While I did have an enjoyable experience, I have too have to wonder how much goes into the field and back to the community. GVI are simply a corporate organsation out to make money. You may particapte in conservation or community based activies, but I have to wonder how much GVI actually cares about making a difference. Not a lot would be my guess. They are just taking advantage of people who do want to make a difference.
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Global Vision International (GVI)
I took part in the Sustainable Development Programme in Kenya Aug 2009, the staff we're very supportive prior to the program beginning by contacting me via email and phone to check everything was okay and answering questions i had. I arrived early morning about 1am, there was a GVI staff member there to meet me at the airport and one at the hotel i was staying at for the first night, throughout the program 2 staff were there the whole time, supporting us, working with us, they are now good friends. The cost of the program initially did seem expensive however 70% of the money does go directly to the program you sign up for, and knowing what i know now and what i got out of it.... i would of paid double!
Without a doubt I would encourage anyone to go on a GVI expedition! I just returned from an amazing 5 weeks in the Seychelles and am hoping to take part in another expedition at some point in the future.
I found the whole experience well organised, personal and smooth from general enquiry to returning to the UK. I found the staff to be really friendly and helpful, and were always happy to answer any questions I had, no matter how trivial! My emails were replied to quickly which was reassuring and after applying (which I did about 8 months before I actually left) I had regular email contact to provide more specific information and answer questions.
When I arrived in the Seychelles I was met at the airport and taken to the base, which was about 30 seconds walk away from a beautiful bay where we went diving each day. The staff on base were brilliant - most of them having been volunteers in the past, then interns before becoming staff and so had a vast amount of knowledge of the area and base, and knew the answer to almost every question or problem which could arise!
The expedition wrote a weekly blog which was uploaded onto the website which was great for family and friends to keep updated with what we were doing.
Overall I think every £ spent was worth it. I came back an Advanced, Rescue, Coral Reef Research Diver with some lifelong friends and unforgetable memories.
I wouldn't recommend GVI to anyone. I ended up leaving the expedition in Costa Rica after 3 weeks because I was so disappointed with the experience. It wasn't at all like how it was described on the website; the training was brutal, there was no english teaching or environmental programs for the community, the base was crappy, the equipment was falling apart, and the activities that they promised like white water rafting and the canopy tour were suddenly not part of the expedition when we arrived there. They also make you pay for anything they can when you're on base...like t shirts.
When they say that 79% of the money goes into the field, they really mean that it goes to Head Office and the field is neglected. The 24 hour emergency support was terrible and I'm still trying to get in touch with them to get a refund, even though I left a month and a half ago. My emails and phone calls to GVI to talk about my experience are basically being ignored.
There are plenty of people who need your help abroad! - look for them at hostels and in communities when you are travelling! Dont make the same mistake I did! Go with the little guys who need you and avoid GVI's corporate money making ideology.
Join this expedition if you want to throw your money away and get screwed.
p.s., no refunds under any circumstances...apparently its in the fine print.
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