Volunteer Abroad

Global Crossroad

My experience in Peru is truly one of the most memorable moments of my life. I stayed in Cuzco for about ten days from May 3 till 12, one day in Lima, and then flew back to Toronto, Canada. From start to end, Jenny and Martha, the national and local representatives, were very helpful and supportive, and facilitated our stay in Peru. We always talked with Jenny. My friend, Maryanne, and I had the fortune of meeting another volunteer (David Curtis) who works at an orphanage, whom we became good friends with during this trip.
The host family was extremely friendly and welcoming. Despite not speaking the Spanish language at all initially, I felt very comfortable interacting with them through other means (ex. sign language, drawing, dictionaries...). They served us many delicious local foods, such as the guinea pig, ceviche, maize, papaya juice..etc. They showed us around the city and took us to markets, small shops, cathedrals and other touristy places (ex. Plaza des Armas). On weekends, they even planned full-day trips for us to see Machu Picchu, other Inca ruins, and museums. We even got to go horse-back riding on mountains!!! The Peruvian scenary was stunning and the experience was exhilirating.
At home, we played soccer, drew pictures, watched TV and chatted with the host family. The house is nice and spacious, and the washroom is very clean. The only minor concern is that there isn't hot water to shower in, but it's easy to get used to. Our bedroom has two beds with lots of blankets (the night can get really chilly), and our privacy was always respected.
Our workplace was a geriatric center in a small, rural area that is 20 min away from home by bus. We usually worked from 9am-5pm, but time flies by when you're having a good time! The staff there (doctors, nurses, psychologists..etc) were as curious about our culture as we were to theirs! I learned how to apply hot packs and massage patients who had sore backs and necks, how to use various medical equipment, and learned some common Spanish medical vocabularies.
Many thanks to Global Crossroad and Jenny for organizing everything, Martha for matching us with our wonderful host family and workplace, the staff at the geriatric center for teaching us local medical practices, and of course, the host family (Beto, Hilda, Favio and Nicole) for sharing their wonderful culture with us. All of this was very fulfilling and worthwhile. I am thankful for Global Crossroad for providing us this opportunity. I will forever remember my time in Peru.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Oct 5, 2008
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi, I'm planning to use GC to go to Peru this summer and I was hoping to directly talk to some of the people who have already done so. If you could email me at dswanner@wharton.upenn.edu I'd really appreciate it.

Real Gap

Very little support from the company in Rio. They are not there, it is another company that deal with you. No one met me at the airport, had a number in Rio to phone if that happened. No one answering(they were at the movies)Had another number in the UK!
No one available to help when I was mugged. Did not ring emergency number in UK for obvious reasons! but did ring number in Rio and no one available.
Supposed to volunteer from the first week I was at Rio(IN fAVELAS)but children on holiday. Real Gap knew this and did not make any alternative arrangements.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Oct 4, 2008
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Global Crossroad

I can only add to the previous reviews of this company by strongly agreeing with the comments, particularly that of GC being a business and not a charity. While the project I was involved with in Ecuador was very good, and I really felt like I was helping, it was only once I had arrived that I discovered that the cloud forest eco-lodge is run by local villagers and supported by a couple in Quito who find them volunteers. GC act as an agent in this respect, and therefore take a huge cut for doing virtually nothing. Having talked to locals and the couple who run the show in Quito, I worked out that over two thirds of what I paid ($1500 from memory) went to GC, while the Quito representatives took a fair amount of the rest (I believe deservedly) and a horrifically small amount a day went to the eco-lodge and local people to look after us. When I questioned GC about this huge discrepancy, the only answer they could give was that the rest was needed for "administration". It would be rather more understandable if the pre- and de-briefing had been of the highest quality, and I had been totally confident of how and what I was doing before I went. This, however, was not the case, and I can see no reason for them taking such a large amount of money. What upsets me most is the abuse - as a traveller, it takes experience and confidence to just turn up in a foreign country and find a project to volunteer for, but this is by far the best way of doing it; that way you are bound to find good people doing good work, and not be ripped off by opportunists who have prospective volunteers over a barrel.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ecuador
Posted: Oct 4, 2008
Overall:
0
Support:
0
Value:
0

Comments

I am suppossed to be going to Ecuador in september with rcdp. I'm trying to figure out if they are the same company as gv. If anyone could give me more info if you've been that would be great. I'm starting to get nervous being that I'm travelling alone. Any help would be great! Sofiad@hotmail.com
are you available to give me some info about where to volunteer in Ecuador. David at eaglechiro@yahoo.com

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

PROS: met amazing people, changed my perspective on things, sweetest children at the orphanages, great food, house was in a decent location, neighborhood felt safe, neighboring locals knew there were foreingers in house and were friendly, nightlife, very cheap prices compared to other programs, had a lot of time to travel, flexible, had internet in house, washing machine...
CONS: airport pick-up came late, staff introductions were bad, disorganized, did not enforce rules, cold showers, staff seemed random and untrained, new program so they're still learning, a lot of miscommunication, didn't get bus pass badges - got bus passes - so we didn't need passport photos, some volunteer sites took over an hour to reach, no structure at teaching english sites, didn't tell you what to do at orphanage sites, just let you on your own...
All in all, I had a great time. You'll have expectations every where you go and might get disappointed here and there... but that's normal on any trip you go to. The culture is different and it's all a learning experience.
I lived in a great house, had a bed, had free lunch and dinner, free bus passes, had weekends to myself - had a good time. :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Oct 1, 2008
Overall:
7
Support:
8
Value:
9

Comments

thanks for your feedback. My daughter will be going to Viet Nam soon and I appreciate your information. Did you have an issues with general safety? And, in particular, any food safety issures?
Thanks for your pros and cons, I always like seeing both of them, would you do this group agaon if you had the chance, I'm looking at going to Ghana Africa, it seem that structure is lacking but I could see in a 3rd would contry this could happen, do you think it was the groups lack of structure or the overall way things where done in that country? Thanks, Greg
Why would I fabricate the information? I'm just trying to be helpful. BUT I should have included that most the pros and cons I listed are geared toward my experience in Vietnam and with the Volunteers for Peace in Vietnam (VPV), the group IVHQ set me up with.
Yes I have and the health program was outstanding. IVHQ have outstanding programs..... ignore any bad feedback, I heard one as well (on a forum on the net before I left) but it was completely false. It appears even this person had a completely different experience to myself and the others that went OR the feedback was fabricated which is my guess.
hello, has anyone volunteered in Nepal with IVHQ? maybe the Health Care programme? i herad some bad stories...

Global Crossroad

Global Crossroads is a business not an organization. They are not supportive, and could care less about you and your well being after you pay them. I'm lucky I didn't end up kidnapped and sold. The other volunteer who I later met, was an 18 year old boy who had never even been out of the USA. Upon his arrival at the airport, his ride never showed up and he ended up taking a random taxi to a motel where he stayed the night in fear. Luckily the next day he somehow found a contact and eventually made it to the local office. Global Crossroad does not provide you with any information once you arrive. I was picked up, driven to some lady's house, (to this day I have no idea who she was or how she was affiliated with GC), spent the night there, picked up again in the morning, taken to the local office, waited there 3 hours, then finally taken to the orphanage. Along the way nobody would ever tell me where I was going or what was happening and it was truly frightening.
I think my total cost to Global Crossroad was around $1500 and I learned they gave the orphanage where I stayed only $100 for me being there.
I was told I would be teaching orphans English. Instead, the orphanage had it's own school that was well established and taken very seriously. They already had teachers and all the kids knew English. For the first few days I really had no purpose, but eventually I just started helping with cooking and cleaning and playing with the kids. I also helped them with their homework. It turned out as a great experience but not what I signed up for. I am still very close with the founders of the orphanage and help raise money to put the orphans through high school. IF ANYONE WANTS TO VOLUNTEER AT THIS ORPHANAGE WITH NO COST TO YOU, i can set it up. The founders of the orphanage are willing to pick you up from the airport and make sure you are taken care of. Don't waste your money on any organizations. If you really want to make a difference, use the money you would've spent to help put these kids through high school!! Please feel free to contact me with questions or info on volunteering in Kenya. The kids will change you forever. It was the best experience of my life (no thanks to Global Crossroad)
htebbutt@hotmail.com

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Kenya
Posted: Sep 26, 2008
Overall:
0
Support:
0
Value:
0

Volunteering Solutions

I went to India and then to Nepal and I think it was the best experience of my life. Anurag and Sahil at the company were very helpful and answered all my questions almost instantly. Uma the coordinator in Nepa was excellent and like a mom. They are highly affordable and recommended.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Sep 17, 2008
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
8

Comments

This is a biased posting. Here, this volunteer gives a highest rating to all categories, including over all, support, and value. No volunteer company is perfect; consequently, the rating given by this volunteer does not reflect a genuine judgment and assertion of the company. But, what could rather be a product of bribery, where Volunteer Solutions has given extra services or even money in order to receive a positive feedback. Bribing or asking people for positive feedbacks on a failing company is belittling all volunteer programs out there. Rather than apologizing to volunteers who suffered in this program, giving them refunds, or improving the quality of the program, he asks favors from people like mom4equality or similar easily bribable people to write reviews in their favor. Mom4equality writes in response to the other volunteer complaints, “I must say these [volunteers] are sounding like spoiled children. Their complaints are more about life in India in general than VI specifically.” But what mom4equality fails to explain is her own experience in the program. So my question is, out of the hundred of negative postings and even a face book group of nearly 600 people out crying of their illegal business practices, how much did he pay you to write your posting?

Global Crossroad

I didn't receive all of my pre-departure information, not did I receive my travel insurance. All questions answered by Global Crossroads before my trip were answered vaguely. Global Crossroads did not make it clear to me the best way to get financial donations to my country, thus causing me to loose 1/5 of my donations to Global Crossroads' fees. I was treated rudely in country and overcharged by the Global Crossroads ground coordinator. I was told to apply for a tourist visa, despite being a volunteer. My host family was not paid the allocated money they were told they'd received. My ground coordinator was unsupportive when there were political and corruption issues taking place at my volunteer placement. I was forced to leave my project early when I was being threatened by locals for deportation because I was on the wrong visa. I have yet to be reimbursed for the money I lost when I had to return hom.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Sep 7, 2008
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Frontier

I’ve just got back from a project in Tanzania- can’t believe how quickly it went, the whole experience was amazing and I’m gutted to be home already. I’m already missing the crew out there loads, everyone got on so well and I’ll definitely be meeting up with some of them for a night out soon. The place it self is like something out of a film- unbelievably beautiful and the weather is bloody amazing- which meant the beach parties were very cool! I went from being an absolute beginner at diving to passing my PADI open water and I am hooked for life, its totally addictive and seeing seven whale sharks in one day was a once in a lifetime experience. Even working at the school which I thought would be boring was an unexpectedly mindblowing experience- the culture is so different from what any of us were used to but the people were legendary- really friendly and so appreciative of our work. The beach clean ups were knackering but spending time threre makes you want to help with environmental work. Would definitely recommend Frontier- staff were nice and no problems in terms of organization.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 26, 2008
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Comments

This is copied word for word off of Frontier's website...

Frontier

Frontier charged me £695 more than they passed on to the actual volunteer program in Huancayo.
They failed to arrange a pick-up when I arrived in Peru and misled me on many counts about the program before I arrived.
Although the staff in London appear very friendly it was almost impossible to get accurate information from them, or to get anyone to phone back.
Other volunteers have had similar experiences: I would not recommend Frontier to anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Aug 24, 2008
Overall:
0
Support:
2
Value:
0

Amistad Institute

I thought I signed up to ELI abroad but I guess they were just the middleman. The people were somewhat nice but all I heard was complaints from the other students about their volunteer placement. We were supposed to be volunteering in a clinic, but there was practically no work for us to do. I switch to work in a kids daycamp which was more fun. The whole experience wasn't terrible for me, but they just seem like they really over-promise and under-deliver. If you just want to do something fun in Costa Rica, this is for you. If you are really serious about volunteering, you should probably look elsewhere.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Aug 24, 2008
Overall:
6
Support:
3
Value:
8

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