Africa

African Impact

I spent 3 months on the medical project in St Lucia and I would definitely recommend it! I absolutely loved it! The staff are so friendly and welcoming and are always there if you need help or you're not sure about something. The projects themselves are so fulfilling, whether its reading a book with a child or providing them with nutritional Epap, you can see the differences you are making. The people out in the communities are so loving and welcoming, they take you into their homes where they have nothing and still they want to offer you food for helping them out. The volunteer house is very nice and is situated in a nice town, you do have to share rooms but you get used to it very quickly. The food is very nice and is on a three week rotational menu, you only eat Zulu cuisine once a week and its actually quite tasty. If you're thinking about volunteering you should definitely do it, this organisation is amazing and the links they hold within they community make everything worthwhile. The experiences I had with African Impact I will never forget, the patients I made very strong bonds with, the children I fell in love with and the staff who became my family. It will always hold a very strong place in my heart.

Program:
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 22, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

African Impact

I spent two weeks volunteering on the Community Project in St Lucia and found it to be an incredible experience! The staff were all amazing, informative and supportive and all clearly had experience and expertise as to the projects and the communities that they worked in. The volunteer house was brilliant: comfy beds, good showers, spacious community areas and amazing food cooked by one of the Zulu ladies. I thoroughly enjoyed every project that I was placed on and feel that the staff were very good at ensuring that everyone participated in activities that they wanted to be involved in. It is obvious that African Impact makes a huge difference to the communities that they work in and that they are really appreciated and respected by the locals. The staff should be congratulated on the professional manner in which they dealt with any issues that arose within the volunteer house- ensuring that the safety and wellbeing of all volunteers was honoured at all times. The projects were very well run and coordinated. I feel that I did make a difference whilst out in St Lucia and saw visible benefits of the volunteers' hard work. I would 100% recommend African Impact to anyone looking to volunteer! Thank you for a great time!

Program:
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 22, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Initial impressions of the project were excellent. The staff were willing to take me out on multiple point out dives, which involves no data collection, to aid my learning, along side multiple fish lectures on camp with the coral reef fishes book, equipping me with the relevant knowledge concerning fish and invertebrate species required to participate in data collection.

Africa can seem like a daunting place but having spent weekends in the closest town Hell Ville I would not hesitate to walk around alone during the day to the fruit market or our favourite bar Nandipos. The culture is like nothing I have experienced, street food is delicious and on the locals are very welcoming, especially in the village surrounding camp.

As I became more involved on the project and was participating in at least 2 dives a day, BSP's or active searches, 5 days a week. I began to write up my data independently and took on more responsibility, such as organising equipment for the dives including the SMB and reel for BSP's and the dive slates used to record data. To further my understanding of my personal contribution to the project I helped an ARO with data input for the end of phase report, keeping me motivated and giving intrinsic value.

The staff were a huge aspect of my overall experience; their excitement and motivation spread to me and I wanted to see and learn more, hungry to understand the things they see in the water. It is easy to become distracted and focus on recreational diving but the science must be the initiative to become involved in the project. I used every resource given to me and if you have the willing to learn, the staff are a key learning resource.

This place is what you make it, you get out of it what you put in. I was highly motivated and always chasing more responsibility and more insight into the project and was rewarded with the satisfaction that I am making a difference.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 18, 2013
Overall:
7
Support:
10
Value:
7

Comments

Thanks, it's great to hear about your experiences on the project.

African Impact

I wish that I had better things to say about African Impact. I did not have a good experience with them, in many ways. First of all, the volunteer house itself is in need of repair. The showers were very unreliable and many people ended up finishing their showers in the sink. The food was low in nutritional value overall (rice and frozen veg was the regular meal) and generally very spicy. On the medical program, there was simply not enough for the volunteers to do, so we would be sent out in 4's to check on one person. The idea was to get quality time with the patient, but really it was just the Zulu social worker doing all of the communication, so the volunteers were left just to sit and stare at the person. Not exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for this experience. This leads me to believe that they are more interested in getting the money from the volunteers more than creating significant change or a valuable experience, at least for the medical part of the program. I began to disagree with management after they changed my assignment without my input. I specialize in teaching Human Sexuality and they gave the HIV class to people who had no training or knowledge of HIV, and no special desire to do the class. They were just randomly assigned the task. I didn't take this well and started to get depressed and sullen. The worst part came when, after 3 weeks of working with them, I was roused out of bed and told I had been terminated from the program. The initial reason was due to a stupid, generalized joke I posted on Facebook about smothering people, but then stated the official reason was that I had revealed, in an email to the lead coordinator, that I had an anxiety disorder (citing that as why I had trouble discussing with them that I was so unhappy with the recent change). I was told that I had not listed that on my application, so that was grounds for immediate termination. This was after a night of program sponsored drinking, so I was not in the place to take this well either. I left, even though they gave me the option of staying, in separate quarters--like a criminal. They put me in a very dangerous position, drunk, alone, having a full-blown panic attack on the darkened streets of St. Lucia . They did try to offer suggestions of hostels, but if you've ever had a panic attack, you know that it's unbelievably difficult to focus on anything besides the anxiety. I was rescued by a local woman and after a few days, I took responsibility for my actions and sent an email to them apologizing for my part in things and asked to come back. If you are interested in volunteering abroad, you want to do the work. That's why you're there and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to finish the work that I started. I was denied that chance with no explanation of why. The majority of the coordinators are incredibly young and inexperienced. If you are over the age of 25 and have any actual skills that you want to employ, this is not the program for you. This rash decision, coupled with my own ill conceived behavior, has costs me almost $1,000, since I had to find my own lodging, food, and way back to Durban, 3 hours away. I am a school teacher and do not have that kind of extra cash, especially after paying $5,000 for the experience in the first place. I'm afraid this has killed any motivation for me to volunteer abroad or to encourage others to do so. That's probably the saddest outcome of all. I do want to note that this is not my first review of this organization. I was contacted by the lead coordinator and pressured to take down my initial feedback on another site. This tells me that they are not interested in receiving honest feedback or others knowing their serious flaws.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 13, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
3

Comments

African Impact would like to comment that we are aware of this unfortunate event in which we were required to make some difficult decisions that we do not take lightly. All feedback we receive is important to us and reviewed seriously so that we can agree on appropriate steps to improve. We are committed to our responsibility to volunteers who join us in Africa to help us achieve the objectives we agree with local communities on the projects we run. At the centre of our focus is our responsibility to facilitate projects with meaningful outcomes for all of our volunteers, and we make it a priority for volunteers in turn to experience, learn and enjoy their time with us, and feel safe in all aspects of their stay. We have in place a Code of Conduct which on rare occasions we use to make sure all other volunteers are safe and their experience is not affected negatively by others. When we use the Code of Conduct we ensure the person involved is offered support and is safe. Our St Lucia Project hosts over a hundred volunteers a year and the testimonials speak for themselves – this is one of our top rated projects and has received rave reviews from previous volunteers. We invite any potential volunteers to read subsequent reviews of this program for more accurate project feedback. - Andrew Procter, Operations Director - African Impact
First of all, the showers were fixed within two weeks and even if they weren't the best, you are volunteering to help people that have barely anything so you shouldn't be complaining about repairing a shower, especially because you did not pay to go to a 5 star hotel, you payed to help people that really need it. Also, the food was not generally very spicy and it definitely wasn't low in nutritional value. We did have meatless monday but apart from that we had chicken or ham or eggs or meat as protein apart from having bread, rice, pasta, veggies... You are forgetting about the day of pasta with bolognese sauce, where you had seconds too... Its definitely not low in nutrition! The medical program doesn't need to change, it will improve as more money is raised, and of course they are interested in the volunteers money, its a charity organization!!! Also, get over the HIV ed... After doing it for the first two weeks you should realize that anyone can teach them about HIV because they only need to know the general idea of it, not the specifics, so even if you teach it in college you cant just own the project for your four weeks and let no one else do it. You are being selfish. About you being kicked out? You asked for it. Why would you ever write so many Facebook posts being disrespectful to everyone in African Impact and insulting the volunteers calling them unskilled children... Guess what? We had a nurse as a volunteer and she is 23... I guess the description of younger than 25 and unskilled doesn't fit anymore does it? And people don't come here to use their skills even if they had really good ones, people come here to help whether is by using their skill or not. The nurse volunteering isn't even in the medical project, shes in community and she still loves the project. Also that last post of smothering people, you forgot to say that the post said you needed to get drunk to forget the fact that you wanted to smother people in their sleep... Its not a joke when you say it like that and you definitely cant say that when you live with 15 other volunteers in a house. Your review is NOT honest feedback since everyone except you thinks completely the opposite way... If only you criticize the organization, don't you think you are the one thats wrong, not the other hundreds of volunteers that loved the experience and the program? Just get over the fact that you made mistakes by making so many insulting and disrespectful Facebook posts that are public and therefore can be seen by everyone, especially when you were friends with the volunteers and also the fact that you forgot to say you had PTSD... I think thats information about you that should have definitely being reported when making the booking... Sorry if you had a bad experience but you put yourself in it by acting like a five year old wearing headphones all the time, not talking to anyone and being pissed the 24 hours of the day and creating a negative atmosphere in the house. You should apologize and move on.

Global Crossroad

I volunteered with an organization called Kiwakkuki, a NGO based in Moshi that works to support women affected by HIV/AIDS and vulnerable children. The program structure was relaxed, but each volunteer day gave me tremendous insight into the life of Tanzanians affected by HIV/AIDs, their daily life, their struggles within the community, family and general community acknowledgement/education concerning the disease. You may choose your own level of involvement with the organization and plan your days with the coordinator accordingly; you are in charge of the impact you make. This is definitely not a program in which you are spoon-fed a fixed schedule, but this also means that you are in control of how much support you can give, and how much you may get out of it. As a volunteering experience there was a lot of free "room" to plan your extra time, and weekends are spent enjoying the town or planning your own excursions - a safari trip, or maybe a nearby hike. Food was great, the people are inspiring and kind, and overall a great, great learning experience. I won't forget.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 7, 2013
Overall:
7
Support:
10
Value:
8

Original Volunteers

Wow where do I begin!...My experience in Kenya was incredible, the children were a delight to teach, and the volunteer staff were so welcoming and helpful. I stayed with a Masai family who cooked for me, they were so lovely and made me feel at home. I stayed in Kenya, Masai land, for 2 weeks, where I taught in a primary school throughout the week, and in my spare time explored the stunning mountains surrounding where we stayed and visited local towns. I also did a safari, which was well worth doing! An experience I will never forget.

I think price wise, you would without a doubt not get a better deal! However the price did not compromise the care and support that the organisation gives you. I found the 24/7 support very reassuring when I was out there and Original Volunteers would send me emails before my departure informing me on what to take, and information on the project.

I am going to Morocco with Original Volunteers next month and am already planning another trip with Original Volunteers next summer! I would recommend this organisation to anyone, because, you are never on your own, there are always volunteers with you, most who go alone and the staff couldn't be more helpful.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 7, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Original Volunteers

From the moment I landed at Marrakech airport any apprehension I may have felt travelling alone quickly dissolved as soon as I met Adil, the driver sent by the co-ordinators to take us to our accommodation. The warm, genuine welcome he gave me made me feel totally at ease.
I was pleasantly surprised by the accommodation in Riad 9 which although basic was homely and adequate for everyone’s needs with power points for e.g. hairdryers, a communal kitchen, a dining area and large sofa’s on the second floor where everyone could congregate and get to know each other. The roof top has sun loungers where you can sunbathe during the day or sleep under the stars at night. This all, I may add was kept scrupulously clean by Amina who came in daily, taking extreme pride in her tasks.
The project co-ordinators in Marrakech, Rachid, and Fatime are extremely dedicated and enthusiastic not only to the projects but also the welfare and enjoyment of your stay. The supervised daily activities are varied with visits to orphanages, schools and nurseries in and around Marrakech, which brings you into contact with children of ages from birth right up to late teens. The tasks included Basic English, numeracy, arts and crafts, painting and outdoor games. The children are fantastic, with a huge appetite to learn. One of my favourite projects was The Street Kids which is like a youth club. There we played games and did arts with the kids who in return sang and played traditional Moroccan drums – djembe and bendir. They were so happy, confident and talented it emphasized what can be achieved if you invest time and encouragement in others. Another highlight for me was the two hour trip to volunteer in a Berber village. We were split into groups, with one group getting water from a well using a donkey, another group making bread and another Tagine. We volunteered in the local school for a while in the afternoon. Then after a mint tea making competition we went for a walk in the breathtaking Atlas Mountains. On our return we received more than enough food to feed an army. Afterwards our hosts entertained us with traditional Berber music and games which we were encouraged to take part in. Seriously I’ve never had so much fun. These memories are everlasting.
The weekly schedule whilst it seems to be full on actually allows a generous amount of off time. Trips to the Sahara desert, Essaouira for example can be arranged via Fatime or Rachid. Also every evening we headed down to the Souks in a large group for dinner (as it was really cheap to eat). Shopping is great fun with stall holders expecting you to barter. If you’re careful you can pick up a lot of good bargains. Leather goods especially.
Marrakech is a vibrant city which is guaranteed to stimulate every sense you have via the sights, colours, smells and sounds. I feel the projects run by Original Volunteers allows you to experience this magical city in its entirety. Not only do you gain an insight into the hardship people face but you also the warmth and generosity of ordinary locals. I’m enchanted by this wonderful place and its people. I was so impressed by my experience due to the Original volunteer co-ordinators Rachid and Fatine that I can’t wait to go back in December.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 3, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

arrived on Nosy Be nearly two weeks ago and I've had a great time so far! The camp feels remote and secluded and feels exactly how I was expecting yet only a boat ride away is a large enough town where you can get everything you need. Everyone on camp has made me feel very welcome and the staff work their socks off to get all the volunteers out on surveys and dives for the research that is being carried out here. So far there have been people trekking across one of the smaller islands nearby for their expedition management course, a satellite camp for the marine team and an environmental education day for the people here in the village where camp is situated. The camp itself is not nearly as tough as I expected. There are working showers! Plenty of hammocks strung about the place for down time and my bed is a pile of roll mats so its plenty comfortable. The food is absolutely fine! I would recommend bring honey or nutella to have with the sabeda (sticky rice) in the morning and maybe some chilli or spices to have with the main meals but there is plenty of veg and fruit can be bought in the village. All in all I'm having a great time and this week we've had lots of new arrivals so we are all looking forward to meeting and getting to know them all, getting out on the water and in the forest too!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa, Madagascar
Posted: Jul 3, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Thanks for the review. We always love hearing about Madagascar.

Original Volunteers

I volunteered in Ghana with Original Volunteers in summer 2012. It was an amazing trip!

OV are great at getting back to you throughout the preparation process and ensure you feel prepared by emailing detailed info packs.

Once we arrived, we were met at the airport and welcomed to our house despite the late hour. Throughout the trip our taxis to our volunteer placements were arranged for us, and we even had very affordable mini buses take us on weekends away and then drive us back!

Generally we worked 4-5 days a week and then traveled on weekends. I taught in a school for two weeks and then worked in a nursery for one week (although the main options seemed to be teaching, building or painting). It was challenging but very rewarding work. If teaching, it is best to bring lots of art supplies, and basic equipment like pens, pencils and paper as at our school there was a real shortage of these.

The trips were pretty amazing - beaches, lakes, live African music and dance, waterfalls... and they are of course optional, but well worth planning together as a group as they work out so affordable.

I recommend the OV Ghana trip to anyone wanting to volunteer for the first time - you are guided and supported throughout and Ghana is an extremely friendly country!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 2, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
8

Original Volunteers

Africa was amazing, the people were all there for the same thing, to look after the monkeys, everybody had that one thing in common so everyone got on great. The excursions were amazing too, I went and did a horseback safari, fed lions and even walked with one that was 1 year old, the lion had a play fight with the pet dog the place had, I also went to the zoo and saw lots of different animals there and fed a cheetah and played with white lions. The monkeys there are mostly friendly and have an amazing life within the sanctuary I would definitely do it again one day.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 1, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
8

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