Our ResponsibilitiesThere are some responsibilities that we, the Kaya team, commit to, to ensure we provide the most ethical, responsible and successful programs, keep our participants safe and honour our mission. Learn more about these here.
Our participants’ safety is our number one priority. With every new adventure comes the excitement of facing the new and unknown, and while in the real world we cannot remove all the risks, we can make sure that the placements we offer are assessed for safety, and the risks identified and minimized.
- At a country level, we track government travel websites, such as the British FCO and the US state department travel advisories, keeping on top of any travel warnings and sharing these with our participants.
- At a local level, our in-country teams provide thorough orientations for new arrivals to identify potential risks and how to avoid them – including how to be safe of the roads, looking after your possessions and what the safe and not-so-safe places are in a city or region. Our local team provide 24/7 emergency support in case something unexpected happens, so you always have someone nearby to help. We also have emergency procedures in place for every eventuality. Our homestay families are pre-vetted and also assessed by every departing participant, to ensure they provide a safe environment. Other accommodation is evaluated for any potential hazard.
- At a project level, risk assessments are carried out and participants are provided with training on the activities they are asked to participate in.
While we cannot avoid every possible hazard, Kaya programs have a great safety record as a result of our attention to health and safety. Programs accepting younger volunteers (under 18) have an increased level of support, but we also provide a lot of freedom to our participants to explore and enjoy immersion in local culture. With our thorough orientation processes, we can provide this freedom, assured that our participants know the best way to avoid any issues.
Providing volunteer support
We believe that to be the most impactful volunteer, it is important to match the right people to the right project. With the right skills and interests for the job, volunteers can contribute so much more and become so much more passionate and engaged in the work they are doing. Our Kaya placement advisors work to provide the best advice to each participant to ensure that they chose a program that makes the most of those skills and interests. We interview every participant to check that expectations are realistic and give an opportunity to discuss any concerns before their program begins.
- All Kaya team members are international travellers who have participated on volunteering programs abroad, so they can share their personal experience, as well as their professional knowledge as we help travellers prepare for their trip.
- Our pre-departure materials help participants prepare for their program, and advisors support them throughout the process, providing advice on everything from booking flights to arranging visas.
- On the ground, our team of in-country coordinators are there to ensure everything goes smoothly on arrival – from airport pick up to accommodation, orientation to commencing your work. The team provide 24/7 emergency contact on the ground throughout your program, so you remain supported throughout your visit.
- We believe that Kaya volunteers are the best supported volunteers – and as a result we find they become the best volunteers themselves, as they navigate their experience in safe hands.
Promoting sustainable projects
At Kaya, we carefully select and evaluate every program with which we work to ensure that all our projects are contributing to long-term benefits. Our project model means that we only commit to projects where there is a genuine need for the physical assistance of a volunteer, not just financial support, so every volunteer is welcomed and is useful. We help to shape these initiatives which in the long run do not encourage dependence on aid, but instead establish foundations upon which the people of that country can build and develop themselves. And we ensure that the members of those communities are open and eager to learn and discover our culture as we become a part of theirs.
Kaya work in partnership with local organisations, charities, NGOs, municipalities and community groups who have identified and are working to address a local issue. Through this program model, we support initiatives that are locally developed and led, rather than building programs of our own that don’t originate from within the community. Not only does this enable Kaya participants to contribute to issues that are genuinely important to the people we work with, but it also ensures that solutions are culturally acceptable and welcomed by the wider community. Furthermore, the involvement and commitment of the local leaders we support ensures that projects are being worked upon on an ongoing basis, not just when volunteers participate in a program. This means that in the advent of travel problems, political instability or decline in the popularity of a location, that a project is able to continue in its mission even when there are fewer or no international volunteers.
At the heart of our approach is the philosophy that Kaya programs support our host communities to improve their futures, not just benefit whilst volunteers are there.
Impact of our projects
Projects we work with are carefully selected to ensure there is a genuine need for volunteer assistance and that the type of volunteer that can carry out the specific work is well defined. In this way, we can ensure that every participant is needed and can have a genuine impact on their project. Programs are evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that we continue our impact on an ongoing basis and gathering your feedback at the end of your program is important for us to see that participants can recognize their role in making that impact.
You can find many organisations and projects by searching directly on the Internet. However, many people unwittingly fall for scams and find their placements aren’t genuine on arrival or that involve hidden costs. At Kaya, we work with trusted partners on genuine, sustainable projects that have been vetted. We continually check that the projects are on track and make site visits (but not extensively to avoid incurring huge international travel bills). Ensuring that the quality and safety of placements is what our volunteers are looking for, and it takes time and money but it is worth the investment.
Supporting a volunteer and ensuring that we are working with quality placements that meet international ethical standards takes time and resource. We advertise on a range of websites, visit fairs and provide an online chat service on our website meaning that you have access to a whole range of information and opportunities to find out more about the placements on offer. We also have an experienced volunteering placement support team who have all volunteered internationally themselves, and therefore know the issues and questions that it is important for you to ask. This ensures that you are prepared for the best placements for you, as well as being a great match for our projects.
Within the field of development and in international volunteering, there are many questions and issues relating to the costs and finances involved in a program. At Kaya, we seek to provide as much information and engage in as many conversations as possible to ensure participants can identify where their fees are going.
It is not always possible to provide an exact breakdown on costs for each individual placement. Factors such as the number of participants at any point in time, fluctuating currency exchanges, and the length of your stay can affect the same placement from one month to the next. Between countries, different costs of living affect costs on the ground and between projects, different running costs affect the amount provided directly to project being worked on. At Kaya we strike a balance between ensuring fair and honest support of our projects and communities, and committing enough time and attention to matching people with the right project, while keeping program costs down enough to enable people to participate. What we are able to do, is look at how, over the course of a year, the costs break down on an average 6-week placement. With this you can see how overall money is spent.
In-country participant expenses: 31%
In-country expenses are costs that are for services and provide incomes for local families and communities. Specific costs include accommodation in a homestay, volunteer house or other lodging, at least 2 meals per day for nearly all placements and 3 in others, orientation including cultural and health and safety awareness training and child protection at most sites, airport transfers and project transfers for some placements. You will need to refer to the “what’s included” section on your project to establish what is included on your project.
Project Donations: 17%
Project donations are included for all of our placements. These fees can include the costs of running the project, buying materials, acquiring resources, staff costs, feeding beneficiaries (wildlife or human) etc. and they vary from project to project, location to location. Each project placement is unique. Conservation placements generally have higher donation fees than community placements, but manpower and skills sharing provide an equally important role as the extra funds.
Project and Placement Management: 22%
Project management refers to establishing and maintaining our project relationships, and then determining the suitability of a placement for a range of volunteers. All of Kaya’s projects are identified and evaluated by in-country staff before being offered as a placement. This guarantees that a volunteer will be working on genuine projects that are in need of volunteer support with a specific mission that is being worked towards. Once identified, ground staff work with the project leaders to ensure up to date information can be provided to enquiries, then reviewing each incoming volunteer to ensure they are suitably placed, pre-prepared and ready to be received. Feedback and ongoing monitoring of these projects then ensures we offer continued support to only the best-run projects that can benefit from your help.
Volunteer Management: 15%
Volunteer management is essential in supporting volunteers with their project selection through to feedback after their placement. In-country staff is responsible for taking care of volunteers before and during their placement and are on hand for any emergencies that arise. The international team manage volunteer queries, before during and after their placement to the volunteer and often to their families, especially for our younger volunteers.
Our projects and our operations rely on a steady flow of volunteers to our destinations. In order to recruit hundreds of volunteers each year, we have to reach out and speak to thousands of potential participants. The set up and maintenance of our website, brochures and preparation materials ensure you always have access to the most current information you need to choose and prepare for a project. Kaya places online advertisements, attends trade and university fairs, and also offers an online chat function. Alongside tradeshow materials and a small budget for highly efficient advertising, these administrational costs are all essential to securing vital support for the projects worldwide on an ongoing basis.
Admin covers operational costs such as bank fees, insurance, tax, staff training and corporate management services that enable Kaya to run.
When promoting our programs and recruiting volunteers, we are highly aware of the balance we strike between getting people excited about the prospect of participating in a program and ensuring that we provide a well-rounded and realistic idea of what you are getting involved in. The desire to volunteer and make a difference is a great place to start, but to ensure that you don’t end up in your own worst nightmare, it is best to come into the process with open eyes. Volunteering can be challenging, in many different ways, and whichever program you choose to get involved with, it will certainly not be a beach holiday. The challenges of working as a volunteer are part of what makes it such a great experience, but if you’re not ready for those, then they can ruin your trip and prevent you achieving what you set out to do in the first place. Kaya placement advisors will always provide honest answers to your questions and present the most accurate picture of your program, recognising that on the ground, things can change in the run up to, or during your program. Images presented in our materials are genuinely taken on site, but again recognizing that in some locations we are not allowed to photograph vulnerable individuals who we assist. We welcome all participant photographs and videos to share with future participants.