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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Kabula, Kenya
  • Program Terms: Spring Travel, Summer Travel
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: TJU applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:

We are glad that you are interested in learning more about Volunteer Kenya / ICODEI and our work in the Western Province of Kenya. We have discovered that if we invest a sufficient amount of time and energy and work hand-in-hand with the local people of Western Kenya, we can facilitate improvements in health, education and the local economy.

We are a grassroots volunteer organization that has been active since 1998. One unique feature of our organization is that we operate through a partnership between overseas volunteers and a staff of local Kenyans. All of our international coordination, fundraising, and marketing is done through a staff of unpaid volunteers from outside of Kenya. Our on-the-ground operations are all run by local Kenyans who are trained in development, education, HIV/AIDS counseling and home-based care.

From our first-hand experiences in Kenya, we have witnessed certain situations in development work that can inhibit progress. Unfortunately, development and education projects offered by some organizations often reach a limited number of individuals. Most often, only those living in easily accessible locations benefit from knowledge and treatment offered by these organizations. We believe that it is important to reach those that are often overlooked and to teach from within and not from above. Working with and educating those living in the rural villages, we hope to have an impact in areas not often touched by international aid.

Through our HIV/AIDS Education program, we equip rural community members of the Western Province with the tools and knowledge that are necessary for preventing the disease, which is a major obstacle to sustained growth and development. We also provide Kenyans with the skills they need to teach each other, which facilitates knowledge transfer following our visits.

Through the provision of affordable healthcare at the Bill Selke Memorial Clinic and our mobile clinics, we are decreasing the number of serious illnesses and deaths due to manageable diseases. We provide general health care to rural community members who would otherwise never have access to such care.

Through our Microenterprise Development Program, we are helping rural women’s self-help groups start small income-generating projects, such as sewing/tailoring shops, bee-keeping projects to harvest honey, fisheries, and horticulture projects on group land.

Through our Primary School, we are building a strong culture of education for the future leaders of Kenya. Our Public Library provides opportunity for increased literacy for adults and children in the Kabula area.

History of the Organization

Our programs in Kenya, which now impact and improve thousands of lives each year, were all started back in the late 1990’s by the unplanned meeting of a young undergraduate student from the U.S. and a innovative community development worker in Kabula, Kenya. Hank Selke, an adventurous college student, arrived in Kenya during the summer of 1998 to begin volunteer work with an international organization that was supposedly doing humanitarian aid work in Africa . As he arrived in the Nairobi airport, Hank was picked up by two young women from California who told him that everyone from the organization he had come to work with had quit. At that point, Hank was in Kenya to volunteer but did not know anyone, had no information on any other volunteer groups, didn’t speak a word of the local language, and had barely any money.

Luckily, the two women offered to drop him off at a farm in Western Kenya where they had heard about two locals doing some very grassroots education and development work. Alternatively, they offered him the opportunity to go travel throughout East Africa with them. Being the adventurous young college student that he was, Hank chose to visit this farm and see what he could make of the situation.

This was the first time Hank met Rev. Reuben Lubanga, a local Kenyan. Reuben shared with him stories of his early adult life in Kenya and how he had developed his vision for educating people about the dangers of HIV/AIDS. Before becoming an Episcopal minister, Reuben had been a boxer, worked as a DJ on the Kenyan coast, drove a sugar cane tractor, and had other random jobs. Reuben’s journey through life was truly intriguing.

Beginning in the late 1990’s Reuben began to put his vision into action. With nothing more than a wheelbarrow and a donated TV & VCR, he had been traveling with his brother Richard to local schools, women’s groups, community groups, and village centers to educate the locals about the transmission and prevention of “ukimwi”, the Swahili word for AIDS. Motivated by Reuben and Richard, Hank spent the rest of his summer working alongside them on AIDS education programs in the very rural areas.

That summer changed Hank’s life. After witnessing such a need for these community development programs, he returned back to Indiana University in the fall to recruit other volunteers for the next summer. After several years of running a student volunteer organization at Indiana University (IU), Hank began to get many inquiries from people outside of IU wanting to get involved in the Kenyan work. It was at this point in 2002 that he decided to establish a formal international organization and website that would allow anyone from any part of the world the opportunity to travel to Kenya and volunteer with this unique and one of a kind grassroots organization.

What started out in 1998 as a friendship between two unlikely individuals has blossomed into a network of students and professionals across the world working hand in hand to fight HIV/AIDS and poverty while improving education and healthcare in Western Kenya . Over 1000 volunteers from 24 countries have volunteered in Kenya. The wheel barrel and VCR has now turned into a Primary school, a health and mobile clinic program, a network of over 100 microenterpise groups, and an AIDS education program that hits right at the heart of Africa’s people most in need…the rural population..

Note: The name Volunteer Kenya is used as the international name for our organization, but we are known as ICODEI (Inter-Community Development Involvement) within Kenya.

Healthcare Program

Healthcare is neither easily accessible nor affordable for many Kenyans living in the rural villages of the Western Province. Poverty creates a large barrier to the acquisition of healthcare in general, but in rural areas in particular. Although government-run hospitals do exist in the Western Province of 3.5 million people, most of the locals in the more rural village communities cannot afford consultation, treatment or pharmacy fees. Nor can they afford transport to these government clinics and hospitals, which are located in the larger towns and cities. Diarrhea, measles, tetanus, pertussis, pneumonia, and malnutrition are preventable and treatable and yet they kill thousands of people every year.

Many people still die of endemic diseases like malaria, typhoid, and gastroenteritis, which are also manageable when proper treatment is available. Government-run clinics are ill equipped to handle the volume of people in need of care. Addressing the health care needs in rural villages is vital to improving the living conditions of these community members. During the summer of 2002, a group of our volunteer medical students from the United States set up a temporary health clinic in our public library on the farm. The students managed to start medical records for 487 people and distributed 24,000 vitamins. Throughout the summer of 2002, construction of a permanent medical clinic on our rural village location in Kabula was started.

On August 12th, 2003, the Bill Selke Memorial Clinic opened its doors to the Kabula community. The clinic consists of three examination rooms, a nurses' station, a laboratory, a small pharmacy, a HIV/AIDS Education Office with the potential for Pre/Post Test Counseling, a medical records office, an administrative office and a waiting room. Doctors and nurses are able to diagnose and treat endemic diseases and common illnesses, stitch and dress wounds, give fluids, perform histories and physical examinations, and other minor procedures.

The clinic has not been as busy as we had initially planned due to our inconsistent supply of medications (e.g., we don’t have the funding to pay for a large stock and wide variety of medications) and the rural location of our clinic. In light of this, as we began to get a greater number of volunteer medical students and doctors, we realized that we could better utilize their knowledge and expertise by holding rotating mobile clinics in the rural villages of the Western Province. In the summer of 2004, we began operating these mobile clinics in rural villages within a 1-2 hours drive of Kabula. At the mobile clinics, acute problems are diagnosed and treated while chronic medical problems are diagnosed and then referred for follow-up. Since most Kenyans live in very rural village communities where transportation is lacking or unaffordable, our mobile clinics have become the focus of our Healthcare Program. The Bill Selke Clinic is now the base of operations for our mobile clinics outreach services. The clinic still treats patients on a daily basis, but the bulk of our healthcare services are done through the mobile clinics since we can reach so many more people this way. For example, our clinic may only see 10-20 patients each day, but we see 100 patients per day on the average mobile clinic (due to the remote locations where we travel). We typically run three mobile clinics per week when we have volunteer medical students and/or doctors on the ground. During the busy summer months (June-August) when we have 4-6 Healthcare Program volunteers at any given time, we run the mobile clinics 4-5 days per week.

Our program has attracted various partnerships from universities abroad and with the ongoing partnerships; this has guaranteed a steady flow of volunteers (Medical students) to help us run the mobile clinics. For example, every year we host Drs, Professors and Medical students (including Pre-med) from Louisiana State University LSU as part of Support for Humanitarian through Intercontinental Projects (SHIP) program - Learn more about the LSU experiences by visiting our blog section on Volunteer Kenya website.  

Common Medical Problems
Some of the common medical problems you will see during your trip include: Malaria, Typhoid, Helminth infections (i.e. “worms”), Urinary Tract Infections, Respiratory Tract Infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, TB), skin lesions, malnutrition, diarrhea, Cellulitis, acute and chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, opportunistic infections, fungal infections, asthma, COPD (from cooking indoors), arthritis, Sciatic Pain, stomach ulcers/acid reflux, eye problems, STIs, dental problems, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart failure, altered mental status, Meningitis, and Sepsis,

Tours of Nearby Hospitals and Clinics
We can sometimes arrange for volunteers to tour other healthcare facilities in the larger towns nearby (Bungoma, Mumias, etc). Policies allow for visiting medical students and doctors to interact with patients and even enter operating theatres for the purpose of observing surgical procedures. Doctors and nurses at district hospitals are sometimes willing to answer questions and demonstrate procedures. Most often patients are willing to allow volunteers to be present during diagnosis, treatment and examination. Female volunteers have been able to observe both natural and caesarian births. Past volunteers have found this to be an interesting and educational experience.

Please keep in mind that we can’t guarantee you will be able to take any tours due to the ever-changing environment on the ground in Kenya. We are in the process of setting up some partnerships with local clinics/hospitals so that our volunteer doctors and medical students can work at these facilities on days when we are not running a mobile clinic. Unfortunately, we cannot set up tours for pre-med and undergraduate students at the local clinics and hospitals. Previously, we were able to accommodate this. However, due to the high volume of requests we get from undergrads for this each year, we have decided to now only send medical students and doctors to tour and work at the local clinics and hospitals.

Health Education
When the clinic opened in August of 2003, the intent was that it be both care-based AND education-based but to date, the focus has been on the care aspect. We are now beginning to implement facets of the educational aspect. We have produced several 1-2 hour seminars/lectures about locally relevant health concerns, which will be presented to locals. This is done either on a rotating schedule or on demands from various community groups. Topics include, but are not limited to: malaria intervention, hygiene, food/water safety, nutrition (general, maternal, child, PLWHA), sexually transmitted infections, and any other health topics deemed valuable. Volunteers involved in this program will perform research to develop the lectures and will help to produce literature on each topic. Our first health education lectures were produced in the summer of 2005. Directed towards Kenyan women, they concern reproductive health issues. Since we typically only run mobile clinics three days a week, volunteers in the Healthcare Program are encouraged to give these healthcare educational seminars on off-days (unless they are scheduled to work at a nearby clinic or hospital).


How much are the Volunteer Fees and what do they include?

Total Volunteer Fees for one month are $1,500 USD. This includes pick-up from the Nairobi Airport (assuming you are doing a safari), program materials and expenses, program transport (such as vehicle repair and gas), salaries for the Kenyan staff, and Room and Board.  Volunteers receive 3 meals a day, 7 days a week while on the farm.  Volunteers are housed in our 4-person volunteer huts located on what used to be a sugarcane farm in the heart of rural Africa.  This “sugarcane farm” now contains a primary school, public library and clinic (all built and funded by volunteers and local community members).

Not included in this fee are airplane tickets, bus tickets to/from Nairobi / Bungoma- $20-25 USD, safari fees, leisure travel, souvenirs, and food/drink outside of the home stay. However, we do have a discount arrangement with a good and reliable safari company for your Safari and leisure travel needs. It does not include your flight to Kenya. Volunteers need to purchase and pay for their own flight separately. The breakdown of these Volunteer Fees and a more detailed explanation of them can be found in the Volunteer Fees & Dates section of the website located under the Resource Center tab. Click here to be directed to this section.

I am interested in volunteering. What do I do now?

First, you need to believe that Volunteer Kenya is the right organization for you. Learn about us: our programs, our goals, and our members. If you want to be certain, go through the following steps and it will help you to make a decision:
Read through these FAQs. You will likely find that many (hopefully most) of your questions will be answered here.
Look through the Orientation Packet. It will help you get a feel for Volunteer Kenya and for Kenya in general.
Contact us if you have specific questions at
If you would like to communicate with a past volunteer about their experiences, just ask our Volunteer Coordinator for contact information.Now, if you are comfortable with Volunteer Kenya and wish to come to Kenya, continue with the following steps:
E-mail us for details on how to fill in the on-line application.
Ensure that you have the qualifications and/or training required for the program(s) you are interested in. Once you decide which program(s) you wish to be involved with, we can send you the appropriate documents. You should review these before your arrival. We will also put you in touch with the Director(s) of the program(s) you are interested in.
Let us know when you are thinking of coming to Kenya. Then we can ensure there is a vacancy on the farm during that time. Once we are sure there will be space, you can look into flights, insurance, visa and passport details. Once you book a flight, let us know exactly when you are coming so we can make arrangements for your arrival.

Jefferson Student Reports - Volunteer Kenya / ICODEI
ICODEI - Kenya - 2009 ICODEI - Kenya - 2008
ICODEI - Kenya - 2008 ICODEI - Kenya - 2007


This program is currently not accepting applications.