a developing special needs school that has a wide variety of needs. The head teacher and staff have numerous ideas of the ways in which volunteers can contribute to the development of the students and the school more generally.

Located in Voi you are on the edge of the Tsavo East game park, to the point where you can often see elephants in the morning. You will stay in cottages attached to a beautiful house, some of which you can share. The house is owned by Nigel, a friend of Outreach and a sponsor of the school, who stays there roughly one week in four, and has a house manager on site full time.

Volunteers in this project are more remote from our country coordinator, although the house manager is there to help. The house is in a stunning if slightly isolated location, so very quiet and more suited to a pair of volunteers who can keep each other company, or mature volunteers who would relish the quieter pace of life!



The school is closed late November-December and 2 weeks in August and April


English is widely spoken throughout Kenya and all of the teachers speak English, which is the language for teaching the curriculum.

Experience required:


Volunteers only need to demonstrate a capability to engage in the relevant area of their volunteer placement. Basic IT skills, with some pre-trip planning, could be readily translated into a short programme to be delivered to students and teachers alike.

Experience of teaching the deaf or speech therapy would be welcomed, but equally the artistic talents of volunteers who can help decorate the classrooms with learning aids, and lead some informal art classes for the children.

Good to know:

Voi is halfway between Nairobi and Mombasa, and some 3-4 hours drive away from our base on the coast in Watamu. Volunteers could combine work in Voi with a complementary placement in Watamu, to add to their volunteering in Africa experience and see a different part of Africa.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers), accommodation, airport transfers, placement fee and full pre-trip & in-country support.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations, daily transport to school (allow £2.50 per day) and food (allow £4 per day when buying in local markets)

Things to see and do

  • Go safari
  • Mount Kenya
  • Elephant Orphanage
  • Giraffe Sanctuary
Wanjiru Macharia (Shiru)

Country co-ordinator

Wanjiru Macharia (Shiru)

Shiru graduated from the University of Amherst, USA with a Major in Marketing and a Minor in Psychology. She joined our team in 2012 and lives with her family near where our projects are based in the coastal town of Watamu. She knows Kenya intimately and has been involved in a number of conservation initiatives in the national parks. In addition to supporting our volunteers she works as an administrator in a busy office that share the grounds of our volunteer house.

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