Talita is a university student from Rotterdam studying Management of International Social Challenges.

She joined the Nasio Trust to volunteer at projects that are putting the principals she is learning about into practice every single day.

Listening to her story is an inspiring example of how the real life experience of seeing Nasio’s work is helping her to bring a new perspective to her studies.

Watch now below – and if you are inspired to come and see the amazing work we’re doing, check out our packages here.


My fundraising started in early 2019 with the Abingdon YOCO group. We did various group fundraisers such as concerts, running 5km and car parking at a local village festival. This was a good way to become familiar with others in my group and created a strong team mentality.

We landed at Kisumu airport and were greeted by our designated Nasio drivers and they were very helpful and friendly all through our drive to the compound, pointing out local traditions and explaining some of them to us. They also pointed out local landmarks.

Upon arrival to the guest house we were greeted with singing, dancing and music. The atmosphere was so welcoming and friendly which instantly made us all feel at home.

The first thing that I noticed about Kenya was how efficient and resourceful everybody was

The first thing that I noticed about Kenya was how efficient and resourceful everybody was, hardly anything went to waste. This was a big eye-opener for me and made me really appreciate my resources back in England.

One of our groups biggest contributions to the community was building a house for two different local families. I was amazed at the teamwork of the locals and how willing they were to get involved even though it would bring them no personal benefit. Building the houses was hard work but also fun to learn a new way of construction. The families were so grateful for their new homes as it gave them a dry and safe place to sleep and keep their belongings.

The staff at the guesthouse were all so friendly and accommodating, the rooms were cozy and very comfortable. The staff worked so well to help us feel well accommodated. Three meals were prepared for us daily and the food was amazing with a great mixture of Kenyan and English foods. I tried a lot of new flavours throughout the trip and the local food is something I highly recommend.

One of my favorite memories of the trip was visiting Kakamega rainforest as we saw such a variety of wildlife that many of us had never encountered before. The Kenyan landscape was beautiful and it’s something I will never forget.

I am so grateful that I was offered this opportunity at such a young age, not many people can say they went to Kenya and contributed so much to the local community, for that reason I encourage anybody especially young people to get involved. It was an experience of a lifetime and I made a great group of friends along the way.

Tabitha & Jacob have been on a Medical Volunteering trip with us, working at our medical centre.

They’ve been a joy to work with and have been involved in a wide range of activities; from helping with the birth of babies, to researching the Malaria vaccine that is offered for free to children in Kenya.

Sadly they have had to cut their trip short, having been summoned back to the UK to support efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’d like to know more about their amazing adventure, we’d strongly encourage you to visit their blog here.

Here’s a flavour of what you can expect – reproduced by kind permission.

“Whilst working in the medical centre in Musanda we have been working on a number of research projects with a view to tackling some of the major issues in the area. In particular we have been collecting data on the malaria vaccine. This was introduced last year and is first given to children at 6 months. Whilst the vaccine is free, it is still relatively novel and therefore parents are sometimes reluctant for their children to have it. As well as working to understand why this is we were also hoping to discover more about the efficacy of the vaccination. We do not yet know for certain how good the vaccine is at preventing malaria and have therefore been gethering data on how often vaccinated children are in fact contracting malaria. So far the results look incredibly promising, however the study will need to run for another few months to gather enough data in order to make reliable conclusions. In the meantime, the main challenge has and will be promoting the vaccine and ensuring that families are aware of its existence and potential benefits – the vaccine may well be an important step towards preventing the hundreds of malaria cases we have seen in the last three weeks alone.

On the evenings where we have not been faced with torrential rains, we have been running through the countryside surrounding Musanda. This has been an ideal opportunity to see the beautiful area but we won’t be breaking any records whilst trying to adjust to the heat and altitude. We have become quite a spectacle amongst the locals, who either stare on in bewilderment or openly laugh at the running Mzungus! We are going to miss our entourage of small children who like to run every step we take with us.”

One of the most popular activities we off as part of our Volunteering packages, house-builds are incredibly satisfying.

Check out the movie below to see for yourself and check out our packages now if you would like to get involved.

One of the things that had the most impact on me in Kenya was my visits to St Mary’s hospital.

On my first visit I was with the whole group and we handed out bread and milk to all the mothers and their newborn babies. We did this because if we hadn’t, no one else would have and they might have gone hungry that day, even though they had just given birth.

We all knew seeing the hospital would be an upsetting activity, but it actually seemed to be a more frustrating than anything else. Frustrating that the amazing staff had to work with such poor facilities. I spoke to a midwife who worked there, Sister Irene, who was one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. She was telling me about how her faith in God helped her with her challenging job, which is so exhausting with such little pay. However the severity of the situation only truly hit me when we were handing out underwear to the mothers (as they do not own any themselves) and all the staff were helping us. Irene turned to me at one point and asked “Would you mind if I had a pair?”. This just demonstrated to me how you can have so little yet give so much, which is what Irene was doing every day.

Sister Irene was one of the most inspirational women I have ever met

I went back to the hospital twice as I am hoping to have a career as a midwife, so the Nasio Trust gave me the opportunity to experience two afternoons in the labour ward. Although this was tough at points as I had to see women in pain on rusty hospital beds it was the most rewarding activity I did on the trip. Not only for my future career but for my life experience as I learnt so much from the mothers. While you could see they were in pain, they didn’t complain or make a fuss they just got on with it, with no drugs and barely any support as men (who aren’t doctors or nurses) are not allowed into the labour ward.

So I was humbled by Irene’s simple request and amazed at the mother’s bravery.

We are delighted that 23 Scouts will travel to Kenya to take part in a Nasio volunteer community project and Safari in July 2017.

The 14 day trip will be a mix of volunteering and safari, as well as an opportunity to meet Kenyan scouts in order to exchange skills and knowledge.

The trip will be overseen by a group of experienced scout leaders who have been specially chosen for their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for international scouting.

Kenya has a rich scouting heritage, in fact not many people know that the scout’s founder Lord Baden Powell is buried in a simple grave at Nyeri within sight of Mount Kenya.

We’ll keep you updated as to how they get on!

Find out more at https://oxonscouting.org.uk/

This article was originally printed on the fantastic oxfordstudent.com.

Much has been published criticising the phenomenon of ‘voluntourism’, whereby individuals (often students) mix foreign holidays with voluntary work for NGOs.

With social media littered with images of westerners hugging young African children, it is easy to appreciate why critics accuse voluntourism of trivialising poverty, treating it as a spectacle, rather than a complex issue that needs to be treated seriously. Often, as J.K. Rowling lambasted in a series of tweets in 2016, voluntary projects seem to be more about providing CV enhancing experiences for volunteers than about improving the lives of the supposed benefactors. More fundamentally though, there’s the danger that reliance by charities on overseas volunteering can in fact thwart long run development. Volunteers can displace locals from potential jobs, and in doing so prevent skills development within communities, potentially harming project sustainability. For instance, using volunteers to install a bore hole pump is likely inferior to a charity enlisting and enabling locals to build it themselves. Training locals instead of volunteers creates locally based knowledge and avoids the cultivation of a dependency culture.

Criticism has been particularly focused on the many projects that see Westerners volunteer in orphanages. There is consensus amongst experts (such as the Better Care Network, UNICEF and Save the Children) that the orphanage model of child care for vulnerable children can actually cause more harm than good, with institutionalisation undermining the development of social skills and failing to set children up for adulthood. Children in orphanages lack the individual attention and miss out on everyday experiences that are part and parcel of living with a family. Despite this, a 2011 UNICEF report on Cambodia suggested that despite falling numbers of orphans, worringly, the amount of residential institutions has increased. Underlying this is a rise in children with living parents being placed in care; a study by Kevin Browne estimates that 4 out of 5 children placed in institutional care worldwide have at least one living parent. Attracted by the lucrative business opportunity of Westerners paying to ‘help’ these children, developing world orphanages have been guilty of pressurising impoverished parents to place their children in care. Thus while Save the Children’s 2009 report on childcare worldwide concluded that institutional care should be viewed as a last resort, voluntourism in Cambodia was cited in UNICEF’s studies as perpetuating this dangerous model. Voluntourism also serves to worsen problems within orphanages, with the coming and going of volunteers increasing feelings of abandonment.

Bad press for overseas volunteering seems to be feeding into the student attitudes at Oxford. Oxford Development Abroad, a society founded in 2002 which organises volunteering work abroad for Oxford students has seen a marked decline in applications for its projects in recent years. I feel this is a shame. Whilst the criticisms propounded in the media have validity, they don’t apply universally. If steps are taken to ensure projects are responsibly designed and managed, voluntary services can be hugely beneficial to recipient communities. As students, we are more likely to be endowed with time and skills than disposable income, and so are legitimately drawn to volunteering versus purely donating money. It also remains the case that volunteering abroad can give greater perspective on the challenges that the developing world faces. This is particularly relevant to Oxford students, many of whom will find themselves in influential positions in later life, able to affect the deeper systemic change required to tackle poverty at its roots.

The question is, therefore, how to find responsible volunteering projects. A number of organisations such as the International Ecotourism Society and Comhladh in Ireland, have published codes of best practice for NGOs using volunteers. Would-be volunteers should seek out organisations that fulfil these criteria: NGOs should only involve volunteers in projects that have been requested by recipient communities. This makes it more likely that a community will engage with the work of an NGO, promoting sustainability. Responsible NGOs should only use volunteers in cases where there is a definite advantage to doing so; volunteers shouldn’t be employed where a task can be performed satisfactorily by locals. Using volunteers can be particularly valuable when local skills are lacking. For instance, medical expertise and training is incredibly scarce in parts of rural Africa. Volunteers from abroad with these skills (such as medical students) can help meet acute needs. In these cases, volunteers should possess a willingness to pass on their skills, promoting self sufficiency in the long run. In providing free labour, volunteers might also enable projects that would be too costly or time consuming for communities to undertake themselves, with immediate subsistence being the primary preoccupation in many places. Charities should be transparent in their use of funds; as a volunteer you want to be sure that money you raise goes to the community and isn’t consumed as profit or administration costs. Charities should insist on volunteers being appropriately qualified and provide training where necessary; organisations should ensure volunteers are actually capable of meeting community needs. Organisations that work with vulnerable children should maintain high safe guarding standards.

Many organisations are responsible. Global Vision International is an example of an NGO supplying volunteering for a large number of projects, that specifies that projects must be instigated on community request. A smaller scale organisation Little Big Africa (LBA), based in Eastern Uganda also meets these criteria and has historically hosted volunteers from Oxford (including myself) via Oxford Development Abroad. Working for LBA, the emphasis was on empowering the community to take itself forward. As volunteers we spent nearly 2 months living in the village of Bushika in Uganda, which had requested LBA’s help. Upon arrival we met a man named James in his early 20s, who was unemployed. He asked if we could pay him to work for us during our stay, but unfortunately, this wasn’t possible. However, through one of LBA’s schemes, by the time we left James had found employment. In rural Uganda most people continue to cook on traditional open fires – due to fairly regular afternoon rain, this usually happens inside. Combined with poorly ventilated clay brick houses, this creates an incredibly smoky living environment. As a result, lung disease is a common affliction in rural Uganda (the subject of a 2015 study published in the Lancet). To tackle this, LBA uses volunteers to spread knowledge of how to build smokeless stoves. James was one of the individuals we trained whilst in Bushika, and he now intends to build these stoves as a business.

The Nasio Trust is another organisation that in the past has harnessed the efforts of volunteers from Oxford for good, focusing on improving the lives of vulnerable children. Nasio works in Western Kenya, in the communities of Mumias and Musanda, both of which are close to the main transit route between the Kenyan port of Mombasa, and landlocked Uganda. Because of the large number of haulage workers passing through the area, the area has historically had high levels of prostitution and HIV, leaving many children missing parents. Aware of the potential harm done by the institutionalisation of children, Nasio has developed a different model of support. Nasio facilitates the adoption of orphaned children by extended family members, and aims to support families with a single parent, to keep them together where possible. It does this by providing foster families with food, access to healthcare and education. It also seeks to tackle the problem of HIV at source by providing alternative means of income for the community; it has introduced farming of the valuable health food spirulina. The organization employs 49 people within Kenya; volunteers undergo a full orientation briefing upon arrival, and are given tasks that relate to their skills.

There are clearly responsible volunteering opportunities out there; it is the responsibility of prospective volunteers to search for them.

Listen to some of our amazing young volunteers talking about their experiences at our projects in Kenya.

Check out this incredible and uplifting video from young volunteer Henry Ettinger.

If you’d like to know more about volunteering with the Nasio Trust – click here now to check out our packages.

Trying to describe the 6 weeks I spent in Kenya to people when I came home was actually very difficult without having a good 3 hours to spare. Not only was it the most incredible 6 weeks I have had in my life, but also it taught me many life lessons.

Kenya gave me such a rush, it was the feeling of getting up in the morning not knowing where the day could end up, and the chance to see something completely out of the ordinary.

From elation, sadness, delight and relief, these were just some of the emotions that I went through on my trip. I was able to experience Kenya and the trip made me realize how fortunate I am and as well as giving me the opportunity to see and do many things I never thought I would get the chance to do, and for this I have to give all thanks to the charity. Personally, Kenya gave me such a rush, it was the feeling of getting up in the morning not knowing where the day could end up, and the chance to see something completely out of the ordinary. There were some days that had me close to tears due to witnessing the harsh reality these communities are faced with. However, there were certainly more days than not that I would describe as one of the best days of my life.

If I had to tell you what the best part of the charity is its simple, for me it’s the best part about Kenya, it was the best part about my trip and it was certainly what made me the happiest every day I spent with the charity, the children. I found that what little they have they cherish, and with the ambition and dedication they have been given from The Nasio Trust, they are only going to succeed. Not only were they happy, friendly and polite but the more time you spent with them the bigger the connection you would have and the more you wanted to get to know all about them. The Nasio Trust, in my eyes, gives people of all ages, ethnicities and nationalities a chance to come together and change things for good and for me I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

With the ambition and dedication they have been given from The Nasio Trust, they are only going to succeed

I can’t thank the staff of the Nasio Trust enough for making the trip possible but also helping me to get fantastic experiences out of my time there. There are too many individuals to mention but without all of them working together a lot of my trip wouldn’t have even been possible. Being able to film and photograph many places and events that I had never experienced before was really compelling. I have always loved both film and photography but wanted to be able to help a charity as well as come away with something of a portfolio. The fact the charity has embraced this and enlightened me into what they are all about I have made a wonderful connection with them and for that I thank you. I hope that the photography and videos can be used to help the charity more forward as they are certainly a lovely memory of the time I have had.

Would you like to embark on an adventure like Alex? View our volunteering packages now.

We’ve just seen a fantastic article over on the Oxford Student website about responsible voluntourism.

Well worth a look and Nasio get a great write up too!

Click here now for the full article.