Volunteering Solutions

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6.2 / 10 after 29 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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I am so thankful I found this site so I can express how I feel about this "volunteer organisation". I volunteered in India with Volunteering Solutions in July 2011 and I can say it was the worst experience of my life. I wanted to go overseas and help others, but after this experience, I will never ever volunteer abroad again. One of the staff members was helpful but the others were not at all. It was very hot in July which made the programme difficult but it was other issues which caused the problems. Our placement did not want us there (one of the teachers even asked us why we were there and told us we were not wanted - when we told the volunteering staff about this, they just tried to tell us we were needed - thanks a lot!), one of the staff members from Volunteering Solutions got drunk and started to get creepy with one of the other young females volunteers and when we asked to see the person in charge on the website, we would always get directed to another staff member. I eventually left early losing a lot of money as they would not refund me (or any others that left early). The whole experience was a waste of money and nothing short of a scam. I met some other people in India who told me that the owner of Volunteering Solutions had tried to sue another volunteering organisation for using the words "volunteering in india" in their organisation and gave me the link with the case - http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/text.jsp?case=D2011-0865 . What type of company does that? A COMPANY THAT JUST CARES ABOUT MONEY. My advice is do not go with them. I had read some bad reviews about Volunteering Solutions before I made my decision to go with them, but was sucked in by their nice website. My advice if you want to volunteer abroad, do your research and if you read bad reviews about a company - listen to them! Read reviews online and search "volunteering solutions scam" - there are hundreds of real reviews there about this company. Also be careful when you see a bad review followed by a good review as it appears Volunteering Solutions also floods places like this with fake good reviews by themselves where the "person" has only posted one review ever in their history on the forum (the Lonely Planet website is a good example of this). I read some good reviews about other organisations in India based around Jaipur and also met two volunteers on my travels later who had volunteered in that area who were happy so maybe look at them instead.

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 8, 2012
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
22

Where do I start? I had heard rumors online about the corrupt mentality of this company before I left but when ahead anyway putting it down to others being "first time travelers". What a big mistake. However my biggest problem with Volunteering Solutions now is not just the disaster my trip was but their attitude towards their complaints. Instead of fixing my problems they have threatened to sue me when I complained and aired my voice. Read the links below to see my problem and some other ones I found!

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2095711

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293889-i9243-k4572290-Volunteering...

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1794653

http://www.voluntales.com/heather-n-beware-of-volunteering-solutions/

Be aware, that this company seems to post fake positive reviews of itself wherever there is a negative one as some bloggers pointed out

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2027960

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Posted: November 20, 2011
Overall:
Support:
Value:
By: Reston
Age:
26

It was terrible!! None of the things promised happened. There was no one at the airport to meet me - I had to wait. I didn't get taken to the hotel in the city I was told I would go to for the weekend before I went to my placement in the country, but to a hostel way out in the boonies where it was almost impossible to get into the city to do the last minute things I had to do - and where the food was so scarce it was ridiculous. Peanut butter and white bread for breakfast and not much of that, and then nothing until supper which was a bit better but certainly NOT what had been in the brochure nor sufficient in quantity for the young folks. I'm a retiree so eat less than the kids would, but still not enough. And they locked the place down at about 7 p.m. so you couldn't even get out to do things or buy food. Oh - and there were four bedrooms, each with 6 bunk beds - AND ONE BATHROOM FOR US ALL.
The placement I went to didn't even know I was coming and government paperwork had to be done. They were right mad. AND they didn't get any of the $$ I was told they were getting from my fee. My hosts told me they weren't even getting enough to feed me and that's just eating the food they ate, nothing "western" or special. Actually they told me how much they had been paid, and going to the local market I figured out it wasn't enough to feed me.
I quit the program very early on and just did my own thing, helping them start a website where they could get their own volunteers with no middlemen scooping off all the money. We formed an NGO, and I spent a lot of time and money helping them with that.
At first I thought that Joe Ngugi, the guy in Kenya was the main problem - and he surely was a problem. He handles volunteers from several volunteering outfits and from what I heard at the hostel, rips them all off. Some of the people there didn't get to see any volunteering the whole time they were there, just basically locked up in that hostel. One girl complained, and Joe told if she didn't like it to go find her own placement. One couple of girls booked a trip (Joe made everyone book trips through him)and the driver was incredibly drunk and very abusive. The girls cried for hours after they got back, they were so scared and upset.
BUT - since the problems in Kenya have been set out and explained to VS on more than one occasion, and they're still using Joe Ngugi, I guess it's a case of them not caring that both the volunteers and the projects are being ripped off, or maybe they are complicit. The problems certainly don't seem to be limited to Kenya with their programs.
I would NEVER go with them again or ever recommend that anyone should. I have always previously found my own volunteer gigs and will continue to do so. No more third-party providers, which just dilutes the money that goes to the community at the very least. And in many cases like with VS it's much worse that that. They are actually doing harm to the cause of volunteering and to the communities they are in and supposed to be helping.

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 18, 2011
Overall:
0 (worst)
Support:
1
Value:
0
Age:
New User

Comments

this is not a surprise given the corrupt mentality of this guy see what 700 people are saying in face book. It is a scam
The NGO I helped start in Kenya and that is run by the local Maasai is at www.tribaltravel.info in case you want a great trip to Kenya.

I have traveled twice to volunteer through Volunteering Solutions. My first trip was to Thailand in the summer of 2009, and my second to India, in the summer of 2010. During both trips I felt very safe, prepared, and well informed about what to expect. Although I absolutely loved both trips, I adored India and it is primarily because of Rajiv and Priya and the other volunteers.
Some have mentioned prices that do not match what I paid (less than $1000 for three plus weeks inlcuding travel every weekend) I was well fed (actually GREATLY fed) because Rajiv's wife Priya cooks two meals a day for all of the volunteers including various teas, recommended items, and extra if anyone ever wants more. She made me LOVE Indian food. We had an airconditioned room, slept on bunk beds, our own refrigerator and two western bathrooms...I cannot imagine expecting more than this. It was very comfortable and I loved being in their home. They have had volunteers living with them almost constantly for ten years, for whom Priya cooks every single day, (not a servant as someone suggested). This family is wonderful, generous, and helpful. I absolutely loved being with them, sat with them and looked through their wedding album, played with their dog and felt like part of a very safe and positive group/family while I was there.
The organization provided everything they said they would, and the experience surpassed my expectations. When my luggage was lost, the person picking me up at the airport was waiting for hours before he saw or heard from me. I felt extrememly comfortable asking for help if I needed it getting around, to and from my work location, and they would have done more...if I needed or asked. They were always accommodating and approachable and wanted me to have the best, most enriching experience that I could.
More than anything, my trip in India gave me a great sense of volumteerism and being part of giving back, learning, and appreciating people for their commonalities and their differences, which, if you really knew Rajiv, you'd know is what he is all about. I spent significant time speaking with him as we traveled and toured, and was impressed by his altruism.
It is a great program, I am already planning to travel through it again.

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Posted: August 17, 2011
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
Age:
New User

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?
I'm sorry to contradict you but Priya certainly doesn't cook all the meals herself, I personally met the girl who cooked at the house and even have photos of her making chapatis and curried vegetables!! I can send them to you if you want!!

I volunteered last year through VI after winning a grant from Fund for Teachers. The purpose of my trip was to experience Indian life and culture for two weeks, and that is EXACTLY what I got from my experience.

Sure, life in India is difficult, especially if you are coming from a westernized, modern country. It can even be scary if you aren't prepared for India. The reality of this country slaps you right in the face if you've never been there before. Nevertheless, I had an amazing two weeks in New Delhi because of the support and guidance I received from Rajiv and Priyah.

After reading the comments of those who complain about VI, I must say these people are sounding like spoiled children. Their complaints are more about life in India in general than VI specifically. Rajiv and Priyah were wonderful. They made sure we knew which areas to go to that were safe, which restaurants to avoid, they made sure we had clean sheets and were happy with our accommodations. One recent poster mentioned that the accommodations are comparable to staying at an American dormitory, and I agree. It's exactly like a college dorm in my opinion. Furthermore, if a volunteer became ill, which one did happen to one of the fellow volunteers during my trip, Rajiv and Priyah did every thing they could to help make them more comfortable. They offered several times to call for a doctor or to take the volunteer to the hospital (thankfully she recovered on her own). Because of their level of commitment to the NGOs and the volunteers, I felt very welcomed and safe during my stay. I can't say any thing negative about my experience with VI. None of the other volunteers during my two weeks said any thing negative either. We adore Rajiv and Priyah.

As for the price of VI, I did shop around for the best price before deciding on which organization to go through because I was using grant money and wanted the best value I could find. In comparison to other organizations, VI had reasonable prices. The living conditions might not have met the expectations of some volunteers. But it was on par for life in India, and in many ways much better than many people who live in India. We were given plenty of wonderful Indian food. We had clean water and facilities. Meanwhile, many people in India sleep outside and in temporary structures. I'm not going to complain about my accommodations while I see children sleeping in the streets night after night. As volunteers, we are blessed to have the money and opportunity to help those who are less fortunate.

VI isn't an NGO. It's an organization that matches volunteers with NGOs who need help. It gives volunteers a safe place to live. It helps volunteers prepare for the reality of poverty in India and helping those who NEED our help. It's not a luxury hotel with the best amenities by any means. If you want a VACATION, go on vacation. If you want to work and help those in need, then be a volunteer.

I highly recommend VI in New Delhi, India. These people are humanitarians in my opinion, and they have my full respect.

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 17, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
New User

Comments

There are hundreds of negative feedbacks about this company and even a face book group of nearly 600 people out crying of their illegal business practices. How can you even think that "these [volunteers] are sounding like spoiled children". What kind of fairness is this?
I would also like to point out that I did write about MY experience. I wrote about the food I received, the helpfulness of the hosts, the accommodations, etc. What more do you want?
I'm shocked that someone would accuse me of having accepted a bribe. Sure, it is rather unlikely that an org. could receive perfect scores. However, this is the first and only experience I've had with an overseas volunteer org., although I've volunteered for several in my home country. I don't argue with your point there. But to outright accuse me of having accepted a bribe, when I traveled solely on a grant that I worked very hard to attain is quite honestly disgusting of you. If you doubt my integrity, read the news article written in a local paper about my visit to India. http://www.ultimatefortbend.com/stories/8752-teacher-to-share-what-she-learned-in-india
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?
I forgot to mention, I will definitely GO BACK to New Delhi with VI in a few years, when my daughter is old enough to make the trip. I trust VI so much that I want to take my daughter there so she can see what life in India is like. I don't want her to grow up to be like others in this world who act entitled to any thing and every thing.

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