Volunteer in Kenya and Zambia

1. Kenya
2. Zambia


1a) The country Kenya (Eastafrica)

Kenya is blessed with a large variety of landscapes. Breathtaking mountains with snowcovered peaks, savannahs, deserts, a striup of rainforest and a coast with kilometers and kilometers of coral reefs and palm enskirted beeches. The people are freindly, open minded and always ready for a chat. Children and street vendors may be a nuisance sometimes but using some Kisuaheli changes them from noisy and gesticulating sellers into appreciating interlocutors.



Photo: Landscape at our place of work (Kagundu-ini) showing the snowcovered Mt. Kenya in the background

The wildlife of Kenya corresponds to the expectations from various TV-films. Kenya could be a paradise, if it would not be for the " typically African " illnesses: nepotism, corruption and an elite, that plays the "ethnic card" when problems arise, i.e. inciting the different tribes against one another.

The coffee-price is continuously low since the 80ties. The smallholders do not make any profit out of it, but are not allowed to uproot the trees or grow vegetables underneath. Overproduction, for which Kenya however doesn't carry the main responsibility, is not reduced.

Friends of ours, also former development-workers from the Kenya of the 80er years, visited the country in 2004 and experienced an increased self-confidence of the Kenyans. This encourages hopes that the corrupt elites will be confronted by the people who will solve their problems.
Diverse projects can promote this process.

In 2011 we re-visited neighbours and friends and spent a three weeks holiday in Kenya. We also visited the Youthth Polytechnic in Kagundu-ini. A report of our(very positive) experience can be read or downloaded here (pdf, 700 kB) >>

1b) The development cooperation project in Kenya

My wife Renate, our small daughter Lena (at that time 4 years old) and I lived among the small coffee-farmers at the slopes of the Abadares, a mountainous-hilly region populated in so-called dispersed settlement. Because we stayed at a height of above 1400 m, we had no problems with malaria. How Lena felt living in an African country, see Lena in Africa.

From 1983 to 1986, I worked at the Youth Polytechnic in Kagundu-ini, where drop-outs are trained in various trades. In two-year courses, covering theory and practice, metal workeing, plumbing, masonry, carpentery, home ecomics, dressmaking and tailoring were offered. My tasks were to advice the manager to assist in the metalwork training, to train the trainers in methodology and also to teach business education, in order to orient, assists and advice our students also on a self-employed future, because the possibilities to find work in the region were very restricted.


Photo: workgroup No. 3 in front of their business

Out of five "work-groups", which were established, only one remained: But this one being a real success story. The loan is repaid within a short period, customer and product variety are steadily increased. The two-man enterprise managed to etablished a well known business in that market place near by Kagundu-ini.

The situation of the training centre itself is unfortunately getting worse since the support of the GDS has ended. In 1999 a teacher wrote to me, that there was an increased competition from private training offers (local fundis offer a training on the job - however with only little theory). May be a cooperation could be a solution?.

How we experienced the Youthth Polytechnic during our visit in 2011 can be read in our already above mentioned report (pdf, 700 kB): >>



2a) The country Zambia (southern Afrika)

Zambia is placed mainly on a high plateau of ca. 1000 m: savannah without end. This monotony is only ridged by the mighty Zambezi and her tributaries. The Victoria fall belongs to the most spectacular phenomenon of nature in the world.

The people are friendly, open minded, always ready for a chat. The belief in witchcraft seems to be deeper rooted than in other black African countries.



Photograph: Before nightdrive in Lunangwa valley (1993)

We'll never forget the "walking safaris" guarded by an armed ranger and especially the nightdrives in the Zambian game reserves. Under a clear star studded sky we followed the predators' stalk this way and that in an open four wheel drive and could witnes the kill just some few meters away.

Zambia profited from high copper prices during the world wars. The country prospered. Zambia has the highest degree of urbanisation in black Africa. The various tribes live together peacefully. But with the collapse of the prices also the economy went down. The people of Zambia had the selfconfidence to replace the socialistic system in free elections. Kaunda gave way, and Frederick Chiluba, the so called "Walesa of Africa", was elected in a land slide victory. Since then things move slowly and painfully but somehow to the better.

This in many ways imperfect democratic experiment needs a great number and manyfold projects and supports.

2b) The development cooperation project in Zambia

My wife Renate, daughter Lena (then 12 years old) and me stayed in Luanshya, a small town in the Copperbelt. Malaria is a problem here.
From 1991 until 1995 headed and assisted the metalwork department at the school for continuing education. These schools offer beside the opportunity to repeat the O-level exams also the chance to get a vocational training.


Photo: My Counterpart Kephas Kangwa tests a water pump built by students (1994)

In the metalwork department we produced also various products for sale and were thus able to meet the running costs. The biggest problem was to procure material. However things improved as the socialistic system was overcome. Main focus was to train our students in a way that afterwards they could get a job in the small and medium sized industry in the Copperbelt. But as jobs were scarce we also offered the opportunity to become self-employed by means of teaching business education, offering advice and establishing a small loan scheme.

After two years I handed over the hod to my local counterpart, a capable and sympathetic colleague. In 1999 he was offered a teacher's job in Botswana, with a considerably better salary . Since then the metal department is lingering again.

Last updated 14 December 2011


  • Work-group of former development workers >>
  • Results of the work-group >>
  • Development cooperation pojects in Kenya and Zambia >>
  • How does a child experience life with development workers >>
  • Slide show 'child of volunteers' >>
  • Experiences of an accompanying spouse >>
  • Sailing for Zambia >>