I called the office of IFRE at Dallas yesterday to schedule a volunteer trip to Kenya in June. I was appalled at the conversation that followed with the person named 'Alex' that picked the phone. His language was heavily punctuated with racial undertones and he tried his best not to enroll me into the program. He insulted my country of origin (India) by asking why I wanted to visit a third world country when I myself belonged to the third world, adding, "Our programs are for people from the 1st world that want to help people in the third world".
I asked him why he was being so hostile just because I didn't have a US passport. He responded saying "You people come into America as immigrants, illegally. And now you want to do charity?"
When he asked me why I wanted to do volunteer work, I explained that I was going to join a graduate program at Oxford University (in the UK) in the fall of 2010 and wanted to specialize in social enterprise. He responded "I'll give you a piece of advise from the heart and the brain - There is no need to go to Oxford if you cannot remove your heavy accent. All your money will go waste".
I was aghast. I warned that I would publish a transcript of the conversation in the New York Times, upon which he hung up.

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I just came back with my son from a volunteer trip in Ghana organized by IFRE. We had an incredible experience and IFRE did a great job at organizing the volunteer work and accomodations. The problem is not with IFRE, but rather with a single employee named Alex at IFRE. Alex is a condescending, pompous jerk who seems to think that because he graduated from NYU, he is God's gift to mankind. He started out by telling me I sounded older than the typical volunteer - he was right; I am 50 and I traveled with my 12 year old son to volunteer in an orphanage. He told me that because I am older, I seem to be more agressive, and the last thing that the program needed was a loudmouth. After that, I avoided dealing with Alex.Despite Alex's apparent mental issues, IFRE did a great job in placing us in an orphanage in Ghana, and took great care of us while in Ghana. Avoid Alex and speak to any of the other great IFRE employees like Bahrat. Really, Alex is just a bad apple in an otherwise great organization
i saw agent of volunteer HQ
let's boycott american volunteer company and join volunteer HQ, newzeland
I have seen some agents posting. dude!
nope not agreed as there are many good US companies
nope not agreed
let's boycott american volunteer company and join volunteer HQ, newzeland
Unbelievable!! Southern in-hospitality, sometimes. Check out others, bro. There are tons with good reviews.
This is appalling! Write to the IRS seeking revocation of 503 status (our taxpayer money!). Also contact the US Department of Justice for action against IFRE - Hope this helps.
Dear Director of IFRE, I understand that discrimination based on race is not your policy. However, if you are really sincere about it, then you must assist me in bringing to book your employee who talked with me on 26th and 27th or April, 2010. He said his name was Alex. On both occasions, he hung up on me after thoroughly insulting my country of birth, my accent and my intentions. If you record conversations on the phone, you will find the full transcript of the conversation I had with him. If you are really sincere, then you must allow this to be presented as evidence in court so we can bring the perpetrator to justice. United States laws prohibit discrimination/humiliation based on country of birth, and it is a jail-able offence. If you agree to have the employee punished and agree to co-operate with a legal inquiry, then I shall feel free to contact you directly.
Dear volunteers, I am the director of the IFRE Volunteer Program. I would like to express my deepest apologies after reading the article that was published on Wednesday, April 27. Each year, IFRE sends hundreds of volunteers abroad. IFRE does not discriminate based on race, color, sex, religion, or any other factor. We welcome volunteers from all over the world, including India, and do not tolerate the type of reported conduct. Our records show that we have accepted volunteers from many countries, including India in the past. I also migrated to this great country, and understand the hardships associated with that. Once again, I apologize and would like reassure you of our mission. We treat all IFRE volunteers with respect, dignity and appreciation for their efforts. If you feel that you have been mistreated in any way by any of IFRE staffs, please write me personally at: Sincerely Murali Adhikari, Ph.D Director, IFRE Volunteer Program
I had a similar experience. The guy just wouldn't enroll me for the program. He pointedly asked me, "Are you an immigrant in the United States?" I finally went through Abroaderview, another group. As for IFRE, maybe we can together file a case against them for racial discrimination. best regards, Amit Ahuja
This is a shame! Look to another organization, there are plenty of others that need help, and with positive reviews.