Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

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9.1 / 10 after 328 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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Volunteering program was excellent in all aspects providing good support when needed at a competitive price. The food in particular was very well provided and the host family went out of their way to ensure that all our needs were met.

Working at the Ruhunu Orphanage was a life changing experience and I'll always remember the bright smiling faces of the beautiful children of Sri Lanka. Highly recommended to any prospective volunteers!

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 16, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: noel
Age:
New User

Overall Program / Price:
IFRE was one of the most affordable volunteering options that I found. The application process was quick and easy and the coordinators were easily accessible via email to answer any questions, to which I had many. I really didn't have many apprehensions entering the program because they kept me very well informed about what to expect.

Accommodations:
If you have never been backpacking through Southeast Asia before then you might find the accommodations a little shocking. There is no hot water, the bathrooms are "wet rooms", and the beds are not that comfortable and a little musty. The host family however is very welcoming and accommodating. Mosquito nets are provided and there are fans in the bedroom. You may have to share a room.

Food:
The food is very carb heavy and not necessarily typical of Sri Lankan food - almost a simplified version. In fact, I found the host family eating a more robust meal from the volunteers. After a week I was exhausted of the white bread for breakfast, which was getting staler and staler as the week progressed. There is also a noticeable lack of protein in the diet with really only lunch reliably having a protein dish - either lentils, fish or tiny pieces of chicken. There is a supermarket within 10 minutes walk where supplies can be purchased for a low cost, including savory baked good for about $.25 that are quite filling and tasty. It was my savior at times.

Volunteer Assignment:
What you get out of the program is highly contingent on the effort you put in. Every morning I would research on the internet a fun lesson plan (the students can range between the age of 7 to 16 so it's important to keep things entertaining or else they lose attention fairly quickly). In contrast some other volunteers arrived unprepared. There is a remarkable difference in the impact preparation made and the students were highly appreciative of it.

There will also be plenty of downtime. Bring a book, a camera and an open mind. The city has a lot to offer and the people are very curious and friendly.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 4, 2010
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: youngrq
Age:
New User

We stayed with a host family, they are lovely, very helpful and fun loving. The food is excellent and they help make you feel as comfortable as they can. The town was lovely and the people very friendly. The orphanage was very fun to be at there's always something you can hep do; cleaning, walking with the vet, they let you bath the elephants in the river and help feed the babies. The head mah hout (elephant handler) is very kind and tries to make sure you get a full experience. Overall the experience was wonderful and worth while, if you feel out of sorts just talking to the locals or the host family help, there's a very warm and friendly energy in the town.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 14, 2010
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
8
By: kruths
Age:
New User

My stay was a short two weeks, as it as was all the time I had available. My interest is education, and I wanted to compare education here with education at home (Australia).
This is the first time I have visited Africa, and volunteering was a great way to experience life here rather than viewing it through an airconditioned tour bus window.
My host Herman has beeen very helpful meeting me when I arrived in the city and helping me organise a trip to nearby Jinja for some white water rafting before I leave the country. I also appreciated participating in various different activities he organised - from seeing a cultural show that is not listed in the guide books, a trip to town to replace my lost camera charger, and visiting another home where a traditional meal was prepared. I am staying with his family(wife and two small children) - his three year old daughter is learning english and her own language at the same time.
I'm not sure that two weeks is enough to make a significant contribution as a volunteer, but it certainly is enough to begin to appreciate the extent of the problems people have in this area. At the small school where I help teach paper is a luxury item, and for some of the children the school meals are their main supply of food.
For me the other bonus was that as a single traveller, I had the company of another single volunteer of my own age during my two weeks - an unexpected bonus.
I would recommend taking the plunge and actually volunteering. I think you can be fairly confident of a unique experience, and who knows, perhaps you will be one of the volunteers who do make a significant difference.
Margaret

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 27, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Anonymous
Age:

I volunteered at the Good Hope orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania with IFRE. My experience at the orphanage was incredible. The caregivers had prepared a room for me, they welcomed me with open arms and always made sure that I was well taken care of even though I was suppose to be there helping them. It was amazing to see how happy and loving they were even though some had little more than the shirt on their back. It was truly a humbling experience and I recommend it to everyone.
I was happy that I used a volunteer company for my first experience in Africa because it provided me with the security and reassurance I needed. There was always someone there to help me. Someone picked me up from the airport, the bus station and dropped me off as well. The coordinator did all my paperwork to get a work permit, took me for a few tours around the city to familiarize myself, organized a safari for me, and even took me to the hospital when I wasn't feeling very well.
My one complaint would be the amount of money it cost to volunteer with IFRE. It cost me $1200 for 3 weeks which I found to be quite excessive. And that was actually cheap compared to some other companies I researched. I understand why you need to pay to volunteer... to help the orphanage because they survive completely on donations. But what bothered me was how little money actually went to the orphanage. In future I will contact the place I want to volunteer directly and give them the full amount of money.
The other thing that bugged me about IFRE is that it's the same company as Rustic and Global Crossroads, they just fail to mention it. When I looked at volunteer feedback about the companies I saw a lot of negative feedback about Global Crossroads so I wanted to stay clear of that company. Then later I realized to my dismay it was the same company, just another name.
But again, I was happy in the end that I used them because the coordinator at IFRE and the coordinators at the orphanage were all absolutely amazing to me.

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 17, 2010
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
7
By: Anonymous
Age:

Comments

I volunteered through Rustic and was dismayed to discover while in Tanzania that it is the same as Global CrossRoads and IFRE, as well. Even worse, they are all owned by the same man. He is charging different fees across all of the organizations to provide the same services. Quite a disappointment. We had to deal with him directly while in country and he was less than accommodating to any simple request.

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