Volunteer Abroad

Madventurer

I was horribly disappointed with my Madventurer volunteer experience, and for many different reasons:
-- the volunteer trip started two days late, but they did nothing to accommodate us while we waited for them to sort out their problems
-- the trip was overbooked, so there were too many volunteers and not enough tools or work for everyone
-- they gave us broken shovels that they borrowed from locals, and did not buy a single new shovel with the tens of thousands of dollars they received in total from all volunteers on this project. I would have brought my own shovel had they simply asked!
-- they said that we would be working in an extremely poor community, but we stayed in a house that had electricity and many of our neighbors had satellite dishes, nice cars, and electric fences surrounding their big houses
-- they promised that we would have an opportunity to meet with local women and assist them with business development, but there was not a single opportunity to do this
-- the project was poorly managed and our time was wasted. For example, they dropped bricks off a hundred feet away from our build site instead of driving down another road and dropping them off just twenty feet away. When I pointed out this inefficiency, the group leader said "well, we need more work for the extra volunteers anyway". Umm.... no, I didn't travel to Africa to do busy work, but actually came here to make a difference.
-- There was a new school building that was not being used because it was missing window coverings. Rather than spend our time and money on this, the group leader wanted us to pain a mural instead. Why? These children don't need pictures, they need classrooms!
-- there were two little boys in the school who would carry the same desk back and forth from classroom to classroom. Meanwhile, there was a new classroom full of desks that was being used as the lunch room for the teachers and volunteers. There were many more desks than needed in this new, unused classroom, so simply no need for these two boys to keep moving the same desk back and forth. When I pointed out that these two boys could spend more time studying if we just moved one of these desks to the other classroom, the group leader told me that "we shouldn't get involved." Why?! I came here to get involved!
-- the group leader did not speak Swahili and could not negotiate any of the project specifications with the locals (or help us to reach to others in the community)
-- they bought one can of paint and proceeded to water it down so much that it took at least ten coats to cover a wall when only two should have been needed. I read the directions on the can, and told them that they were watering it down too much. The group leader again said, "This is how they do it here." Okay... and they are a developing nation, so do you think that maybe they need some help from those of us who actually understand efficiency?
There were 14 to 20 volunteers on this one project, most of us standing around while a couple of people worked with the few lousy tools provided. It was a poor use of many good people's time, and we ultimately did little to help this community. A total disappointment.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Mar 1, 2009
Overall:
0
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

Are you honestly complaining that the village wasn't poor enough? Millie Taz volunteer 08/09
Dear Heather Dear Christie I'm trying to get more information about people who have had bad experiences with these big gap year organisations. Would you mind emailing me? otto.rich@yahoo.co.uk I'd really appreciate it! Regards

ELIabroad Experiential Learning International

I volunteered with the orphanage program in Nakuru for almost a month. Such a beautiful place, and the kids were so fun! I was nervous about traveling on my own but the staff really tried to make me comfortable and they were always available, Ruth greeted me at the airport in Nairobi and drove me out to Nakuru Town. It was hard leaving those cute little faces behind, I hope to go back someday.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Feb 24, 2009
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Comments

Hi! I am planning to do my internship in Kenya trhoug ELI organization. Could you tell me about the accomodation and safety in Nakuru? thank you! my e-mail: peteer@utu.fi
Hi, I am considering applying for a volunteer stint for 2 - 4 weeks with ELI in Kenya. I hope to work on issues such as Human rights / female empowerment type of work. I'm concerned about the safety, since it is likely I would be teh only volunteer during that period. Could you let me have your thoughts? thanks! fan.kelly@gmail.com

Inspire Volunteering Company

Great well organised and genuine program. I wanted the real deal and to feel connected to the project with orphans I did. Inspire staff deliver very well. Will be back soon I hope.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Feb 16, 2009
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Comments

Hello! I'm going with Inspire this June to kakuma camp in Kenya- would you recommend Inspire for other volunteers?

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

Volunteering in Dar Es Salaam was an unforgettable experience for me. Planning the trip couldn’t have been easier with the immediate responses and helpful suggestions from A Broader View staff and previous volunteers. I was able to really connect with the youth and work together to do something that really impacted the local community. This trip taught me to be flexible and more open-minded and never to be shy about asking questions. The host family that I stayed with couldn’t have been more welcoming and kind – wanting to show me everything about African life! Even though the lifestyle change and culture shock is quite overwhelming at times, it is important to embrace everything and know that you are there to immerse yourself in their culture (all aspects of it, too!).

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Feb 16, 2009
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I taught English through IVHQ in Chiang Rai, Thailand and it was one of my most memorable experiences of my life. I'll admit I had heard second hand terrible stories from people that volunteered with other companies so was a bit nervous before I went but to future volunteers - don't be. IVHQ do an outstanding job ensuring local staff are right (for the Thailand project anyway) and my project was incredible. Blanche (my program coordinator at ivhq) answered all my questions promptly before I left which was reassuring and never did I feel unsafe (which was another of my concerns before I left). I agree with the girl below who said if you could give this experience an 11 I would. If you are considering it - do it. You will not regret it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Feb 10, 2009
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

My cousin and I are planning to go to Chiang Rai this December, so this is great to hear! We're so excited. Question: did you have power? We were wondering if there would be a way to charge our cameras :) Thanks!

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

Volunteering in Kpando, Ghana was truly an amazing experience. As one of the leaders for a 12 person group it was extremely important to work with an organized and supportive program. I found the staff at A Broader View to be a major help during the planning period of my trip. All of my emails were quickly answered, Sarah was always available to answer any questions over the telephone, and all of my concerns about safety were addressed. I worked together with A Broader View in order to come up with a great itinerary to provide meaningful service in Ghana. There is such a wide range of volunteer opportunities so no matter what area you would like to focus your service on it is possible through A Broader View.
I urge everybody to go and experience the beautiful country of Ghana. The people were so warm and inviting. Everywhere we went kids came to hug us and adults took us in with open arms. There is so much that can be done in Africa and so much that you can learn from the people there. Going in with an open mind and getting first hand experience is the best way to actually do something about poverty, preventable illnesses, and HIV/Aids education.
. I experienced and learned so much more then I ever thought was possible during my time in Ghana.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Feb 8, 2009
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Volunteering Solutions

Just came back from an amazing trip! Everything turned out great as people at volunteering solutions were great and helped at every step. A must visit if you are planning for Thailand...

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Feb 8, 2009
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Volunteering Solutions

We had the time of our life. Sahil the person at their office was there to help me and my son always and made a perfect trip for us all through. We are already planning another trip with them!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ecuador
Posted: Feb 6, 2009
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Quest Overseas

Quest overseas was by far the most amazing experience of my life. Within only three months we visited a huge amount of country and did some incredibly amazing things. The people i met on the trip were absolutely brilliant and our leaders were both highly motivated, resourceful, friendly and exciting to be around. The reason i choose Quest overseas for my gap year was its project, we spent 6 weeks working on a building project in Tanzania on the slopes of kilimanjaro, this was incredibly rewarding as it was a well researched project that was actually something the local community wanted and were committed to the development of. While working it felt like we worked with the community as integrated members rather than being a group of outsiders stuffed on a site for a brief period of time.
The expedition part of the trip was absolutely amazing!! it literally felt like we did something incredible everyday, bunjee jumping, walking safaris, trekking, scuba diving, camping in the Botswana delta, tubing, bridge swinging etc. Although Quest is expensive i would definitely say it was worth the money, the reason its so expensive is that everything is included apart from flights, i barley spent any money while i was actually on the trip and a huge part of the cost is a massive donation to the project, without this donation the project is not possible as it pays for materials and wages etc.
I would not hesitate in recommending this trip to anyone who wants to travel widely, volunteer or just escape for a few months!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Feb 6, 2009
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Do NOT travel with Frontier! They are absolutely dreadful and it's a waste of your money. I taught in Tanzania and whilst the experience itself was amazing, and I will definitely go back at some point, Frontier let me (and the other volunteers) down big time.
It's hard to summarise, but let's give it a go. Only after paying the full £895 were we told that the school was closed for summer holidays for the entire month we were there. We had no field staff member as promised in the original contract and had to rely on once a week visits from staff at the marine camp.
Frontier kept piling on the costs once we'd paid (such as £160 for internal flights), and on landing on our island we were told that we weren't staying in town as we'd been told all along, but actually living at the school.
They barely provided enough money for food (£6/7 per week) and made no donation to the school - leaving me wondering where £600-700 of my money disappeared to.
Just don't travel with them whatever you do.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Feb 6, 2009
Overall:
1
Support:
0
Value:
2

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