Kenya volunteer training

During the pre-trip training we look at the following issues and we have to 'sign you off' as having taken part. Some of this can be done online and in your own time, while some of it really has to be taught and experienced to make it worthwhile.

Project Descriptions - we will go through all the background of the projects and discuss your involvement. We can also skype into the Kenyan programme managers so you can chat to them yourselves about what you will be doing.

First Aid - this is not a certified course but we will expect you to know how to handle minor injuries, personal hygiene and health issues specific to travelling in Kenya. You also have access to a dedicated team of travel health experts at Interhealth, who can also carry out psychological counselling. If you would like to take part in a First Aid course for certification then we can advise you on where to go and what to do.

Culture and language - this will be dealt with more thoroughly in Kenya with the local staff, but we will discuss some issues of etiquette and especially your approach to material poverty and how you will deal with it. It is important that you go with an open mind and not a stereotype image in your head of what poverty means, and what your visit to Africa means. This will mean learning a lot about Kenyan history, and understanding how the colonial history has created an image which is now very old-fashioned and frankly prejudicial. One of our biggest aims is to challenge that perception and help you develop your own point of view.

Personal Management - a good expedition team member is someone who can work to a routine, have some discipline and look after him or herself in the outdoors or on the move. This is an important part of the training to make sure you can concentrate on the projects rather than worrying about yourself.  We will learn all about the daily requirements, staying fit and healthy, and acknowledging your role in the team.

Teamwork and Leadership - this is developing the last aspect of personal management, and we will discuss the characteristics needed for being a good team player. We'll bring in some management experts who have years of experience in organisational culture. This is the sort of education you can't get in school, but will prove invaluable in preparing for everything from job interviews to public speaking.

Blogging and videos - we will be asking that every trip keeps a blog throughout their trip, which we will host for you. Part of your job will be to teach the Kenyan youngsters about social media, and helping them understand about online community and global reach. Each team will have to organise itself to keep information up-to-date and create a purpose out of the exercise.

Development ideas -this is a really important aspect of your training and involves understanding what international development is all about. We will get some experts along to talk to you about what a gap year can achieve in the world of development and how our approach to aid has changed over the years. You will also be expected to do some homework on this and we'd also like you to try and get a Development Mentor in the industry to work with you personally on your own journey into this very complex and topical subject. 

Personal interest - while you are working as team, we will also expect every one of you to have one (or more) personal interests which you can work on during the run-up of the trip, the trip itself and hopefully afterwards. For example you might want to study the environmental impact of tourism in Kenya, or photography, or wildlife, or slum society, or climbing. It's an open field but we would like you to use this trip as a way of achieving something personal to you. If you want, we can help you publish it online.

Fundraising - this is probably going to be the biggest worry for you, since the trip does cost money, but in itself it is a huge subject and there are lots of opportunities out there which you may not know about. We will show you how to search for it, and also help you with answering some of the questions if you are applying for a grant. We will also talk about what you can reasonably fundraise for, and what you should find yourself from working or from family support.

Millennium Development Goals & human rights - nowadays most developed countries have signed up to the 'MDG' aim, and you need to be aware of what they are and how this gap trip fits into the worldwide aim of bringing them to fruition. Adventure Alternative also signs up to all the major declarations concerning human rights, rights of indigenous peoples and responsible tourism; we would like you to understand what they all are, what they mean and your role in upholding them.

Social Impact Questionnaire - we will be asking that during your holiday in Kenya you help carry out a continued social impact questionnaire in every area of the trip that you think relevant. This includes land issues, employment, environment and much more. Adventure Alternative is a member of the Ethical Tour Operators Group and the AITO Sustainable Tourism Committee, and we really want to make sure that you fully appreciate, and take part in, this part of your trip.

Building Techniques - during your trip you will be doing some construction or refurbishment work and we will provide training for you in how to use the tools and equipment. Some of it is quite unusual since in Moving Mountains we specifically promote techniques for unskilled labour. So this includes mortar mesh technology and interlocking brick technique, which we use to build many structures in East Africa. During your trip you will get first hand training, but beforehand we will help you understand what it all means.

Wildlife Code - you will be in a country with lots of wildlife and there is a strict code which any visitor to a National Park must adhere to, and we will be talking about this and the wider issue of tourism in Africa and how safaris are perceived.You may be surprised!

Camping - a lot of the trip will be in tents so we will also look at principles of camping and making things safe.

Homesickness and home - you may not think it will happen but you would be very unusual if you never got homesick at least once during your trip. We'll talk about this a lot and discuss ways of dealing with it, and also making sure you don't worry your family too much! Being homesick, having bad days, feeling a bit sick, having arguments, getting emotional and getting annoyed with other people on the trip - these are all to be expected, but the better we discuss it first, the better you'll be ready for it.