International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

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9.3 / 10 after 295 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is the trusted volunteer organization, providing safe, quality and extremely affordable volunteering placements in countries all over the world. Each year they place over 5000 volunteers abroad and have a wide range of volunteering opportunities in Argentina, Bali, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia - Bogota and Cartagena, Costa Rica, Ecuador, FijiGhana, Guatemala, India - Delhi & DharamsalaItalyPortugal, Spain, New ZealandKenya , Laos, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Peru - Cusco & Lima, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, ThailandRomaniaUganda, Victoria Falls, Vietnam - Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City and Zambia.

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IVHQ is not all that it is made out to be. On their website, they state that "IVHQ has its own group on Facebook. The purpose of this group is to allow all volunteers (past, present and future) to network, share photos, memories and videos, plan trips and contact previous international volunteers who have experienced our international volunteer programs. We have thousands of photos and videos on here and tons of feedback all posted by current and past volunteers." However, this is not a network for ALL volunteers. If you write an honest view of a not so good experience with IVHQ, they will delete the post and block you from their site. This means that all of the posts on their site are amazing and make them sound incredible when meanwhile, there are negative reviews...they are just not allowing them to be seen. I was in Ghana with IVHQ last summer. I had problems from the get-go. They want you to lie on your application for a visa and say that the purpose of your trip is tourism (clearly, its not tourism, its to volunteer). If you write 'volunteer' as your purpose, the embassy requires you to have a letter from IVHQ and Ghana Volunteer Corps (their partner organization) saying that you are volunteering with them. I asked IVHQ for this and they told me that i was the only one who had ever needed such a thing and no one has ever had this issue before...I later found out that this was not true and others had the same issue. IVHQ didn't want to go through the work of composing these letters. As well, I was promised (before paying my fees) that I would be able to do a homestay in Ghana. Yet another lie from IVHQ. After I paid my fees, I was told that Ghana does not have homestays. Onto issues with Ghana Volunteer Corps (the IVHQ partner organization). Eddie, the director of Ghana Volunteer Corps told is he would visit us at the orphanage every week or every other week. In reality, he didn't come to visit us at all...not one visit from him in the month I was at the orphanage...and it was an orphanage where there were numerous issues (so many that it is not longer affiliated with IVHQ). Also, the fee breakdown was ridiculous. Money was obviously being pocketed somewhere along the lines. They claimed to give $70 to each orphanage peer week from volunteer fees for food for the kids. There were about 5 programs when I was there and approximately 100 volunteers over the course of the month (coming and going to various programs). It doesn't make sense that less than $10 a week is given to the orphanage. The orphanage I was at was told that most money was going to a needy program at a different orphanage. When I got back and spoke to another volunteer at that orphanage, they were told the same thing...that most of the money was going to my orphanage...yet both the orphanages were not receiving much. The director of the orphanage was constantly asking volunteers for money (ex. he would ask us to pay school fees but we later found out that they had already been paid by previous volunteers...scamming /corruption at its finest). another issue i had was that i was forced to miss 5 days of volunteering to attend a funeral of the cooks brother in accra (i was 8 hours away from accra). I was forced to pay for my own transportation to accra and travel the 16 hour (return) journey. My other option was the stay at the volunteer house alone in our small, rural ghana town, get my own food, do my own cooking, get my own water from the well, etc.... i don't think this is exactly 'safe' to do. overall, this was not the experience i signed up for. i would not recommend volunteering with IVHQ.

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 11, 2011
Overall:
2
Support:
0
Value:
5
By: sglass
Age:
New User

Comments

It is very common for volunteer organizations to encourage people to apply for tourist visas instead of volunteer visas.
It's really unfortunate to hear you had such an unpleasant experience. I am wondering how reluctant IVHQ was to send you an invitation letter. Did you have to struggle to get it or did they pass it on once told them you had applied for your visa?
bailey, kirtsten and "cement" (samantha?), your accusations are ludicrous. by no means did i expect "luxury"..in fact i camped, on the ground, in a tent with no running water or electricity throughout east africa. i also did not need to "build my resume" as i wasn't another 18-22 year old volunteer fresh out of highschool or in college needing to boost their resume to get a job. why can't you people just accept that everything wasn't as perfect for everyone as it seemed to be for you? I will be going to east africa through a local organization who provides the same services as an international organization. ivhq is just very vague with it's blanket statement that program fees are for "in-country costs"...just saying that there are other options out there. and really, when there are so many issues that ivhq ends a partnership with an orphanage just 2 months after i left, it suggests that there must have been significant problems that would have warranted some human contact rather than a phone call speaking to the favoured few.
Last year I volunteered through IVHQ for 2 months and had an amazing experience. I came back after being home for just a few weeks for 2 more months and have now been back for my 3rd time for almost 5 months. In this time i have met at least 200 IVHQ volunteers while travelling, through my program and through Eddy and everyone has had a wonderful experience. If you are the kind of person who wants to pampered and wants to live like you do back home while still filling up your resume with your good deed for the world than this is not the program for you. Ivhq prides itself on being able to give you the experience of living in the country and with that comes things like fetching your own water sometimes, which god forbid you should have to do something for yourself. In your case, sglass, Eddy wasn't able to make it up to Nkwanta in that month you were there because of a death in his family. But i expect that someone who has come all the way to Ghana to volunteer would also be a person with at least some compassion. Eddy and everyone that runs any program are not just robots there to serve you, although they do so tirelessly. They also have families and lives that they put aside on a constant basis to put us first and more importantly to put the kids and their programs first. For those reading this, i would highly recommend IVHQ without a doubt. Personally, i like to be treated as an adult and i was happy that IVHQ gave me the freedom to travel on the weekends and to make my own experience. They were always supportive and if they couldn't make the ten hours to see us all the time they would call on a constant basis and always keep in touch and i know that if there was ever a problem they would come without skipping a beat. There is so much more i would like to say but i am going to leave it here. IVHQ and the staff is amazing. I am no longer through IVHQ but i have still had the support from them and they have made sure I am safe and well on the regular. I owe a big part of my success here in Ghana to IVHQ, and I have made what i think to be a great friendship with many of the people in charge and many volunteers who feel the same way that i do. -Cement
this had nothing to do with a negative attitude...i loved spending time with the kids,hence why i wanted to stay in nkwanta and not travel to accra for a funeral of someone i dind't know, especially when i had such a short time there and it meant the kids had no volunteers for 5 days. yes,i ivhq does not manage the orphanages in ghana...but they do represent them to us. we pay ivhq. ivhq claims they visit all projects to ensure their high quality. eddie is our in country contact with ghana volunteer corps. we are promised 24/7 support. we are not visited once over the course of the month when issues exist..something doesn't make sense
I was surprised to see that someone would write such a negative review about IVHQ and specifically the partner organization in Ghana. These are the cheapest fees that you can find and I believe it is truly worth going through them. Upon meeting and getting to know the local IVHQ staff, in Ghana, it became clear to me that they wanted my experience to be everything I wanted it to be. Eddie and his staff are so accommodating. I spent 6 weeks in Ghana and enjoyed it so much that I then returned for another 3 months after being home for only a short period of time. I believe that you get what you put into an experience like this and if you come into it with the wrong attitude and don’t embrace the differences in culture you aren’t going to get anything positive out of it. I understand that it can be confusing, and I admit feeling frustrated when the orphanage director and workers pressured volunteers for additional funds. But it must be understood that this had nothing to do with IVHQ. IVHQ supports these homes; helps them. IVHQ does not manage the orphanage homes. The problems had so much to do with the directors and workers of the orphanage and it is unfortunate the way these directors and workers manipulated volunteers. In order to protect future volunteers, IVHQ made the decision to stop sending volunteers to this orphanage. Upon Eddie cutting ties with this orphanage home I spoke with him personally. The concern he expressed for the children of the home when describing the importance of cutting volunteers out of Nkwanta was genuine and hard to hear. I have no doubt in my mind that Eddie and his organization in Ghana are trustworthy. Furthermore, I am confident and happy to describe how much Eddie cares about not only all volunteers’ wellbeing, but also how he cares about the kids in the orphanages. I was treated with such care and love from the local staff in Ghana. They made sure I was always safe and cared for. I don’t think I could have asked for a better experience. Eddie and his staff became more than just support. They became true friends who treated me like family. And I hope to venture back to Ghana and see them all again very very soon!
don't put words into peoples mouth eddie...enquiring about a program doesn't mean i wanted to volunteer with ibhq b/c quite frankly i wont give that organization any of my money ever again...i enquired about the ivhq program in uganda to compare it with other volunteer organizations out there and to see if i would be told the same lies by the adminstration in new zealand as i was told for ghana. instead, they were honest this time and told me that they didn't have homestays (in contrast to what they said on their website).....i will be volunteering in uganda through a LOCAL ORPHANAGE who will not be robbing me of money that they claim goes towards the children of the orphanages. your fee breakdown did not add up, there were many vague costs. you promised to visit us and you didn't. the program wasn't a positive experience. just to reiterate, i WILL NOT EVER volunteer with IVHQ or Ghana Volunteer Corps again
Hi there. I am Edward Adeli - program coordinator for IVHQ in Ghana. I just want to respond to clarify a few things here. I won't get into any arguments and this will be my only post (everyone is entitled to their own opinion on things) but I need to clarify some points for future volunteers to help assure them we are trustworthy and not lying. Visas - Volunteers can volunteer on IVHQ programs in Ghana on a tourist visa OR a volunteer visa. Both are fine with immigration for our programs. We prefer volunteers to get tourist visas as it is easier for us (less administration) but if they get volunteer visas that is also fine. Home stays - We do have some home stays. Not for all projects (some are volunteer houses) but we do have home stays available in some projects around Ghana. Honesty - We are honest people that run the IVHQ Ghana program and do not "pocket" money. I am incredibly insulted that this is insinuated and hope all volunteers do not feel this way. I will try to outline more clearly at orientation where fees go. We try to make our fees as low as possible while still paying staff salaries and all costs. Orphanage Issues - It is true there were issues at that orphanage. We had worked with them for a long time with many happy volunteers but should not have rested on our laurels and monitored the situation more closely. Sarah - I am sorry the experience was not up to your standards. However, we are aware you have also inquired about volunteering with IVHQ in Uganda this year so hopefully your experience was not as bad as you are saying. It is strange you are telling others not to volunteer with IVHQ when you are asking yourself to volunteer with us again. Thank you for support from other past IVHQ Ghana volunteers. We work hard here in Ghana and hope to have many more satisfied volunteers through our program. Kind Regards Eddie Adeli IVHQ Ghana Program Coordinator
Of course there were downfalls of the situation, there always will be in any similar situation. But I think you were wrong in your allegations and that you are writing in bitterness rather than righteousness or to be helpful. You are making a lot of assumptions and it's not fair. I am not going to argue back all the points that in the last post that I think are wrong. As cyber arguing is probably the lamest thing I could think to engage in. But you are so rude to insult me like that. I am not suddenly defending them; I always have. IVHQ and Ghana Volunteer Corps are good and honest. I really know that. Write what you want. I pray people won't listen.
bailey: 1) ivhq 'suggests' writing tourist on the visa...yes, i understand that they are not forcing me to write tourist. i chose not to write tourist which was still a reasonable thing to do since writing tourist was just a suggestion from them. yet when i asked for a letter to support me when i wrote volunteer, ivhq proceeded to pretty much tell me i was inconveniencing them and they couldn't understand why i would do such a thing and no one has ever done this before or needed such a letter....yet from speaking to other canadian volunteers to ghana with ivhq, i know that they did require this too and were give the same b.s. story 2) host family - the change was made in april. i arrived in the middle of july. surely if they couldn't meet the host family requirement, they could have let me know about the change (i specifically sent them emails requesting to live with a host family and stressing that this was important to me). it still says on ivhq's website that you may live with a host family...strange. Tina was not like a mother to everyone in the house....you happened to share a room with her temporarily so i can see how you were close and are defensive of her...she is a very nice lady and i'm not attacking her for going to her brothers funeral. if you wanted to go to the funeral b/c you were close to her, that's great. i was sorry for her loss but i didn't feel it was necessary for all volunteers to go, especially those of us that lost a week of volunteering b/c of it. 3) whether or not eddie was having "personal problems" is totally irrelevant...he runs an organization that provides a services that he needs to uphold. he did promise us (at our volunteer meeting which you were not at) that he would be up to nkwanta to visit us every other week (b/c it was too far for a visit every week) and that didn't happen. you say he wasn't obligated to visit us...well, what does 24/7 in country support that ivhq promises entail? especially when he knew that we were having constant issues with johnny the orphanage director?? Maybe eddie would have acknowledged the corruption of the orphanage sooner and not continued to send volunteers there if he had been more present... 4)Are you being totally honest with yourself? do you really think that it cost something like the $30 that was allotted for airport pick -up person? they met 5 of us there at the same time in one van and drove us the to volunteer house...thats an easy $150....and you know that we were hardy given any money for food per week for the kids.....volunteers were always adding their own money to it and there was still never enough...i was definitely not the only one unhappy with the fee breakdown when i was there...i don't know why you suddenly feel the need to defend ivhq.....perhaps to validate your own experience rather than to acknowledge some of the downfalls of the situation....
I strongly urge you to READ THIS if you read the post by sglass or if you at all have any interest in volunteering with IVHQ or more specifically, in the Ghana program. This impression and the statements laid against IVHQ are very misleading. I am so upset to find that this effort has been made to publically fault, what I believe, is one of the best Volunteer organizations available. I was very alarmed to find this negative post against the partner organization in Ghana aswell! I know it is a big step to go overseas and we all seek as much security as possible when we go - but I urge you strongly to not be influenced by this one bitter experience. I wish to defend every negative claim that is here laid against IVHQ; They are an amazing, supportive organization and I speak from, not only my experience, but from many, many other pleased volunteers who went to Ghana and elsewhere with them. It is a shame that this article has been posted against them. PLEASE READ ON. IVHQ supports - but does not manage - the 5 orphanages that they take volunteers to in Ghana. I volunteered with IVHQ for six months at the same orphanage and the same time as this volunteer. At the time, there were problems at this (and only this) particular orphanage that disrupted some of the volunteers’ experiences. Like sglass, many volunteers came for only a month or less and found themselves frustrated by the situation and by the limited amount they could contribute to the program in such a small period of time. It was a very stressful time for the in-country (partner) organization (Ghana Volunteer Corps) and they eventually convinced IVHQ to disconnect ties with that particular orphanage for the sake of the wellbeing of their volunteers. Despite some problems that occurred, everyone else still loved their placement and wanted to stay for longer. It will remain as one of the best experiences of their life for many of the volunteers. PLEASE take the time to read the rest as I hope to convince you to make one of the best decisions in your life, that is, to volunteer with IVHQ - particularly in Ghana. Please don’t let the extent of my response make you believe that I am affiliated with IVHQ; I have simply taken the time to work with their organisation and get to know and appreciate them well. I really care about both IVHQ and Ghana Volunteer Corps and I appreciate every opportunity they have given me to help some needy children in Ghana. If you have doubts, I will certainly allow you to see my facebook or even call me if need be. The first claim against IVHQ was that they will not allow you to make negative feedback on Facebook or their website. Of course they wouldn’t – no organisation would! As with any other org., there are going to be experiences that are not entirely pleasant or satisfactory but they can’t afford to publically display them - that would be ridiculously irresponsible of a company. IVHQ do however encourage us volunteers to be honest - but reasonable. There are sacrifices and challenges that one must accept when embarking on a journey like volunteering in a foreign country. They can’t and shouldn’t allow one’s personal challenges to put their organisation at risk when it is irrelevant to the rest of the volunteers and programs. To state that IVHQ force you to “lie” on your Visa application is a harsh and misleading depiction of their moral values. Here is a direct quote from the IVHQ Ghana Volunteer handbook that all volunteers received before leaving to Ghana: “We recommend simply writing down on your immigration form as you enter Ghana that your purpose for travel is tourism or vacation (this is true as you fall under the category of volunteer tourist).” I have since learnt that most other organizations give the same instruction to their volunteers, as these volunteer stints are relatively uninvolved, compared to serious dedications such as Peace Corps, etc. and only have duration for a few months. IVHQ instructs us to write tourism – which is really not far from the truth – for our own sake of ease when we pass through the terminal. I wrote on my form “tourism”, as they asked, and there were no issues. I would assume that it isn’t much bother for them to produce a form, and laziness is not the reason for requesting us to “lie”. I have only ever seen them keep the volunteers’ interest at hand and have never witnessed the slightest laziness on their part. After we paid our registration fee we received an extensive volunteer handbook. Within it states that we will most likely live with a host family. This used to be the case but they recently changed it at our particular orphanage placement so that the volunteers would live in a more comfortable “volunteer house” arrangement. The fact that some volunteers were mislead wouldn’t have been done so intentionally nor schematically to get them to pay their fees under false pretenses but, rather because the handbook was slightly behind in being updated. They may have changed the details on the handbook by now but it was a very recent change back then. Regardless, the volunteer house was much more free and comfortable than with the previous host family that I stayed with for a week before we transferred. We still also had the pleasure and experience of having a host-mother live with us in the volunteer house, who was a local Ghanaian lady. I heard only very positive remarks about our accommodation by the other volunteers; it was a very generous living situation considering the situation. The claim that Eddy neglected us at the program and didn’t visit us is very unfair; he was grieving a death at the time and was faced with many other troubles that we were all aware of. We still could call him freely at any hour of the day. I believe he was making a great effort to resolve our problems by a distance. Eddy was very sorrowful for not visiting us though he made no promises and was not even obligated to visit us in the first place. The journey to our placement from his place in Accra is at least 8 hours on very poor road conditions. He is very caring and would never neglect his volunteers. I heard of a story when some volunteers (in a different town) were walking at night (which was advised against, anyway) and got into some trouble. When Eddy heard, he immediately drove there for an hour and a half and stayed there the night just to comfort them. Even some local friends were impressed by his dedication and I daresay that other organizations would not provide this standard of support and commitment. The allegation that Ghana Volunteer Corps was “pocketing” money is outrageous! I am appalled at the disloyalty of some volunteers, considering that this organization was our support figure and provided us with more than enough comforts in our living situation. The figures and statements here are uninformed and inaccurate. The prices for us were very reasonable and we were given a well-explained breakdown of the cost that included the wages for the staff, which were very minimal anyway. To imply that the people of the organization cared more for themselves than the children, in terms of how they shared their money, is such ludicrous. They care for the kids more than any of the volunteers that have passed through, and have supported them for much longer than any of us have. The organization took money from THEIR OWN POCKETS on occasion to help support the children. I dealt with the money that was fed through to our program and I always trusted Eddy with the money. These flippant remarks and figures are so false and uninformed! I never felt suspicious of Ghana Volunteer Corps; on the contrary, they were the only ones e could really trust in the situation! Of course one can volunteer for much cheaper if you go independently. But you could not go independently if you had never gone volunteering before. It is just the same as how travelling independently is cheaper than going on a tour. Yes, at that particular orphanage, the director (not affiliated with Ghana Volunteer Corps or IVHQ, only supported by them) was corrupt but volunteers were never forced to do anything, though they had to bare the pressure of the situation. This sort of behavior is common in developing countries and was generally to be expected. It is because of this corruption that Eddy (from Volunteer Corps) no longer supports that program and he does not take his volunteers to that orphanage. He could not allow his volunteers to be put in such a situation. This last complaint made is the most upsetting of all. The “cook” was in fact, more or less, our host mother who cooked every meal for us, cleaned the house for us, fetched water for us and worked tirelessly, without break, every day. She practically slaved for us and we loved her in return for it. She is also the cousin of Eddy (the head of Ghana Volunteer Corps). Tragically, whilst we were there, young brother died and she was forced to go to Accra and support her family and organize everything for the funeral. We temporarily had someone to cook for us for a few days and then we had to go down to Accra to attend the funeral. We only had to pay the GHC30 for return transport but all of our food and accommodation was provided for. There was no option for any of us to stay on our own back in the town. Eddy wouldn’t have allowed it; and so their was no other option but to travel down to the funeral. Despite grieving and being run off her feet with the funeral, our host mother still waited on us and made sure we were fed and cared for during the whole procession. The situation was unavoidable and it was embarrassing how well we were catered for given the tragic situation. Despite it being a very sad tragedy, we were lucky enough to witness this cultural event during our stay, which was very uncommon. Thank you for reading this very long article. I hope I cleared any negative impressions of IVHQ that you may have had. Please make a post if you would like to contact me to learn more about the program in Ghana. I am Australian and will be going back to Ghana to visit the organization and to hopefully live there for some time. I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience abroad, despite it’s challenges. The program is really very reliable and supportive. These mentioned occurrence were not great issues though I wished to thoroughly address them as I feel I owe it to the organization that was so great for me and so so many others. I STRONGLY recommend volunteering with IVHQ.
Interesting that you write that...what orphanages were you at? Two of the orphanage programs there are no longer affiliated with IVHQ due to numerous issues....clearly, they are not checking the quality of the programs offered. also, there is absolutely no way that $700 goes towards food and accommodation. we had meat maybe 3-4 times a week and when we did it was a piece of mystery chicken. we mainly ate rice, a few vegetables (rotting cucumber and cabbage), fufu and the occasional eggs at breakfast time. it is possible to volunteer directly through an orphanage anywhere in africa...not only is it 'cheaper' than ivhq (i'm volunteering directly through an orphanage this summer and paying $10 a day for room and board...ivhq works out to about $25 a day) and but you know that all of the money you pay is going to the orphanage and not getting lost in "in-country fees" and "miscellaneous expenses" that eddie claims to have...i wouldn't say i got really really unlucky...there are many of us who had similar experiences but the second that they are posted on ivhq's facebook site, they are deleted..this gives the false impression that all reviews are positive
Honestly, by reading all your posts it seems to me you are not cut out for volunteering in third world countries. You are complaining just about everything, including the food (you should be blessed and grateful you had food. There are people who lay at night wishing they could have at least one bite to eat). Where did you think you were staying? the Ritz -Carlton? and be served filet mignon? Please do everyone a favor and do not volunteer. You are doing far more damage with your angry words and bitter attitude than doing any good. The whole point of volunteering is to love, care for others, immerse yourself in the culture, show initiative and support others in need...with a POSITIVE attitude........not nag and complain and spew negativity. Soraya (I've been volunteering in India and Africa for 5 years now)
Soraya, It seems to me by reading your post that yo uare not cut out for making judgements about people that you don't know. I have no problem volunteering - in fact i volunteer weekly in my first world country and also in summers in third world countries. You seem to be misunderstanding the point of this all - I had no problem with my food or accomodation - the problem came down to the fees I paid and what I got and what the local children in the program i was volunteering at got in return for those fees. there were children sleeping on concrete floors, eating 2 meals a day (if lucky) and having no source of clean water - i think that is absurd considering that there were up to 16 volunteers at this project at a time (paying approx. $250 per week) - i was stating that it was not like we were feasting on expensive foods and having gourmet meals and living at the ritz carlton - we were living in basic conditions WHICH I AM FINE WITH but it made no sense when so much money was paid and there were children living in horrendous conditions!!! In the meantime, the orphanage that I was at has been shut down due to problems with the man who was running it (also strange considering that ivhq says they thoroughly investigate each program) - the man was ultimately scamming volunteers into sending money for the children (however the children didn't see much of it) - and the majority of these orphans have since returned to their villages to live with family....my experience with the organization IVHQ was extremely negative but my experiences volunteering independently have been considerably better and i would recommend finding local organizations (which have less shady 'administration costs' and as such, make a larger impact on the local community)...should you have any other comments or questions, i'd be happy to answer them for you.
Really sorry to hear your experience wasn't good, I guess you must have got really really unlucky. I've spent 4 months out there in total now over several years, and I plan on returning again this year. Each time I get to go out I've had the opportunity to stay in different orphanages, and every one has been amazing :) The fees confused me the first time I went but I got to understand the breakdowns, it's a little difficult to get my head round, but I eventually did. The money I gave to IVHQ went to my accommodation, food and support, but then I also gave additional money from my own pocket to give donations to the orphanages to provide additional support when they needed. Personally, I've been really happy with what I've got for my money, it's the cheapest voluntary experience I could find and every time I've been the experience has been amazing. Ghana is an awesome country too. The people are great and always friendly, made so many friends when I've been out there. The food is really interesting, fufu and banku being the main dishes the Ghanaians eat, the dried fish was really strange though having been used to fresh fish all the time. Overall I would definitely recommend going to Ghana and working with the IVHQ team out there, people who run it are really great.

I had a good experience with IVHQ in Costa Rica. The experience itself was amazing, working with both the turtles and the locals. I learned a lot about Costa Rica, the Turtles, and just the whole volunteer abroad experience.

The program was connected with Maximo Nivel in San Jose. I'll admit, they were somewhat disorganized, as the staff was fairly new, all hired within the last 3-6 months. Few if not none of the staff had visited the actual turtle site so they didn't know the specs in that regard. But I have volunteered a lot within the US and disorganization is to be expected by such programs. They cared about us, but there was quite a bit of miscommunication.

The turtle site itself was great! They town we were in was small but it was refreshing in comparison to San Jose which was loud, hot, and crazy. The leader at the site was running solo so she had a lot on her plate. I think it would have been better had she had a second support person either on-site or from maximo nivel. Oftentimes she didn't know if and when volunteers were arriving, scrambling at last minute to find accommodation. I was expecting to work 8 hours a day, 6 hours a week, but we worked 2-3 hours a day, 4-5 days a week.

The other volunteers on the trip were cool, ranging in age from 20-50. Some had never been abroad, nor volunteered. Some were wanting to just have a vacation in Costa Rica, others were hardcore turtle lovers. I was surprised at the number of volunteers who brought their laptops and cellphones and demanded internet and phone service! That was upsetting to me but I just bit my tongue and kept my mouth shut to their petty requests.

I am looking into doing some more volunteer programs in Africa, India, and SE Asia. I am not sure if I will go with IVHQ only because I am a nurse and prefer to do medical work with other qualified medical providers. At times I felt IVHQ was geared for college kids which is fine, but not when you are a working professional.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 26, 2011
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
10
By: ap517
Age:
New User

I volunteered in Muizenberg on the IVHQ South Africa program for 4 months (just as Ben - the person below was starting I was finishing). I did a combination of the teaching program in the morning and surf program in the afternoon. I loved it and would highly recommend it. There were some issues with one of the local managers, but it was more personal issues between some volunteers and her. When the head IVHQ team found out about this, they even flew back to South Africa (I met Jamie the program coordinator) to check on this. I do not feel Ben's review of IVHQ is accurate in the slightest. As you can see from the other feedback here IVHQ is a very reputable organization. They do a great job of making sure volunteer fees are kept low and genuinely concern for your welfare if they receive complaints. The fact Jamie flew from New Zealand to South Africa to check on us speaks volumes for myself personally and I know other volunteers appreciated it. From my understanding they have now made some management changes within Cape Town so the manager at question is no longer working with them. My experiences with Ben (the volunteer reviewing below) were not great. I found him rude, demanding and tough to get along with. Myself and other volunteers were relieved when he decided to leave - not a pleasant person to have to live with. I am heading back to South Africa again later this year with IVHQ and am looking forward to the experience. I am going in September this year - a little later than last year - as last year it was very busy in June and July. Unlike Ben, I would highly recommend the IVHQ program. My advice for future volunteers before you go is to ask as many questions as possible. It's great to be prepared. IVHQ has a great Facebook group with a lot of members and this is a great way of contacting past IVHQ volunteers and asking them questions to get help before you leave.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 22, 2011
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
10
By: Nick25
Age:
27
New User

Comments

Hi Nick, My daughter Meghan, 22yrs. old is planning on volunteering in Cape Town for 3 months beginning August 5th. When you returned to Cape Town in Sept. of 2011
Hi Nick, Sorry I got cut off on my previous reply. To continue, when you returned to Cape Town who was the local volunteer organization and were you pleased with your experience? Your feedback would be great. Thanks Christine Kerrigan
Hi Christine. I loved it in Muizenberg. I went to Cape Town with IVHQ and was part of their program but please keep in mind it has been two years since I was there so you might want to find someone who has been more recently. However, I do keep in contact with Iviwe and she is still running the program so I expect nothing too much has changed. There were lots of volunteers there in your daughter's age bracket and providing it is the same now, I am sure she will love it. My only bugbear was one of the staff members there made life hard on everyone with some crazy rules but apparently she is gone now. Hope this helps!

IVHQ knows exactly who I am, and has banned me from their facebook group. My name is Ben Schickel and my email is ben_schickel@yahoo.com. Email me if you have any questions.
I committed 5 months to the IVHQ program in Cape Town South Africa. I cannot express how deeply disappointed I am with IVHQ in their handling of my situation. A little background of my situation: I signed up to work in an orphanage, I was put in a day care. I “volunteered” for THREE HOURS PER DAY and the rest just hung around. I was told I would receive 3 meals a day 5 days a week, but some days I did not and on others there was not enough food for everyone. I was told I would have adequate living conditions, but I was assigned a bunk-bed in the living room of a tiny apartment with one bathroom that held 10 people.
I contacted IVHQ in New Zealand countless times bring up all the inadequacies of their local partner organization, but was given vague statements like “we are confident that the local organization is doing everything to fix the situation.” They fixed it alright…. I was given a partial refund and dumped at a hotel in Cape Town. IVHQ was so sick of me at this point that I couldn’t contact them and I was on my own in Cape Town.
Luckily, I am resourceful and the situation ended well for me, but this whole thing raises some SERIOUS questions about IVHQ and their judgment. I found out later that IVHQ knew exactly what was going on, but did not take immediate action to fix the problem. I cannot vouch for its other volunteer sites, but I know I won’t volunteer with IVHQ again.
If you have to pay to volunteer, something is wrong. In these underdeveloped countries there is a lot of corruption and a lot of young idealistic people willing to pay to get a “volunteer experience.” I ended up volunteering for 3 months with a faith based group that ran an orphanage on the Eastern Cape who did not charge you to volunteer. LEDIGITIMATE ORGANIZATIONS WILL NOT CHARGE YOU TO VOLUNTEER. IVHQ IS NOT A NOT PROFIT GROUP!!! Just check their website. If you want to volunteer, a legit group will expect you to pay for transportation there, but not for room and board.

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Posted: January 21, 2011
Overall:
3
Support:
3
Value:
3
By: bjschick
Age:
New User

Comments

Ivhq only has a phone number and the same fax number. You can't call them because youcan only leave a message. Don't trust them. Don't volunteer through IVHQ. My daughter has a very bad experience with them.
Hi Ben, I had a similar bad experience with IVHQ in Ghana and was told the same line about the partner organization. It's a year since I volunteered with them and I haven't yet complained to them b/c I thought my experience was a one off. I finally saw that someone had the same experience as me (aka BAD) and wrote an honest answer as to my experience on the facebook page and i was too banned from the group. No wonder it seems like they're this amazing organization...they don't allow anyone to see the truth.
My biggest fear is to have a bad experience as both of you have had. Would you be able to e-mail me more information with getting in contact DIRECTLY with orphanages in Ghana?
Hi, Did you have an email I can contact you on at all? I was also wondering about how you got in direct contact with the orphanages Thanks

Thank you soo much to IVHQ! We enjoyed all aspects of our volunteer work in Cambodia. We were there for two weeks. The children at our orphanage were fantastic and will be greatly missed. The Host family were soo very welcoming and friendly. Star Kampuchea were very professional. Overall, we had an amazing experience, one that we will never forget.

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Posted: December 19, 2010
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
By: JenniferT
Age:
New User

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