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Everything You Need To Know About The Pandemic & Kaya Programs

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in challenging times across the globe. The situation continues to evolve with changing border restrictions, vaccine roll-outs and the impact of different variants. At Kaya we are working to navigate a path that reduce the risks involved as we return to responsible travel.

 To support our eager travellers in moving forward with their plans during this time of uncertainty, we want to give you the confidence to start planning and selecting your global volunteer, international internship, or study abroad placement. 

Many of of our locations are now back in operation and hosting participants, with some new protocols to reduce the risks for our participants and communities. You can find out more about our project re-opening process here.

We are still very much here, ready to connect with you, and to discuss your perfect location and program. You can book your placement in 2021 and beyond, and pay only our application fee of GBP £75 / USD $95 until we can agree and confirm dates for your future placement. Only then will your commitment fee of GBP £200 / USD $250 be required to guarantee your spot on the program.

How will this work?

  • Browse our programs online or contact a Kaya Placement Advisor to discuss the programs you are interested in joining
  • Conduct a placement interview in which we discuss your program options, our approach to volunteering, service, internship and community engagement work
  • Complete your application, selecting your ideal program, pay your application fee of GBP £75 / USD $95 and give us an idea of when you may want to travel
  • Once we confirm that your country is open for your travel and our program is ready to receive you, we will contact you to discuss potential dates for your program
  • If, at that time, we can confirm your dates and placement ONLY THEN will we request a commitment payment of GBP £150 / USD $250 (or full program payment if you plan to travel in the following 60 days)
  • You have up to 60 days to make any changes to your dates if needed.

Kaya to require vaccinations for all participants.

In alignment with our mission of responsible travel, the Kaya team has made the decision to implement a vaccine mandate for all future program participants.

As vaccinations become available and accessible for most people aged 15+ years, we believe that this decision will have benefits for both our host communities and our participants in the following ways:

  • For the protection of our participants:
    • The WHO has issued evidence that vaccines reduce the risk of participants catching Covid and, in breakthrough cases where vaccinated individuals do test positive, that those individuals are less likely to suffer severe symptoms that result in hospitalization or death. 
    • Vaccinated individuals with breakthrough positive cases are believed to carry lower case-loads of the virus, reducing their ability to spread the disease to other participants in their program.
  • For the protection of our communities:
    • As vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract Covid, and, where they do, have reduced transmissions, there is a lower likelihood of them bringing the virus to the communities within which we work.
    • By assuring local communities that all our participants are fully vaccinated, we demonstrate respect and provide peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to protect them during our visit.
    • We avoid undermining local vaccination efforts by demonstrating that we support the use of the vaccine to combat the Covid epidemic in locations where we have had access to the vaccine.
    • In considering program staff as members of the local community, vaccines also provide additional protection, to avoid staff exposure to Covid.
  • For the efficient management of itineraries:
    • Many countries are now imposing different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. These can include denial of entry, additional quarantines on entry or additional tests on arrival to the country for unvaccinated individuals. They can also require proof of vaccinations be provided for entry to museums, restaurants, attractions and even certain accommodations. As these restrictions can be imposed at short notice in any location, the mandate for a vaccine enables us to plan your program with greater access and less interruption to plans, while also avoiding the additional costs incurred by participants in complying with these extra requirements.
    • In providing protections for program staff, we avoid disruptions caused by staff sickness and absences.

It is important to note that these measures will NOT REPLACE any Covid protocols we have implemented, including testing prior to travel, reduced number of indoor activities, limited community exposure in the first week after arrival, social distancing, use of masks and sanitation protocols. We are aware that vaccinations are just one way in which we can reduce the risk of infection and spread, and this is intended as an additional precaution to ensure we are minimizing the risk of exposure to all. 

Participants will be asked to scan and upload a copy of their proof of vaccination, as part of our pre-departure documentation. It is important to note that some host countries are implementing blood testing to check for vaccine antigens additionally. We are aware of the existence of fraudulent (fake) proof of vaccination and want to remind participants that faking government documents is considered a crime and can result in arrest and imprisonment at home or abroad.

We recognize that some individuals may not be vaccinated due to medical conditions. At this time, we have agreed that the medical positions that influence these situations are also likely to increase the risk of serious illness for those individuals. As a result, we will not be making an exception on medical grounds and recommend that, while incidents of Covid remain high globally, that these individuals postpone participation in all travel programs for their own protection. 

We also acknowledge that some individuals may decline certain vaccinations based on religious beliefs. Because we have to prioritize the safety of our hosts and communities, and because itineraries for non-vaccinated individuals are so restrictive, we are also not able to make exceptions for this or any other reason, in order to maintain the safety and integrity of our programs.

If you have any concerns about Kaya’s vaccine requirements, please reach out to a Kaya advisor to discuss your situation.

As experts in travel, we also want to keep you updated on what we know – and what we don’t. Here are the questions we CAN confidently answer.

Is Kaya Responsible Travel taking bookings right now?

Yes! We certainly are. Whilst many travel restrictions and project closure currently apply, there are already a lot of options available. And if you can’t travel now that DOESN’T mean that you can’t start planning for when you CAN get away. And after being cooped up, and seeing many communities struggle in the absence of visitors, goodness knows that we’re going to need it! Ask your Kaya placement advisor for more details on the status of your program of interest.

If I book now, is it refundable?

From a Kaya perspective, your application fee of GBP £75 / USD $95 is the only fee you are required to pay upfront.  You will only be required to pay your commitment fee when we know for sure your placement location is able to welcome you. 

In light of the current climate regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have put together some information on flights and insurance here.

Is it wise to be booking now?

Absolutely. If you are booking, and planning for the future, it means that you are using this time to do all your research whilst stuck at home. You are ensuring you book your placement at the lowest price if fees increase for 2022, and you are giving yourself something to look forward to.

In addition, if you are choosing one of our more popular placements, you will be given first refusal on any placement once travel returns to normal and placements fill up.

Furthermore, you can give hope to the project at your destination that support will return for them, and that there are people who still want to support global issues, just as soon as they can make it there!

What can I book for now?

Anything! All of our destinations have ongoing work, but some are currently limited by our inability to travel to them. Many locations are already open and hosting participants currently.For those projects and countries that are still closed, once it is safe and feasible to return, our project teams look forward to welcoming back the eager volunteers and interns.

At this time border restrictions vary by destination and by the location where you are travelling from, and outbound travel to certain destinations has been  restricted by the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and other locations. Ask a Kaya advisor for specifics for your chosen destination. Some countries will return to normal before others, and we will keep abreast of the situations domestically, and at our Kaya locations. In the meantime, all programs and locations are open for future bookings in 2021 and 2022.

What happens if things change while I am abroad?

During the breakout of the pandemic, many Kaya participants were already abroad when rules and regulations changed. ALL of our participants have shared with us their stories of how supportive our ground teams have been, and how quickly they were able to get them home, or adapt their situations where necessary. We hope that our future participants will see a reduction in disruption, but we know that our emergency protocols have been tested, and they work! 

What happens if I have already booked my program and now am unable to travel?

This is where booking your travel insurance as early as possible comes in handy. We highly recommend looking at the “Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) and Interruption For Any Reason (IFAR) Insurance”. You may read more about it here.

Here are the questions we CAN’T answer for now!

When will all travel restrictions end?

The truth is that right now, nobody knows. Every country has implemented different restrictions, and it may take many more months for a more consistent approach worldwide. All we can do is remain flexible and ready for when things finally settle down. Rest assured, we are keeping a very close eye on any updates, and will be very happy when we can finally answer this question.

Will I need extra visas?

The answer to this changes daily at the moment. Our team of advisors is able to advise you on those locations that are reopen, but we are still unsure of what new visa might be implement when, so all we can do is keep you inform as our ground team is keeping a close eye on the situation.

How can I protect myself with regards to flights, insurance, etc.?

Currently, travel and medical insurances are available as usual, HOWEVER, since March 11th, when the global pandemic was officially announced, insurance companies are identifying Covid-19 as a “known risk” and are not insuring against medical or travel incidents related to this. A new product has been developed by insurance companies to include “known risk”, we advise you to read more on that subject at the following link.

In the meantime, airlines are operating very flexible arrangements for new bookings, so if you do decide to make a flight booking, or have a current flight booking you need to change, call the airline and discuss their policies. If you are considering insurance, ask specifically for their terms related to Coronavirus coverage.

The Kaya team remains connected with our communities during these difficult times and wish for the best possible outcomes and a swift return to normality to all countries around the world. We hope you will join us in preparing for what we can do when that time comes.

We have released our Kaya Statement here for further reading on updated T&Cs, and we continue to update our Coronavirus (COVID-19) blog regularly, found here.

Speak to a Kaya advisor today using the Chat now button in the bottom right or email us here.