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 a 33 yo male American high school teacher who participated in the New Delhi Street Children summer program this past summer (late June to mid July) with three middle-aged female American friends (who are also teachers). First, let me say that I have participated in summer volunteer programs abroad several times before - teaching English in Paris, teaching English in China, and working in an orphanage in Niger. So, this was certainly not my first trip to the rodeo. I am very familiar with the costs (some great, some small) of volunteer and travel abroad programs, so my friends and I closely examined WHAT exactly were getting / got for our $900 (application & program fee combined) for three weeks in India: comfortable accommodations; 2 meals a day (M-F); 3 meals a day on weekends; transportation from the airport to the volunteer home; insurance; week-end trips (one around Delhi, one to Jaipur (which included a 2 night stay in a VERY nice hotel), and a one day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal), NOT to mention the insight and recommendations of the VS staff. I'm sorry, but to say that this organization is a financial scam is VERY UNFAIR. A large amount of the money that you spend goes towards YOU, THE VOLUNTEER, with the remaining amount going towards advertising, staff salaries, company expenses, and towards the projects (orphanages, etc.) themselves. (And the company employees are by no means rich, though do live a middle-class lifestyle, which, I personally feel they are entitled to for opening up their homes to +/-16 volunteers at a time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.) As for the accommodations, I have read on here a whole gamut of comments, from them being "inhabitable" to "luxurious" (...keep in mind that the host family lives in the same home as the volunteers). My opinion is that the accommodations are very comfortable, with a nice bed, AC (at night), and shared bathrooms. I would put them on par with a typical dorm room in an American university or college. Yes, you may see a roach or mouse on occasion downstairs. But, if that is too much for you to handle, than you probably want to consider volunteering in a different country all together. Regarding the host family themselves (Rajiv, Priyah, and their sons), I found them to be extremely friendly, hospitable, and helpful at all times. As for the volunteer site itself, I can say that my experience was pretty much what I was expecting going in to it. The orphanage was in the slums, and we took an auto rickshaw each way (about 140 rupees round trip / rickshaw, which seats 3 people) to get there. My three teacher friends were placed at the same work site as myself, so we traveled to and from work together each day (2 people / rickshaw). Despite getting constant stares and looks from locals, we were NEVER harassed, threatened, or felt IN DANGER at ANY time while walking through the slums. If anything, the people around us would smile, say "hello", and (on occasion) even take pictures of us with their cell phones. The HARDEST thing about the work site was the extreme heat. Our site was a tiny (2 room) day care center / orphanage that accommodates up to 30-40 children at a time in the summer months. Due to the small space and many bodies, the temperature in the place was astounding. So, we got used to bringing plenty of water and tissues / wipes with is in order to stay hydrated and dry. The orphanage had little to no materials for us to use (to teach with), but being trained and experienced teachers who love kids, we knew how to improvise and provide informal instruction, along with many games (which is what we did). Were I to do the experience over, the ONLY thing That I would do differently would be to pack a bunch of inexpensive materials to bring along with me (small books, games, cards, pencils, paper, crayons, etc.) to use at (and donate to) the orphanage. My friends and I ended up going to a store nearby and (for relatively little money) purchasing these things on site. The work site is a SHOCK to many Westerners who have not lived in or experienced EXTREME poverty. However, our work day was only from 11am-4pm, with 1-2pm free for lunch (which we had daily at a modern, clean, and air-conditioned restaurant about a 10 minute walk away). This left us with plenty of free time to explore Delhi (see the sites, shop, etc.). So, all-in-all, I cannot complain about my volunteering experience in the Delhi Street Children summer program with VS India (and the program) was (more or less) what I expected from it going in. I feel like VS does their absolute best to provide a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for their volunteers. If you are looking for a 5 star vacation to India, than this program is not for you. If you are looking for a program that is free, than do lots of research to find out WHAT EXACTLY you will be provided with, have to pay for out of pocket, and what you will have to do for work (and for how long each day). If you want a program that will donate most / all of your fees to the children / orphanages, than expect to spend lots of money out of pocket for your daily expenses (like food and lodging). I think we all know that NOTHING in this world is FREE. And if it is, than be SKEPTICAL. I have NO RESERVATIONS recommending Volunteering Solutions to others, and would not hesitate in participating in another one of their volunteer programs. However, do lots of research and make sure you know yourself first and your own expectations and limitations. I think that volunteering in a 3rd World Country is NOT for everyone, and many of the complaints from people that I read are the result of good-hearted and well-meaning people who aren't physically or emotionally prepared to deal with living in an impoverished land.

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 17, 2011
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
9
By: cgagne
Age:
New User

Comments

Oh wow. Another accusation of bribery. So anyone who posts a positive experience with VS/VI has received a bribe? Where is the proof? You should carefully consider what you could be doing to ruin another person's livelihood before posting such nonsense. It's a crime in the USA, I'm sure you are aware of already.
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?

When I saw the cost of a 2 week programme was £350 I thought it was very expensive, especially since some are free, however I said to myself that the money was going to a good cause, to help street children and the building of orphanages. Pity that once we got there, once we saw our orphanage: a falling down building with no chairs, desks, books or anything, we knew something wasn't right. We soon discovered that ONLY 5% of the £350=25200 rupees that we paid EACH was actually going to our orphanage. We were absolutely DISGUSTED. We were trying to teach in ridiculous conditions, with things like chalk missing for 2 days, whilst Rajiv was re-doing his house and had about 5 servants working for him every day. We waited until the last day to talk to him about how disappointed we were with all the corruption and the fact that they used a good cause to profit themselves. He tried to turn it all around and it was like talking to a wall, we got nowhere but he did admit only 5-10% was going to the orphanage. He tried to cover up saying advertising and administration costs are very high (they only have a website so advertising is at its cheapest) and then said that food is highly expensive when as I said above, we were getting the most basic things possible. We know perfectly well by staying in India for a whole month that life there is incredibly cheap and that A LOT could be done with all the money all of us volunteers pay them. Our travel costs weren't even covered, every day we had to pay 160 rupees to go to work and back. It was mine and my friend's fault that we didn't read into it more and all the smallprint etc, but we honestly thought people couldn't be so corrupt, disgusting and selfish to use such a good cause as helping orphan children to make money for themselves. IT IS DISGRACEFUL, THEY SHOULD BE SO ASHAMED. :( VOLUNTEERING SOLUTIONS IS A SCAM, DO NOT GO WITH THEM!!! VOLUNTEERING SGOULD BE ALMOST FREE, IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING SERIOUSLY GOOD, CHOOSE A RELIABLE, HONEST COMPANY.

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Location:
Posted: August 13, 2011
Overall:
3
Support:
4
Value:
1
By: laracp
Age:
New User

I am surprised to see the comments that have been posted about this wonderful organization. I recently went to Arusha, Tanzania with Volunteering Solutions and found their staff very supportive and well organized. The program definitely offers great value for money and wonderful volunteering opportunity in Tanzania.

I understand that the same program can have different opinions and I believe that going to volunteer abroad needs an open mind and the ability to get out of your comfort zone. The accommodation and the food provided were way above my expectations, and I will definitely consider Volunteering Solutions for my future volunteering trips in other countries.

Program:
Location:
Posted: June 22, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: nicksmth
Age:
New User

Comments

If you need more convincing on why not to use this company. Visit these links! http://www.prlog.org/11586384-sanklap-wwwvolunteeringindiaorg-wins-case-against-trademark-infringement.html http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/text.jsp?case=D2011-0865 Volunteering Solutions is the same company as Volunteering India (www.volunteeringindia.com). They are both run by this guy Saurabh Sabharwal! He is a real bad guy. He has tried to shut down this other volunteering organization in India because they were affecting his business. Do not use this company! Visit the links and read the reports! Terrible stuff!
"Nick Smith"! Are you kidding?! Are you even real? Are you one of the "volunteers" that is paid to post positive feedback about this scam without even going to the place? Or are you the owner of Volunteering Solutions trying to hide this scam he runs?!? Have you not read the feedback of thousands of people online? Volunteering Solutions is a scam. The owner is corrupt. Go to this group and read about the experiences of hundreds of unhappy volunteers that my friend started after we had this experience http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=133476884032&v=wall I forgot to mention in my last post, it was also discovered by another volunteer on a South America program, that because this Indian man that is in charge of this corrupt scam overstayed in Australia, he cannot easily visit to other countries. Some of the programs he runs, he has never even been to the program! He makes contacts online and then sets up a "program"! How comfortable would you be going to one of Volunteering Solutions programs if you knew this? I hope things have changed since my experience but given recent feedback online from real volunteers. I doubt it!

Volunteering Solutions is a scam! Be very careful and do not go with them! I went to India 2 years ago with them and had the most awful experience. They lied about the accommodation, I had no staff support (we found out the man at the airport was the father of the owner) and are simply a money making scam!

One of the girls on my trip started this Facebook group and it now has hundreds of members - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=133476884032&v=wall

Hundreds of people have joined the group who have had this experience. Not just India but also in other countries. Do not be lured into their website and fast emails. One person told me they pay people to pretend to be volunteers and post positive reviews about them.

That is not all. Look at these other sites!

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

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

I am in the process of trying to sue their owner - Saurabh Sabharwal and am putting together information against them. Any other people who have been scammed. I would like to hear from you! If you need more information - email me!

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Posted: June 16, 2011
Overall:
0 (worst)
Support:
0
Value:
0
By: hn500
Age:
New User

i volunteered with volunteering solutions in summer 2009 in peru. the experience was fine but i had some major problems with the company. the same local organization in cusco (maximo nivel) also had volunteers from two other companies - gvn and ivhq and there were a lot more volunteers from these two companies. the ivhq volunteers had paid less which made me angry at volunteering solutions. this was bad enough and made me feel stupid for not going with a cheaper company but worse was to come. on top of this, i found that volunteering solutions staff had never even been to peru!!! ivhq had a representative there at the time visiting volunteers to make sure things were ok and i heard gvn had one there earlier in the year. when i tried to find out how often volunteering solutions had been to peru i found out the answer was never!!! while the experience was fine, i would say do not go with volunteering solutions. they are a company based in india and seem very dodgy in hindsight. what sort of company has never even been to the places they sell trips to!?!? how do they know if it is good or bad?! since then i have also found a facebook group called BEWARE OF VOLUNTEERING SOLUTIONS with over 100 members!!! my experience in peru was fine but obviously others in other countries have not been. my recommendation is be very careful of this company and go with one that researches the countries it places volunteers in. ivhq and gvn volunteers both seemed happy with their companies and ivhq volunteers seemed to have paid the least.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 3, 2009
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: Anonymous
Age:

Comments

this guy seems like a pathological liar
this guy doesn't know anything except india. I heard that he been to Australia and arrested for VISA overstay and start this program. he never been to anycountry except, India and Australia. Good luck Shaurav
This organization in fact work with Maximo nivel and run by a Indian guy name Shaurabh. further, volunteeringindia and volunteering solution is same. Be careful, as this company head quater is located in Delhi and this is not a legetimate company!!
Hi, I was looking for some more information about volunteering solutions and then I saw your comment. I want to go this summer with vs to Peru, Cusco (the same as you did). But is it possible to contact you (email or facebook) and ask you some questions?
Hi when you say your programs start at US$200, what are the extra costs, program fees, insurance, other travel expenses, whats not included: food, transportation, etc?
So you want people to look at testimonials that you have full control over, rather than testimonials that were provided through an unbiased third party?
To Whom It May Concern. This review was certainly not written by an International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) staff member or representative. We have never participated on a Volunteering Solutions program, nor do we intend to. We will not apologise for creating a name for ourselves amongst volunteers for providing high quality and affordable programs. IVHQ is a large volunteering organization (www.volunteerhq.org) sending over 3200 volunteers abroad annually at extremely affordable prices and we have no reason to bother a small Indian company like Volunteering Solutions with false reviews. Whether Mr Sabharwal's initial accusations were an attempt to deflect scrutiny from his program and whether he bothers to visit the programs he places volunteers in or he genuinely believed the comment was written by IVHQ is irrelevant. We are disappointed with him and certainly hope he is not as reckless with his programs as he is with his accusations. It would be appreciated if the moderator of this website could remove Mr Sabharwal's initial comments as they do nothing for the reputation of him, his company or IVHQ. Regards Daniel Radcliffe Executive Director International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) www.volunteerhq.org daniel@volunteerhq.org +6467587949
Clarification, We got a mail from IVHQ clarifying that none of their staff has done this. But this is still true that the post above is a false alegation and we have never worked with the company in Peru as said above. Thanks Volunteering Solutions
Hello, This is me again, after reading it again carefully I would like to let everyone know that I myself travel around the world to make sure all programs are Ok. Apart from the Fact that we have never sent any volunteers to MAXIMO NIVEL in Peru, I just finished my trip from Cambodia and Thailand. I went to Nepal, Kenya and Tanzania earlier in the year. I will be travelling to Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador etc in the coming weeks. It is not possible for any company to visit all programs all the time. so once the turn comes we visit all placements accordingly. Yes We are Based in India and as far as we know it is not a crime to do so. We pride ourselves to be the 1st Indian company to provide affordable and safe volunteer placements around the world to our volunteers. We make sure our volunteers are happy. It is almost impossible to find ANY company which does not have any bad review but a review which is as fake as the one above is easy to find and get noticed as it clearly shows that it is written by someone from ivhq. Please read our testimonials at www.volunteeringsolutions.com/testimonials.htm For those who are still not happy, can write to us or call me anytime. Thanks Saurabh Director Volunteering Solutions +91-9910296633
Hello to All, This post is not genuine, we DONOT work with MAXIMO NIVEL in Peru and have never sent volunteers to them in Peru. This posts is just about advertising of IVHQ and looks like it is done by their Staff Members. I would suggest volunteers to not go by this and read reviews on our Website by past volunteers or on our Face Book Group - www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=20007338112 We can also provide volunteers with many e-mails of past participants who have had a great time volunteering with us. Thanks Director Volunteering Solutions

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