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children's special needs school Kenya (CDS)

Location: Kenya
Project type: child development support
Price from: £2226.00 - details below

Volunteer in a school dedicated to giving physically & mentally challenged children a chance in life. Live in an award-winning all-inclusive resort on the idyllic beach at Watamu- recognised for its community and conservation initiatives.

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follows:

  • pysiotherapists
  • speech therapists
  • special need educators, especially those experienced in autistic spectrum disorders including Aspergers Syndrome
  • play therapists
  • education and clinical psychologists; therapists; counsellors - particularly family and occupational therapists
  • teaching - remedial English and maths, particularly practical
  • physical education teachers
  • lifeskills practitioners and youth workers
  • capacity assistance in education management and  IT
This project offers a responsible alternative to the volunteer who would like to work in childcare but is rightly concerned about the ethics of  short term volunteer work abroad in an orphanage.

Main project details

Gede Special School is a special needs boarding school for approximately 130 (there is a larger demand but the school is at maximum capacity)  physically and/or mentally challenged children from the ages of 5 to 19, most of whom have cerebral palsy, limb dysfunction, or hearing impairment as well as a range of other disabilities - spina bifida, effects of polio, visual impairment, Downs' Syndrome, autism, epilepsy, for example. Some children will always be confined to wheelchairs and/or have limited ability to communicate but the majority, especially those suffering only from deafness, are able to function well in the school environment. 

Gede is a government school and funds are very short. The principal and the dedicated team of teachers and support staff are trained but would welcome skilled volunteers to help them develop the support they give to the children and their families.

A former deputy head, Herzon Thoya, who lived at the school with the children, said he believed that the volunteers would be "heaven sent".

Most of the children are taught by the  teachers at Gede but if they are able they are integrated into the mainstream primary school which is on the same site.  Currently 10-15 of the children attend mainstream school.  School hours, including lesson times and break times, are the same at Gede and the mainstream school and some children from both schools mix socially at break times.

'The best highlight was the greetings from children I had taught when I was last here 4 years ago.  One in particular had advanced so well academically he was at the main school for lessons but he would come over to Gede at lunchtime with an able-bodied child pushing his wheelchair to see me, bringing a different child each time to see the English lady who had come to teach him.' Volunteer, Yvonne
The main aim is that the children feel that they cared for and accepted by the community.
The school is keen to develop the family clinic outreach programme to educate families and communities to assist with family support and early diagnosis.Volunteer input from special needs health care volunteers would be so useful!
Many children are supported by one-on-one sponsorship  - the school also has to fundraise for nearly all its supplies and facilities because it does not receive the budget from government. - special needs facilities, medical intervention, school supplies and medical equipment and even staff salaries. 

They have no secretarial support and the accounts clerk is shared with the primary school. 

To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here.


Children with disabilities in Kenya face more struggle than the average Kenyan or the average disabled person in a developed country. The children supported by Gede are often shunned by society and sometimes even their own parents. Some children have been abandoned, abused, hidden, or simply ignored because of their disabilities. There are some parents who send their disabled children onto the street to beg.
It is estimated that at least 800,000 Kenyan children under 17 have a disability - however the figure is probably much higher because of the stigma attached to disability. Many of those parents who do seek an education for their disabled children cannot afford the fees - the average wage in Kenya is about $2 a day.

During your work abroad you the volunteer would live at the idyllic Turtle Bay Beach Club.

'It didn't take long to feel infected by the incredible joie de vivre and resilience of all the children I came into contact with.  It is easy to write words such as 'humbling', 'inspiring', 'life-changing' but harder to convey their true weight and meaning.  My experience with the children and staff at Gede was all these.' Volunteer Kathy

Volunteer opportunities in this education support programme can involve health care, child care, teaching skills, craft - and other experience will also be put to good use. Take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. Work with local people and play your part in responsible volunteer projects abroad.

Minimum duration

 4 weeks minimum

Living Conditions

As part of its contribution to this volunteer programme, Turtle Bay Beach Club offers a substantial discount to volunteers to cover their accommodation - all meals and  most drinks are included (you will receive a packed lunch on work days). 
Located at the edge of Watumu National Marine Park, the hotel is surrounded by 10 acres of tropical landscaped gardens, just 200 metres from the beach.

Accommodation is a single room with en suite facilities. All rooms have a terrace or patio, air conditioning, fans, fridges and tea and coffee making facilities. 

The school is a 15 minute ride from the hotel.

Project costs

From  £2226 for 4 weeks based on single room with private terrace  - all inclusive of meals and drinks. Full en suite facilities. Shared rooms will be at a reduced cost. Accommodation costs are subsidised considerably by Turtle Bay as part of their CSR for the volunteer programme.

Please note that prices vary depending on the season. A full quote can be provided on application. Peak season can be up to 20% more.

Read about our costs and pricing policy here
Watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson

Returning volunteers will receive a 25% reduction in project management and matching fees 
Additional weeks are costed at a sliding reducing rate. Please ask for details.
Please note these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking due to changes in transport and taxes outside our control.
Very comfortable accommodation in an award winning hotel situated on the beach front. All meals and most drinks. Local transfers for airport- orientation, briefing and preparation - post placement support. 
NB the project is about a 30 minute cycle ride away and a bicycle will be provided - if however you would rather have a taxi this can be arranged at an additional £140 per 4 weeks or on an ad hoc basis once you are in situ.
Your contribution will fund the work of Gede
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks
£1656 - direct costs in Kenya (transfers, accommodation, orientation, information packs etc)
£160 - project management, liaison & supervision in Kenya
£150 - project contribution in Kenya
£260 - recruitment, matching & project development in UK
Not included: flights, insurance, visa costs, personal expenses such as phone calls, medical expenses, etc. 

If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project please contact us at

Recommended reading

The Rough Guide to Kenya
Lonely Planet Kenya

An excellent guide to volunteering with children from Better Care Network

Project gallery

Registered volunteers can learn about the local team for this project - LOG ON to learn more about this project and the local team we work with. Not registered yet? It's easy and free HERE!

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