FAQ Title

Are Other Paths’ service project fees tax deductible?

If you are a U.S. tax-payer, your service project fees (which include airfare, accommodations, most meals, and entry visas) and certain related travel expenses are tax deductible because you will be performing work for Other Paths, Inc., a U.S.-registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization. To enable this benefit, we conform to IRS requirements that project volunteers work eight hours per day for five days out of seven, occurring between the times that we arrive in and depart from Kenya. Daily travel time to/from the service area and our accommodation area isn’t included in the eight-hour requirement, nor are times spent on safari. We strongly recommend you keep your own journal detailing the hours you work for your own tax purposes.

What are the age requirements to participate in a Kenya service project?

The minimum age for participating in a service project depends on the type of project:

On the other end of the age spectrum, we will evaluate older prospective project team members based on their overall ability to withstand the travel and physical demands of the activities we will engage in on a case-by-case basis.

Is Kenya safe?

No international travel is 100% free from risk, but in our experience, traveling to Kenya and throughout the areas where we work and relax is safe. However, we do not take anyone’s safety for granted. Part of our program methodology is to educate participants in common-sense approaches to ensuring individual and group safety, and we maintain high expectations of all volunteers, regardless of age, to look out for themselves and others during the course of our service projects.

Additionally, we register our service project teams with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and monitor all advisories and warnings issued by the U.S. State Department. Our program itinerary includes contingencies for emergency evacuation for a range of circumstances, and all service project volunteers are covered under our policy with the Nairobi-based AMREF Flying Doctors, which offers state-of-the-art air and land ambulance services in the event of medical emergencies.

Some useful tips can be found in our International Travel Safety Guide.

What kind of immunizations are required?

Travel immunizations, along with anti-malaria medication prescribed by your doctor or a travel health clinic, are vital. If you do not meet immunization requirements within two weeks prior to departure, you will not be allowed to participate in a given service project.

Costs of travel immunizations and anti-malaria medication are not typically included in service project fees, but if you need help raising funds for them, we will be happy to help you.

Immunizations required to participate in an Other Paths service project in Kenya are:

Most of these vaccinations are required for entrance into most U.S. states’ public school system, with the exception of Yellow Fever and Typhoid.

Our rule is “be sure; be safe.” Check with your family doctor to ensure that all your immunizations are up-to-date, then schedule a visit to a travel health clinic to review what you need for your service trip.

More information about vaccinations and travel medications can be found in our International Travel Safety Guide.

Are there any language barriers in Kenya?

Kiswahili (or Swahili) is Kenya’s national language, and most of the people living the in the area where we work are Akamba, who have their own native dialect. But Kenya is also a former British colony, so English is spoken throughout the country by most people. Those over the age of 60 and under the age of five will not be proficient English speakers, but most others will be fluent in English or speak well enough to be understood. We make it a point to teach our project teams simple phrases and expressions in Kiswahili (and some Akamba) in order to foster goodwill and have a lot of fun. Our local representatives and friends are always willing to provide lessons in Kiswahili! The Masai people have their own distinct language, but most Masai with whom we interact– typically at tourist destinations– speak English well and are also happy to exchange language lessons with us.

Where will we stay during the work week?

All Other Paths volunteers stay at a small, clean hotel in Machakos Town, a relatively modern city comprised of about 150,000 people. The hotel will provide breakfast and dinner every day. The hotel building features an Internet cafe and a four-story supermarket called Peter Mulei & Sons. It is about a 20-minute drive to the villages where we work.

What kind of food is available in Kenya?

Because Kenya was a British colony, you will find many British customs, so breakfast is usually a buffet of sausage and beans (or cow peas) along with waffles and eggs. Kenyans have mastered the art of soup, which is available at almost every dinner along with beef or goat and potatoes. If there has been enough rain, they will serve avocados with red onion and cilantro. The most common meats served in main courses are goat, beef, and occasionally chicken.

Tips for safe eating while in Kenya can be found in our International Travel Safety Guide.

What will we eat while working in the village?

Other Paths will provide supplies (usually peanut butter & jelly and bread) for making sandwiches. Volunteers will purchase their own bottled drinking water and other beverages from the supermarket adjacent to the hotel where we stay. Please feel free to purchase your own food there as well to supplement your lunches. Once during the work week, the villagers will serve us one hot meal, typically a lentil soup or rice-based dish along with a bread called chapati and possibly mango and avocado.

How will we get to the work site from the hotel?

One of the most common forms of transportation in Kenya is a large mini-van type vehicle called a mutatu. Other Paths will hire a mutatu driver to pick us up from the hotel at 7:30 am and drive us to the village. Then he will pick us up around 4:30 pm and return us to the hotel.

Can I bring my cell phone or iPod?

Do not bring anything you would be upset over should it come up missing. The Kenyan cellular service is Safaricom, and it can be very expensive to use. Check with your mobile service provider for rates and access. We recommend telling your family and friends that you will communicate with them via email or Facebook once per day while we are there.