Global Vision International (GVI)

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9 / 10 after 199 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: http://www.gviusa.com/

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I completed the Marine and Wildlife Conservation program in Phang Nga, Thailand. GVI offers extensive support both prior to and during your program including pre-departure information, airport pick up and information about the local area.

The staff on base are amazing in not only helping us integrate into our program but also understand how our time contributes to the development of the community. They are very knowledgeable of the local culture and anthropological narratives that have shaped the community. They provided us with both Thai language and culture courses, to alleviate the stresses of adapting to a new country and integrating smoothly into the community.
The staff supported us beyond the program. When I fell ill, a staff member helped us organise transport to the hospital as we couldn’t speak Thai. In addition, they helped us plan our short holidays and encouraged us to explore different parts of Thailand when we had days off.

We were even allowed to join in with other programs to get the most out of our experience. Thus even though I was in the conservation program, I joined the teaching and community teams in their orphanage visits and English classes.

The living conditions were modest, which is expected when you are volunteering at a developing country. Living in a village among villagers helped me appreciate the program and its contribution more and learn more about the locals.

Overall I highly recommend GVI and their volunteer programs.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 5, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
21

I did the GVI internship on April last year. For that I spent 3 months on a game reserve and another 3 months in a work place.
First thing you should know: game reserves are, above everything else, a business. There's no truly wild place in South Africa. Being the property of someone and a profitable business, it must be managed. I would say the reserve is like a zoo without cages.
For that, we need to give way to the tourists satying at the lodges, going on game drives. As I said, the reserve is a business, and a lot of wrong decisions can be made, not regarding the well being of the wildlife. What we in our time in GVI is locating everyday the lions and the semi-imprinted cheetah (which sometimes you will get out of the vehicle and go into the block to locate her on foot). We take basic data as behaviour, location and wheater conditions and type it at the computer back at base. Only the volunteer responsible for data on that specific drive will do it, though. Other activities during drive include operating the telemetry equipment, doing vehicle check before drive, operating the spotlight on the way back to base when it's already dark.
We collect data on other animals we might come across, like rhinos, elephants, buffalos, hyenas, etc. But these we do not track, so it's not the priority to locate first, coming across them only by chance or if we have time left after finding the "key" animals.
Sometimes volunteers will do other tasks such as reserve work by cleaning the roads, educational bush walks, base work (which is a rotation of volunteers to look after the base - cooking, cleaning - during the day).
As an intern, you will have some extra activities that the common volunteers don't. That would be basically for your education about the bush and conservation through game reserves. You will have a few lectures and will have to do some assignments. You will have a mentor to talk about your goals. And you will learn about tracks, birds and trees. But most of your knowledge, will come from your own effort. There as several books available at base and staff members willing to answer your questions. But if you don't commit yourself with your self education, you won't learn as much as you could.
There's three bathrooms, two of them with shower (not the best of showers, but at least there's hot water). Currently there are three dorms for volunteers. Most of the matress are very old and used and you will sleep on bunk beds. It's something you can get used to quickly, sleep in a room full of people and later on you can even miss it. Most of volunteers go to bed early, before 9, as we need to get up before the sun rise. The meals are prepared by the volunteers in charge, a pre made menu that can be adjusted to any diet requirements.

My second part of the program was spent in CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) based on Durban. Even if I had all the help from GVI to get there, with tips of flights, places to stay and transport, I had to deal with the costs.
CROW has nothing to do with GVI except the booking, so I won't give the feedback of my time there here. But I got there thanks to GVI. When calculating the fee for volunteering at CROW, through GVI the value is around 4 to 5 times more. So if you're interested, I recommend booking directly with CROW and not any travel or volunteering agency.

The cost for internship or volunteering with GVI is very high. There are plenty of game reserves that take volunteers for much less. Of course I can only talk about my experience with GVI, and in general I'm really thankful that it started a 2 year journey through South Africa. In the end was definetely worth it. I will always remember my time at the reserve and cherish deeply as one of the greatest moments of my life.

I recommend this program for whoever wants to do a safari in South Africa and take good pictures while making friends and getting closer to the environment. Is a much better way to know the wildlife and also to keep yourself busy during a trip. You will have an amazing experience. It just wouldn't be my first option for an educational internship.

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 24, 2016
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
1
By: freo j
Age:
26

On the first day we were met by the GVI staff members and treated to a delicious breakfast of local fruits. Before long, we were on our way across the lush, green island to the small village of Silana. Our arrival was eagerly anticipated by the other GVI volunteers, who welcomed us with smiles and lunch!
Our first Sunday was spent in church and getting to know our Fijian families. A traditional Fijian meal was prepared and we were supplied with pillows and told to ‘take a nap’ for the afternoon, happily following the local custom that no work can be done on a Sunday.
The following weeks involved getting to know our class at school. The level of spoken and written English varied dramatically throughout the class but all the children were keen to learn and practice, particularly if that involved gossiping about other class members or volunteers! I was struck by the enthusiasm of the children in my class – something that I never experienced whilst I was at school. They had dreams of being doctors or teachers in order to help out their community, but most of all, they wanted to travel.
My experience in Silana was one of the most treasured moments of my life. The village was so welcoming, always ready to teach you Fijian or inviting you into their house for dinner. The evenings were spent drinking kava in the community hall or watching exceptional performances of the Meke – a traditional Fijian dance.
Almost as soon as we arrived it was time to leave. The morning came for us to leave and the women of the village came to say goodbye in the traditional way – through song. By the time the stunning harmonies of Isa Lei had come to an end there wasn’t a dry eye getting in the van to leave.
I know I speak for all the volunteers when I say that being in Silana was a truly special experience and that we would all do anything to go back. Four weeks was definitely not long enough and I would thoroughly recommend this program to anyone and everyone!

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 10, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
8
Age:
19

I took part in the gvi Island Conservation programme in Seychelles in August 2015. I loved living on the uninhabited island, Curieuse with the gvi staff and my group of volunteers. Seychelles has to be one of the most beautiful and unspoilt places on earth and the wildlife is unique. I loved the deserted beaches! I loved working with the giant tortoises and the green turtle hatchlings. I flew to Bird for part of my programme to spent 4 days exploring this wild and remote private island. Standing on the edge of the sooty tern colony on the North Point, listening to 800,000 pairs nesting was incredible! The remoteness and beauty of Bird is a recommended experience. Snorkelling with a green turtle on Praslin was unforgettable. I had a lot of fun making new friends and having new experiences out in the field. It was physically challenging at times, due to the heat and humidity so I would make sure you have increased your fitnness levels before you go! The camp is well equipped you don't need to take half of what you would expect. The gvi staff were really firiendly - very professional and loads of fun. I would recommend this conservation project with gvi - it may be expensive but it is definitely worth it.

Program:
Location:
Posted: September 21, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9
By: Alison
Age:
50

I spent one month volunteering in Fiji this year on the 'Community development expedition' I made some great friends and experienced the real Fiji whilst living there, but it wasn't all so great. For a start, the staff were rude, unfriendly and never had anything nice to say, they talked rudely about other volunteers to me and some things I heard actually shocked me. I had a staff member say about another volunteer "oh it's him, he never does anything, he is just a spoilt brat", I wouldn't expect to hear that from really anyone let alone a fully grown person. The staff are very separate from the volunteers and there isn't really a sense of community on base at all, after project the evenings were long and boring, with no organised activities most of the time. Staff didn't really interact with volunteers at all, unless it was to say something bad at the debriefing over dinner, or to moan about something someone has done wrong, which instead of talking to them quietly about they named and shamed. Really, I found all the staff unpleasant, and most of the time they acted like they had been burdened with their jobs when the reality is they had chosen to live there.
Next up was the support I received beforehand, which was next to nothing. I paid my full amount and then heard nothing, I didn't receive any emails until the week before I arrived in Fiji, even though I had emailed the country manager countless times asking for information. The information I did receive happened to be out of date and almost entirely wrong. I received the wrong starter pack, telling me that I was to be placed in a school and receive teacher training, I didn't receive anything about the work I would actually be doing (which involved working in the local villages, and some construction and almost no teaching at all). I had a long list of items I had to somehow purchase one week before being in Fiji even though I was already travelling which wasn't ideal, on top of this half the things on the list were unneeded which I realised when I arrived at base, if I had known before I could have saved myself the 100 odd dollars that I had wasted. There were forms that I hadn't filled in, and forms that I had filled in that weren't needed at all, another waste of time, overall the whole before process was disorganised and most of it was a massive waste of my time.
Now for conditions on base, which were absolutely disgusting. The first bure I slept in had a pair of bunks completely infested with bed bugs, so badly that you could actually see them in the nets. Unfortunately for my two friends that had arrived there the same day as I, that was the bunk that they chose. After a few days sleeping in it they had been bitten all over, from their feet to their faces, the staff provided no help what so ever for at least a week after this started. One member of staff told me this had happened to the person sleeping in that bed before them, then when that quote was brought up the story suddenly changed and he never said that. Staff passed the bites off as other things, insect bites, a rash... When the staff finally decided to listen they didn't really do much, they changed the mattresses and got them new bedding which didn't work, the bed bugs got so bad that they ended up in my two friends backpacks and in their other clothes. By the time they finally listened my friends had been completely attacked by bed bugs, had an infested rucksack and were completely paranoid about every bed on base. They had the gruelling process of having to try kill the bed bugs by boiling all of their clothes, this isn't easy to do when the only source of boiling water is a small kettle and there are no chemical products, they boiled their clothes and backpack about 2 times, then moved into their new room. The staff didn't provide any new bedding for them and offered no help in a problem that could have been avoided, the only thing the staff did do was tell one off for not having her shoulders covered, even though every item of clothing she owned was soaking wet on a washing line. The actual state of the beds and bures wasn't great either, the mattresses and pillows provided were disgusting, I have travelled for 6 months and these are easily the worst beds I came across in all my different forms of accommodation, which was funny considering this was the place I had paid to stay and work the longest. The mattresses were old and thin, I could feel the planks of wood through them and woke up with pins and needles and a dead body every morning from sleeping on them, and the pillows were a different level, they absolutely stunk, until I got into town I slept without one as it felt more hygienic, what annoyed me more is that I could have brought these items with me and spent money on them instead of all the money I wasted on pointless equipment. When working in the kitchen it never really felt hygienic, I used to wash all the cutlery and plates before using it, just to make sure. I saw rats in the cupboards that we ate from and the table surfaces that we worked in, there were also cockroaches and all other sorts of creepy crawlies, I know that this can't be avoided but it just felt unhygienic finding them in the cupboards and tubs that they shouldn't be able to access.
For me, one of the worst things I saw in all my time on base was the way that the animals were treated. I know that stray dogs are common in Fiji and can be considered a pest by locals, but when I see this extended to the western staff that work there it really bothered me. I saw staff full on kick dogs, to hurt them, and the worst part of all is that they encouraged others to do it, if you were seen so much as smiling at a dog you would be publicly named and shamed and told not to. Yes, you can't encourage the stray dogs, there are a lot of them and they are pests, but no way should you be kicking and encouraging cruelty on these animals when really all they are doing is hanging around waiting for some food. Almost everyone volunteering on base had pet dogs back home or had a liking towards dogs, for most of us our natural reaction was to "aww" at these dogs, especially when we saw the tiny puppies, and to show them a bit of affection, and to be told off and publicly shunned for doing so is wrong.There are ways to deter the dogs without using violence, for most dogs just a shoo and clapping hands scared them off, one tiny little dog that was known around base was the one that aggravated volunteers most, I saw her get kicked so hard at one point she actually rolled over and cried. There were rumours on base that GVI actually had local children to drown the new pups, which probably is common in the local communities and arguably kinder, but not at all something that GVI, AS A CHARITY ORGANISATION WHICH HELPS ANIMALS, should be encouraging. They also have base chickens, but the cage and conditions they were kept in was despicable. There were days that they didn't get fed or watered and they were hardly ever cleaned, the cage that they lived in was absolutely tiny, even though all the other chickens were free roaming. They also kept pigs, the pigs were in a tiny box container, not big enough for one let alone four, with a floor made entirely of concrete, with no mud for them to dig around or roll in. The way I saw animals, mainly the dogs, in my short four weeks there angered me the most about the whole project, I can deal with crappy beds and crappy food, but not with people abusing animals right in front of my eyes, and then encouraging other volunteers and local children to do so.
My overall experience with GVI, well the volunteering perspective, was good, I made some friends that will last a lifetime, experienced the real Fiji, saw some absolutely amazing sites and had my own Fijian family whom I loved spending time with, the work I done in the day was rewarding and I am happy I got to do that. However, after my experience on base and with the rather horrid staff I can say I would never volunteer with GVI again and next time will try a different company. I would 100% recommend volunteering, it's super fun and the most rewarding thing that I have ever done, especially in Fiji, but would not recommend this particular project on this base, unless the entire staff team was changed. I can't help thinking that my experience could have been so much better if there was a friendlier team of staff and a better atmosphere on base.

Program:
Location:
Posted: September 15, 2015
Overall:
4
Support:
2
Value:
3
By: loishh
Age:
19

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