|Africa Mission Services
Volunteer Community Development Program
Africa Mission Services is an international, non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Nairobi, Kenya. Our mission is to assist rural, underdeveloped communities within Africa to improve their quality of life physically, mentally and morally while providing short-term volunteers with hands-on experience in humanitarian service. Since 1999, AMS has targeted the Maasai population in the Great Rift Valley. AMS’s base of operation borders the western half of Masai Mara National Reserve in the Trans Mara District. This southwestern part of Kenya is populated by Maasai communities eager to partner with development organizations in their struggle to establish basic health care, primary education, sanitary living conditions and moral development.
Over the last seven years, AMS’ Volunteer Community Development Program (AMS-VCDP) has provided an opportunity for volunteers to contribute to Maasai community projects by raising donations and participating in various development activities. Because AMS has infrastructure, a first hand knowledge of community needs, and experience with the various dynamics that often complicate development efforts, AMS has been able to select appropriate projects, secure community approval and provide infrastructure and management for volunteers. Since its inception, hundreds of medical personnel, professional educators, businessmen, tradesmen and students have volunteered their time with AMS-VCDP and made a significant difference in the lives of people facing challenging circumstances. This opportunity has proven as much a blessing to the volunteers as to the Maasai community, giving them an opportunity to make friends amongst the Maasai and to experience first hand the satisfaction that comes from lending a hand to those less privileged.
AMS operates its community development program out of Mara West Camp, which is located on the edge of the Oloololo Escarpment and overlooks a vast savannah below dotted with elephant, giraffe, cape buffalo and countless other wildlife. This incredible setting is home to AMS staff and is where volunteers are accommodated throughout their stay. Development trips typically consist of 7 – 10 days of community service and 2 days of safaris into Masai Mara, but AMS works closely with individual groups to customize their time in Kenya to suit varying needs.
Accommodations consist of roomy canvas tents, each with 2 comfortable twin beds and bedding. The camp also has 2 full bathroom complexes (ladies & gents) with flush toilets and hot showers, as-well-as a spacious lodge where delicious meals are served three times a day and volunteers can enjoy relaxing on the open deck around a campfire.
Groups may choose to combine these accommodations with Mara West’s six luxury tented cottages, fully furnished with two queen beds each. Full bathroom facilities are ensuite with flush toilets and large spacious showers and hot water. A wide front verandah overlooks Masai Mara’s vast plains below, providing spectacular views of the sunrise and glimpses of giraffe, elephant, gazelles, impalas and wildebeest as they roam the plains.
Volunteers that partner with AMS must provide financial support for Maasai development projects in the Trans Mara area. Schools, clinics, and churches are built and maintained because volunteers fund-raise and provide inputs for these projects
This Group Development package is custom designed for volunteer groups who wish to target a specific development project, such as a school, church, or clinic, or an educational series or a combination of projects (building / children’s program / clinical services). In order to facilitate these development projects the development group must communicate with AMS to determine the necessary fees for the desired project.
Development Fees provide the funding for the necessary community groundwork, site preparations, building materials and/or team support, and daily transport to and from activities. Fees may also cover cost of medical supplies for clinics or materials for education, depending on the type of project selected by the volunteer group.
AMS will work with the group to determine the exact nature and location of the project(s) and the amount of funding needed to cover the various expenses. Development fees for building projects range from $25,000 to $40,000 and educational/clinical trips range in cost from $10,000 to $30,000. These fees and the type of project to be completed vary according to length of trip and number of participants. These fees are in addition to camp fees which cover accommodations, food, and safaris.
Mara West Camp with AMS offers volunteer mission rates January through June. From July to October and in December, Mara West Camp operates for business to raise revenue to support the costs of operational overhead. AMS occasionally hosts smaller volunteer groups during this time, depending on the scheduled bookings within the camp.
Please contact AMS with your details (approximate size of group, potential dates, and project interest) for current development fees and schedule of availability.
This plan is recommended for groups who wish to involve a team of volunteers (15-40 persons) in a meaningful experience and who are in a position to fund raise for the collective group. For small groups or individuals interested in combining some development work with a safari please contact us for available safari packages with development options.
All pricing plans will be arranged on an individual basis, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Kenya Entry Visa
Entry visas can be obtained by American Citizens via mail through local Kenyan Embassies in the USA or at the airport upon arrival in Nairobi. If purchasing entry visas in Nairobi, be sure to have new $50 bills (minted after 1999) for payment.
Location and Transport
Mara West is located on the Oloololo Escarpment overlooking the stunning views of the park below, Mara West Camp borders the remote and beautiful western edge of Masai Mara National Reserve. You can access the camp by air from Nairobi Wilson Airport with Safari Link, Air Kenya, or private charter to Kichwa Tembo’s airstrip. The flight is approximately 45 minutes.
Mara West is reachable by road with appropriate vehicles, the trip can last from 6-9 hours depending on weather and road conditions. AMS will assist groups in arranging transport to and from Mara West Camp.
Recently named one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Masai Mara is 1500 sq. miles of savannah abounding with wildlife. Traditionally the land of Maasai people, the Reserve is the northern-most tip of the Serengetti, extending over the border of Tanzania into Kenya. Masai Mara is most famous for the natural phenomenon known as The Migration from July to Oct. AMS will arrange with volunteers to have safaris into the Masai Mara and does its best to ensure up-close and personal experiences that are unforgettable. Most volunteers find 2 days in Masai Mara is sufficient to see a wide variety of wildlife and get some fantastic pictures. AMS offers a variety of safari options and will work with the group to arrange safaris etc.
The elevation of your travels is between three and seven thousand feet and most often the temperatures range between 75 to 85 degrees during the day and between 50 to 65 degrees during the evenings and night. Rainy season is typically anytime between October – December and March – June.
Safety and Medical:
--Malaria is a serious disease that can be fatal if not treated properly. It is not common to find malaria in the area of the Trans Mara where the AMS camp is situated, and to date we have not had any problems with mission groups contracting it. But it is a possibility that should be taken seriously. Talk with a doctor several months before your trip and make arrangements to begin a malaria prophylactic a month before you travel. You will take this prophylactic during your time in Africa and a couple of weeks after you return to the States. Also ask your doctor for a malaria treatment that you can take if you in fact do become sick with malaria while on the prophylactic.
--Yellow Fever is the only vaccine that is legally required for entry into Kenya. The requirement is not enforced if you are flying into Kenya from a country where the disease is not endemic (such as USA). It is stated that yellow fever is an endemic in Kenya, please speak with your medical professional for details.
--Animals are a potential danger in the Masai Mara area bordering Mara West Camp. Precautions are taken at the camp for each clients safety, however guests are advised to use cautious behavior at all times. Liability waivers must be signed by all guests.