LEISURE TIME: 8 WEEKENDS | HIKES | HERBAL MEDICINE | GRAVITATIONAL PULL | FARMS | CAMPING
While you will spend the majority of your weekdays at the school and with Jackson and his family, the weekends are a great time to explore the Ukambani area. There are a number of day trips you can take from Jackson’s house on the weekend, including day hikes through the Mua hills, visits to local traditional healers, a trip up to the Kituluni Hill to experience an incredible gravitational pull and watch water flow against gravity, a trip to Seven Brothers to see some of Kenya’s oldest and largest trees, trips into Machakos town on market day. One highlight is hiking up Kalama Hill in the evening and watching the sunset over the African bush.
In addition to your home stay and volunteering at Kyandili, you will have the opportunity to participate in a grassroots conservation project on Kalama Hill, just behind the Nyzoki’s shamba. The project is changing the unsettled hills into the Mulaani Botanical Conservation Center. The area and land acquired will preserve the indigenous plants and promote education in the village about green living and the medicinal uses of a variety of plants.
Throughout Kenya, Kiswahili and English are spoken. Additionally, Kamba is the mother tongue of the Ukambani people. While volunteering and at home with Jackson, you are encouraged to speak only English, as English exposure and development is a primary goal of the program.
Varieties of Catholicism and Protestantism are dominant near Machakos and are increasingly pervasive elsewhere. Jackson himself is a pastor at the local church. You may choose to attend local service with Jackson, some of the teachers, or even some of the students at Kyandili. Although it is not required, you should be aware of the local religious practices and preferences and be sensitive to your hosts.
The food throughout Kenya, but particularly in Machakos, is delicious. Elizabeth will prepare your meals during your home stay. Staples include white rice, potatoes, vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, avocados, onions, chipati, ugali, chicken, sweet potatoes and occasionally fresh fruit.
Poverty is widespread throughout Kenya. Many families in Kenya live on less than a dollar a day. The more informed you are as a visitor in any different country or culture, the easier you will find your transition. Be mindful that regardless of your upbringing and background, you will likely be seen as very wealthy and successful. This simple fact should not cause distress or worry, instead it should be a point of cultural exchange in which you share your own life circumstances with the people you meet and the friends you make while in Kenya. A major goal of the program is cultural exchange and learning from one another.
HEALTH: MALARIA TABLETS | INSURANCE | MEDICINES
There are numerous illness and diseases throughout Africa and many of them have similar symptoms. With most of the more serious diseases, vaccinations have been developed as a form of protection. Some vaccinations can have different side effects on different people, but if you are traveling to Africa you should always obtain specialist advice from your physician or travel clinic. The risk of contracting a number of the diseases can be greatly reduced if you are careful about where and what you eat and drink and who you come into direct contact with.
Bear in mind that however careful you are you may still be susceptible to some form of stomach upset which can be caused simply by the change in diet or climate, but these usually clear up within a few days.
We recommend you obtain travelers insurance for your trip, in case an emergency should arise. World Nomads is a reliable and affordable option for insurance.
We also recommend that you do carry a prescription for malaria pills to take while you are in Kenya. Please consult a travel physician before leaving for a proper prescription, Malarone is the drug we recommend, as some other malaria prescriptions have dreadful side effects.