East Africa

Youth In Action

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East Africa

Youth In Action

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  • Live and work with the Young County Change Makers, a politically and socially conscious youth-led organization in western Kenya.
  • Sit fireside while sipping chai with families during our village homestays at the base of Mount Meru.
  • Bring lessons from our partners in Kenya and help run leadership workshops with a local NGO in Tanzania, the home-country of Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • Cycle through Hell’s Gate National Park, checking out giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest on a different kind of safari!
Program Dates


May 27 – July 5

July 15 – August 23 



To Be Announced


Program Fee



Community Contribution



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Sample Itinerary

After getting picked up at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we will have an in-country orientation in Nairobi. We’ll acclimatize to life in East Africa, trying local cuisine, picking up some basic Swahili (the local language), and acquainting ourselves with the city. We will learn about various groups in the informal settlements of Mathare and Kibera, some of the largest on the continent. We’ll also meet our friends at Maasai Mbili, an internationally recognized artist cooperative in Kibera that is inspiring youth for change through art. It’s an intense but incredible introduction to the fast-paced life that is metropolitan Africa!

An Alternative Safari – Hell’s Gate National Park & Lake Naivasha
Our team will head north to Lake Naivasha for a few days of fresh air, camping beneath the star-filled night sky, and falling asleep to the grunts of nearby hippos (for real!) We then take a different kind of safari as we bike through the savannah and trek through Hells Gate National Park, looking out for giraffes and zebras and take in the breathtaking cliffs. There may be one or two you recognize!

Youth Leadership – Kisumu, Kenya
On to one of our favourite spots in East Africa,we hop an overnight bus to Kisumu! A bustling urban centre on the coast of Lake Victoria, it’s famous for its omena (little fishes) and sunsets at Hippo Point. While we get comfortable riding tuk tuks and piki pikis, we’ll also connect with our Kenyan counterparts, the Young County Change Makers. YCCM is a community-based organization working on a variety of youth outreach programs in the informal settlement of Nyalenda. With programs focused on gender rights, education and entrepreneurship, and conflict resolution, YCCM aims to educate and empower local youth. Last year, we worked on establishing a community library as well as facilitating debates and discussions in local schools! We will continue to assist in the development of these programs while also dipping our hands in new projects.


With hard work comes play, so get ready to spend some time with the students at YCCM and the communities they work with, taking a day on the lakeside, eating the best fresh-caught tilapia on earth, and sailing on Lake Victoria!

Homestays in Rural Tanzania
After our stint in urban Kenya, we head to a village in northern Tanzania. After covering 600km/375 mi, we’ll settle into homestays in the village of Ngongongare in the foothills of Mount Meru. We will work with Jifundishe, a local non-governmental organization running youth empowerment and leadership workshops. We’ll be on the edge of the Arusha National Park, with some great hiking spots! Another bonus? This area is safari-central, so don’t be surprised at the giraffe and elephant sightings on our way into town!

Independent Travel Time
A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, you are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for yourself. Team members are given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice or safety concerns.


ITT is the ideal time for you to learn more about your specific interest, whether it be volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing. You may choose to visit Zanzibar or Dar Es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania, climb the epic Mount Kilimanjaro, or see wildlife while traveling through the Maasai Mara lands. This will be an opportunity to use the knowledge and skills acquired over the past month to navigate East Africa on your own or in small groups.

Disorientation – Pangani Beach
Our group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. Following ITT, we will meet up on the Tanzanian coast in Pangani, where its namesake river meets the Indian Ocean! On these beautiful beaches we will re-live memories of the program and our experiences together, discuss how to stay connected, and collaborate on projects in the future. Then off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes!

What’s Included?


A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region


All lodging and accommodations throughout the program


Three local meals a day


All group transportation on the ground


All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions


Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day


Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience


Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Climb the epic peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • Learn about the realities of genocide in the misty hills of Rwanda.
  • Visit Zanzibar Island’s Stone Town and relax on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.
  • See lions, elephants, rhinos, and other big game animals at one of East Africa’s many national parks.


With OG, you live like the locals.
Traveling as much as we do on the East Africa program, there will be a number of different styles of accommodation. Whether it’s at a youth hostel in Nairobi or under the stars in Lake Naivasha, you can expect to be cooking together and learning to make chapatti with the team. In addition to guesthouses and camping, we will be sharing an apartment in Kisumu and staying with host families in Ngongongare, which will allow us to delve into local culture and integrate into the communities we visit.

Meet Your Program Leaders

Julius MswakiJulius has been passionate about youth-based programs bringing development and mobility to the people of the world ever since he started volunteering from his home community on environmental conservation activities. He is now an active participant in international volunteerism activities, including HIV/AIDS awareness in East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and workshops and training on International development in Dublin, Ireland.  He has also worked with Canada World youth as a project supervisor on cultural exchange programs with Aboriginal and Tanzanian youth in East Africa and in Canada.

Erin BellAlthough Erin was raised in the laid back East coast of Canada, she finds a home wherever she travels. Recently completing her undergrad in Health Sciences, Erin is passionate about pursuing a career in global health and development, allowing her to travel and do the work she loves. Ever since she first traveled to East Africa in 2010, Erin fell in love with the region, which enticed her to be a participant on an OG East Africa Discovery trip in the summer of 2013. She is now on to her next adventure, currently working as a public health intern for a non-profit organization located in Uganda.

East Africa

The Way We See It

Kenya often evokes mental images of Maasai warriors, exotic wildlife in national parks, and acacia trees on the savannah. These images still ring true today, but there is so much more to Kenya than going on a safari. The country is incredibly diverse in its landscape–from the bustling metropolis of Nairobi to the coast of the Indian Ocean where Swahili culture has remained unchanged and untouched for centuries.

Tanzania, meanwhile, is known as the home country to the great Mount Kilimanjaro, unreal and idyllic beaches, and a centre for wildlife-gazing. But again, there’s so much more just a few steps off the beaten path. The country is a cultural mosaic home to over 100 ethnic groups all blending together to create a unique and vibrant vibe.

It only takes a moment to realize that these countries can’t be summed up in a few lines. The lessons we have learned here would take a lifetime to write. Hopefully though, you will find these truths for yourself.

If Not Now, Then When?


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