Volunteer in Kenya

To volunteer in Kenya is to experience life off the beaten track on rural and slum projects which have been developed, supported and run by our NGO staff in Kenya, and we hope you will return home with a true appreciation for life in Kenya and an insight into how we believe developmental aid and volunteering can and should work. 

It is a trip designed to foster personal development and perhaps career opportunities, and this is one of the objectives of the charity as well so we provide a lot of training and support and contact when you come back again. This trip is really about people, and interacting with others in a friendly and equal way, learning from others irrespective of background, and helping people think about their values and opinions, and to show them Africa. Some of our work with the Moving Mountains Trust has been quite transformative, especially in a place called Solio in central Kenya where we have assisted over 12,000 internally displaced families to build seven complete villages with schools, water tanks, clinics and homes. All with the help of volunteers, especially from Canada, as this video shows:

We are not about perpetuating damaging stereotypes about volunteering in Africa, and we're not interested in marketing a 'save the world' message either. We have so many years of evidence and experience to back up our success story, and it's been one that has involved many people in Kenya over decades.

Volunteer in Kenya - travel and new friends

Volunteering in Kenya is also a chance to travel, live independently in a foreign country, go on adventures and make a lot of new friends. Many volunteers we host report that their experience with us has been a defining one, giving them a direction in life and the motivation to do many things they may never have considered. For the Kenyans, who are very engaged with social media, they make new friends and keep in touch for a long time afterwards. Here's Beatrice talking about her life and dreams; she was sponsored originally by Gavin and was a volunteer with our school trips but is now a nurse and one of our staff for both beneficiaries and volunteers.

Everyone gains a lot of self-esteem and fulfilment, and we are careful to ensure that this experience is a responsible volunteering placement and does not fall into the trap of bad volunteering which has given this type of trip a bad name. Our experience has always been positive, and with more than twenty years working in the development sector and sending volunteers to Kenya, we believe we have a good model. 

A lot of our volunteers are adults who are taking time out of work, or just looking for a good cause to lend their skills and motivation. We welcome people who can assist with a wide range of tasks to help the charity run effectively, help us with impact assessments, analysis and feedback, plus of course skilled tasks working with children, special needs individuals and families. Teachers are most welcome, we find they have been very inspirational both for the pupils and also the teachers in Kenya who love to have professional visitors come and share their knowledge. Here's a teacher from King Edwards School in Bath having a hilarious science lesson with the pupils at Wagwer School in Western Kenya:

We can even arrange for a Kenyan teacher to come and volunteer at your school, and we do run lots of activities for our Kenyan beneficiaries which you can get involved in, for example Scout camps, sightseeing, camping, after school clubs and going to community events and church. The holistic approach is a lot of fun, very inspirational and accepts that the benefits are there for everyone. This volunteering trip in Kenya is not just about giving, but also learning and maturing and gaining a whole new life experience. 

Volunteer in Kenya - being a role model for the charity

Without doubt you will witness the strong links between Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains and the communities where you end up. As such, you will be an ambassador for both Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains and there will be many young people looking up to you as a role model. But lets not fall into the trap of thinking that being a volunteer in Kenya is going to Save Africa, here's a fun video to make sure we keep a perspective on things:

Actually, you may be surprised to find that the person who appears to be benefitting the most is you. The staff who work for MM and AA are all inspirational and motivated people, educated and passionate, and many of them came from very difficult backgrounds. Their life story will amaze you, and their natural positive attitude to life will mean that they will almost certainly become a role model to you as well. This video just about sums it all up, dreams are for everyone and in this film all these children who took part in a volunteering trip with Canadian students have prospered. Their message is an inspiring one for anyone, but if you take away the story it's still their innate motivation to help themselves is what really stands out:

For more info on how we properly prepare you for a meanigful journey, see our preparation page.

Bespoke Dates

Volunteering in Kenya programme

There are no proper advertised dates for ‘Volunteering in Kenya’, every placement is based on dates which suit you and the places which we partner with. Normally this does parallel with school term times but not always. If you are interested in working with children and you do get accepted then we ask that your minimum volunteering time is at least one school term. If you want to volunteer with our adult skills transfer programmes, IT, office management, projects or events then the minimum time can be as little as two weeks.

All volunteer placements are tailor made in the sense that there is no one size for all, we need to look at your skills and interests and match them to the needs of the communities where we work with Moving Mountains. Volunteering however is for all ages, skilled and unskilled, long term and short term; every application would be individually discussed and assessed, and we really welcome people on sabbaticals or work breaks, career electives or just someone looking to come out and help with something immediate. Here's one of the schools we have developed over many years into a primary and secondary school with boarding facilities up in Western Kenya, which is our most popular destination. 

All the programmes we support have been identified, researched, assessed, and approved by our charity Moving Mountains. You can see a description of the locations in the Cost tab on this page. We do need a lot of assistance with the running of the NGO in Kenya (accounting, correspondence, social media, promotion, grant finding) and also the local management committees, so there is normally quite a lot of data collection, analysis of expenditure, impact assessment reports, and collecting information so that we can justify the money we spend on behalf of our donors. We are particularly looking for people who have expertise in grant applications to help the charity with getting some income for the long term programmes we run. 

We do work with a lot of schools and clinics but we try to avoid the stereotype 'teacher assistant' role; we like skills transfer with adults and in particular the background work that the charity does on behalf of institutions like residential centres for children, early child development centres, schools, clinics and rescue centres for street children. This sort of administration includes office work, correspondence, accounting and book keeping, project management and staff training; it is all vital to ensuring the integrity of the charity! There is normally quite a lot of responsibility given to volunteers, which is one of the reasons we provide so much training beforehand. Sometimes volunteers get to work with our builders or 'fundi' to learn about local building techniques like mortar mesh technology:

Travel and adventure during a volunteering placement

This volunteering placement is a great chance to live in a country for a while and travel around, get to know the people, learn the language and go on some great adventures. In Kenya there is so much to do and so much to see. Obviously seeing wildlife is a big attraction, but there is great trekking and camping, conservation parks to visit, train journeys, rafting, beaches to lie on, diving, historical buildings and a very vibrant social scene in the towns and cities. With our staff you can do anything you want and always have the safety of a guesthouse to come back to. Lots of volunteers make very good friends with the Kenyans they meet and end up with a busy social life. This is a chance to travel safely and make new friends and at the same time do a little bit for a great charity that has been making a positive difference in the communities for a long time. We tackle the big questions about volunteering and aid, and try to make sure that this trip stimulates new experiences and ideas: 

Volunteering in Kenyan schools

We don't use your placement to take the place of local people, but we do ask the local authorities to tell us where best your help is needed. In schools this is always with non-examinable subjects like music, sports, art and drama. The Government of Kenya requires that every school child takes part in some non-examinable subject every day, but many schools lack those resources. Moving Mountains fills that gap, and we have been working with ten or twelve schools in western Kenya and Embu for well over a decade to help supplement that gap in the education of the children. The charity has also rebuilt and renovated many schools with volunteer fundraising and school trips, so you will find yourselves getting a very warm welcome. Here's some volunteer teachers working with children at Wagwer School on mathematics and ceramics:

You might choose as your placement project to put on a play for the community, or run a sports competition. We also run clubs, especially for after school which is when a lot of children go AWOL because their parents are out. We would like our volunteers to run reading clubs, literacy programmes, homework clubs and after school visits to local sights. This might even include a visit to the safari park, a lot of these kids have never seen an elephant. But there is also a lot of work in the administration of the school where you can help, for example invigilating exams, marking papers, setting homework, helping with non-curricular activities, and sometimes mentoring pupils who need particular attention. Clearly this requires some skill and knowledge, so it entirely depends on your abilities and preferences. Here's some children in Embu Country Primary School who have been donated musical instruments by a charity called Musequality and tutored by volunteers to prepare for the National Music competition:


Volunteering with other skills

Moving Mountains supports quite a lot of programmes and delivers a number of services, including family support groups, community health programmes, early child development, some special needs groups, football coaching, small business start ups, IT training and counselling. Some volunteers are interested in these from a career point of view and can certainly work with our qualified staff to get some practical experience, while others have very valuable skill sets that could be put to good use. We particularly promote the rights of women and girls in education, and here's our social welfare officer Rose Wanja Gathirimu talking about work that we have achieved on International Womens Day:

And here is Fredah who Rosie is talking about!

We run an NGO in Kenya that is registered with the NGO council and accepts grants of nearly £75,000 per annum, so there is always help needed with the administration and management of the office in Nairobi and in Embu, recording Board minutes, book keeping and filing, correspondence and data analysis. Each area also has small management committees and we are always looking to get feedback on what we fund, information and ideas for improvement.

Accommodation while volunteering in Kenya

Accommodation will be provided in comfortable shared rooms at either of our two guest houses. This allows you to immerse yourself in everything Kenyan but with the knowledge of the security that is provided by our staff in each location. A weekly allowance will be provided in Kenya which you will use to buy and prepare your own food, with the guidance of the local staff for those local dishes! There is plenty of time for socialising, reflection and local events to visit, often with our staff or other groups coming on holiday, and sometimes with Kenyan children who are on their school holidays. Volunteers tend to find themselves immersed in local life, and we try hard to make sure the holiday is diverse and fun but also useful and productive. 

Daily routine while on a volunteering placement in Kenya

Your daily routine should be quite diverse but there will be some scheduled commitments, like for example a football coaching session every afternoon at 4pm. We don't expect every day to spent in a school for example, but once you have met with the headteacher and agreed to commit to a particular class time then you must keep that promise. Most non-examinable subjects are taught in the afternoon but you will need time to prepare, especially a music or drama event. Additionally you will want time for yourself, shopping and cooking and learning Swahili, living in the house and socialising. Here is a day in the life of Ulamba Childrens Home, where there are some guesthouses for volunteers onsite that help fund the whole centre and an Early Learning Centre for 150 children:


You may plan some weekends away or choose to go to the cinema or dancing. We only ask that any commitment you make is adhered to, because you are representing the charity and you will be a role model for lots of people. Administration and office duties are done during office time, and we would expect that you correspond with the Trustees and managers back in the UK so that there is a good communication and you can feel you are part of the operation of the charity. 

Often there are several volunteers in the guesthouse, and also medical elective students, so generally there is plenty of time to socialise and make new friends and organise weekend trips.

Volunteering trips – company and charity and what each do

The volunteering programme is run by three organisations and it is important to explain what each of them does and how they will all help you to have a safe and productive time abroad. All of them are interlinked to create a supportive network and staff structure which enables us to run these trips and be confident that they are safe and that they represent ‘clever’ aid and relevant sustainable developmental aid.

Adventure Alternative is the company that provides the trip and all the logistics and support and staffing. There is an Adventure Alternative UK and there is also an Adventure Alternative in Kenya and Nepal and Tanzania. Each regional company receives investment from the UK and runs with its own staff, who will look after you. 

Moving Mountains is the charity that determines the projects and the programmes. It is financially supported by the company so that the donations go to the beneficiaries and not to administration. There is a Moving Mountains UK and a Moving Mountains Kenya and Nepal. Each NGO receives the funding for all the projects and programmes it implements from the UK charity.

Some of that money comes from donations, some from fundraising events (Gavin has climbed Everest six times for example), and some of it comes from volunteers who fundraise for the charity and go out on trips to get involved with the local NGO and learn about development in action.

AA UK provides                     all the administration for the group going on your trip
                                             financial protection for your money
                                             monitoring of your trip throughout                                           

AA Kenya provides               the staffing in-country, eg drivers, cooks and guides
                                             the local tour license to run the trip
                                             the office back-up and implementation of your trip
                                             all the transport and facilitation of the activities you will do
                                             all the logistics of being sheltered, fed and safe during your stay

Moving Mountains                all the pre-trip training and post-trip support in the UK and abroad
provides                               arrangement and running of all the projects and programmes
                                             a professional underpinning of all the field workers you work with
                                             the allocation of your fundraising to all the aspects of our work

The money you pay to Adventure Alternative covers all of the logistical elements of your trip, office staffing and back up, plus the equipment and vehicles and accommodation we keep in-country for your use.

The money you fundraise for Moving Mountains covers all of the projects and programmes that you will be taking part in, plus materials and specific donations to the institutions which host you. Every volunteer gets a paper detailing how the money he or has raised is used to pay for training, staffing, materials, donations and resources. You can see more about this in the Cost tab. 

Volunteering in Kenya cost from £595.00 (first two weeks) and £200 for extra weeks


  • Accommodation in our Guest Houses at all our locations
  • Weekly allowance in Kenyan Shillings for food, bottled water and local transport
  • All internal transport to and from volunteer locations, including airport transfers (accompanied by staff)
  • Pre-trip preparation and training, support during the placement & post-trip reference/advice
  • Qualified staff for all ground logistics and activities, including mentor and advisor


  • Moving Mountains fundraising target; £100 per week - see the notes below for this breakdown
  • International flights to Nairobi and any accommodation needed in Nairobi
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Vaccinations & anti-malaria tablets
  • Tourist Visa (currently $50 or £30)
  • Personal costs (email, phone, laundry, souvenirs, etc)


A deposit of £250 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 4 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.

8 weeks would cost £1795.00 for Adventure Alternative plus a flight of about £500.00 and other costs amounting to about £300.00, and £800.00 fundraised for Moving Mountains.

For people wanting to volunteer in an educational setting we really encourage you to stay a minimum of one full academic term which is 3 months. This is because it's better for the children and certainly a better experience for you. If you would like to come out and help on another programme or in the office or with one of renovation projects or even a special event we are holding then it's fine to stay out for shorter periods. We take the issue of money very seriously and especially where fundraising money goes:

Volunteering in Kenya Fundraising total breakdown

The fundraising total is completely separate to the money you give to Adventure Alternative, and is only used to pay for the charitable costs associated with your trip.

The objectives of the charity includes both personal development and international development, so any fundraising is used to help fund all the programmes we fund for beneficiaries and volunteers. Administration fees are kept low because Adventure Alternative provides significant funding for the overheads of the charity. We also want to make sure that people who fundraise for Moving Mountains and volunteer with us really do think about the ethics of volunteering and why people should go abroad in the first place. Here's a video giving some opinions on the debate and a word from the founder Gavin Bate:

Part of your fundraising goes on the training and preparation of your trip, some of it on staff who manage the programmes who are going out to see and experience and some of it on your visit. None of it goes on your food, accommodation and logistical backup and support, that's what is covered by the Adventure Alternative trip cost. Here's how the actual fundraising money is split up:

20% to training and preparation
80% to the programmes you will be visiting and working with

20% training. This is used specifically for the training and preparation sessions we will run in preparation for your trip, and also the preparation of the trip itself. We employ an experienced manager in the UK who will work with you in the run up to your trip and help ensure you arrive well prepared. We also have a lot of videos and information to share, plus you will be able to skype the staff in Kenya and get to know them a little bit. It is very important that your expectations are met realistically, but also that your visit achieves the aim of the charity and the needs of the local people, so much time will be spent on training and preparation. There are also lots of practical aspects, like vaccinations, flights, clothing, visa and making sure you can keep in touch with home easily, perhaps with a blog.

80% NGO programmes. Thisis allocated to the programmes we run in Kenya which you will be taking part in. For example we pay salaries for the social workers, teachers and the staff at the homes and centres we support. These are the people who will give you the insight into life for an NGO employee, and your trip will directly contribute to their livelihoods.

 Depending on where you go, this fundraising money will pay for the following items:

 Embu Rescue Centre:

  • Daily feeding programme for over 100 children
  • Electricity and gas for the showers for street kids and for the cooking facilities
  • Staff salaries for social workers and counsellors at the centre
  • Educational materials and teachers salaries
  • Vocational training programmes for street kids
  • Provision of educational workshops for street kids
  • Equipment for the Black Cats football programme


Solio Village Community - Construction Projects:

  • Puchase of raw materials
  • Transport costs of raw materials
  • Labour costs for the Moving Mountains Work Team and local ‘fundi’
  • Training programmes for street children in construction


National programmes

  • Social welfare and educational costs for children in primary and secondary school
  • College costs and vocational training costs
  • Community Health Programmes (HIV AIDS, sex education)
  • School exam fees
  • Salaries for counsellors, teachers and medical staff
  • After school ‘clubs’ such as Homework Club, Reading Club

We do understand that Kibera has become a 'poster child' for NGOs working in Kenya and therefore it might perpetuate a stereotyped image of what poverty looks like in 'Africa' when there is great vibrancy and life in this amazing place. The founder Gavin lived on the outskirts of Kibera in a small hut in the forest for several years during which he worked with a national street kid programme and built a hospital for Medecins sans Frontieres. Over the following years Moving Mountains developed the hospital and many of the Moving Mountains staff came from the villages inside Kibera. This was where it all began for MM in the early 1990s. 

 Our support for beneficiaries in Kenya lasts from primary school right through to employment, combining financial assistance with holistic support which involves the school, family and community to ensure that beneficiaries become independent, break the cycle of poverty and contribute in turn to the further development of their communities.

A vital part of this is the potential created by your visit; in one sense it helps finance the work of the charity, giving you the chance to experience work like this, while at the same time it allows vital interaction between you and the beneficiaries, which can only promote self-esteem and self-belief for both parties.

Volunteering in Kenya - our principles 

Volunteering in Kenya involves representing a charity and learning about issues of international development, social welfare in a developing country and of course your own values. It's a transformative experience, and one that will stay with you forever if we do our job right. Young people and adults alike report that the experience of volunteering in Kenya has been a very special and fulfilling one. But we do not want to ever feel that we're dominating others with our best ideas about how to make the world better, it has to be a joint process of reciprocal learning and respect. 

Inclusive and relevant volunteering placements

Our placements are open to anybody, subject to a selection process which includes interviews and a requirement for a DBS check, as well as a clear understanding that any volunteering placement can only exist if there is a need that is identified by local stakeholders.

We have an equal opportunities policy and strict policies regarding child protection, and we are founding members of Fair Trade Volunteering movement.

We ensure that the emphasis on personal development and international development is balanced, and that your placement is always part of a long term aim which has been properly evidenced through established processes and data analysis.

Training and preparation for volunteers

Our support includes training and preparation from dedicated staff in the UK and a period of integration on arrival incountry. This training is part of our programme of personal development which will assist you in your career, and also ensures that your time with us is productive and enjoyable and effective. Our training staff are qualified and experienced in managing volunteer expectations, and have a background in development.

We have staff on hand in country who will monitor your progress and provide support and feedback for improvement, and to ensure that any issues are easily dealt with. These staff have long experience working in social welfare, education and health.

At the end of your trip there will be a proper debrief and an opportunity to stay involved; plus we endeavour to assist you in further stages of your career, for example with references and continued advice or mentoring.

Development impact of volunteering placements

Every placement aims to achieve some kind of development impact which has been developed in partnership with a credible partner, in our case Moving Mountains which has twenty years of experience in social welfare, education and health in developing countries.

We analyse the processes of change that occur in institutions where we send volunteers so that there is clear evidence for the need of a placement, and evidence that the placements are contributing to a need successfully, and to a point where the placement eventually becomes unnecessary. We try to render ourselves obsolete in the long term and we don’t perpetuate ‘aid’ for the sake of it. We use impact assessment ‘maps’ to try and define the developmental process.

 We communicate with all relevant stakeholders and ensure that the placements are collectively agreed, for example with government ministries, education authorities, regional administrations, local courts where children are designated wards of the childrens home, community committees and of course parents.


Shared learning for volunteers and beneficiaries

Volunteering opportunities and career internships are provided for local students as well, which gives an opportunity for shared learning and cultural exchanges as equals. This principle aims to foster confidence and self-esteem and a sense of social responsibility.

Our preparation and training programmes ensures that volunteers commit to the project with humility, respect, an open mind and a positive and realistic attitude about what to expect, how they can make a difference and how they can maximise the personal development and benefits they gain from the experience.


Integrating with the community as a volunteer

The living arrangements for placements ensures that volunteers develop a real insight into the lives of the community, which includes shopping locally, cooking local recipes, travelling on local transport and using community facilities like the early child development centres and attending community events.

 Volunteers are hosted in secure and comfortable accommodation at the heart of the communities and institutions with which we work. They are assigned a local mentor whose responsibility is to ensure their wellbeing at all times, provide assistance with local logistics and language, introduce them to community members and assist them to participate fully in community life.


Long term commitment

Pre-trip training following selection is provided with a structured programme which includes time for reflection during the trip, and a proper debrief and analysis of the experiences on return.

During the trip there is always opportunity to meet with experienced staff who can help with evaluations and reflection, helping to build on the skills and knowledge and experience being gained. These aims follow an established syllabus of personal development used in social work and even in business.

 One of the biggest aims of the programme is to encourage young people to engage in society on their return and take part in many incentives to promote global development and social responsibility, for example the Sustainable Development Goals.


Tackling stereotypes and promoting equality in volunteering

We promote equality and empowerment and this means tackling stereotypes, and we discuss it a lot in our training programme for volunteers and visiting groups. The engagement we want to encourage should be built on knowledge, not stereotypes. Unfortunately stereotypes are used a lot in fundraising campaigns and in marketing voluntourism, and this creates apathy and cynicism instead of action.

We all agree that we need action to tackle the problems caused by poverty, conflict and hunger. Aid programmes do work, but on their own they are not enough. Organisations like ours are just one of many that deliver social welfare and development to needy people and communities, but we don’t want to simplify these issues through stereotypical imagery, which ultimately hurts both the cause and the people being portrayed.

The reality is that a few pence per day is not all that is needed, and neither can poverty be solved by money alone. The world needs systemic changes to solve its problems, and perhaps our small contribution is to avoid the dangers of stereotyping and give people a chance to empower themselves by treating them equally. Here's 'Happy' to explain how a bit of belief in her abilities enabled her to get out of the poverty trap she was in and achieve her ambition to become a social worker with Moving Mountains:

We would like to make sure that we communicate the issues of poverty and development in an appropriate way, without presenting unwarranted or sensationalist expectations, and this is particularly important for the volunteers and school groups who go out to support our work. Their benefit is partly in going to a place and readjusting their values and hopefully challenging their stereotypes and learning something about the complex nature of social development in different environments.

We really do recommend reading pages like this:

Bringing gifts

We have strict rules on giving things to children because it perpetuates a stereotype of aid which is particularly damaging to young children. The charity Moving Mountains works with the education departments and school committees to determine what school children need and we heavily avoid the image of visitors giving free things to African children. However, if you can donate the items to the charity and let them do the distributing then that would be absolutely great. Kenya has no shortage of pencils or pens but their biggest issue is always English reading books and learning books for young children in English. Also any learning aids that can be put on walls, especially for young children. If you can help with this then do make sure when you arrive that you give the items to a staff member and the person we would recommend in Serah Kinuthia who is our education director. If she is not there then ask to speak to a Moving Mountains Kenya Board member and give it to him or her. Please can you also tell us in advance what you are planning to give, so that we can follow it up.
Training for volunteers

In our training sessions and on our trips we try to promote the following values:

  • Concentrate more on what makes us equal than what are our differences
  • Let the people tell their own stories about their own lives
  • Remember that it’s not about what you think people should want to have to do, it’s based on their wishes and needs and rights.
  • Stop focussing on pity as the main catalyst for action, but encourage creativity and independence through pragmatism and humour.
  • Be open to the difficult questions like “what has aid ever done for anyone?” and look deeper into the subject and question those so-called ‘facts’.
  • Treat people with more intelligence when it comes to the great dilemmas about poverty and inequality, instead of resorting to sad stories of anonymous ‘poor’ people.

We think Jessie J gets it spot on!

Volunteering in Kenya - applications, selection and training

While this is a holiday to Kenya which involves travel, adventure, culture and a lot of fun, it is also an experience which involves your impact on other people. We really like to know what motivates people to volunteer, and here's a video on how you might not want to be seen by others!

Clearly we do have to protect the rights of those children and we have to look after the welfare of the communities and institutions which you visit, as well as ensure that the reputation of Moving Mountains is kept intact. Therefore, without making the whole process seem arduous and difficult, we do have a process of selection and then training which we believe is only right for everyone concerned. Actually we really like people who have a sense of social responsibility and motivation, not just abroad but at home too. Here's a great video about Daily Acts that sums up how we can all chip in for the good of everyone:

Volunteering in Kenya involves representing a charity and learning about issues of international development, social welfare in a developing country and of course your own values. It's a transformative experience, and one that will stay with you forever if we do our job right. Even adults report that the experience of volunteering in Kenya has been a very special and fulfilling one. But we do not want to ever feel that we're dominating others with our best ideas about how to make the world better, it has to be a joint process of reciprocal learning and respect. This is now to get it wrong:

Below is our process of managing every person who gets in touch with a request to start this great journey in life. 



Application requirements and general process

Online application or email enquiry followed by telephone calls, meeting(s), submission of CV/police checks/references, psychological screening by Interhealth, final selection meeting, pre-trip training meetings, psychological training by Interhealth, on arrival training before going to location.

Personal details (name, DOB, address)

Plus medical details, references, psychological/social issues, police checks, online searches (facebook, myspace etc).

Relevant qualifications/ training

Experience and knowledge of working with young people, relevance relating to current studies (e.g he/she might be a student of nursing or childcare or social care), plus age (what is the best age for a volunteer to visit and how that relates to general maturity).

Relevant experience

Correspondence and meetings to understand the experience of the volunteer and talk to relevant references, for example local youth workers. Also recommend gaining experience before going on a volunteering trip, and face to face training with staff.

Motivations to volunteer

 Part of the initial process of understanding the volunteer. With young people get to know the parents and see if the motivation is shared with the family.



Demonstrating capability eg. scenarios

Interviews with several Trustees and the training staff and ‘vote’ on suitability and get different viewpoints.

Demonstrating relevant knowledge

 Or desire to learn. Depending on the volunteer the placement might be a more learning/supervised role, or a teaching role for our local staff (in the case of a qualified social worker for example), or an administrative role.

Checking motivations to volunteer

 None of our volunteers are anonymous, we understand that if their placement is handled well then they will become long term supporters of the charity, so we work hard to make them feel part of the ‘family’.


Original ID documents


Passport, driving license

Address history requested

Current and parents

Check claims on application form

eg.qualifications certificates seen

Check gaps in employment/ training history

Especially for people in difficult circumstances

Enhanced DBS

For all ages

References for all work with children

If applicable

Professional references

If applicable

Character references

At least two






No generic volunteering placement, every one is created according to needs and also the type of person visiting.


Someone with no qualifications will be heavily supervised and the placement will be much more watered down than for someone with ten years experience in childcare.


There are many roles, especially in administration, which can be filled. Avoid the impression of just going to ‘help out’, every role is specific and includes many other activities such as learning a language, reflection time, blogging, visiting families and joining our community health workers.


The role of the volunteer is never generic, it’s carefully worked out according to experience and qualification, and there is a lot of emphasis on Development Education, so a lot of time is spent understanding societal needs in-country and why welfare is needed and what ‘aid’ means in different environments.



Health & Safety 

 Face to face with training staff in the UK, plus professionally delivered courses from organizations like Interhealth.

Delivering our training courses and having the trainer and volunteer sign off, having ‘passed’ a level of interest and knowledge. This is for legal reasons to cover against potential liability. This is especially true for any medical training such as malarial prophylactics.

First Aid 

All volunteers require a basic first aid course.

Safeguarding or child protection

Make sure volunteers understand their legal position with children in a foreign country and the legal rights of the children themselves, according to human rights legislation.  


 As above

Risk Assessing 

 Check all risk assessments, both in the UK and in country. Our logistics partner is audited for the BS8848 standard for all overseas trips.

Relevant language 

 Language lessons for all volunteers during their time in country.

Basic skills in child care / child development

 Always make sure our volunteers are supervised by a qualified child care professional.

Project or culture specific training

Training courses on culture/etiquette delivered prior to going and during the one week induction course on arrival.


Any professional screening or courses are signed off by professional person, all courses are signed off by both the trainer and the volunteer. If the trainer indicates that there might be a problem then it is dealt with on a case by case basis with the Trustees.

Other training areas

Specific training related to specific visit and needs.




On site introduction to staff

 Up to one week programme on arrival, depending on the placement and time in country.

On site introduction to children and environment

 All volunteers introduced initially by the main staff in the office who stay for a minimum of four days to help with the initial days.

Guide booklet, policies and code of conduct

 Provided beforehand and then given in person on arrival and left in the guesthouse where the volunteer is staying.

Reflective journal 

 Encouraged, and also blogging.


Maintain a remote supervision from UK by email and phone, the staff in country keep in touch weekly and the local staff on the ground keep daily supervision.


If there is any problem with the volunteer then we have the right to ask them to leave.


Volunteering in Kenya - why us?

A trip to a developing country to volunteer and 'help out' became very popular with the advent of gap years in the UK, but the volunteering 'industry' ran unchecked for a long time and only now are there significant moves being made to advise and perhaps even legislate on trips like which may promise a lot but deliver little. We have been a part of that in helping to found the Fair Trade Volunteering movement. Here's Gavin talking about commerce supporting charity and how the volunteering trips work. 

It's vitally important that we can justify our right to offer a trip like this so that you can feel confident of our experience and knowledge. We ask a lot of volunteers who get involved with Moving Mountains, but equally so volunteers should ask a lot of us. This is a list of some of our answers to the Why Us question, they represent our principles and ethics towards responsible volunteering:

  • We have strict policies on child protection and we provide training and information on the protection of children, and we ask that volunteers submit to a DBS (police) check. We also improve our own standards by signing up to regular courses and training for any staff who are working with children.

  •  We do not allow untrained inexperienced volunteers to work with children unsupervised and without proper guidance beforehand on the issues surrounding child care and education in the area they are visiting.

  •  We have a selection process for volunteers and a code of conduct which we expect all volunteers to adhere to, and a zero tolerance policy towards people who abuse that code of conduct.

  •  We employ staff full time both in the UK and abroad to manage volunteers, whose job it is to ensure a safe and enjoyable and productive time for all involved. 

  •  We comply with the criteria for Fair Trade Volunteering with respect to how money is distributed fairly and equitably amongst stakeholders, and that no financial pressure is put on host communities or institutions, and that our placements are always part of a long term developmental aim. We are a founding member of FTV.

  •  We focus on educating volunteers and school groups about aid and international development issues, and especially stereotypes, in order to help them make more informed choices.

  •  We stand for ethical volunteering by connecting with as many organisations and stakeholders as we can with respect to volunteering, and we are open and collaborative and helpful with others in the overall aim of improving standards.

  •  We prefer skills based volunteering, where individuals are matched to their skillset or particular interest, and where possible expertise to help solve a problem. We don’t focus on working with children as the main attraction of a placement, we ask that volunteers work with the charity on data collection, impact assessments, skills transfer between adults and help with administration of the NGO if possible.

  •  We partner volunteers with local staff, professional and otherwise, to deliver programmes together.

  •  We try hard to encourage volunteers to commit to longer periods of time in order to build more effective relationships and have a more positive impact.

  •  We partner only with professional institutions and organisations that have the authority and expertise to carry out social welfare programmes or educational services.

  •  We invest in thorough pre=trip preparation to be sure that the volunteer and the organisation and the beneficiaries can make the best out of the experience.

  •  We promote experiential learning and education, encouraging our volunteers to learn before doing, and we challenge the stereotype of the typical volunteer. We ask that volunteers get involved with Moving Mountains at home, and encourage them to use their experiences to better inform their lives at home and give them a better sense of social responsibility and global citizenship.

Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due six weeks before travel.

Tours from only pp Dates & Bookings

I think I speak for both myself and Orla when I say that we certainly got more out of our efforts than we gave. It was a…

Read More Siobhan Hanrahan
Staff Review

Moving Mountains has been around for over twenty years and Adventure Alternative is the provider for the charity, there are placements for all ages, skilled and unskilled. The charity has strict rules on working with children but there are plenty of other areas where you can gain experience and help out. This programme is perfect for gap years, career electives, and people on sabbatical or looking to travel and get involved with a local charity. 

Key Information
  • Duration Min 2 weeks
  • Numbers 1+
  • Comfort Guest Houses
  • Dates Variable