Kaya Responsible Travel

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7.9 / 10 after 15 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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I had an awful experience while volunteering in India with a project organised by Kaya Responsible Travel.

I was not picked up from the airport in India as was previously arranged with the company (which meant that I was left in a dangerous and scary situation as a lone traveller). Many of the other volunteers that I subsequently met who had also booked with Kaya had similar issues.

Additionally due to poor organisation and communication between the UK team and the team on the ground, I was only able to do my volunteering project for 5 days out of the 2 weeks that I had paid for (which was a substantial amount of money). I was promised that there would be English speaking members of staff once I was in India, however there were none. this meant that I was unable to understand anything that was said, which made the volunteering project pointless. When these issues were raised with the team (both in India and the UK), these concerns and complaints were dismissed with no apologies.

Very disappointing for a company that charge a substantial amount of money to arrange volunteering opportunities for those that want to help and provide for others. I had initially picked this company as they had promised to provide certain unique experiences for volunteers abroad, however they did not deliver on these promises. There are many other similar companies out there that provide a similar service to Kaya, and I would definitely suggest searching these out if you want to get more out of your money (rather than being let down and feeling quite helpless while in a foreign country on your own).

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 7, 2018
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:

Kaya provided an amazing support for a volonteering experience! The projects proposed by Kaya are all local initiatives, where Kaya helps to provide volonteers, while providing great support to volonteers upfront for preparing the travel and on site for all questions.
I spent 3 weeks in Cusco, Peru, helping a the "young mothers" project:
https://www.kayavolunteer.com/project/volunteer-support-young-mothers-peru/

This project provides shelter to young women, actually still teenagers or even almost children (13 to 20 years old), who got a child and have lost contact with their families. At the "Hogar", they get a place to live, learn how to take care of their children, go to school and learn a profession, until they are ready to be independent. As volonteers, all initiatives are welcome. A lot of time is spent in taking care of the children, who are adorable(at the time I was there, they were 11 months to 2 years), in helping in daily duties like cooking and washing, but also any ideas for activities with the young mothers are welcome: teaching english, music, drawing, cooking...

The young mothers are lovely, very curious to learn about the volonteers and as volonteer you feel bound to them very quickly. Speaking spanish is not compulsory, as taking care of the children does not required to speak spanish. But it is very rewarding to speak at least a bit of spanish to increase the contact to the young mothers. After 2 weeks in Peru, I finally could speak a little bit and it was so rewarding!

Taking spanish lessons is possible. Both the project and the spanish lessons are in the center of Cusco which is a very beautiful city with a lot of things to see and to do.

Overall, an amazing experience!

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 24, 2016
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
8
By: eprest
Age:
30

I paid $3000 for a month at a Vietnamese rescue. They were notified two days before my arrival, despite me informing Kaya I was in the country already on a tourist visa and would be there in 2 weeks. In addition, I was not told that I needed a work Visa, which takes weeks to attain, so I couldn't actually even volunteer. I was promised a language class, orientation, transport, accommodation, 2 excursions to other rescues and guidance on other ventures around the area. I received absolutely none of this, except accommodation, which is normally about $100 a month.

Do not volunteer with any of these programs. Go straight through the rescues. There is a woman setting a website up so you can be directly linked -- just wait.

Program:
Location:
Posted: June 3, 2015
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: kags
Age:
27

Comments

As Kaya's Director, I would like to respond to this post in person. As you can see from other reviews, our programs are very highly rated and we do our best to provide the very best service to our volunteers to ensure ethical, sustainable placements are achieved. In this particular instance, Karen's was a very last-minute booking. The monkey sanctuary with which we work had been notified of her upcoming attendance as soon as we received her application, but her arrivals could not be confirmed until we had her travel details from her - which were not submitted until a few days prior. The visa requirements for the program had very recently been changed and with the last-minute nature of the booking we were not able to process this in time, but Karen most certainly DID volunteer during her time at the sanctuary during her stay, after we made arrangement with the centre. We hold an orientation in Hanoi, which Karen has requested she skip because she wanted to go straight to the sanctuary, and so she had opted out of this service we arrange for our volunteers which provides language classes, orientation and transport to the project. This was all explained to her when she chose to skip orientation, and we only allowed her to skip this session after she assured us that she was unable to travel to Hanoi and would not need these sessions as she has already been travelling in the country alone for some time. We even offered for our team to meet her in another location to provide this, but again it was refused. Finally, this volunteer fraudulently reversed any payment for the placement she received. Kaya was not paid for her placement and we were left out of pocket paying the project for the services that they had provided (accommodation, food, trips, etc) - and she was removed from the project at the request of the centre. Unfortunately the ethical stance we take on ensuring projects are fairly compensated for receiving volunteers, quality and safety checking the projects with which we work, providing support and cultural orientations, and the additional work we put into every placement we offer does add to the cost of the program, but I assure you that these requirements are essential for ensuring responsible volunteering practises and the ability for us to offer only placement in which we know our volunteers are contributing to sustainable, ethical work. If you have any concerns about Kaya or our project I urge you to contact me in person. We have thousands of happy volunteers who have made a real difference to our communities - who work with us because we support them in the most responsible way that helps them achieve their goals. Our UK phone number is 0161 870 6212 and our US number is 413 517 0266 or you can email info@kayavolunteer.com.
I paid the rescue directly myself, so you were not left out of pocket, and if you were, then you can talk to the EPRC and Buffalo Tours. I didn't need to meet anyone anywhere because I had a motorbike, which I told you, and I was coming from the South, so going up to Hanoi didn't make any sense, as I would be passing Cuc Phuong on the way... I was not removed from the project at the request of the center. I stayed for two weeks. Initially I was told that was legally how long I could stay with the tourist visa I had, but after two weeks, they had figured it out so I could stay for longer, and they asked me to stay, but I declined, because they were well staffed and well funded. They didn't need volunteers and I would rather be somewhere that's in need while getting experience. The EPRC is a really awesome place and was a great experience. The Australian woman,Sonya, that was in the process of taking over as Director is seriously so cool and we've been in touch since I left. It's really well organized and well run, and the people that work there are absolutely awesome. There weren't any other volunteers there when I was, only two girls conducting studies and I hardly saw them, so I spent most of my time with the Vietnamese workers -- I almost stayed longer just to stay with them. They taught me a ton of Vietnamese and were so giving and welcoming, I was sad upon leaving largely because of them. They asked me when I would be back when I left, which was so cool and such a good feeling, and, one day, I will go back. They're in need of a veterinarian and I'm trying to go to vet school, so hopefully as a vet! Because I paid the rescue directly, I also had to pay for accommodation. For a company so ethical, you guys treated me like a customer, and I guess I'd been out of country long enough to think that I could work with you guys to go do something ethical, as you put it, without getting ripped off. I paid $500 to volunteer and for accommodation for two weeks. A bit overpriced, but the accommodation cost more than I would've chosen, but upon arrival, circumstances were different. They may be able to connect some to many different programs, and I agree some cultural padding may be something you're interested in, and Kaya will supply that. I do not recommend the EPRC volunteer for anyone who hasn't traveled, since there were only three people that spoke English there and were western, and they didn't live in the same location, and one of them worked at night. I was in a very small town with Vietnamese who did not know English, I worked with Vietnamese that didn't know English, and the town closed down at about 8:30 pm. That might be a little much for someone new to traveling, but I kind of enjoyed slowing down and getting some alone time, after having driven up Vietnam, plus it allowed me to learn a bunch of Vietnamese... since I had to. It was nice to sit on the balcony and watch the lighting. It rained at night pretty often, so I wouldn't have wifi (and therefore couldn't stream Game of Thrones...) and couldn't talk to anyone back home (12 hour time difference) and didn't have a sim card or phone (it got stolen at the Why Not bar in Nha Trang... do not bring your phone to Why Not bars...) and spent time alone. I'm disappointed with Kaya, because I was hoping they would help me get in contact with this place so I could volunteer and that we could work something out. I couldn't get in touch with the EPRC, there website was under construction and therefore non-existent, and I was having trouble finding places to volunteer with animals in Vietnam, so I went through Kaya's program against my better judgment and they ripped me off... no one told me I wouldn't get a language class because I didn't meet them in Hanoi, and I'd been in country for awhile but I was still looking forward to some additional tips, as I'd come from Thailand, and Vietnamese is a tough language and really different from Thai. I don't see why they had to charge me for all this stuff I wasn't even getting... and instead of negotiating, they refused to give me back any money... literally the list of things I was getting, I wasn't getting any of them... I don't really know what I was going to be paying for and just looked like a lot of profit for Kaya and in addition, the rescue wasn't going to see that money either. That's really what irked me, that they were just keeping all this money and not even giving it to a good cause. So... that's the deal. If you want more details, feel free to contact me.

Booking my volunteering trip with Kaya Volunteer was such a great experience! The staff was very helpful and friendly, and they were able to address all of my questions and concerns through the booking process. They also provide you with plenty of information before you depart, which is extremely helpful to provide a better understanding of the location you are going and what your days may typically look like. I participated on the teaching and community project in Livingstone, Zambia: http://www.kayavolunteer.com/projects/Teaching-and-Community-Work-in-Zam...

Volunteering abroad was an amazing life changing experience that opens up your eyes to other parts of the world. Don't be discouraged if you don't have any teaching experience. I didn't either and I was able to catch on quickly with some help from the on-site staff and other volunteers. I volunteered for just 2 weeks and was able to meet tons of lifelong friends from all over the world. The people in Livingstone were so friendly and welcoming, and it is a joy to work with the kids and see how eager they are to learn. For more on my experiences, check out some of my blog posts from my trip: http://itsthelittlethingsblog.wordpress.com/category/traveling/africa/

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 10, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: msutera
Age:
22

I am 17 years old and I just completed some life changing volunteer work in Thailand facilitated by Kaya Responsible Travel. I wanted to volunteer upon finishing High school and Kaya suggested a project which would accept an underage participant. Little did I know that Kaya's encouragement to volunteer at the Children's Organization of Southeast Asia (COSA) would lead to a life changing experience. I am thoroughly grateful to my Kaya Coordinator who recommended COSA to me. At 17 I had many reservations about volunteering independently abroad. The support I received from Kaya was endless. I didn't meet any of the wonderful people who helped coordinate my trip, all the support I received was via email because of my location in Australia. The coordinators were efficient and thorough during the organization of my placement. And they checked up on me during all stages of the placement. My in-country guide for the orientation in Bangkok was a volunteer for Kaya and she also deserves praise. She was very professional and showed me some fantastic sights in a new city. Thankyou Otto! Volunteer with Kaya, you will not regret it. The Kaya team will ensure you have a rewarding trip.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 14, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
17

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