Africa

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I recently spent 3 months Volunteering in Ghana at the Amber program with IVHQ. Simply put my time there was amazing. When I first decided to take the leap to volunteer in Africa I was really nervous as It was going to be my first time traveling alone. But I soon realized the amount of support that you receive from not only IVHQ staff but past, current and future volunteers you are never alone. The staff become some of your best friends and the vomunteers become like family to you... It sounds cliche but I really did make life long friends that I am so happy to have had the chance to experience this with. Evans, the project coordinator for the green and Amber program is amazing, he is such a genuine guy and will remain a friend of mine for ever. If you ever needed anything at all he was there.. just a phone call away... Even if it was something as silly as "what tro do I take to get to accra" hahaha. As for your placements... what you get out of the experience is what you are willing to give. If you walk in with no expectations and a complete open heart What ever program you will be placed in I can guarantee you will have an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to volunteer at both the green and Amber program and can not express how much I loved every second of it. Falling in love with those kids take all of five minutes and leaving them will be the hardest thing you'll ever have to do... Well at least for me if was. The only thing I would encourage IVHQ to do would be to send more volunteers to the programs that don't get as many long term volunteers... Like the Amber program. It's frustrating knowing that other programs could have 8 volunteers while you only have 2. Although it gave you more time to spend with the kids one on one it makes it very difficult to start up long term projects like other programs do because there is not a constant flow of volunteers to keep the projects up. Even sometching as simple as taking time to help one kid with his reading proved to be nearly impossible with only two volunteers because you have 40 other kids wanting your help just as much and with just two of us it could be overwhelming. But that said I would not chnage anything about my experience for the world. There wasn't a single day I was in Ghana that I didn't feel at home. I never felt unhappy or unsafe or unsettled. Ghana truly is an amazing country that will grab ahold of your heart forever. Yes you live simple, and basic and won't have the luxuries that you would elsewhere but honestly it's worth it and you start to realize that you don't need those luxuries to be happy. The locals there live with next to nothing yet they are some of the happiest people I have ever met in my life. Anyways, overall I would say without a doubt that if you are considering volunteering in Ghana with IVHQ... DO IT. It is a great way to travel to a country like Ghana for the first time. IVHQ looks after you very well, the accommodations are comfortable, the food is fine, the placements are amazing, and you are given plenty of time to yourself to travel and see the country. The program is affordable and the staff go the extra mile to make sure you are comfortable. So do it... Take the leap!! The experimeve is amazing and you will come out a completly different person.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jan 19, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
7

Comments

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your time in Ghana. We are glad to hear that you felt safe and welcome throughout your stay. It sounds like you had a truly unforgettable experience. We hope to see you on another programs soon.

Nakuru Hope

I first met Susan in 2010 when she was taking groups to Nakuru Hope to volunteer. My timetable that year did not allow me to go but I kept it in mind as I was impressed by Susan's passion and commitment. I visited Nakuru Hope in August 2014 for 3 weeks and was surprised by my experience.
The school had opened at the beginning of the year and Susan, her son and daughter had an official opening mid year. I arrived for the last week of Susan's visit and was made to feel very welcome by all. The children's assembly the first morning bought tears to my eyes. I was overcome by there happiness and willingness to learn.
The home stay facilities are excellent and welcome surprise. There were a number of other volunteers who came and went while I was there and meeting and learning from them was amazing.
I helped with classes, as my background is teaching, marked exams, read to and with the students. I was impressed by the English of the 8 year old students. Helping with food twice a day and playing at break times.
Sounds like fun, there were also home visits to see where these children live. It was in a slum area after all. They manage or not on so little. Walking around the slum was no problem. An old man came and shook my hand to thank me for visiting.
I highly recommend this experience to everyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jan 18, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

IVHQ Ghana Turquoise Orphanage Program 8 weeks

My experience with IVHQ Ghana has been amazing!! I had never traveled abroad before and I chose to do so alone, so it was an intimidating thing at first... but the nerves go away as soon as you land and meet the IVHQ Ghana staff member there to pick you up. The staff were incredible, every single one of them! The most friendly, welcoming, kind, helpful and fun people ive ever met! All the volunteers and myself were all having a great time before we even got to our various programs. You are taken such good care of at the volunteer house, any question you could possibly have or any worry ANYTHING you need is all taken care of by the IVHQ Ghana staff.
Prepare to be overwhelmed when you get to your program! Every single kid bolts over to welcome you... its a welcome you will never forget and never get tired of...and its a welcome you will always get from Ghanains. Mr Seth and his wife Vivian were the host family, they become your family... they are very very sweet, very caring and SO much fun... Seth is the most easy going guy on the planet and will do anything for his volunteers to make sure you are happy and comfortable, I never felt home sick for one moment, their incredible people. The kids are so much fun, your first week with the kids can also be very overwhelming, every kid wants your attention and there are over 40 so you have to learn how to manage them lol. You will fall in love with the kids so quickly... everyone does. There is so much to do at Turquoise... so many ways you can help, and you feel so appreciated, the work can be hard especially in Ghana's hot sun, but it is so rewarding and fun. The placement is beautiful at turquoise, you have an awesome view of the ocean. Weekends are free to do as you please, so we always took advantage of that and traveled every weekend... There are SO many beautiful and fun places to visit! You'll want to visit them again and again. Each program has a IVHQ Ghana staff member who always comes to visit to see how things are, if you are happy, if there are any changes that could be made, if you have any questions... their also a phone call or a text away... so between Seth and Vivian, Gideon (IVHQ staff member for turquoise) and the other volunteers you will be with, you have a huge support team. These people go up and above for you.
You will end up making life long friends and memories you will never ever forget. I think the kids will teach you more than you teach them.. its a life changing experience. It has been the best decision Ive ever made to go through IVHQ and come to Ghana, and I would recommend it to EVERYONE...
Leaving is awful! The last few days you have are too hard, the last day is a bad day... everyone would agree leaving is the worst. You make such good friends, and become so close with the kids, seth and vivian and the IVHQ staff... The only thing that will make you feel better is knowing you will be back... and everyone says they will be back.
I wish everyone could do this or something like this atleast once in their life time. Ghana is beautiful, Ghanians are beautiful, the most friendly people I know... If you are thinking of it.. stop thinking and just do it! You will not regret it, no way.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Nov 1, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Ashley, What a review, thanks for sharing your experience volunteering on our Childcare project in Ghana :) It’s absolutely awesome to read that you felt so supported throughout your time in Ghana. We hope to have you back soon!

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

In May of 2014, I volunteered with IVHQ's orphanage program in Ghana. I stayed for one month and it was a fabulous experience. I would highly recommend this program to others, especially to those who are traveling abroad for the first time.

It was my first time traveling abroad, and also my first time traveling alone. I completed the program independently, but I did make friends with the other volunteers whom I stayed with. I was 18 years old when I traveled to Ghana, and I had a mother who was very worried about safety. IVHQ has an amazing staff who is very professional and supportive. Before traveling, an IVHQ employee was in contact with me and gave me all the details of my program. I contacted this employee many times via email to ask questions, and she always responded quickly. Once I arrived in Ghana, the in-country staff were amazing. I had various phone numbers to reach them on 24/7 and they made me feel very safe.

I stayed in a volunteer house with the other volunteers on my program. One of the Mamas who worked at the orphanage would come make our meals for us and clean our house. She was so friendly and would always be there to offer advise about the program or travel plans. I spent most of every day at the orphanage because the primary reason for my trip was volunteering. IVHQ's program is dedicated to making a real change in the lives of the children. On weekends many volunteers travel to the main city or to other tourist attractions. Ghana is a VERY beautiful country!!

IVHQ is very organized and I had absolutely no trouble volunteering with them. If you are contemplating volunteering abroad with this organization, especially in Ghana, please just do it! I was very apprehensive at first, but it was a decision I will never regret.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Oct 15, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
8

Comments

Thanks for you for sharing your experience of volunteering on our Childcare project in Ghana. It’s really great to hear that you felt so supported by IVHQ staff, the local team, your host family and other volunteers. What an incredible experience to have as you first time travelling abroad! We hope to welcome you onto another IVHQ program again in the future.

International Humanity Foundation

As a volunteer in the IHF Center Nakuru, Kenya

A dream becomes true: Already as a little girl I dreamt of going to Africa to help children there. It was about five years ago when I saw a documentary about Africa that I decided, I wanted to go right after high school. To me it appeared the best time to go, since all my studies were done and I could not study for anything else, because I have no new classes yet. After spending weeks, looking for the right organization I finally found the advertisement of International Humanity Foundation. ‘This is my chance, to help without having to get financial help from my parents and relatives!’ and immediately I applied.
Now that I am here at the children’s home in Nakuru I am learning new things every day. Currently I am the youngest volunteer here which I sometimes get to feel in the way that I have no experience in particular situations. I am very grateful to have many very friendly and open people around me who help me.
Working with the children is often a challenge I must say, because not only is the culture very different, but also their perception of the world. I am surprised by some things the children ask me, which to me are very normal and logical to me, but they had never heard about it.
A regular day here starts at 5:30am for the children – except for weekends – when they get their tea and towards 6am they start leaving for school. After all of them have left – or at least all the ones that are not sick – we have time to do our online tasks, go to the hospital with sick children, help our cook cooking lunch, going to teacher-parents meetings, going to town to buy necessary utensils, and whatever else is needed. At lunch time some of the children come back to eat and some stay at school and eat there. Only the smallest ones stay here for the afternoon, all the others have to go back to school. In the evening, since they are in different schools they come home at different times, and we start playing games with them – they love football! – or help them with homework. Sometimes there are also big activities planned, though more on weekends than during the week. Saturday and Sunday are the only two days when we look after the children all day long, so these are our most exhausting days – fun never the less!
We are facing many difficulties with that many children around us – 70 children is quite a number to me! Problems like illnesses – meaning going to the hospital and waiting there for several hours – making sure the children are good in school, which means tutoring, helping with homework, doing extra work with them for practicing, and many things more. Every day is a challenge, and I like to every day have a new “task” to achieve.
So far all my experiences have helped me grow mentally, and to understand this completely different culture. Already now, that my third week is over, I think about how sad that it is that I only stay here for two months. I wish I could be here for longer, trying to have a bigger impact in the lives of those children, showing them how much potential they have and how they can use it, giving them the love they deserve, giving them an idea what life is all about, how important education is… I could go on with this list. I really think they are great children and I am happy to see that there are people from all over the world, willing to give them their time and influencing and teaching them, everyone in their very own way.

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

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

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