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Frontier

My 8 weeks in Madagascar on the project really tested me to my maximum. Being only 17 and never having been this long away from my family was always going to be difficult but it was totally worth it. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I feel lucky to have been able to do it.

I was part of the marine project and did my PADI courses in Madagascar and honestly I don't think there would have been a better place to do it. My instructors Gin and Pete were both great and the cost of the courses is a lot cheaper than in other places. To complete my advanced open water training we had to take a 1 hour boat ride to the small island of Tanikely which is a protected marine reserve which hasn't been fished in since 2011. Since our dive sites are not very deep, Tanikely was the where we had to do our deep dive. All I can say about it is that it was truly paradise! The water was crystal clear and the visibility was around 18m! Due to no fishing, the marine biodiversity there was insane and you saw all kinds of marine life. Huge fish, turtles, seas cucumbers, giant corals... it was just spectacular.

I didn't realize how lucky i was when I arrived as I was there during the time the whale-sharks migrate along the Mozambique Channel. That meant that on our second weekend we got to go snorkeling with whale-sharks which was truly breathtaking. After lunch on Nosy Sakatia, we went out again but to a shallow sea weedy area where we snorkeled with turtles. But they were truly massive turtles and i was surprised we saw such massive ones. All in all it was a great day.

On camp, most days would start out the same. We would wake up around 6am and leave for our dive by 7am. There's truly nothing better than an early morning dive! We would return to camp between 9 and 10 and it would usually be quite empty since the foresters would be out on their walks. It was quite nice having camp that empty for a while where you can just eat, lie in the hammocks or write down data in peace... Once we passed our species tests we would be allowed to start surveying in the water which was quite exciting. Learning the fish wasn't too hard since they have very straight forward and obvious names ( like 'scissor tail sergeant fish') whereas the invertebrates were all latin names making them a lot harder to remember.

Camp life was a new experience. We slept in wooden huts where we will have set up our mats and mosquito nets. I didn't really use my sleeping bag in the nights since almost every night it was simply too hot. The camp's floor is just sand so if you're not keen on constantly having sandy feet or walking around barefoot all the time then it's not for you. Rice and beans was the standard meal for lunch and dinner which was actually a lot better than i thought it would be since it was mixed with fried vegetables and tomato sauce although you should bring some spices or ketchup or something to give your beans some flavor since they can be quite bland. Dinner was sometimes something else than rice and beans though. Thursday nights was steak night where we would have chips and Zebu meat which are the cows in Madagascar. Monday night was omelette night and on Tuesdays and Fridays I often went to Victor's for dinner. Victor is our local boat driver and every week he would make dinner for whoever wanted to go for. His food was amazing though so I always went there. For breakfast we would eat a rice pudding or annoying else we bought in town.

All in all it was an unforgettable experience and i would highly recommend it to everyone. The people I met there have become close friends and I'm glad i was able to share my experience with them.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Dec 20, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
8

RCDP International Volunteer Abroad

I volunteered in Sri Lanka for 6 weeks teaching English to Buddhist Monks. As it was my first time traveling internationally, Sri Lanka seemed like worlds away from my home in America. My parents and I alike had considerable amount of questions, especially about the legitimacy of a program which offers such an affordable experience in so many locations. Michael Ferreira, my host was patient and worked alongside not only my family, but my university to ensure every detail was covered and every question answered. Although you can not always plan for the troubles which may arise during international travel, like missing luggage for three weeks or delayed plane, Michael is always available to help and resolve the issue day or night. As one of his volunteers, you become an extended member of his family.

The only issue that I came across during my time in Sri Lanka was the lack of volunteer hours just working with the Monks. Although on their website it describes a nearly a full day of teaching, in actuality, teaching is typically only from 8-11, maybe 12 at the latest. Depending on your intentions this can be a great thing, leaving you with the afternoon to explore surrounding Sri Lanka. Unfortunately for myself, it was a bit frustrating as I came for a part of school was required to a certain amount of hours, as the website said they ensure between the 30-40 hours a week. I would suggest volunteering in the evening at the orphanage or perhaps working at two Temples if you must fulfill more than 25 hours of volunteering a week.

I would highly recommend this program, and especially the my host family. As you may miss your family at home, you become apart of another. The volunteers were great, from all parts of the world. I have learned here as much as I have taught. It is a challenge at times, but it was such a rewarding experience. I left Sri Lanka entirely fulfilled.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Sri Lanka
Posted: Dec 20, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Beacon of Hope Uganda

Uganda is a beautiful country in all aspects - the people, the landscape, and the rich culture all made our month there the most amazing experience. Although technically a very small organization, there are many diverse volunteer projects with Beacon of Hope Uganda scattered across the country. My volunteering experience in Mukono at the construction site was exceptional! The opportunity to get to know and work with the others on the team was a pleasure. We did a lot, in just a short period of time, Isaac is an inspiring young man in just mid-twenties but very creative and hard-working. He is very smart and committed to total development of his country and I was more than satisfied with all aspects of my time there.

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and that goal was definitely met!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Uganda
Posted: Dec 19, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Beacon of Hope Uganda

I wanted to travel, experience, and learn about a developing country through the eyes of a volunteer. I wanted to travel somewhere and have an experience abroad that was meaningful. I didn't want to be a tourist, but be someone who could bring something to a community in need and gain something from the local community members as well.

I soon decided that Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, was where I needed to go as a volunteer. Beacon of Hope Uganda was the perfect organization to go with and it was indeed. My experience volunteering at the orphanage with Beacon of Hope Uganda was wonderful.

On my first day as a volunteer I was taken to an orphanage which is part of Beacon of Hope Uganda. As we pulled up to the orphanage, all the children ran out to greet me, fighting to hold my hand. I spent some time playing and interacting with the children and then spoke with the Director of the Orphanage Robert. I learned that most of the children were found on the street or in garbage dumps and brought to the orphanage. The woman who cares for all the orphans, Aunt Ritah, is a wonderful woman and she has beautiful heart. I was both happy and sad after I left the orphanage as I saw both happiness and sadness in the eyes of the children. My mind was flooded with a mix of emotions. When I came back home, I felt nothing but pure happiness. Thank you Beacon of Hope Uganda for this great experience and can’t wait to see the children again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Uganda
Posted: Dec 19, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I spent 3 weeks volunteering at the costa rica wildlife sanctuary and while my time at the actual sanctuary was unforgettable, i was deeply upset with frontier, so first let me just walk you through my time. I arrived in San Jose very early in the morning the airport was small and easy to navigate ( thank god i hate flying) a very nice older lady was waiting to pick me up she had a sign with my name on it, she spoke little to no english which was fine we waited to pick up a young man that was also going to be going with me to the sanctuary. we ended up having to pay for 2 taxies and a bus to get there which in the costa rica felid debrief it only mentions one taxi and one bus ride. Once we arrived to the sanctuary we were welcomed be the volunteer coordinator, she was my age but very nice and helpful she showed me where i would be staying and made sure i was comfortable. The daily routine at the sanctuary is breakfast at 7 lunch is at 12 and dinner is at 6 with that being said we have morning chores and afternoon chores and night time feeding which only requires about 3 people. our chores get assigned to us and all the chores take about an hour to complete if not shorter so that means YOU HAVE ALOT OF SPARE TIME ON YOUR HANDS please keep that in mind i was lucky and made an amazing group of friends we were able to go swimming when weather aloud and play card games or go hangout with the animals and once or twice a week we are aloud to into town and shop and get food and WIFI, wifi was a huge deal to everyone lol ( they do have wifi at the sanctuary but it never works) . the food is beyond basic i hope you like rice and beans for every meal because thats what you get but the ladies in the kitchen are beyond sweet i recommend you get to know them if you go! So where i became disappointed with frontier is while at the there i became so attached to the animals and workers i mean they were my life for about a month and when i herd how much money frontier actual gives this animal rescue i was crushed they dont even give them enough money to cover the total cost of my food , i then emailed frontier about this respectfully saying i was upset and they danced around my question saying they give what they can to the animal sanctuary so all in all the animal sanctuary is an awesome place i highly recommend it i just recommend you go through a different company i was there with 4 other people from frontier and we were all upset with them 2 of the girls didn't even get picked up from the airport and had to find there own way to the rescue center. So some recommendations if your thinking about this trip, 1. bring clothes you can get dirty ( the monkeys WILL poop on you) 2. bring extra cash you get free days go do something fun 3.if your bored ask about making toys for the animals or treats ( you have to ask ) 4. if you dont know spanish i recommend you try and learn some few people know english 5. HAVE FUN make new friends push yourself out of your comfort zone this was the best time of my life!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Dec 18, 2014
Overall:
7
Support:
6
Value:
5

Comments

ALSO if you go directly through the animal sanctuary and talk to bernal you can stay and do the same things FOR ALOT CHEAPER and ALL OF THE MONEY goes straight to the rescue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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