What to bring
Based Upon information from Abha Light Foundation.
You can get a 3-month tourist visa when you land at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya. (cost: $50) No problem. You must be able to show a round trip ticket or sufficient funds. You can also extend it for another 3 months for another US$ 50. Please clarify visa questions from the Kenya High Commission in your country.
The most frequently used airlines to Kenya are: British Air (London), Kenya Air (Amsterdam, London), Luftanthsa (Frankfurt), Emirates (Dubai), Ethiopian (via Addis Ababa, cheap if you get it) South African (Johannesburg). I don’t know of anything particularly “cheap”, except Ethiopian. Don’t be surprised that it will cost you money when you wish to change the dates on your cheapie air ticket. Check with your airlines about this. So think carefully before buying.
For jet lag, you may consider taking a bit of cocc-i + arnica before and during your flight.
Officially, you don’t need anything when you enter Kenya, BUT you may need the official International Health Card when you re-enter your home country. You may be required to show it at immigration. Check with your own country’s authorities. If needed then: Yellow Fever is needed. Cholera is entirely unnecessary. You can get it ONLY at an approved gov’t facility in your area who’s authorized to give you the stamped card, or you can get it in Nairobi. It’s possible for a little contibution (bribe) to get a bogus card from a local travel agent and avoid vaccinations entirely, that’s your choice & risk. Some homeopaths don’t like any vaccinations.
Your physicians with fill you with paranoiac stories of hepatitis, typhoid and cholera and encourage you to get the vaccines. I can’t make that decision for you. But, in my opinion, they are not necessary and more harmful than helpful. You will be staying with Abha Light, so your food and water is safe. There is a risk of typhoid, hepatitis and malaria when travelling into the interior. Careful, hygienic living and bottled water when you’re travelling should keep you mostly safe.
You are responsible to arrange your own travel- health insurance. I strongly suggest it.
Mosquito nets needed, but no need for you to bring them. In Nairobi, there is no malaria in Nairobi, but if you travel to the villages, malaria will present a problem. Allopathically, there’s only chloloquin prophylactic and that can’t be taken for long periods without damaging your liver. And even the doctors nowadays are not recommending it as a prophylactic. A good mosquito net and insect repellant should suffice. Both you can get here in Kenya.
Homeopathic prophylactic against malaria: take 3 doses of Nat Mur 30 or Malaria Nosode 200 or Malaria Officanalis 30 once a week and china 9 X daily or .... find a regime you believe in.
Alternatively, you can try herbal preventatives against malaria. That would be to take doses --teas, powder, tincture, etc-- of any choice of bitter herbs. It seems that mosquitoes don’t like bitter blood and healthy livers. Neem leaves (Azad ind. in our MM). Neem grows plentifully on the coast of Kenya, I’ve got plenty of homemade mother tincture. If you’re enthusiastic, you can take it when you get here, in Kenya.
It has been found that building up your intestinal friendly flora will go a long way towards protecting you from diarrhea and dysentery. If you can buy some strong pro-biotic supplements and take them for about 3 weeks, (starting 1 week prior to coming, two weeks after arriving.) you may be able to avoid getting "the runs" while you're here.
Some cost of living
If you want to do some average souvenir shopping for your family and friends, consider (budget style) about $2-5 per gift. If you want to do a little tourism (1-day -5 day trips to a safari park, museum etc) add another $250-500.
Consider bringing cash. Traveller’s cheques are expensive to get them exchanged. VISA/ MasterCard ATMS are available here. But you’ll have to pay bank surcharges for int’l transfers for that service. Western Union Money Transfer and a few other instant transfers are also available.
For best exchange rates
Large bills in any currency always give a better exchange than small ones -- eg 100s, 50s are better than 1s, 5s, 10s. Any currency is also OK. DON’T try to buy Kenya Shillings in your own country, it’ll be more expensive. You’ll get a better rate here.
NOTE: for US$- due to counterfeiting difficulties- banks and ForEx’s will only take US$ bills printed after 2000 (the date is tiny in the lower edges of the bills)
For USA Volunteers
Our parent/partner organization(s) “Ananda Marga” and “Amurt” have non-profit, tax-deductible status in USA. It’s possible you will be able to claim tax-deduction on your air ticket and staying expenses as donations (We will write it off as “consultancy fees”) in USA. If you’re interested in this, write me first about it for instructions.
AIDS & Our Treatment Methods
About 15-20% of the people you see will be HIV+ , whether they realize or not. But an even bigger fight is poverty. Many patients we see cannot afford food let alone food supplements, etc. We have found that a combination of herbals, homeo tinctures, homeopathic prescription + some naturopathic & nutritional approaches is effective. Be prepared to experiment and learn.
Nairobi is a fairly modern city and nearly everything is available, Good food, toiletries, and all various gadgets, electronics and electricals are here..... IF YOU WANT TO PAY FOR IT!
In many ways Africa is a more expensive place than Europe or USA. That is because everything is imported from Europe and then tax added to that. So don’t fuss if you’ve forgotten something, you can get it here, but don’t be surprised it islikely, to be more expensive than Europe/USA.
Quick List of What to Bring
Casual, but conservative (non-flashy) clothes. Best would be clothes that can be layered for various climates. Jan- April is warm/hot weather here. July- Sept it is a just a bit chill.
walking shoes or walking sandals
cardigan, jacket or shawl not really needed in Jan-April
lightweight sleeping bag or bedsheet/ your favourite pillow
knapsack that can hold your repertory + 3-4 days’ of clothes
toiletries -especially if you have your “favourite” products that you might not find here.
your favourite repertory (unless you want to use our Murphy, Phatak, Kent or Synthesis)
some pastime easy reading
neck pillow for long travel
a simple “dress up” clothes for a chance “in case we go out or meet a VIP”.
rain poncho for Oct-Dec or April-May
No Need To Bring (Or You Can Buy Here)
mosquito net (unless you have one of those “half-nets” for travellers to tent over their heads)
electric or 3-pin adaptors
anything of value - expensive watches, jewelry
Climate & Clothes
Nairobi is below the equator, but on a high plateau. Usually the weather is lovely - slightly cool nights, comfortable warm-hot days. But due to global changes, the rains are becoming more erratic. Weather in Kenya varies from the comfortable plateau areas (Nairobi, Naivasha) to tropical hot (coast, Western) to downright cold in the mountain areas. Be prepared for a little of everything.
It’s a bit chillier in June- Aug (20°C =winter, we’re below the equator). In Kenya, dress conservative, the people expect foreigners to look “standard” - ie not “hippy” or “grunge” or over-exposed body parts, thank you. You’ll need sensible shoes & socks; we do a lot of walking and in rainy seasons (Oct-Dec, Mar-May) it can get quite muddy. You’ll need a warm garment for the chill in the night air. In some mountain villages it’s downright cold, so bring a good sweater. A bit cooler in July- Aug, like long-sleeve t-shirts, a jacket or shawl or light weight blanket. Bring house slippers. You’ll be doing handwashing, so think about NOT bringing a thick fluffy bathtowel or heavy jeans.
Some volunteers have discovered the hard way that clothes that need constant ironing and whites are not the most convenient wearing apparel. Bring a lightweight or mediumweight (“summer/ autumn”) sleeping bag/ or medium blanket & bedsheet. A favorite pillow if you’re fussy about those things.
You’ll need a fair-sized knapsack to carry your share of clothes, books, remedies etc. It’ll be about 12 kg worth of stuff. It should be big enough for all that, but small enough to lug around - on cramped vehicles, on and off buses, etc - without too much hassle.
Some volunteers have discovered the head lamp/torch as a useful item on mobiles and travelling into villages.
Notebooks and Mobiles phones
You can, if you want, bring your notebook computer here to use in our house. At the clinics there will be no electricity. Voltage is 220, and most notebooks’ own adaptors will adapt to that without problems. Check the back of your computer’s adaptor. It should say something like “INPUT: 110 - 240 v”. You may consider bringing a surge protector.
The usual outlet here is the English style square-shaped 3-pin. But plenty of adaptors are available here.
You could, at your own risk, bring a mobile phone and get your sim card here. It’s very useful but there’s no guarantee of its security.
Email is a bit expensive here at the internet cafes. Ksh 1 per minute (about US$ 1/hour). Be prepared, it is also slow. If you have a lot of email traffic, then I suggest that you get a POP3 account that is downloadable into the school computer. Free POP accounts would be at < www.gmail.google.com>. This is the best freebie I’ve found. With a pop account we can download the mail in a minute, at no extra cost to the school's phone bill.
If you don’t have a POP account, then you must use the cafes as it’s too expensive to access the internet for long hours at home.
Over 60% of Nairobi’s 3 million live in poverty in the slums which occupy 5% of the land. Inevitably crime & violence is a concern, no doubt. Be mentally prepared. However, I will also say that your presence as a healer and service volunteer is respected in the slums. We don’t have any problem walking through the slums with regard to our volunteers. I would not invite you here if I thought there was any such danger.
Beware of Pickpockets
Pickpocketing, street theft and mugging are Kenya’s favourite crimes. They are very adept and aggressive. So are con-artists. Don’t bring anything - favorite jewelry, heirlooms, good watches, expensive eyeglasses - that you’ll be sorry to lose. Don’t carry around more than you need for the day. Have an underclothes moneybelt to wear for the times when you do need to carry your money & passport with you. But our house is quite safe, don’t worry over that. Usually you won’t need a moneybelt because you won’t be carrying anything more than the day’s expenses.