Your Stay

The Nasio Trust in Kenya undertakes to ensure that appropriate and timely transport arrangements are made for staff and volunteers on charity business. Where volunteers are required to use public transport on charity business (for example, if vehicles are broken or in use elsewhere), the Operations Manager is responsible for ensuring that they are fully briefed as to costs and usage protocols. Volunteers will be given money for fares in advance of travel.

The Nasio Trust does not recommend that volunteers use motorbikes (piki-piki) due to the high rate of accidents associated with these vehicles. If staff/volunteers decide to use piki-piki, they do so at their own personal risk and expense.

For volunteers who are with the charity for standard ten day or two week placements, there should be no need to make personal independent travel arrangements outside of this. Where such an occasion arises, appropriate transport arrangements should be agreed with the Operations Manager and must be paid for in advance by the volunteer/s according to the schedule below (this counts as a personal expense).

Long-term volunteers can request the use of charity owned and leased vehicles for personal use (for example, for a weekend excursion or to undertake a shopping trip to Mumias or Kakamega). Such arrangements must be authorised by the Operations Manager and should be made with the full understanding that vehicles can be requested back for charity use at any time, should they be required. This applies even where long-standing arrangements have been made. In such an instance, payments already made to the charity for use of the vehicle will be reimbursed in part or in full.

No staff member, volunteer or Board member shall use any vehicle owned or leased by the Nasio Trust for personal use without (a) securing the assurance of the Operations Manager that there are no competing business priorities for vehicle use (b) paying the associated costs of using the vehicle (these are listed below). Payments should be agreed and settled in advance of the journey.

Where there are competing priorities for use of a vehicle, the Operations Manager will be responsible for balancing organisational requirements and taking the final decision, liaising with the Project Director as necessary.

Vehicles should be operated by an authorised Nasio Trust driver, who must have a valid Republic of Kenya driving licence. For short journeys within the district where no driver is available, the Operations Manager or delegated member of staff may, at their discretion, nominate a staff member or volunteer to operate the vehicle as long as they have at least two years’ driving experience AND (a) a Republic of Kenya driving licence, (b) a valid UK driving licence (for those here for less than three months) OR (c) an International Driving Licence (over three months). Authorisation to operate Nasio Trust vehicles may be withdrawn at any time by the Operations Manager.

Your registration includes basic travel health insurance – however if you want to purchase additional insurance please do not hesitate to organise this yourself.

Three meals a day are included in your package – breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you are at the guesthouse, meals will be served in the dining room. When you are off-site at lunchtime, food will be arranged for you at the location of your day’s work.

Our kitchen staff are very used to cooking for both Kenyan and Western tastes – so you should find a good mix of new dishes to try alongside favourites from home!

Your dietary preferences will have been sent through from the UK office. However if there are any problems at all, do just let the team know.

Snacks can be bought from the Nasio Craft Shop at St Irene’s, from Musanda, or from the supermarkets in Mumias.

All guests are provided with clean, bottled drinking water from a dispenser during their stay. This should be regularly refilled – however if you do notice the water running low, please let the guesthouse caretaker or a duty staff member know and they will replace it immediately.

Always bring bottled or distilled water with you on your days activities, top up from the water dispenser before you leave.

Please note that buying and transporting bottled water is extremely expensive for the charity. We would ask that you take only what you need and use the water only for drinking.

Three meals a day plus accommodation and transportation costs while on charity business are included in your package. Reasonable expenses associated with the project/s you are working on will be covered – you should be sure to agree these in advance.

Please note that sodas, juice and snacks are deemed luxuries in Kenya, you will need to cover these from your own pocket. Costs are very low.

If you are staying for longer than the standard ten day or two week trips, then you may wish to organise your own outings at weekends. You will need to cover your own costs – this applies even where you are using the charity’s own vehicles (see transport policy below).

Your washing will be done for you during your stay – please just leave clothes in the basket in your room. However we request that you please wash your own underwear during your stay. There is a local belief that handling others’ underwear can cause permanent infertility, and local staff will simply return your items to you unwashed if they are included. You should also wash your own socks. Clean clothes are returned after washing by being left in the communal area – as most socks look very similar, we have had lots of cases of ‘sock nabbing’ in the past!

The gates to the guesthouse are locked at 6.30PM and are opened again at 6.30AM. Please do not leave the premises during these times unless absolutely necessary. If you do need to leave, please discuss this in advance with a member of the management team so that they can put in place appropriate security measures.

The gates to the guesthouse compound are manned at all times – we have one security guard on duty during the day, and four at night – two from a private security firm and two from the local police force. Only authorised personnel can enter the guesthouse compound – if you see anyone acting suspiciously, please report this immediately to security personnel/the management team.

There is no Wi-Fi at the guesthouse or at either of the ECD centres. If you need to use the internet, then you will need to buy Safaricom scratchcards and use these to pay for data. You can then use your phone’s packet data networks (Edge, 3G, H+) to access the internet.

You can also ‘tether’ using your phone as a portable wifi hotspot to connect tablets/laptops etc. Be mindful that this uses a lot of credit and battery life!

*544# will allow you to buy data bundles using your airtime allowance, bundles help your money to go further.

Long term volunteers may find it helpful to set up an MPESA account – staff can advise.

We are two hours from Western-standard hospital care. If you become ill, you should tell a duty member of staff immediately – please don’t keep it to yourself! Unlike in the UK, seemingly mild illnesses can sometimes get worse very quickly here and may require hospitalisation. There are also a number of local clinics which can provide basic care – for example tests for malaria and treatment.

Please wash your hands regularly and apply hand sanitiser/anti-bacterial gel. Kenyans are scrupulous about hygiene and you should be too!

Do not forget to take your anti-malarial tablets during and after your visit. Malaria is a very serious illness which can cause death if not treated. If you have forgotten to bring your tablets or if you run out while you are in Kenya, please speak immediately to one of the duty staff, who will advise you as to where you can buy some.

Also to prevent malaria, please apply insect repellent to any exposed areas of skin. Wearing long sleeves and trousers/skirts at dusk will also help keep mosquito bites to a minimum. Certain anti-malarial treatments can increase susceptibility to sun burn. You should in any case use sun block to avoid burning in strong sunlight.

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to buy a Safaricom SIM card for your unlocked mobile phone. You can get these at the airport or in Mumias, and will need to have a form of identification with you when you go to buy one.

Once the SIM card has been activated on your phone, you can ‘top up’ your credit by buying a Safaricom scratch card/s. These are available in 10KSH – 1000KSH amounts – smaller amounts can be purchased in Musanda, for larger amounts you will need to go to one of the supermarkets in Mumias.

Local calls to Kenyan mobiles are very cheap. A text/SMS message costs 2KSH. Calls to UK landlines cost about 1000KSH per hour (dialling code +44 for England, +254 for Kenya).

Typing *144# will show you your remaining balance.

Tipping is not an established etiquette in Kenya. If you would like to tip then this is entirely at your discretion.

The guesthouse has electricity, however power comes and goes quite often so be prepared for power cuts! If power suddenly does go don’t panic – there are solar-powered ‘D-Lights’ in the guest house – just ask and you’ll be given one.

Try to remember to keep phones/laptops and other electronics charged when the power is on to avoid running out of battery when power cuts strike.

Have hot showers while the power is on! Otherwise you’ll be limited to a bucket shower, or dancing in the rain!

Water from the taps/showers in the guesthouse comes from a nearby bore hole and also from rainwater collected in the large tanks located outside the guesthouse, which are treated with chlorine and aluminium sulphate. These are limited sources which often run dry (in particular during the dry season). Please use water sparingly while washing, showering and brushing your teeth and make sure all taps are turned off after use.

The taps and showers rely on electricity to work. During power interruptions, the only taps that may have some water are those located low down on the wall in each of the shower cubicles. Hot showers will not be available – staff will organise for buckets with warm water to be provided, this should be mixed with cold water for showering. Buckets of water will be provided for flushing toilets.

A few names and numbers which you may want to store in your phone…

UK Emergency Contact Numbers

  • UK Office Landline (044) 1235 856290
  • UK Office Mobile (044) 7917 723593

Kenya Emergency Contact Numbers

  • Head of Education & Social Work Jane Munyendo (+254) 726 839 754
  • Nasio Taxi Driver (Nairobi) Robert (+254) 724 613 293
  • Guest House Manager Mildred Anyangu (+254) 710 819 127

Kenya Optional Numbers

  • Charity Chair Person (Nairobi) Joan Tabuke (+254) 727 545 095
  • Volunteer (Mumias) Lillian Akenga (+254) 733 574 242

Don’t just smile and say everything’s okay if it’s not! Local staff will not understand ‘fine’ as anything other than just that – they will take you at entirely face value, making it hard for them to recognise a problem or to find a resolution. If something’s wrong, please be clear and specific, stating the problem, and then work calmly with staff towards a solution.

You can also speak to your Nasio representative at any time and we’ll ensure issues are resolved promptly.

Local Culture

In the main – our visitors experience trouble-free visits. The Nasio Trust is well known and respected in the area – if you are a ‘muzungu’ (European) affiliated to the Trust, then the whole community will have your best interests at heart!

However you should be mindful that you are staying at the heart of a community where many people live their lives in desperate poverty. This can lead to behaviours which are regretful but relatively commonplace, such as low-level thefts of small items. Alcoholism and substance abuse are also common. You should take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover your time in Kenya.

When out and about, keep a close eye on money, phones, cameras etc – it’s best simply to keep these out of sight as much as you are able to. For your own peace of mind, it is sensible to avoid wearing flashy accessories – jewellery, watches, sunglasses – while on placement.

It’s always sensible in any country where you are unfamiliar with the culture/language to observe a ‘buddy-buddy’ system when out and about. Local staff and volunteers are always happy to accompany you to the market/supermarket and can help to make sure you are not tricked into paying more than you should.

Please be aware of conmen (and women!) You may be approached in the street by individuals telling you stories designed to elicit money from you – a classic trick is to ask for ‘sponsorship’ so that they can reach relatives in England/the US etc. Under no circumstances should you give them money or make any promises to do so!

While in the guesthouse, keep money and valuables inside your rooms. There is a safe in ‘Melsa’ room which all guests can use subject to negotiation with the room’s occupants. The Nasio Trust will not be held liable for any loss or damage to property during your stay.

Although most people speak some English (and some people speak it very well!), the ‘lingua franca’ is Bantu language Swahili – this is the language most people use day-to-day, as well as local languages Luyha and Luo. To make sure that you are understood, please speak slowly, calmly and clearly and repeat as necessary. Getting frustrated will not make anyone understand you any better! Local staff and volunteers are always available and willing to translate if necessary – please just ask. You may even decide to learn a few words of Swahili during your stay – here are a few to get you started!

Hello Jambo (response: Jambo)
Hi/How’s it going? Mambo/Sasa (response: ‘poa!’)
How are you/what news? Habari/Habari yako? (response: ‘mzuri!’)
All (very) good/fine Mzuri (sana)
Please Tafadhali
Thank you (so much) Asante (sana)
Welcome/you’re welcome Karibu
Repeat/say that again Rudia/Tena
What are you doing/up to? Unafanya nini?
Where are you going? Pesa ngapi?
What time is it? Saa ngapi?
Let’s play football! Tucheze mpira
I’m tired Ni me choka
I’m hungry/thirsty Ni me shiba/Ni na kiwi
Goodbye Kwaheri

 

Local religions are Christianity and Islam. Most people are very religious – you will often hear services and calls to prayer while you are here. You may be asked what religion you are, and even invited to pray. Whatever your personal religious beliefs, we would ask you to be respectful of others’ and to participate as far as you feel comfortable. Please try to avoid inflammatory conversations about religion or politics if your views differ from your hosts’ – you are a guest in the country and here to learn.

The local culture is very strict in terms of dress codes. Women – please avoid wearing anything too revealing, including plunging necklines, short shorts or tops that reveal too much of your back and shoulders. For church services, please cover your shoulders. Men – please keep your tops on and dress your lower half to avoid anything ‘jangling!’ Please help us avoid unnecessary complaints from the community.

Yes. Please note that it is a legal requirement in Kenya to carry ID with you at all times. All Kenyans have ID cards – for tourists, a passport will suffice. If you are travelling to/from Kisumu, you are very likely to pass through police check points where your vehicle will be stopped and you will be asked to produce your ID. Failure to do so can result in delays and even fines!

Please do not under any circumstances make promises directly to children or their families regarding monetary gifts or sponsorship. If you are interested in sponsoring a specific child, please speak in the first instance to one of the management team, who will be able to take you through the necessary steps.

We do not allow visitors to make direct purchases for equipment for our centres, or gifts for staff or children which have not been sanctioned by the charity. If you would like to purchase something to give during your trip, please visit our website at www.thenasiotrust.org/donate-or-shop-now/buy-alternative-gifts/ and make your purchase there, then email one of our team on info@thenasiotrust.org to let them know you’d like to give the gift in person during your visit.

Be mindful of local cultural sensitivities when interacting with children, particularly in relation to physical contact. For example, while a child in the UK might feel comfortable kissing you on the cheek or having you kiss them, this is a complete cultural no-no here. If you are unsure as to what’s appropriate and what’s not, then it’s best to ask.

Pleas avoid swearing – particularly in front of the children!

Cultural perceptions around alcohol are very different in Kenya. Many people you will be working with do not drink for cultural and religious reasons. Kenyan visitors to the guesthouse will often expect to be met in an alcohol-free environment.

Therefore we ask that (assuming you’re old enough to drink alcohol in your home country) all visitors kindly drink alcohol only in the dining hall – it’s also acceptable to drink in the cottages, as long as you have obtained the occupant’s permission! The living room is an alcohol-free quiet room for reading, journal-writing, chatting, and for meeting visitors to the guesthouse.

Smoking in Kenya in public places (such as streets, markets, schools etc) is prohibited. The Chief’s guesthouse is a ‘No Smoking’ zone – if you need to smoke, please do so outside the guesthouse in the designated smoking area (behind Exit 7).

Don’t do drugs – EVER. You will be asked to return immediately to the UK.