ELIabroad Experiential Learning International

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Program website: http://www.eliabroad.org/

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I was recommended by the program directors to go to Nepal after explaining that I was an experienced Nurse looking to volunteer and give back for a month.

I was pretty disappointed with the way things worked out. I felt like my intentions of volunteering were very different from the intentions of the ELI coordinators in Nepal. How you wonder? From the very first email to you I had expressed that I am an experienced Nurse looking to do volunteer work and actually use my skills. When applying to the Chennai program I was directed to the Nepal placement because "it is a better fit". The first day I arrived to the volunteer house, I was notified that I would be starting at the hospital and per the local director, "although we know you want to work, here at the hospital you will not be able to do any work". However, he went on about it being a good learning experience to understand the system. Immediately I told him I wanted to get to the village ASAP because I was not there to watch others work - In other words, I did not take time off/vacation from my regular job here in the US to go to another country to watch, so I wanted to go somewhere where I could actually do hands on work and VOLUNTEER. Then the issue about leaving as soon as possible was okay with the director, except he didn't want me to go alone and wanted me to wait and coordinate with another volunteer, the "medical student", who was using this program as a chance to travel and also had very different intentions than I did - which was fine, but I wasn't expecting to have to make my plans around someone elses schedule. I would just like to clarify that I didn't sign up for this program with anyone else or to follow any one else's schedule, but the local director insisted that we go together.

The first 4 days I spent at the hospital, observing, even the nurses had asked me why I was there and that I would be of much more use elsewhere...imagine how that was adding to my frustration. In addition, I was notified that I would be going to a government run hospital, which I was not notified that this changed until I actually arrived at the hospital - to find out it was a private hospital that was being paid to have me there. Overall, it was a bit disappointing the way the program was run.

Once I got to the village, I was able to make the most of it by just changing my own perspective towards it. The staff at the clinic expressed a lack of communication and not being fully aware of who would be joining them. Kevin, was identified as the "painter". The clinic also has a huge lack of supplies, which was expected, but I was surprised to find out that they were not provided with any financial assistance for taking care of us and that very little of the fee that I paid was going to the family I was staying with.

I was also appalled to find out that another volunteer who was staying at the volunteer house was only paying $200 more than me to stay an additional 2 months. How does the breakdown occur in terms of your fees? I understand the hospital was paid to have me there, but I was only there for one week, which amounted to $25. Can you please give me a breakdown of how the fee of $1185 is distributed.

Again, I was able to make the most of what was given to me, which wasn't much and am sorry to say that I will not be recommending this program to anyone I know. I also it is important for you to know that I was being encouraged to travel around Nepal more during my "volunteer" time rather than doing what I came for - this also took me by surprise and made it even more clear to me that this program is not fully designed to be giving back to its community.

Program:
Location:
Posted: May 28, 2012
Overall:
2
Support:
3
Value:
4
By: takuruvi
Age:
29

I could not be any happier with my experience with ELI Abroad. I was a volunteer teaching English in Ollantaytambo, Peru for six weeks.

I received excellent support from ELI, both in the US pre-departure and in Peru after my arrival. ELI has offices in Denver, CO, and I received support in person, on the phone, and by email before my departure. Everyone was always very responsive, kind and helpful. My coordinator in Peru was actually in a different city than I was, but I was told to expect this ahead of time. She was always readily available by phone and email, and she too was always friendly, helpful and quick to respond to me.

ELI does all they can to keep prices low, and theirs was actually the cheapest program I was able to find that would provide the services I was seeking. This does not mean that ELI cuts corners, but it is important to have realistic expectations. ELI is a placement organization, and they did not hold my hand nor spoon feed me during my experience. But honestly, that was not something I wanted anyway. I had to take initiative to make my experience into what I wanted it to be, but ELI placed me in an environment rich with opportunity and possibility. I was placed in an after school program in which I taught English and offered homework support to students, in both English and Spanish. The coordinator of this program was an absolutely remarkable woman and a joy to work with.

ELI also arranged my homestay with a truly delightful family. I was welcomed into their home by the warmest, most generous, loving people I have ever known. I received three meals a day in the home, and the food was always delicious! Varied and of good quantity. My laundry was done for me and my sheets were changed each week. The home was well cared for and always kept clean.

My time in Ollantaytambo, Peru was one of the best experiences of my life, and I would whole-heartedly recommend ELI Abroad to anyone and everyone.

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Location:
Posted: May 14, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: kengquist
Age:
New User

My experience volunteering in Kenya was incredible. Please let me start by saying one thing - one very important thing - this program is fairly bare boned and really gives you the basics BUT IT IS A GREAT MEANS TO GETTING ABROAD AND BEING ABLE TO VOLUNTEER. After reading a negative review about ELI I am completely upset because it seems the reviewer expected ELI to hold their hand as they volunteered. ELI PLACES you in organizations. They PLACE you. Once you get there there will be support but you are an adult and you have to make of the situation what you want! So many volunteers come in and out of Africa that these institutions can\'t stop and kiss the ground you walk on the day you show up. No, you have to be an adult, be pro-active, and put yourself out there. ELI will do everything for you (pick you up from the airport, help you with pre-departure info, make sure you\'re safe, etc etc etc). But when you get there, you will then have to navigate your way through the orphanage/hospital on your own and find your \"nitch.\" It\'s fun! My host mother in Nakuru was incredible! My meals were terrific! The friends I made at the orphanage/in the city/on my safari were amazing! Like everything in life, your experience is what you make of it. ELI will help you tremendously. But please do remember that you need to be pro-active and initiate once you get there. It\'s not hard...you can do it! I was so scared at first but have gained so much confidence in what I was able to accomplish there. ELI is awesome! Also, most of the friends I met in Kenya were volunteers from the much bigger i-to-i program, and I am not kidding when I say all of them felt ripped off! They paid three times as much as I did and really felt like they were cheated. I, on the other hand, went with ELI and felt like the phone calls pre-departure were PERSONAL, people called me back when they said they would, and even once I got to Africa they kept in touch with me as much as I wanted them to. I was homesick and a little scared at first, but honestly I felt like people were watching out for me and listening to my concerns. ELI is great :)

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 15, 2011
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
9
By: chels2425
Age:
New User

Comments

Hi :) Nakuru was awesome! I tend to like cities more in general, so it really is a personal call. I, however, happen to know and love the host mother who houses the ELI volunteers to Nakuru and she is incredible! So, if you do go to Nakuru you will be in a safe, beautiful home and be well looked after. Nakuru is not New York City...it is very manageable. I loved Nakuru - I would highly recommend it unless you have your heart set on a smaller setting :)
hi i am thinking about using eli. its good to hear there is an organization real people can trust. how was nakuru i was thinking about a smaller city and wondered how the larger city experience compared.

I had a great experience with ELI. Rosemary (the in-country coordinator) was great, and she was responsive to all of my needs and concerns. Also, I really enjoyed my time at the hospital, and I learned a lot. The only thing I would say is that, at the hospital, you need to be proactive. The doctors are very busy, so they might not go out of their way to make sure you have something to do. But they are also very nice and knowledgeable, so if you make an effort to get to know them, it will pay off. I really feel that I benefitted for participating in this internship, and I would definitely do it again with ELI! Additionally, the living conditions were great. My host family was very welcoming, they had a nice room for me, and they took care of me and all my needs very well throughout my stay in Nakuru. If you're looking for an internship or volunteer experience in Kenya, I'd highly recommend ELI.

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Location:
Posted: March 27, 2011
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9
By: jhu4
Age:
New User

Comments

Hi there, I'm looking into spending the summer in Nakuru with ELI and was wondering if you would mind sharing more about your experiences at the hospital? What was your role there and how did the local staff receive you? You mentioned that you had to be proactive to make sure you stayed busy, what kinds of responsibilities were you given? Any thoughts you'd care to share would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Liz

I've done many abroad programs in numerous countries and have never had such a terrible experience. The program is absolutely corrupt and I truly wonder where my money has gone too. I'm a medical student and expected (according to the numerous emails sent from ELI) to be working in a local community hospital. Instead, all I did was observe and shadow. I did not pay money from my federal loans, travel halfway across the world during the only time off I get from medical school to just watch doctors for two weeks. I have a set of skills and went to Nepal to contribute. The program housing was really terrible. The bathrooms were in terrible condition, electricity was non-existant and the so called "wireless" often didn't work. The "filtered water" was also very questionable. The two meals that was under the costs apparently meant toast and coffee for breakfast every day and vegetable and rice for dinner. On such a diet, one is bound to suffer from malnutrition after a few months. I will never travel through ELI, nor will I recommend them to any of my friends and colleagues! They really need systemic change if they want to survive as a program.

Program:
Location:
Posted: March 26, 2011
Overall:
2
Support:
2
Value:
2
Age:
New User

Comments

You say you've been on many abroad programs, would you be so kind and tell us which programs were up to par? That would be very helpful. I'm sorry to hear that your wireless didn't work in Nepal. That must have been horrifying.

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