Africa

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I had the opportunity to volunteer with IVHQ in Ghana, Africa this summer. It was the best experience of my life. I decided on IVHQ by doing research on several programs and comparing them. I am a college student so I don't have a lot of money, and IVHQ was definitely the most affordable program I could find.

I felt like I was pretty well prepared for the trip because IVHQ provided an extensive handbook and a program coordinator was constantly in contact with me. She helped me with a background check, visa problems, and travel insurance. I also went with my boyfriend, and they were very good at helping us out to make sure we received the same placement and same details.

Airport pick up was a little bit of an annoyance, as I waited in the airport for several hours while they collected everyone, but not a huge problem. Once there, the placement I received was great. There were several different placements in Ghana, so I can't speak for every one, but mine was really an incredible experience. The woman who was in charge of the orphanage/school that I volunteered at, was very friendly and loving. There were times when I felt like I wasn't making a difference because I was just helping in the classroom most of the day, however, there were times when I knew I was. The children were joyed to just have a new friend and leader in their life. It was truly amazing to see their faces light up every time the volunteers came around. I was also able to work with a couple other volunteers to repaint the walls of the orphanage and clean up some things around the place.

Our volunteer house was more than I expected it to be. We were also provided with meals. Food allergies were a bit of an issue that never seemed to get fixed, so that was a bit of an annoyance, but you have to realize you are in another country where they don't deal with food intolerances.

We had an IVHQ representative assigned to our program that visited us once a week. He would check in on us and make sure things were going ok. All of the IVHQ representatives are fantastic and so friendly! They are really a great group of people. The head of the program, served all 30 or so of us dinner the night we arrived. Everyone I met was a very loving person.

Overall, it was a truly rewarding experience. I would definitely recommend IVHQ to anyone who is looking for a cheaper program with a great experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Oct 6, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Madison, Thank you both for volunteering in Ghana on our Childcare project. We really appreciate your feedback and will use it to improve the experience for future IVHQ volunteers. We are glad to have had you and your boyfriend volunteering with us in Ghana, and hope to welcome you both onto one of our other volunteer abroad programs again in the future.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I volunteered through IVHQ as part of my internship program through my university. IVHQ was super helpful and understanding of that and made it easy for em to complete my internship 'homework' through my trip. I had the most amazing time of my life in Ghana, Africa. Someone through IVHQ was always a phone call away and I always felt safe at my location. My experience was nothing more than perfect and I am so glad I chose to go through IVHQ. They were super helpful with ANY questions I had or any other volunteers and were extremely gracious to help us out with traveling on weekends. I was thankful for the program I got placed in with a host family and I thought it was nice that you could request which placement you wanted (I heard of some through friends) and you could request to change/switch programs at anytime. They made things so easy for us. I cannot wait to go back to Africa!!!

Program: TEFL
Location: Africa
Posted: Sep 22, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Jenny, We can’t wait to have you back!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your experience with IVHQ and volunteering abroad in Ghana. It is great to hear that you felt supported by IVHQ both before and during your volunteer experience in Ghana.

African Impact

In the summer of 2012 I volunteered in Livingstone, Zambia as a Teaching & Community Development volunteer. I had always been an avid supporter of non-profits, particularly those focused on the fundamental human rights of access to water, hygiene, health and sanitation. But fundraising alone just wasn’t enough. Money, whilst essential for emergency relief, doesn’t always get to the root of the issue in driving sustainable change. I needed to roll up my own sleeves and put my own two hands to work.

Waddling off with the world’s heaviest backpack drowning my frame, I started the epic journey from Manchester to Livingstone. I pictured what was ahead, excited yet nervous to experience first-hand a world so unlike my own. But nothing could prepare me for the experiences I was about to have, the deep friendships I would form, and the profound and pervasive impact on my outlook on life that was round the corner.

Arriving at the volunteer camp, I was physically exhausted from travel but mentally impassioned with adrenaline running through my veins. I was led to my dorm where I dropped my bag and sat on my bunk. I took a moment to reflect on my surroundings, and the stark contrast from my bedroom at home. Hard floors, basic beds, and a single shelf for my belongings. Here, necessity trumped luxury; western materialistic tendencies replaced by practicality. Setting the tone for the weeks to come, I felt comforted by the modest environment before heading out to meet with the other volunteers.

Waking up to my first working morning, I was roused by what lay ahead. I jumped into the rickety volunteer van and travelled some 35 minutes on uneven roads to a local under-resourced school to support as a teaching assistant for underprivileged children, many of whom travel over an hour on foot simply to attend. Stepping my first foot into the classroom, I felt butterflies rising up and dancing around my stomach: ‘What if they don’t like me? What if I can’t give them what they need? How can simple old me make a difference?’ Sat upright in a dusty classroom with broken windows and inadequate desks, 7 eager-eyed children looked back at me. As the morning progressed and the nerves faded, I was struck by the politeness, the obedience and the sheer desire to learn and ‘do better’ for themselves and their family. Mesmerised by their infectious smiles and sincerity, I felt honoured to teach them. Later I’d learn it was them who were teaching me.

After a short lunch break, I headed back on the volunteer van to head to the afternoon community projects. The nature of these changed each day, but my first day involved supporting at Maramba’s local Old People’s Home. I could never have envisaged what lay ahead.

As the entrance opened, I was greeted by a mini-community – various huts with the odd tree dancing around them - a warm, inviting and a safe and happy place. As I looked closer however, reality struck me. A scene of limping dogs and emaciated figures, too tired or too delinquent to notice the van passing through. I felt my stomach sink and my eyes begin to well-up. This was real – not a moving picture on a television screen - and I was right in the centre of it.

Stepping out, I was told we had to go into the huts and encourage the residents to come to the communal area and join us for games, colouring and music. As I precariously set-out, passing head-first through a wall of flies, I encouraged an old blind man I later learnt was called ‘Patrick’ to join us. He spoke no English, but despite the barrier of language, his warming eyes said a million words of sincerity. As the games commenced, I looked up to the room around me. Time appeared to freeze. To the left, a blind woman with a deformed mouth and dementia-ridded, blissfully happy making patterns with crayons and singing to herself. To the right, a volunteer playing the guitar and singing with two old men, tapping their feet and nodding their head to beat of the rhythm. Ahead, a group of women grazing over books, fascinated by the colourful pictures and deep in thought. Suddenly all my apprehension dissolved. These people were so frail, so old, so sick, so deformed and mentally confused, living in a dirty, fly-ridden community. Yet they enjoyed the pure gift of living and took deep joy from experiencing the simplicity of the moment. I can’t put into words how I felt at that very moment, but the feeling will stay with me forever.

As the weeks went by, I continued to spend my mornings teaching at the local school, and my afternoons on a variety of community uplift projects. At the farm, I helped plough and water the tomato and banana plots; James the farmer – despite losing his brother the day I arrived – never failed to wear a heartfelt smile upon his face. At the After School Club, I was swarmed by young children eager to play, hold my hand and with so much love to give, some as young as 6 holding their 4 month old siblings strapped to their back. And at the Adult Literacy Classes, I taught Rachel and Ann basic verbs and adjectives. At the end of my time with them, Ann stuttered that she wanted to give me something to show her deep appreciation, but apologised that she had nothing to give. I told her that her smile and eagerness to learn was a gift in itself – and it really was.

When my final day arrived and I had to say goodbye to my new family and friends, every bone in my body and neuron in my brain struggled to resist the inevitable. My time volunteering had pulled me out of the routine of life and placed me into reality. It opened up a whole new world to me. A world I did not want to leave.

So whilst intending to teach in Zambia, Zambia taught me. Firstly, as a volunteer, I have seen the reality of life at its most basic core. To see communities of skin and bone, families struggling to get by, and hear the graphic stories of the Medical Volunteers treating malaria and leprosy-ridden homes. These things make you appreciate anything above the core basics of life – anything not absolutely required for survival, even something as simple as a hair tie or a pair of socks.

Juxtaposed to this is the unbelievable happiness many people in these places display. And not a false smile, but a warming heart-felt joy for the simple things in life – for the taste food, the refreshment of water, the sound of music, and the companionship of family. This incessant heartbeat of contentment pulsed through every local I met.

Finally, on a personal level, not only did it teach me resilience, inner strength and confidence when faced with a radical culture shock and testing situations, but it enabled me to develop both as a leader and a team member. Moreover, it challenged me to think differently about the world, about what we value in life, and how each and every one of us is empowered to make a positive difference in this world.

Zambia was truly magical to me, fostering a zest for life that energises and drives my desire to continuously improve every day. I will never forget it.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 14, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I am here to tell you about my volunteer experience with IVHQ last mouth. I volunteered in Ghana Africa for one month from July to August 2014 and I have to say it was the best experience of my life and really has changed it forever. On arrival in Ghana, I was shocking that everyone’s holding things with their head instead of hands. It was so interesting to see people standing on the street and selling goods to us. Once at the volunteer house we met Benedict Adeli, Erin Adeli and Edward (Eddie) Adeli the head coordinator of the Ghanaian branch of IVHQ. After enjoying a lovely meal cooked by Eddie's gorgeous wife Erin I went to sleep in a hotel. In the morning I woke up early, so I helped set the tables and prepare for breakfast in the house. Gideon is an amazingly gentle giant, and I really enjoyed spending time talking with him. After breakfast we had orientation and we were sent on our ways to our placements and mine is the green program. People and children at the orphanage are amazing. They are so nice, especially the kids. I love the boys and enjoy playing football with them. They are really good at play football. And I love all the little kids, they are asking for a hug all the time. I had so much fun playing game and chasing around with them. Also, on the first weekend, we went to the Cape Coast. It was so beautiful that I could not distinguish whether that is Mediterranean or Pacific Ocean During this journey, I met so many interesting friends, and we chat a lot. Like Mitch, who is also a volunteer at the orphanage and I like him very much. I had an excellent happy time in Ghana. It was so amazing!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 12, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

Frontier

I chose the Madagascar teaching project on a little bit of a whim! I knew that I wanted to teach English abroad and Madagascar, with its unique wildlife and tropical nature, just jumped out at me. And I’m so glad that it did because the month that I spent there was fantastic.

The kids at the primary school, Saint Marie, are amazing to teach. I’ve never met such enthusiastic children, all so ready to participate in lessons. Some of the younger ones struggle with learning English which is understandable as it’s a 3rd language for most of them. However, this doesn’t stop them from eagerly jumping up and down to be picked to write something on the board! At break time, all of the kids will cheer and run out to the playground (pretty similar to school in England). The bell will then ring again to signal the end of break time and this prompted all the kids to cheer again as they head back to their lessons (not so similar to England!)

During my time on the project, I gained a BTEC advanced certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). I went into the project having had no previous teaching experience at all and so I was quite nervous. However, when I got there, I was able to shadow a fellow volunteer for the first few days before joining in with teaching. After a day or two, we taught the lessons together, both taking on equal responsibility in the class. My BTEC required me to lead the lessons and through this, my confidence developed massively with regard to presenting and communicating with the students.

Program: TEFL
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 9, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Projects Abroad

My volunteer experience with Projects Abroad is an unforgettable experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. From the second I got off the plane in Accra, to the day I left, I felt welcomed and cared for during my stay. I was in the program for highschool students: the 2 week Medical special. It is a relatively new program, but I had no complaints! The program and staff were well-organized and passionate about the program.
My placement during the highschool special was absolutely incredible! The host family was very welcoming and they also had great food. As I am home right now, I miss the Red Red.. Mmm! Whenever I had questions about the culture, the host mom or the daughters would give me thoughtful answers. Living with the family was a gate way for me to learn about the language and the lifestyle! It is a bit shocking that I learned the most fante( local language) from our driver,Steve! It proves that Projects Abroad thinks through all of their staff placements and the qualities which all of them obtain.
Next, the actual field work! It was an eye-opening experience. I got to actually treat patients: dress wounds, test for malaria, blood tests, etc. I was so excited that I finally found a program that would teach me the beneficial first aid techniques that many other programs do not offer. The medical advisors Eric and Abigail are my inspirations to become a doctor in the future. I would recommend this experience for anyone, it is truly life changing.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa, Ghana
Posted: Aug 8, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Alliance for African Women Initiative (AFAWI)

The six weeks working with AFAWI is a great experience for me. I had lots of responsibilities working on a research project on sex education in public junior high school in Ghana. Every day at AFAWI I was bombarded with multiple challenges, yet never have I gained so much experience in different implementation stages in the field of development. The alarming status quo of sex education in Ghana learnt from my fieldwork also motivates me put more efforts and passions in the field of reproductive health and sex education.

Working for a grass-root NGO offers a more holistic and down-to-earth picture of development compared with what I have learnt from my previous working experience with the headquarters of a big international organization and a branch of a Chinese government. Instead of working as a tiny assembly in a huge bureaucratic system with neither an general picture of the organization in mind, nor knowledge about the specific implementation stages, in AFAWI every volunteer is endowed with hands-on experience and multiple duties on each development stage of the project one is involved, and is allowed to take initiatives in designing and launching one’s own project. Working with AFAWI is a particularly invaluable experience for me. Interested in running my own NGO one day, I gained a lot of transferable skills including project implementation, fund raising techniques, team coordination and management of domestic issues. It is a great pleasure to work and live with colleagues coming from multicultural backgrounds sharing the same passion and aspiration for development. Learning to live and work with people is no less a enriching and rewarding lesson than all job responsibilities themselves.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 6, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Havilla Children's Centre

During Summer 2013 i decided i would like to try a new adventure where i could put a variety of my skills to good use. I am a qualified Nursery Nurse and student social worker and was therefore interested in working in Kenya around this field.

I came across the Havilla Children's Centre and contacted them to find out about their organisation and how i could become involved. Barnabas is the manager of the Havilla Childrens Centre and his wife Miller is a teacher there.

Barnabas provided me with all the information i needed and was very kind and thoughtful in being able to understand any fears i may have about coming out to volunteer. I decided that i could not miss out on this fantastic opportunity, so i booked my flights as soon as i could.

When i arrived i was collected at the airport by Barnabas, i was then introduced to his family, i was made to feel very welcome straight away.

My first day at the Havilla Children's Centre was really exciting, I could hear the children chanting with excitement as they could hear that a new volunteer had entered the building. At this moment i felt like i was a celebrity, all the children jumped up as soon as they saw me and gave me a hug to welcome me to their school.

I had the most amazing time working with these children aged between 2 to 6 years old, i was even able to skype my Nursery School back in England. During this skype session i had all the 6 year olds with me and we sang a song to the Children in England, they then sang a song back to us, it was a very exciting moment for everyone involved.

Speaking to Barnabas before i arrived in Africa he asked me what i wanted to get out of coming to the Havilla Centre. He was aware that i was a student social worker so kindly set up meetings for me to visit children homes and HIV charities. i realised that there was a variety of opportunities for me to engage with the community and offer as much support as i possibly could.

I brought a variety of childrens clothes with me and visited families in need of these items in the slums. Furthermore i was able to deliver HIV awareness training to around 50 members of the community.

During my time volunteering here there was a number of volunteers all from different backgrounds, some people had never worked with children before but wanted to experience it, others wanted to focus on other volunteering work such as being the cook for the school, running the youth club and supporting young adults with filming their acting class. All of which Barnabas was able to set up for his volunteers.

Not only do you get fantastic hands on experience working out there you can also explore Kenya by going on safari and much more.

I would highly recommend the Havilla Children's Centre, it is a fantastic place to be with fantastic teachers called Miller, Winnie, Lydia and Domitilla.

I miss you all and looking forward to seeing you again :)

Darren Williamson

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 5, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Had an amazing time! The people and the place were absolutely incredible and made tge expsrience unforgegtable however the actual project had little to do with conservation of turtles and I didn't feel like I made aby kind of diffefence whilst here. Also camp is in need of running water, a sepedate medical banda abd a more hygenic long drop.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 4, 2014
Overall:
6
Support:
9
Value:
3

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I am here to tell you about my volunteer experience with IVHQ last year. I volunteered in Ghana Africa for two months from October to December 2013 and I have to say it was the best experience of my life and really has changed it forever. On arrival in Ghana I was greatest at the airport by Evans Kojo I have to say we didn't click right away as I had a slightly rocky experience at the airport but after that we became friends and Evans was teaching me Twi one of Ghana's national languages. Once at the volunteer house we met Benedict Adeli, Erin Adeli and Edward (Eddie) Adeli the head coordinator of the Ghanaian branch of IVHQ. After enjoying a lovely meal cooked by Eddie's gorgeous wife Erin I went to sleep of jet lag. In the morning I woke to more volunteers who had arrived when I was sleeping I wandered into the kitchen to meet Gideon the chef being assisted by Evans so I helped make breakfast. Gideon is an amazingly gentle giant, and I really enjoyed spending time talking with him. After breakfast we had orientation and we were sent on our merry way to our placements mine being the scarlet program better known as BBF or Blessed Bright Futures orphanage. Aside from all the amazing people and children at the orphanage I am here to review my experience with IVHQ and their staff. On a weekend 'away' in Kokrobite (one of my favourite places in Ghana) we got to meet Dan Radcliffe the founder of IVHQ I felt very lucky as he only meets about one percent of his volunteers. Dan brought along George his camera man Eddie and Gidion came along also we had a great time relaxing with them all over dinner which they kindly paid for. And its these little touches which made the experience all the more special for me. They are all honestly great people and I can happily call them all friends.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 31, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
7
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Gabriella, It is great to hear that you enjoyed your experience volunteering in Ghana with IVHQ last year. Thank you for the feedback and for volunteering with IVHQ.

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