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KISEKI Volunteer Program


If I have a long vacation, someday I would like to volunteer abroad.

I want to do international cooperation.

I want to visit Africa and see the sights.

I want to work on location.

It is a program that fulfills the needs of “someday” and “I want to try”.

Why not start now for one week? You will be able to sense what is needed here and the current state of the world.

Rwanda is at an altitude of 1500m, so it is easy to stay anytime year-round.

The country is rapidly recovering since the 1994 massacre and is now a budding IT nation. Rwanda is said to be the “Miracle of Africa”.


In the capital, Kigali, inhabitants come from rural areas and rely on their brothers, relatives and friends, and seek employment for a better way of life. However, most do not find a job or earn satisfactory income. Unfortunately, they are forced to live illegally and in extremely poor substandard housing conditions. Many children residing in the slums are not afforded the opportunity to attend school. There are even “street children” who collect garbage to survive.


Many people work unceasingly to earn daily income, to earn today’s meals. They don’t think about one year into the future, only what is happening today and now. Despite all this, everyone is living bright and strong, helping each other.

What is KISEKI?

KISEKI is a Japanese restaurant opened in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in 2016.

It began as a high-end restaurant with a sushi chef of 20 years craftmanship experience, however, the restaurant has since changed its direction in 2018, towards a more social restaurant atmosphere.


Currently, KISEKI is the only Japanese inn in Rwanda, which also employs residents, with a staff comprised of mainly single mothers. It is also social change entrepreneur: working with a local kindergarten school, skills training, community support and problem solving, a social change maker, and a multi-product shop.


In 2019, over 200 Japanese volunteers have visited the program. Several expatriates and locals are saying, “With KISEKI I can!” and when a solution is needed, “Let’s talk with KISEKI”.


This is KISEKI:




“ A place where people can gather and connect, a place where miracles happen.”




“To help local mothers live with a smile.”


We at KISEKI are working to create employment and support the independence of single mothers living in substandard housing conditions. 


Although, family and gender equality are minute units of society, mothers continue to support their families. Making small, significant changes for the mothers will also provide change for their family and their society. One of the ways to provide change to the mother’s lives is to create employment and earned income.


To provide this KISEKI develops business opportunities and activities in collaboration with experts and businesses of varied fields.


Since August 2019, KISEKI has provided support for a local children’s kindergarten.


Examples of business and activities:

  • Dress for Two – A concept shop where the customer and local resident can enjoy one kitenge (dress) in a two for the price of one program.

  • Mama’s Handmade Goods – Locally Rwandan hand-crafted souvenirs and specialty products.

  • MAMA’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand – Produce market locally grown by mothers.

  • Tour of Beauty – Tour a local mother’s home and understand the living conditions and her strength and determination to provide for her family.

  • KEIRAKU Massage Spa – Local mother’s trained and supported by Japanese Body Care Academy and Meridian Massage.

KISEKI Volunteer Program

  1. KISEKI arranged kindergarten volunteer.

  2. Make your own plan from list provided.

Suggestions for selecting a plan:

  • Undecided? I want to do anything, but not sure what I can offer. I just want to go to Rwanda and experience the country.  


Then we suggest: 

Morning attending the local kindergarten school as a volunteer. (NOTE: Not available during November and December.)

Afternoon attend program classes and go out sightseeing.

  • Being able to do your own activities is a big attraction of KISEKI volunteers. Make the most of our experience, connections and resources, so you can arrive and immediately begin activities.


I want to make my own plan and use my specialty. I want to work with improving any of KISEKI’s numerous projects. I want to create a project! or maybe I am interested in more information about something specific.


Please by all means rise to the challenge!


Each plan starts with arriving at KISEKI and a small orientation.

Our KISEKI staff live in substandard housing conditions in the area. So, please, listen, observe and feel their daily life.


Ten Reasons to Join KISEKI’s Volunteer Program

  1. Ability to create your own program according to your ideas.

  2. Careful counseling and suggestions.

  3. Going from your ordinary life and returning daily with a “question” or new point of view. One of the greatest features of KISEKI volunteers is to value “questions”.

  4. Inexpensive.

  5. Local staff support.

  6. Experience the reality of “African Miracles”.

  7. Attentive and gracious Japanese owner/volunteer program director.

  8. Safe, secure and comfortable accommodations.

  9. Practice English, Japanese or even Kirirwandan.

  10. Communicate beyond language barriers.

KISEKI’s Thoughts:


Being exposed to something different from your personal values and “normal” is the appeal of traveling abroad. However, just connecting the different ends with an interesting, enjoyable and extraordinary experience.


Questions to ask yourself:  What is going on? What makes her do this? Why does she think in this manner?


What is the difference between you and this person? What do you really want in life? What is your world like?


Having a “question” is an opportunity to broaden your horizons, because you actively look within yourself.


Regardless of the nature or size of the activity, we would like you to ask as many “questions” as possible during your activities.


It is our hope that this program will take you to the next step in your own world.


Application Requirements


  • Recruitment time year-round (excluding April 3-15)

  • Participation period 3 days minimum.

  • Age and occupation do not matter, if you are in good health.

  • Those under the age of 18, parental consent form is required.

  • KISEKI Dormitory (1 to 8 persons per room, female dorm available)

Participation fee: 

$500USD per week (7 nights)

$1000USD for 2 weeks (14 nights)

$1500USD for 1 month (30 nights)


Included in the participation fee:


  • Coordination and support fee -Japanese staff who fully support activities, local life, arrangements to visit, etc.

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (excluding beverages and no meals provided on Sundays)

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off

  • Unlimited safe high-speed Wi-Fi use during KISEKI.


*Not included: Round-trip airfare to Kigali, personal shopping expenses such as souvenirs or eating outside of KISEKI, or transportation around Kigali.


    After Application Reservation is Complete


  1. Please contact KISEKI staff with your desired travel dates.

  2. Fill out and submit requested documents.

  • Participant Questionnaire – Based on response, KISEKI will propose a plan that suits your wishes. In response, to this suggestion, you will be responsible for scheduling your selections during your stay.

  • Travel Application form

  • Purchase you flight ticket. Send a copy of the e-ticket to KISEKI by email.

 Congratulations! Your reservation is now complete!


  1. Date of arrival- KISEKI staff will greet and pick you up from the airport. If you are unable to locate one another, please call 0781403829 or please email: as Wi-Fi is available.

Sample Activity Schedule:


Day 1:

  • KISEKI staff greeting and pick-up at the airport. Arrive at KISEKI and small orientation about the volunteer program.

(Emergency telephone: 0730585856- Mio Yamada)

     Day 2: 

  • 09:00- Briefing

  • Noon- Lunch at KISEKI

  • Afternoon: Tour of Beauty Visit- Visit a home and experience the challenges of a local mother. 

  • 15:30- Staff Meeting

Days 3-6:

  • Morning- Volunteer at Kindergarten.

  • Noon- Lunch at KISEKI.

  • Afternoon- Choose Option Below*

  • 15:30- Staff Meeting, Karate Practice, Japanese Meeting.

[Afternoon Options]

  1. Genocide Memorial Visit.

  2. Visit to Kimironko Market.

  3. Visit to kLab Open Space for IT entrepreneurs in Rwanda.

  4. Interviewing residents in “slum” housing of non-KISEKI homes 2000RWF (about $2USD) per family.

  5. Issue Solving Workshop- Work using 56 Question Cards at KISEKI.

  6. Lego Workshop- Assignments will be made and staff will work together at KISEKI.

  7. Points of You Experience- A coaching exercise to look within yourself.

  8. Volunteer at KISEKI Restaurant.

  9. Storytelling with Mio Yamada- Please prepare interview content ahead of time.

Day 7:

  • 10:00-Staff Meeting

  • Noon- Lunch at KISEKI 

  • Afternoon- Tour of Beauty Visit- Visit a home and experience the challenges of a local mother. 

Day 8: Visit Coffee Plantation (Ask KISEKI Staff about arranging tour cost about $200USD or take bus to Huye by your own arrangements.

Day 9: 

  • Morning- Volunteer at Kindergarten or rest and prepare for departure home.

*Note: Activities are closed on Sundays. However, on the first and third Sundays, car-free days are from 07:00-10:00AM and sports are performed in nearby open space. The staff will come to pick you up, so please come and join us! Please inform us if you have any wishes, such as attending church, going on outing with staff or homestay visit.

On the last Saturday, you can participate in a community service called “Umganda” in the morning.


Preparation 1:

  • Passport- Passport must be valid for at least 6 months. Please be sure to check. Carry a copy of your passport in case of theft or loss.

  • VISA- Upon arrival to Rwanda a VISA can be obtained at the airport . Please bring $50USD cash. The purpose of travel is “sightseeing”.

  • Vaccination- Please come at your own discretion. There are no mandatory travel requirements. If you enter Rwanda after entering a Yellow Fever contaminated country such as Uganda or Kenya, you will need to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever . Please see check with the embassy website in your country for details.

  • Overseas Travel Insurance- Please be sure to purchase Overseas Travel Insurance for the duration of your stay.

  • Vinyl Bags- In Rwanda bringing in plastic bags is prohibited. In the past, there have been no cases in which the depths of luggage were examined or confiscated, however, anything by hand can be confiscated.

  • Money- Currency exchange is limited to certain countries currencies. For example: Japanese Yen cannot be exchanged in Rwanda. Be sure to bring US Dollars to ensure exchange to Rwandan Francs (RWF).


Payment to KISEKI must be made in US Dollars cash, $50 or $100 bills only.


Note: Banknotes under $20 are not accepted, so please only bring $50 or $100 bills. Also, no bills older than 2008 are excepted due to counterfeit issues.


    Estimated expenses during KISEKI stay:


The Participation fee includes accommodation, food, except Sundays. 


Spending on Sundays, transportation for outings, sightseeing tours and souvenirs are at you own expense.


Estimated Food Expenses: 1000-3000RWF (about $1-$3USD) for local restaurants, 5000RWF (about $5USD) for a snack at a Café, and 10,000-30,000RWF (about $10-$30USD) for a meal at a restaurant.


Estimated Transportation Expenses: Taxi 5000-10,000RWF (about $5-$10USD) to the Genocide Memorial, Kimironko, is roughly 5000RWF one-way. 

*Note: Motorbike Taxis are about 1/10th the cost, however, motorcycle taxis are forbidden for KISEKI volunteer program participants. *


Estimated costs for souvenirs: African print cloth 5m 15,000RWF (about $15USD), sewing fee for tailored clothing 6000-20,000RWF (about $6-$20USD), coffee 250g 3000RWF (about $3USD), honey 3000RWF, Lip balm 2000RWF, hand-woven basket 4000RWF, etc.



Preparation 2:


    About Rwanda, projects to be tackled in the future, KISEKI, the owner and 

    his wife…


    If you have the information and knowledge beforehand, you should be able 

    to adjust quickly upon arrival.


  • About the history of Rwanda: Learn about Rwanda recommended reading: “Prayer in Rwanda” by Kenji Goto, “African Blood Rare Metal: The Road of Genocide from the 1994 Massacre of Rwanda” by Shiro Otsu.

  • About social entrepreneurship: To deepen the understanding of KISEKI’s business model, recommended reading: “A text of a social entrepreneur who helps people to create work” by Shigeru Yamamoto, “A Change Maker Changed by Social Entrepreneurs” by Nana Watanabe

  • About poverty: Basic Knowledge, recommended reading: “Piketi’s Capitals in the 21st Century as Seen by Comics”, by Hirō Yamagata & Kariko Koyama, “Why a Poor Country Won’t Go Away?” by Keijiro Otsuka, “Changing the World by the End of Poverty by 2025” by Jeffrey Sachs and “The Simplest Way to Solve the World’s Biggest Problems” by Paul Polack.

  • Books written by the owners Kohei and Mio Yamada: 

“Please Tell Us!”, “Mango and Marubushi” by Mio Yamada,

“The Answer is What You Can Do in the Field” by Kohei Yamada,

“Live in Africa” co-authored by Mio Yamada, “Japanese Who Chose Leave of Absence” co-authored by Mio Yamada

  • What to bring:

-Change of clothing according to the weather and your needs. Long sleeves for cool mornings and evenings. 

-Laundry service is available for 5000RWF (about $5) 

*Note: Hand-washing clothing in the restroom is prohibited.

-Writing Utensils- We encourage you to journal daily. *Note: You can also purchase notebooks at KISEKI, and if you buy1 notebook, 2 notebooks will be donated to the Kindergarten children.

-Towels, toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face/body wash, shampoo, etc.) 

-Personal medications, pharmaceuticals (pain relief, gastrointestinal, allergy , vitamins etc.)

-Insect repellent, insect bite medicine.

-Travel Conversion plugs. Rwanda uses C and BF type outlet receptable plugs.

-Transformer (Rwanda voltage is 220V)

-Contact lenses solution (not sold in stores)

-Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses

-Personal cosmetics (if needed.)

-Female sanitary items

*Note: KISEKI does not provide amenities.


-Donation items (for kindergarten support) We sell the donated items and all proceeds go to support the kindergarten teachers’ salaries and school supplies. Please do not donate stained, torn or clothing with holes as they are difficult to sell. Estimate: Items are likely to sell for over $1USD.

Organizers of KISEKI Corporation







CEO: Kohei Yamada


-Entrepreneur, rare metals trader

-Rwanda’s first authentic Japanese restaurant and Riva residence Rwanda owner.

-TEDx Oxbridge Speakers, 100 Japanese Respected by the World (Newsweek)

-“Japanese Course” shown by 25 Wisdom People (WEDGE)

-Master Sake Sommelier (SSI International)


-Oxford University Executive MBA

-Graduate of Waseda University Graduate School of Public Management 

-Graduate of Aichi University Faculty of Contemporary Chinese Studies

-Studied at Nankai University, China

-Studied at Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan


-Japanese, English and Chinese

-"Ndhimakukonda" produced in Malawi, Africa during the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers

- AIDS Prevention Awareness Song won No. 1 on the chart hitlist and became a local celebrity.

- Performed the same song at the 5th African Development Conference (TICAD V).

- Donated AIDS testing facility to Malawi as part of sales.

-Author of “What Can I Do? The Answer is in the Field” (Toho Publishing)



Upon returning to Japan, Mr. Yamada joined a trading company specializing in rare metals and has traveled to over 40 countries throughout the world, mainly in Asia and Africa.


During the military administration of Myanmar, he successfully imported rare metal resources to Japan, coordinated ODA in the field of mineral resources, and participated in the mission of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry as the youngest participant.


Afterwards, Mr. Yamada has engaged in various investment projects at the millionaire family office in Singapore.


In 2016 the Yamada Family moved to Rwanda.






Mrs. Mio Yamada


- While studying at the Swahili Language School outside Osaka, she was the first Japanese woman to cycle 5,000km across the African continent.

-Next she traveled by bicycle throughout 25 countries.

- As a former employee of Sotokoto Magazine, Mrs. Yamada oversaw sales for the 5-star hotel "Mupata Safari Club", in management of Masai Mara in Kenya.  

-Was part of the start-up staff for the Italian restaurant "Cafe de Shinran" in the precincts of Tsukiji Honganji.

- After that, she signed sponsorship contracts with several companies and became independent as a cyclist.

-Since 2010, Mrs. Yamada is a participant of Cogway, which has been established and involved in the promotion of cycle tourism. Every year, more than 100 national and international cyclists from more than 10 countries participate and organize tours around Shikoku-

- Her achievements have been highly evaluated in various fields, and she has been appointed as Ikeda City Tourism Ambassador, Kochi Prefecture Tourism Special Ambassador, and Eritrea Tourism Goodwill Ambassador.

-Being a mother to boys ages 7, 4 and 1, Mrs. Yamada set up a community childcare system in Zushi. She worked as a powerful mother in a forest kindergarten in Singapore.

- She is striving to support Kimihurura's single mothers as one of Rwanda's foremost mothers.

- Authored books “Mango and Maruboshi” (Gentosha), “Perfect Score Bike” (Kirakusha), “Perfect Score Car” (Taiwan) and “Bicycle Girl” (co-author, PHP)

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