Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

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9.2 / 10 after 314 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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dates May 13-22 2010
IFRE met needs and more. The USA staff was great. I needed schedule my trip to Africa within 30 days and Bahrat, a US staff member, was there to help. He coordinated my trip quickly and was accessible via email and phone. He always returned my calls and emails on time, which is what I needed. He was kind, respectful and professional. If you chose IFRE, make sure to work with Bahrat.
In Uganda, my host family was exceptional. Herman Lukwago was on time at the airport and very nice. I was too a skeptic about traveling alone, but Herman contacted me via facebook before I left and that helped ease the tension for me and my family. I fell in love with the family. I enjoyed them so much. They were so kind to me and their hospitality was exceptional. Although the water didn't always run and the electric went out briefly a few times, it was all part of the adventure and I didn't mind. The food was great. Herman's wife Anne is a great cook and a sweetheart. Their children are adorable. The accommodations were fine, besides the water issue. Overall it was a A+ and I felt extremely safe.
The orphanage project at Sanyu babies was fine for me, but others may want to be more involved. Since I only had a week stay, Sanyu met my needs. They are flexible and there are many volunteers there. I still felt I helped. They needed more bodies during meals and bath time. In the class room, many people were there to play with the children. I still loved it. I felt like I connected with the babies. I miss them today.
If you want to bring gifts for the family, I recommend diapers, children/baby stuff, house needs, toiletries, school supplies, teaching aids for children and such. Chocolate isn't necessary. I brought Herman and his wife shirts and the children outfits. it was not expensive from Walmart or those kind of stores. Bring things for your particular project. I brought diapers to the orphanage, which were needed.
I totally enjoyed my trip to the fullest. i cant wait to go back. I feel like I made friends for a life time. I encourage anyone to go. You won't be dissatisfied if your motives are right. Try to get to the know the family. That was what made all the difference.

Program:
Location:
Posted: May 23, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
7
Value:
8
By: Anonymous
Age:

I called the office of IFRE at Dallas yesterday to schedule a volunteer trip to Kenya in June. I was appalled at the conversation that followed with the person named 'Alex' that picked the phone. His language was heavily punctuated with racial undertones and he tried his best not to enroll me into the program. He insulted my country of origin (India) by asking why I wanted to visit a third world country when I myself belonged to the third world, adding, "Our programs are for people from the 1st world that want to help people in the third world".
I asked him why he was being so hostile just because I didn't have a US passport. He responded saying "You people come into America as immigrants, illegally. And now you want to do charity?"
When he asked me why I wanted to do volunteer work, I explained that I was going to join a graduate program at Oxford University (in the UK) in the fall of 2010 and wanted to specialize in social enterprise. He responded "I'll give you a piece of advise from the heart and the brain - There is no need to go to Oxford if you cannot remove your heavy accent. All your money will go waste".
I was aghast. I warned that I would publish a transcript of the conversation in the New York Times, upon which he hung up.

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 26, 2010
Overall:
0 (worst)
Support:
0
Value:
0
By: Anonymous
Age:

Comments

I just came back with my son from a volunteer trip in Ghana organized by IFRE. We had an incredible experience and IFRE did a great job at organizing the volunteer work and accomodations. The problem is not with IFRE, but rather with a single employee named Alex at IFRE. Alex is a condescending, pompous jerk who seems to think that because he graduated from NYU, he is God's gift to mankind. He started out by telling me I sounded older than the typical volunteer - he was right; I am 50 and I traveled with my 12 year old son to volunteer in an orphanage. He told me that because I am older, I seem to be more agressive, and the last thing that the program needed was a loudmouth. After that, I avoided dealing with Alex.Despite Alex's apparent mental issues, IFRE did a great job in placing us in an orphanage in Ghana, and took great care of us while in Ghana. Avoid Alex and speak to any of the other great IFRE employees like Bahrat. Really, Alex is just a bad apple in an otherwise great organization
i saw agent of volunteer HQ
let's boycott american volunteer company and join volunteer HQ, newzeland
I have seen some agents posting. dude!
nope not agreed as there are many good US companies
nope not agreed
let's boycott american volunteer company and join volunteer HQ, newzeland
Unbelievable!! Southern in-hospitality, sometimes. Check out others, bro. There are tons with good reviews.
This is appalling! Write to the IRS seeking revocation of 503 status (our taxpayer money!). Also contact the US Department of Justice for action against IFRE - http://www.justice.gov/crt/legalinfo/natorigin.php Hope this helps.
Dear Director of IFRE, I understand that discrimination based on race is not your policy. However, if you are really sincere about it, then you must assist me in bringing to book your employee who talked with me on 26th and 27th or April, 2010. He said his name was Alex. On both occasions, he hung up on me after thoroughly insulting my country of birth, my accent and my intentions. If you record conversations on the phone, you will find the full transcript of the conversation I had with him. If you are really sincere, then you must allow this to be presented as evidence in court so we can bring the perpetrator to justice. United States laws prohibit discrimination/humiliation based on country of birth, and it is a jail-able offence. If you agree to have the employee punished and agree to co-operate with a legal inquiry, then I shall feel free to contact you directly.
Dear volunteers, I am the director of the IFRE Volunteer Program. I would like to express my deepest apologies after reading the article that was published on Wednesday, April 27. Each year, IFRE sends hundreds of volunteers abroad. IFRE does not discriminate based on race, color, sex, religion, or any other factor. We welcome volunteers from all over the world, including India, and do not tolerate the type of reported conduct. Our records show that we have accepted volunteers from many countries, including India in the past. I also migrated to this great country, and understand the hardships associated with that. Once again, I apologize and would like reassure you of our mission. We treat all IFRE volunteers with respect, dignity and appreciation for their efforts. If you feel that you have been mistreated in any way by any of IFRE staffs, please write me personally at: contact@ifrevolunteers.org Sincerely Murali Adhikari, Ph.D Director, IFRE Volunteer Program
I had a similar experience. The guy just wouldn't enroll me for the program. He pointedly asked me, "Are you an immigrant in the United States?" I finally went through Abroaderview, another group. As for IFRE, maybe we can together file a case against them for racial discrimination. best regards, Amit Ahuja
This is a shame! Look to another organization, there are plenty of others that need help, and with positive reviews.

Positives: I went through IFRE for a three week volunteer program in Uganda. IFRE was very good at answering my questions and making a necessary program adjustment before I arrived in Uganda. In addition, my contact/host in Uganda, Herman, emailed me and made numerous Facebook posts to me prior to my departure, which definitely aided in my overall comfort. He was at the airport waiting me for my arrival. Herman is very likeable, friendly and easy to get along with. Both he and his wife were extremely hospitable and kind. They were able to answer most questions for directions and cultural queries quite well. My program, the school I taught at, couldn't have been more welcoming. They gave me the flexibility to teach what/how I wanted and were good about helping to make my volunteer experience as impactful as possible. The kids were outstanding and fun to work with and I can honestly say it was an unforgettable experience overall. People in general, in Uganda, were extremely welcoming, honest, and friendly. Kampala is a fun city to be in and well located to make excursions to various destinations. I was also able to spend a little time getting away from Kampala to see some of the incredible natural sites in Uganda.
Potential negatives: The city of Kampala is both very congested and dusty which might be off-putting to some. Ugandans, generally, think most Westerners are rich and often make unwelcome financial advances so expect to haggle for acceptable prices and have to tell a lot of people "no". School days in Uganda are long (10-12 hours) and some volunteers may not have the stamina for it...but can be worked around. Western cultural norms such as homosexuality, being non-religious, equal rights for women and being childless are not well understood/accepted.
Overall: IFRE is a good option for those who want a certain level of comfort, communication and accomodation but do not want to break the bank with some of the higher-end volunteer orgs. Uganda is a recommended choice for those who wish to explore the beauty of Eastern Africa as a volunteer.

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Posted: March 26, 2010
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
9
By: Anonymous
Age:

IFRE along with my host family Frederick and Hannah have done a great job make this program the best it can be. I found the process of applying very easy and I truly feel like I have gotten my moneys worth. The project is organized, my host family has been unbelievably warm and welcoming, and I've been able to get out and do some side trips on my own to really experience Tanzania. I would highly recommend this program to others.

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Posted: January 26, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Anonymous
Age:

I spent 8 weeks at a health clinic in Uganda and it truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I combined this placement with my university studies and both the staff at the clinic and my supervisor were extremely supportive, assisting me in any way they could, including filling out numerous forms etc required by my university.
I leanrt many things that will assist me in my future medcal career but I also learnt many valuable life lessons. My host family welcomed me into their home and introduced me to the Ugandan lifestyle and customs. In addition to this I also made some life long friends.
It certainly was a once in a life time experience and one which I will treasure forever.

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Location:
Posted: December 14, 2009
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9
By: Anonymous
Age:

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