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Projects Abroad

My name is Brooke Stoddard, and I travelled to Kenya in October 2017 to volunteer with Projects Abroad. At first, I was quite nervous about the whole adventure, since it was my first time travelling so far from home. Not only was I travelling far from home, I did not know anyone either. When I first arrived, I, as well as many other volunteers, thought "What am i doing here?". However, once I arrived to the Projects Abroad office in Nanyuki, all my stress had dropped off my shoulders. I was so relived. The staff was extremely welcoming, and make 100% certain that all their volunteers are safe at all times. The volunteers felt like family to me for the 3 weeks I was in Kenya. The volunteering was a life changing experience. I was working in the orphanages, and the children are so appreciative of everything we do for them. They simply may just need a smile, or a hug to make a difference in their day. It is truly heart warming. Every week day, all the volunteers were brought back to the Projects Abroad office where we could all interact and socialize with one another, which truly was great. Also, the staff organized social events every week, in order for the volunteers to simply get together and have fun. I guess i could go on and on about this volunteer trip, but if i have one last thing to mention, its that I highly recommend Projects Abroad. They are all simply amazing. From the moment you sign up for the trip, until the last day you leave the destination to go home. I, for one, loved every second of my adventure, and I will certainly be back to volunteer soon with Projects Abroad.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Dec 12, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Globalteer

I am really enjoying my time in Peru with Globalteer. The staff are wonderful and it is great to have them in Cuzco to support my time abroad. The project is amazing and the kids are so much fun to work with. The volunteers help in the arts class as well as English and games. I really enjoy doing the arts classes with the kids, they are so creative. Cuzco is such an amazing city, I really do not want to leave!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Dec 12, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Askari WCP

Askari is a genuine wilderness conservation programme which is run professionally and compassionately. Katie and Ed are doing a fantastic job running the programme for the Pidwa Reserve. Their knowledge is incredible and they share it with the volunteers with great enthusiasm. The volunteers are made to feel an integral part of the programme with lectures and learning opportunities as well as the varied, interesting work. This was just an interlude in my life between jobs but I feel I’m taking away an experience that will remain with me forever. I'll do my best to return to Pidwa and Askari.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Dec 12, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Deciding to volunteer in Vietnam last minute (while travelling in Vietnam) I cannot stress how efficient and clear the communication was with IVHQ. These guys know what they are doing. Green Lion - the local team - took over, and although not as quick to reply, they did confirm information sent. Picked up at airport and taken to the accomodation without worries. The building currently under construction, which had its drawbacks (but end stages) it has a lot of potential, but fulfilled all needs. Delicious food, nice atmosphere among the team and participants. An introduction week with cultural exchange and other experiences as well as useful information to help ease into the following weeks to come. Feedback submitted every week and taken seriously.
The 3 weeks (or remaining 2 and 2 days) of the medical placement went by quickly. I was glad to see that we could be involved by assisting the nurses, which in turn hopefully helped the patients. The conditions are different and a local guide from Green Lion was present at times to aid with language barriers. However, not a lot was medically explained as to why they did so, which could come as a bit of a shock, for me it was. Overall though, watching and experiencing families pull through the tough situations their members were in while at the hospital is inspiring. Have an open mind, follow the steps that IVHQ points out to you and you will surely have a good experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Dec 12, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

AFS

If there were a rating for negative score, I would have given negative. Now, I have to give 1 star reluctantly. I urge those students who want to participate in this program to think seriously that AFS especially Canada is definitely NOT an option to go.

My daughter has a disappointed, disgraceful and humiliated experience with AFS Canada. They not only lack of empathy, but also treat a 16-year-old girl mercilessly.

My daughter departed from Hong Kong to Quebec the end of August 2017 with full of fantasy, yet ending with early return on Nov 30, 2017 due to her own grandma’s terminal illness. Grandma’s illness was found out the mid of September, which was after my girl had departed to Quebec, and deteriorated drastically. Sadly, she passed away last Sunday, Dec 3.

AFS Hong Kong did arrange once for “trip interruption” in October to see grandma and the Senior Manager told us clearly that the next “trip interruption” would be for funeral. When we requested AFS Canada to let my girl coming back to see grandma the last time or even to attend the funeral, they not only declined our request but also forced my girl to choose between staying with the program and seeing grandma the last time and/or attending her funeral. She chose the latter and got returned home for good. Although we have been trying to explain many times, AFS Canada declined cold-heartedly and insisted that she has broken the rule without considering the real situation.

There were still many terrible experiences that my girl had encountered, which we think AFS Canada have violated the human rights and privacy acts, such as:
-She was taken away by another volunteer from the host family without notifying us when she returned from Hong Kong during the "trip interruption" ;
-the volunteer forced her to hand over her mobile phone and computer and be kept by the volunteer so that she could not send any message to home, or else, she would be early returned;
-she was also forced to show the messages between her and the host sister, who took her out for lunch and chatted, to the volunteer and then was told angrily that she cannot “disturb” the host sister anymore;
-under such isolation, we had no choice but to contact one of her friends/classmates in Quebec by Facebook in order to understand her real situation, we really worried about her safety. Unfortunately, such act was somehow found out by the volunteer who got mad and asked my girl to tell us to stop contacting her friend immediately. This is really ridiculous!

One night, we received her whatsapp because she was allowed to use the phone for 1 hour, she begged me to let her come back because she was frightened and helpless. It was really heartbreaking. We tried to talk to AFS Hong Kong and see if they could provide any assistance, but turned out negatively. Luckily, her friend’s family in Quebec is very kind and willing to host her the rest of the program and registered as AFS host. She became very happy eventually. Unfortunately, grandma’s life started counting down in days as told by doctor, but AFS Canada insisted that she can only choose between stay with the program or leave for good, she returned Hong Kong without hesitation.

What we wonder is, Canada as a country which human right priors to everything and how can AFS Canada be so cruel to a 16-year-old girl whose wish is so simple, pure and full of love to grandma. Besides, we have paid around US$15,000 to join this program and she has now been forced to return home by doing nothing wrong. Our money had just gone to drainage. We are just a normal family and this amount of money is pretty much to us. It seems that they don’t care about what happen to you, just send you home and that’s it, no hassle anymore. Is AFS really a non-profit making organization? I doubt it! Furthermore, it is hard for my girl to return to school in the middle of school year. That’s why I have to warn those who want to join this exchange program to Canada to think twice before you take any action.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Canada
Posted: Dec 11, 2017
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

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