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Beacon of Hope Uganda

I was in Uganda and worked with Isaac and stayed with his family and I would like to make it clear, he is the best host. The work is super meaningful, Isaac is a family man and he has to work for his family, so don’t expect him to be available like your bodyguard every day, it’s the reason he assigns counterparts upon arrival. Lets agree that truly even though we make payments to live at his home, managing people from different backgrounds, of different ages at your home isn’t an easy task, we should respect and appreciate his effort. He started the organization at only 19yr and for the last 9 years the organization is growing steadily with very limited resources.

We pay 500 USD a month or 300 USD for two weeks; this covers food, accommodation, laundry, staff support and project support! How much did you expect such amount to go, we should appreciate that and today the organization has visible development projects, like the Hope centre which will have a clinic, youth enterprising unit, women enterprising, sponsoring over 100 orphans and agricultural projects and water sources. Very few people raise extra bucks for this project as a donation, many of us, just pay up the program fee mentioned above and expect everything to move on the same fee and the young man has proved it’s possible to make developmental projects on such an amount.

When you go to Africa don’t expect everything to move according to plan, I have found this in so many manuals for volunteering, always go with limited expectations and RESPECT the local culture and way of doing things. Lets us also avoid our western way of doing things, let Africans come up with solutions to their problems; this is what exactly Beacon of Hope is doing. Isaac is a Christian, but BoHU is a non religious organization, and welcomes every Ugandan in need, it’s very clear since its formation.

Lets us also stop the wrong mentality that things are cheap in Africa, this is wrong, when you reach there, you will have hundreds of worthless money. We should not be judgmental, and we should appreciate those few individuals who have stood out to make a difference, before judging Isaac, ask yourself how many people’s lives have I touched, stopping people to go to Uganda helping the projects, then think about the 300 children supported by volunteers who appreciate the project Isaac started, think about the widows, raped and defiled girls supported, Isaac has over 1000 people appreciating his assistance in Uganda, how about you, how far did you expect your money to go? I don’t support misappropriation of funds, but when I reached Uganda and see what the young man has set up with almost nothing, I knew he was a HERO. He is a human, he has his flaws as many of us, but I ask people not to paint a picture of him which is not real, visit Beacon of Hope Uganda facebook page, see daily updates of work done, you will understand, I know he is dark skinned but not as dark hearted as some paint it. Actually he is far more than many of us. Lastly when going to Uganda, remember you are not there to help Isaac but the community, be part of the community, don’t try to be part of Isaac’s life, if you loved the work and the people, I guess 70% of your goal is fulfilled, its the aim of volunteering, we don’t volunteer to help program operators, but the people they support. I am available joshuaskyer@hotmail.com

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Uganda
Posted: Aug 29, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

I had once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in Cuzco Peru for a month, working at the orphanage and being there for a month you get very connected to the girls and get very connected to the city because of how different it is. You realize how beautiful the simpler things in life are, the local ABV coordinator made everything really easy for me to acclimate into Peru. I know Spanish from high school, but being down there for a month and immersing myself in the culture was really great for my Spanish. You pick up quickly on the language and for myself learning in a classroom isn't the same.
The US abroaderview staff did helped me a lot, any questions I had they would answer me within 24 hours. My mom called and they answered any and all of her questions! I had a few precautions before I actually signed with abroaderview but after talking to them and talking to other ABV volunteers who have gone I realize that this was the right choice for me.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Aug 28, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

Searching online, I stumbled across the Projects Abroad website one night while investigating some volunteer programs in developing countries that focused primarily on medicine. First off, their website is super navigable and user friendly if you want quick and brief information on a myriad of different service trips ranging from the USA to the villages of many African countries. Within a day or two I was able to select, register and pay my first deposit to my choice of location and program: a 2 week high school program focused on medicine and its impact in the city of Cochabamba,
Flights can be booked through Projects Abroad at relatively cheap rates and they give you a step by step list of what you should bring and what your entire stay will be like. Arriving in Cochabamba I was greeted by a staff member with a Projects Abroad sign and was at my host family's house within the hour. The close proximity to the airport was efficient and surprisingly a very safe and protected suburb. My host family spoke 100% Spanish (just like most of the citizens and even staff, so I was also surprised by the accuracy of their background on the host families). Everyday for 2 weeks, the mother always had a breakfast, lunch and dinner fresh and ready for us at a specific time slot. One of my fellow volunteers was a die-hard vegan and the mother was even able to accommodate to his needs with extra veggies.
Lastly, the other volunteers were just as dedicated to learning about the culture and workshops that the staff provided, at least one per day, as I was. My volunteers came from the UK, Brazil, Canada and the USA so we all differed in culture as well as exposure to these experiences. Getting to know some of them in the two weeks made us so close and I can say that I'm sure I will stay in contact with them for awhile and hopefully visit.
This trip really opened me up to experiencing new things that I would never think I would try, and it is truly a worthwhile opportunity to pursue. My only regret was that I was only able to stay for two weeks.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Aug 28, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

The three month microfinance project that I worked on through Project’s Abroad not only deepened my knowledge and understanding of micro lending , but it also provided me with a hands on, multi-cultural experience. From the day that I landed in Tanzania, Project’s Abroad was very intentional about making sure that my volunteer experience was top notch. After my second day in Arusha, Tanzania I began working on my microfinance project. Through this project I received a lot of experience on how to do business counseling to poor and illiterate small business owners. As a team we worked with nearly 50 women in order to help them further their livelihoods and better their businesses. I was able to help and educate these women in need. Through my three months that I spent on my project I felt like I was able to make a lasting impact on the women who we served.

Another aspect of this organization that I really thought was beneficial to the whole experience was staying at the host family. The host family that I stayed with was incredible! They treated me as if I had been their son from the day that I got there. They were able to help me with any questions/concern that I had not only with my project, but also with the culture in general. My experience would not have been the same if I had not stayed at a host family’s home. This opportunity also gave me the chance to meet other volunteers that were staying at the family with me. In the short time that I was there I was able to make some of my best friends through Project’s Abroad. I would highly recommend Project’s Abroad to anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 27, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

The time I spent in Ghana was by far the most amazing experience of my life. The people I met, the culture I experienced, and the things I was able to see are simply unparalleled.
Volunteering has always been a passion of mine and I know how much help many of the children all over Africa need. I began conducting research on a large number of companies and organizations that supported trips to some of the different countries in need. Eventually I landed on IFRE (Intitute for Field Research Expeditions), and the country of Ghana. I was glad I picked IFRE for their reasonable rates and good reviews. But I was even happier that I picked Ghana for that was truly what made my trip so unforgettable. The Ghanaian culture is one of open arms and great appreciation for the little things in life. During my entire three months there, there was never a time I felt I was in danger. Even with being present during the largely spread Ebola scare, I always felt secure in Ghana. There was constant attention and security surrounding all of the countries boarders and they were able to successfully survive the epidemic without a single case of Ebola ever reported. I especially loved the community of Kasoa, which is where our home base was located. All of our neighbors were always willing to lend a helping hand with any questions or confusion we might have had. I still remain in contact with many of the locals that I became close to during my time there. I miss them all very much and look forward to being able to visit them again in the future.
A large piece of the success I felt in Ghana was actually due to some extremely sad circumstances that were not initially expected. Upon arrival I had the privilege of meeting another volunteer from the United States named Iris that had already been living in the volunteer house for nearly 2 months. We had both come to the area to work in a couple different local orphanages, but luckily that is not the way it worked out. Before my arrival Iris and another volunteer Kaitlin, who had left shortly before I had come, were exploring with some doctors and had discovered a different orphanage nearby in the small village of Bentum. This orphanage was small and off the radar of any large companies sending volunteers, but was in obvious need of help.
All 17 of the “orphaned” children were very dirty and poorly taken care of but they were still able to show such strong love and intelligence towards us volunteers. As time went on we had begun to notice many little things about the kids that made us concerned. They almost always seemed to be sick and had many open and infected wounds and sores on their bodies. They all wore the same pieces of clothing nearly everyday and never seemed to be cleaned. It became apparent their clothes were not being washed and the kids were not being bathed. We started observing their meals and noticed they only got a small handful of the same food everyday for lunch. When the owners of the orphanage or adults were not around the children expressed hunger told us they were rarely given anything for breakfast or dinner. The more we observed the more we noticed the fear the children shown whenever the adult owners of the orphanage were present. During this time I had been hosting an online fundraiser for the orphanage through my friends and family back home. The original plan was to build the orphanage a small sustainable farm on the property, so they would have a continuous supply of nutrition. But as we noticed these concerning factors we decided as a group of volunteers to hold off on the money and wait to see what played out with these kids. We knew from the bottoms of our hearts that this was not where they belonged.
Eventually through various other experiences we were able to meet a doctor who agreed to travel almost 2 hours from his home to personally come visit and examine the kids. He concluded that nearly every one of them was malnourished and suffering from blood diseases and/or malaria. Out of the goodness of his heart the doctor worked with his colleagues to donate medicine for all 17 of the children to begin getting better. However, we noticed over the next week that each day when we visited the medicine did not seem to be getting to the kids from the adults like it was supposed to. There was many times during this process that contacting the local police or social services was a big question for us. But these organizations work very differently in Ghana then they do in the states and unfortunately face a lot of corruption.
Then one particular day after being there a little over a month, it all came to a big breaking point. The group of 4 of us volunteers that were currently present in the house at that time had decided we were going to travel to the capitol of Ghana that day and work with some higher up forces in social services. But while everyone was getting ready, I went into my room and began praying for a sign on what to do. Something strongly pulled me that day and while the others travelled to Accra as planned, I went Bentum and took two brothers from the orphanage to visit their sick sister that was in another hospital a few hours away. That day I was given an unexplainable overwhelming feeling from God that, that is what I was meant to do. I took along MaryAnn who was the caretaker for the volunteer house. She spoke many of the local dialects and was able to help translate what I did not understand. That day at the hospital changed everything. The boys mother was there and with MaryAnn by my side this time, she was able to translate everything.
It turned out that all 17 kids were actually all from another nearby village, and all of their parents had the impression that they were simply away at boarding school! After a lot of tears and talking it was decided that the kids needed to be taken from the orphanage. The next day we began using some of the fundraised money as we gathered some of the children’s parents into large vans and set out together to retrieve the kids. As we rescued the kids that day there was so much more that was truly revealed about the way they had been treated. The couple who ran the orphanage had been passing the kids off as orphans and taking money from volunteers around the world, but the kids were not seeing any of it. Meanwhile he had told their parents they were taken to a special boarding school that was just being started up.
Because the children had been gone from their homes for over a year and their families were in a very poverty stricken area. We as volunteers agreed to take all 17 of the kids to live with us in our volunteer house for about a month. Giving the parents time to workout their situations so they were better prepared to take care of the children upon getting them back. During this month we each worked very hard with the kids, re-teaching them how to brush their teeth and bathe twice a day, and do their laundry. We also began working to get them back to health through balanced nutrition and proper medicine. Then shortly over the next month the children began to return home to their families. We constantly visited and checked up on them, as well as going with some of the parents to check out local schools in the area that the children could attend. In the end we were able to get all 17 kids happily home to their families while also starting an organization to continue funding their schooling through our local family and friends back in the states.
While this experience was one of great trial and sadness, it was also one of great happiness and strength. It might not have been the experience I had initially expected for my travels to Ghana, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I think that was actually the biggest lesson I learned through it all. To step out of your comfort zone and always fight for what you know is right, while trusting God every step of the way.
I am so thankful for the accommodations Mr. Franklin Kweku-Akpokli provided for all of us volunteers during our visits. That was definitely a key piece to saving those children and bettering the lives of all of the families involved.
I absolutely loved my visit to Ghana, it is nearly all I think about and I cant wait for my next opportunity to return.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Aug 27, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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