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The Oasis ‘Community Centre Mathare

Project Name: The Oasis Community Centre’ Mathare

Code: KVDA/MLTV/2023/04

Location: Mathare Slums, Nairobi City

Service Sector: Education and Community Empowerment

Date 2023.


  • Kenya Voluntary Development Association (KVDA) is an indigenous, non-political and membership organization which is non-sectarian and non-profit making started in 1962 as a work camp organization registered under the Societies’ Act. In 1993, KVDA was registered as a Non-Governmental organization by the establishment of the NGOs Coordination Act.
  • KVDA has since inception hosted over 50, 000 international volunteers to its community service development projects that have left indelible mark to efforts to enhance sustainable development.

Project background

The Oasis ‘Community Centre’ Mathare is a legally registered community-based organization. Established in July 2013, with mission of providing practical solutions to the disadvantaged and marginalized youth and children of the Mathare slum in Nairobi. A safe-space for youth and children, Oasis Mathare offers ICT training, a community library, mentorship opportunities, and early childhood development activities. Oasis Mathare provides relief in ‘the desert of the absence of affordable ICT training service and general youth development opportunities in the slum’. 

The specific objectives of Oasis Mathare are: 

  1. To empower the youth and children of Mathare to take control of their own development through ICT and education 
  2. To give youth the tools they need to champion environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing, and productive livelihoods.
  3. To reduce extreme poverty, crime rates and disease among the youth
  4. To improve the literacy level and reading culture among disadvantaged youth for their personal empowerment. 

Local Context: The Mathare slum, with a population of around 500,000 families, is one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi. Just like any other informal settlement in the world, the Mathare slum is characterized by poor housing structures made of old iron-sheets, inadequate or absent sanitation facilities, large mountains of garbage or solid waste materials, poor infrastructure, lack of proper health facilities, unemployment, high illiteracy levels, and high population density – of which youth constitute 65%. In Mathare, HIV/AIDS has led to high dependence rate and increased number of orphans. Due to a lack of job opportunities, many youth find themselves engaging in major societal vices such as handling and abusing drugs, violence, mugging, commercial sex work, and youth gangs. 

Activities: To address the pressing challenges facing youth and children in the Mathare slums, Oasis Mathare provides the following four main community services: 

  1. Information, Communication and Technology Information and communications technologies (ICT) have the power to change the way people learn, find employment, start businesses and earn productive livelihoods throughout the world. The digital divide, defined by a lack of access to information for a specific population, symbolizes the largest difference between developed and developing countries. The digital divide runs much deeper than hardware and software. The real heart of the digital divide is that those without access to information resources often suffer needlessly while the solutions to their problems are exist beyond their reach. Given the opportunity and access, youth in marginalized communities have the ability to utilize ICT to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. The ICT Center at Oasis Mathare is up and running, and is currently equipped with 15 donated computers. Paying a basic registration fee, community participants can access this center and learn how to use computers to improve their skills, market their talents and promote their businesses. These courses are offered by trained youth facilitators, who also act as coaches and mentors. To date, 500 youth have accessed the ICT Centre and available courses, creating a significant ripple effect in the community as this knowledge is transferred to family members, friends and neighbours. 
  1. Library Oasis Mathare provides students with a safe, quiet environment where they can study and access a library stocked with relevant resources. Children in the Mathare slum possess the same talents, creativity and capacities of other children, but are prevented from excelling academically due to challenges at home or high school fees. Most family’s lives in a 5 by 7 meters house which makes student difficult to study at and by providing students with this study space, they can improve their academic performance and keep-up with their classmates while they are out of school. Our small library serves a minimum of 45 children per day. 
  1. Mentorship The youth and children in the Mathare slum are greatly talents in performing arts, creative art and sports, but they do not have access to people who can challenge, encourage, mentor and help them develop these talents. At the Oasis Mathare, we use a peer-to-peer mentorship process that helps youth and children to use their talents to earn sustainable livelihoods. The Oasis Mathare also provides a space for youth and children to showcase their talents to the community.  
  2. Early Childhood Development A key feature of slum dwellings is the absence of open play spaces for small children. As a solution, the Oasis Mathare provides space where children are able to come and play with toys for free. An additional benefit is that as they play, they are encouraged by the older children and youth that surround them to read, develop their talents and use technology.  We have witnessed great improvement in the performance of students who come to Oasis Mathare. Using time with the computers as a reward, students must complete all their school assignments first. This approach has been very effective as students who frequent Oasis Mathare are ranked within the top 5 positions of their classes – a great improvement from the previous school term. In addition to the four main services provided, the Centre also provides young people with learning on sexual and reproductive health rights, rescue services to abused children and girls, and training in youth leadership and entrepreneurship.  

Volunteer tasks

  • Social work at the center
  • Information Communication and Technology education
  • Early childhood education 
  • Mentorship
  • Submit Project Report to KVDA


  • Volunteers are accepted to join this project at any time of the year and should arrive in Kenya on 20th day of the month. 
  • The duration of placement is flexible depending on the availability of the volunteer
  • 2-day orientation seminar will be done on the 21st and 22nd of every month 

Financial contribution

  • The project participation fee is Euro 200 per month paid upfront on arrival to the cover costs stipulated the entire duration of the project. 
  • Monthly payment of participation fees is not allowed for conventional purposes. 
  • Volunteers accepted on MLTV project for one month will pay Euros 300 for the one month placement.

What is included in the participation fee?

  • Return transfers from the airport
  • Full board at the project (Accommodation and meals provided at the project)
  • Orientation, evaluation and monitoring
  • Volunteer mentorship

What is not included in the participation fee?

  • Travel to and from the project. The volunteer will be required to pay for the bus tickets
  • Refreshments outside the project
  • Air ticket and excursion
  • Visa and Insurance 
  • Local travel 
  • personal effects


  • Home stay and the volunteer is entitled to private room but will share other amenities and meals with the host family.
  •  It is convenient for the volunteer to carry sleeping bag, mat and personal effects.
  •  KVDA has a memorandum of understanding with the host project regarding the project costs with appropriate procedures, checks and balances


  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi is the port of arrival and KVDA will designate a driver for the airport pick up. 
  • We strongly advice volunteers against getting taxis on their own without reference to KVDA due to the obvious risks and in case of any challenges on arrival kindly contact KVDA via mobile telephone 0721650357


  • Volunteers will be driven to the YMCA South hostels located 15 Kilometers away from the airport where they will be accommodated ahead of their placement to the project. 
  • The residence is situated in the serene environment with amble space for recreation and spectacular setting as the inauguration of volunteering to make a difference in the world.

Leisure time

  • Kenya is replete with a lot of interesting and natural spectacular sites of interest that would capture the imagination of volunteers. From the tour to the renowned Maasai Mara Game Reserve to visits to local community beholding sights, the volunteers have the previledge to make choices that would fundamentally make the difference. 
  • The project also offers a perfect opportunity for people who enjoy being close to nature and are interested in the spectacular setting that traditional way of living in the heartland of the African culture would enrich your cultural heritage

Laundry and water:

  • Water is available at the hosting house from springs and it is important to preserve water at all times due to its scarcity and cooperation with the hosts will be highly appreciated
  • There are no washing machines in the institution and the volunteer will be guided on how to wash clothes


  • Volunteers are expected to have their own medical insurance and other personal expenses and it is important to carry your own medical and travel insurances.


  • Mentor for the volunteer from the hosting organisation: KVDA will designate its staff to play the role of mentoring and this is the vital link between the volunteer and the organization. The Mentor has the responsibility to enable the volunteer to efficiently execute their tasks with diligence.
  • Function of mentor: advise, educate, be a role model to the volunteers; providing problem solving, collaborative support, positive and non-evaluative feedback and emotional support for volunteers; to provide comfort, exposure, visibility and challenging assignments which directly support the volunteer’s personal and professional development; to provide counselling and friendship to support the volunteer’s self-image and competence and thus to listen, guide, advice, teach and offer professional support to the volunteers 
  • The mentor will be available for the volunteer as a constant supporting person. However, he/she should not be directly involved in the daily work of the volunteer.
  • Mentor’s Experience with international volunteers: More than 3 years’ experience with international volunteers

Project participants: Maximum 10 volunteers from different nationalities recruited through KVDA partner organizations

What to carry: This is outlined in the detailed info sheet and includes, sleeping bag and mat, toiletries, torch, flashlight, sandals, mosquito net, national flag from your country, among others

DONATION AND GIFTS: These are usually symbolic gestures to enhance the solidarity of volunteers and the hosting community. Kindly contact KVDA for details in case you are willing to support a worthy cause in the community either by offering a donation or long-term intervention on the project.

APPLICATIONS: Should be done at least one month in advance through KVDA partner organization respective countries. KVDA does not accept direct applications by volunteers

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