GoAbroad Interview

Kylie Taute - East Africa Destination Manager

Kylie Taute - East Africa Destination Manager

Kylie was born in Zimbabwe. In 2001, Kylie traveled to the United Kingdom to work, travel, and study, but returned to settle in Africa at the beginning of 2008. She is a beyond perfect advisor for first-time African Impact volunteers heading to East Africa to volunteer abroad. Through her role with African Impact, she helps ensure every participant knows what to expect when they arrive, and also helps them adjust to daily life, the local culture, and their project placement. Kylie loves being involved with all the wonderful African Impact community projects based in and around East Africa.

Kylie with the Second Chance Education Students in Moshi Kilimanjaro.
Kylie with the Second Chance Education Students in Moshi Kilimanjaro.

What does your role as Destination Manager in East Africa entail?

I manage our East Africa project portfolio (Kenya, Tanzania & Zanzibar) and also a few projects in Zimbabwe. 

How did you become involved with African Impact?

I’m originally from Zimbabwe. After living in the UK for several years and studying Business Management and Travel and Tourism there, I moved back to Zimbabwe and soon after my return heard about African Impact (who was based there at the time). I applied for a position immediately and got the job! 

What is one thing potential participants should know about East Africa?

I would say that potential volunteers should be aware of the recommended vaccinations required before travelling to Kenya and Tanzania, and also remember to bring some spending money for all the amazing extra activities and safaris you can do in this part of the world!

African Impact promotes responsible travel through all programs. What is your definition of Responsible Travel?

To me responsible travel is when you travel to a country or destination and actually make a positive, beneficial impact to that country in a sustainable, long-term way (eg. through education or empowering local people).

In your role, what type of support do you provide for program participants?

In my role, I advise volunteers of the programs we offer and how to apply. I am available to answer any questions or concerns that they may have regarding volunteering, travelling to Africa, their support while they’re on project, etc. Our team of Destination Managers are here to guide our volunteers from the moment they make an enquiry all the way through to their arrival on the ground at their project.

How do you help participants prepare for African Impact’s programs and volunteering in East Africa, before they leave home?

When volunteers book to join our programs, I advise them of all they need to know before arriving, for example what they can expect from their travels and from their project work, what to pack, what vaccinations to have, what airlines to fly, and any extra steps to help them prepare for their adventure!

Adjusting to a new culture is often a wonderful yet difficult experience. How do you help participants adjust to their host culture once they arrive?

When volunteers join our projects they are given a full orientation upon arrival. This induction program includes sessions on what to expect from their project work, safety, culture shock, cultural sensitivity, what to wear etc. We advise volunteers of the “cultural norms” of the local people, to encourage respect and understanding.

Our project managers are also available for volunteers to ask any questions or voice any concerns that they may have about the different culture of the communities that they are working in. That said, volunteers generally get used to the local culture quite quickly as many of our staff at the projects are people from the local community.

Safety is a common concern in international travel programs. How do you ensure the safety of participants in your program or at your location?

When volunteers arrive in the country, we collect them from the airport ourselves and transport them to the project base. Their induction program on arrival also includes health and safety briefings, and volunteers receive 24 hour support from project managers and volunteer coordinators who live on site with the volunteers. At all our projects we have emergency procedures which our teams are very familiar with.

What do you think is the most valuable thing African Impact program participants bring home with them?

I believe the most valuable thing volunteers learn is that anybody can make a difference, regardless of what they’ve studied or their experience. This is why it’s very important to ensure that the help that they are giving the communities is long-term and sustainable, and that our participants really understand the impact they’re making.

What are your goals for East Africa in the future?

My goal is to encourage more volunteers to come out to Kenya to be able to help out in the wonderful Kenyan communities in a rewarding and sustainable way, as well as to experience the amazing country and culture of Kenya. I also hope that we (African Impact) will be able to get involved in more projects in Kenya, so that we can help even more people.