South Africa

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I use to work as a Marketing Coordinator for a jazz/blues/classical/world music record company called Telarc/Heads Up International. In February '09, I was laid off along with half of the employees due to the poor economy. I knew it was a great chance to pursue other opportunities, such as International volunteer work. I've always been interested in South Africa through my studies in African music and work with African musicians. I researched many different volunteer organizations and found Cross-Cultural Solutions to be the most credible and accessible. The Program-Enrollment Managers were always there via phone and e-mail to answer any questions regarding volunteer placements, preparation, and other concerns that would help even a person with little to no experience in international travel. I decided to do a 10 week program in Cape Town, South Africa and was offered an opportunity to work 2 of those weeks at their Robertson program. The experience was incredible as I worked teaching music and marketed a group of professional township musicians that performed at local health clinics treating patients with HIV/AIDS and TB. They performed dramas and music that promoted HIV/AIDS education in a fun and entertaining way. In Robertson I worked at a primary school teaching typing and basic computer skills. The work was extremely gratifying and had me connecting with the people of South Africa in a way that gave me a deep insight into their culture. Although the work I did at these placements had an impact, the largest contribution I made was the idea of cultural exchange. My supervisors from Cape Town and Robertson took me out to the townships to meet their families, which gave me an insight to how South Africans live. So many people decide to volunteer for the wrong reasons by thinking they are going to change the world. Over 300 billion dollars has been poured into relief efforts for Africa since their independence, and it still remains the most poverty stricken continent in the world. Im not saying that organizations that provide financial and material aid don't help, but I think with living in a society that is so economically dependent, we need to focus more alternative forms of relief. Organizations like Cross-Cultural Solutions do that in the way they make volunteering accessible for everyone. I really believe that everyone should have the opportunity to travel to a third world country so they can take back a perspective they can share with the world. Yes the programs are expensive, but the CCS Program Managers give you a lot of support in terms of fundraising options. I was able to fundraise for my entire program through community outreach efforts with my local church, social networking with friends and family, and hosting a charity event. If you are interested in pursuing a volunteer program with CCS feel free to contact me or check out my blog www.kevintacklessouthafrica.blogspot.com to get a better idea of my experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jan 21, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

I am wondering if anyone can tell me what they think about CCS for a family. I am planning on taking my children ages: 16, 10, & 9. I am a teacher who hopes to help the native population, but I think this would be of great value for all of us. Do you think this would work with children??

Global Vision International (GVI)

I would stay away from GVI. I did have an amazing experience in South Africa, but it is very expensive, considering the costs of running the program in a developing country are relatively low.
GVI are a corporation so their main objective is to earn a profit. It says on their website that 70% of the program fee goes back into the project, but this means the money still stays with GVI. It doesn't necessarily mean any money is going to go back into the community or environment to make a real difference.
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Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jan 4, 2010
Overall:
4
Support:
7
Value:
3

Comments

are you agent of GVI?
Dear Jasmin, You are 100% biased with this company. Though, I don't have to do anything with this company but I know very well about the program. I think you completely forget about how Anthea and their teams have arrange placement in South Africa. I believe that the project receive 1390 RZ per week. please calculate it into dollars. And Anthea is well known to South Africa
While we are really pleased this volunteer had an amazing time in South Africa we are disappointed by her comments on the allocation of funds. As stated on our website 70% of volunteers monies since 2007 have gone back into the field. This money does NOT stay with GVI. The following is a very brief summary of how volunteers money is allocated but there is further information on our website and can be sent upon request. The following highlights the main areas that volunteers contributions are used; To ensure our volunteers are able to conduct the volunteer work to the quality our partners desire GVI employ a large number of professional field staff to train volunteers and carry on project work on their absence (holiday periods etc) GVI also take on all capital equipment costs for any program it supports, in the case of this program in South Africa we maintain a fleet of 4 research vehicles, two base camps from which we house and feed volunteers as well as community partners, survey equipment and general equipment to safely train and support over 30 field personnel. We are very proud of what we do and how we do it, please come and visit our website to find out more or give us a call, we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Global Vision International (GVI)

While I did have an enjoyable experience, I have too have to wonder how much goes into the field and back to the community. GVI are simply a corporate organsation out to make money. You may particapte in conservation or community based activies, but I have to wonder how much GVI actually cares about making a difference. Not a lot would be my guess. They are just taking advantage of people who do want to make a difference.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Nov 5, 2009
Overall:
5
Support:
4
Value:
4

Comments

I am a qualified and experienced ecologist and researcher and I do not understand what on earth your point is. I was once on an expedition where camera trapping was used we had 2 cameras. This statement is relatively meaningless. How many should there have been in your opinion? Would 10 be enough? 20? 50? You really should think things through before trying to bring someone else into disrepute. Also, gvi is a business, yes. They pay salaries to their staff, yes. Are you a full-time volunteer or do you earn money in order to be able to volunteer? Well some people who are with gvi full-time, dedicated to carrying out environmental work, are paid to do so and to look after/train volunteers who help them. That money has to come from somewhere I'm afraid. It doesn't make them evil or unethical.
Volunteering should NEVER cost more than room and board. GVI says the money goes into the field (70%) but I did a program in Costa Rica in the rainforest at a site only accessible by boat and GVI didn't own a boat! we had to borrow the ranger's boat to get to and from base! They also said camera-trapping was a study they were conducting for population sampling of the rainforest but they only had 5 cameras and 2 of these still used film! Be wary before giving this corporation you money!
Please see GVI'post above for comments on how volunteer's monies are allocated

i-to-i TEFL

I had a very bad experience with this company. The place they put us with had no heat, mold, outside doors didn't lock, etc. People where getting sick and asked them to get heaters or wood for the fireplace and they refused. We were also 8 people crammed into a small room. There were numerous other problems and the in-county coordinator essentially did not care about the volunteers. The worst part was the fact that most of the money you pay does not go to the local programs. There was even an article in the local newspaper after a volunteer complained about the large amounts of money not going to the programs. I suggest you look for a non-profit organization or go directly through the local program you are interested in. The local people are so happy to have you there and I had a good experience with the people at the local program. A group of volunteers tried to find out how much of our money went to the local program and we never got a straight answer from i-to-i. It is so sad that the thousands of dollars I paid, I suspect that less than $100 went to the program. Further, they do not provide food, transportation to the local program, etc. Basically, the money you pay to i-to-i is for housing (which could be easily found on your own) and to make money for the company. I also volunteered with a non-profit at Dago Village in Kenya, Village Volunteers, and the experience was so much better and most of the money I paid went directly to the local program. Further, they provided food and transportation while I was in country. I highly recommend volunteering abroad as it is a life-changing experience, but I suggest you go through a non-profit program so your volunteer money can make a difference.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 23, 2009
Overall:
0
Support:
0
Value:
0

Comments

I had a similar experience, yes a nonprofit organization with clear prices and service, do your homework
What was the name of the local program? Do you have a contact for them?

Travellers Worldwide

Before I left for South Africa, my Travelers contact in England was very helpful in answering my questions and concerns about my placement. I LOVED being at the wildlife sanctuary called African Dawn where I was volunteering. I really felt like the work I did there was actually making an impact and that I was a valued member of the team there. The friends I made will be friends for a lifetime. The only comment I have is that it is far cheaper to be a volunteer directly though the place you will be volunteering and not through a company like Travelers. But for my first time abroad I liked that they figured out all the details for me, including finding my flight and transport from the airport when I got there. Also, the website they made about the sanctuary was outdated and certain details did not hold true once I was there, but it was nothing major. An overall amazing experience and I would love to go back!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
6

Comments

Hey there! I am also interested to go for some time to South Africa and especially to the project African Dawn. I would be really happy if you could give me maybe some informations about it which doesn't come from organisations or the project itself. Thank you so so much! :)

Projects Abroad

I visited Cape Town back in the summer for 2 months as an intern for the Daily Voice Newspaper. I worked closely with Jourmalists in a busy newsroom collecting stories across the townships and Cape Flats and typing up copy back in the office. It was fast paced, lively and very eye-opening into the workings of Journalists and the paradoxical nature of South Africa. I returned with a portfolio of a dozen published articles. Definitely one of the best experiences of my life.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Nov 9, 2008
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Comments

I am a journalism student in Vancouver, Canada finishing up my final year of school. I am writing a feature piece on international journalism internships, having completed one last year with a company called Adelante. I am looking for other people who have completed international journalism internships to interview. The article will be published. If you would are interested or would like more information you can email me at carly_sheridan@hotmail.com. Thanks so much! - Carly

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