International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

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9.3 / 10 after 217 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is the trusted volunteer organization, providing safe, quality and extremely affordable volunteering placements in developing countries all over the world. Each year they place over 5000 volunteers abroad and have a wide range of volunteering opportunities in Kenya, Kenya - Maasai, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Nepal, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Peru - Lima, Peru - Cusco, Morocco, Ecuador, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Bali and Thailand.

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I just returned yesterday from spending 1 week in Guatemala volunteering at the Eco Agriculture program.

Simply put this program was fantastic. Everything about this program made this one of the best times of my life.

Pre-Program-

Chelsea was beyond amazing in answering ANY and ALL questions I had, and believe me I had a lot of questions. Her responses were always professional and timely. I could not have asked for a better coordinator.

Arrival/Orientation-
Maximo Novel could not have been a better in country program, they eased all stresses and worries I had, because believe me I received so many emails and comments from friends and co-workers when they realized I was going to Guatemala alone. To the point I wonder if I should backed out.

I am so happy I did not BACK OUT.

Country-

I read up on Guatemala and I learned about the country and culture prior to arrival so this was helpful, the information booklet was highly informative and gives great recommendations on what to read prior to arriving. Antigua is very easy to walk, and the buses were not as bad as I thought. (I was practically paranoid, to get on that bus). It is a very beautiful country and you will not regret going.

Program-

As Green as it gets. I can't say enough about this program. I was not in nearly as great as shape as I thought I was, and came down with a cold, so my help was not as wonderful as it I hoped it to be, and as so many people have commented I received a lot more, that I felt I could give. I was only there for a week, so I tried to do everything I could to help make their lives easier. I can't say enough about the program. This was an excellent and very EDUCATIONAL experience. You have NO idea how much work goes into a single cup of coffee, and it made me that much more appreciative.

Home stay-

My home stay was one of the best things about this program. I can't begin to even tell you how much I am going to miss my house mother, she was one of the best humans I have ever met in my life, and I will do my best to get back and visit. She was fantastic.

Recommendations:

Learn as much Spanish as you can. Not much English is spoken and the locals are very appreciative of any Spanish you can speak.

If you do this program, understand it is HARD work, you will do a lot of hiking sometimes up to a hour to pick the coffee. It is very hard but also VERY rewarding work.

Come with no expectations, and try to not worry about all the "bad" you hear about in Guatemala. Believe me I was practically panicking over it (I shouldn't have been!!!) The people are warm and inviting and truly some of the friendliest people I have met in my life.

This program is fantastic. I can't wait to go on my next trip!

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 27, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: TexasGirl
Age:
31

Comments

Thanks so much for sharing your experience volunteering in Guatemala. We're so glad that our team were able to make your journey stress free and rewarding. We look forward to having you volunteer with us again soon!

Helene Comitis and Lisa Paterson
Age 19
South Africa
Ghana orphanage (blue programme)
November 2013- 2 weeks
We were in Ghana for two weeks and participated in the blue orphanage programme at Grace Masak (which we cannot say enough good things about). From the moment we arrived we always felt secure and reassured that we would be well looked after by IVHQ. Any doubts that we had about Ghana as a country were quickly subsided, as the locals were so friendly and helpful. There were many volunteers participating in various IVHQ programmes arriving at the same time as us and four of us were placed in the same programme. We were also fortunate enough to have volunteers from other organisations staying with us who were able to orientate us around Kosoa. We lived at a local vocational school where we slept in bunk beds, had running water and never went hungry thanks to madam Kate (lovely lady who looked after us). We always ate local dishes, were integrated into the local community, and took tro-tros to the orphanage. Grace Masak is such a special orphanage and without sounding biased has the most amazing children. There were 36 children ranging from 2 years-18 years old who were looked after by an incredible woman who they call “grandma”. Our duties included laundry, washing dishes, bathing and other jobs that sound like daily to chores to us, but are so important and helpful to them and grandma! We had lots of time to play with the kids during break times and after school and helped serving meals. Volunteers have the opportunity to help in the classrooms, which was always appreciated. Our simple jobs helped with the daily functioning of the orphanage and Grace Masak is so dependent on the help of the volunteers to carry out these basic tasks. In our free time on weekends, we were able to meet up with other IVHQ volunteers and experience the tourist-side of Ghana, go to local church or visit the kids. Every new experience comes with challenges, but with the right attitude, they can be overcome. There is so much that the volunteers can contribute to the orphanage, which we discovered in just two weeks. There is always something for you to do but it is up to you to take the initiative where needed.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 22, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
10
Age:
19

Comments

Is there many bugs in ghana? And also were the beds clean or would u recomend bringing your own bed sheets?

Ghana Construction program 2013

Life can be fast paced, as we live in a society that constantly strives towards “more” (being more, having more, getting more). I found that my outlook and sense of purpose needed recalibration and for a long time I have had Africa on my heart. Volunteering in Africa gave me time to step back with a different perspective, and a clearer sense of priorities - Learning to appreciate their day to day and the very basic resources on our earth. I wanted the opportunity to learn to open my heart to the people and have my heart break for the things that may break theirs. I chose to visit Ghana after recommendations from friends and colleagues that it would be the most tourist friendly country to visit (regarding safety and being an English speaking country).

I completed a 2 week program on the Construction program with IVHQ Ghana (Volunteer corps.) and after experiencing it myself I recommend it a million times over! I was initially torn over doing construction or the orphanage program as I wanted to be with and around the children/babies of Africa. The placement of the construction program provided the best of all worlds! We were located in quite a rural area (beautiful jungle-like area) and although we were not near the city, what you will experience and receive in a village setting much outweigh anything you perceive that you need to get by (no internet café near by, bucket showers, outdoor toilets). You were immersed in their village and their community (which included a lot of kids!) and I felt that they treat you with respect and admiration. The staffs at the construction site are genuinely caring and will take you in like family. There is a site foreman – Ebow, a “Doctor of bread” (with many other strengths and talents), Abigail and Comfort who will cook for you and ensure your accommodations are suitable.

The construction project itself aims to create a women’s empowerment center, building skills and possibly creating jobs for the women of the nearby villages. The main occupations is farming and hunting which is often very difficult work for women. The children are required to write a national exam about computers and its functions in school. However there are no computers available in the area to learn from – thereby the students learn by drawing out the different parts of the computer system on the blackboard. Another aim of this project is to provide an ICT learning center (computers) which can be used by the children and villagers.

Our volunteer roles were diverse, from finding and carrying water to mix the cement, to plastering the concrete on the side of the building, to making concrete bricks, to making and selling bread to the locals. You can take or leave as much out of your experience in Ghana as you want but there were endless opportunities for you to do and explore.

Living near the villages allows you to be more immersed in their culture, learn the language, learn and help out with their daily chores, and experience their different religions during Sunday services. For example after your day of construction is finished you could help on the neighbors’ farm, play soccer with the kids in the village, cut down some palm leaves to build baskets/brooms, walk over to the nearest village to be with the locals, learn how to make their food (perhaps pound some fufu, or make the local alcohol), go hunting with the locals etc., You will be valued at placement and will feel it immediately, especially by the kids as they love to race up to you to take your hand, give you a hug, teach you how to dance azonto or just walk with you.

Your physical living quarters are quite comfortable with basic amenities. We slept on bunk beds (it might be a good idea to bring a mosquito net, long sleeves and pants for dusk and dawn insects), food was great – portions were more than satisfactory. The climate was hot and humid so having gatorade powder (electrolyte replenishment) would be beneficial to prevent dehydration.

On the weekends, I found that there was adequate time to travel and explore different areas and regions of Ghana. The local staff will help you find transportation to the destinations that you would like to see and can easily link up with the volunteers from other programs to go travelling with. You will probably travel by tro-tro (van-like vehicle which works similar to a bus, stopping at specific destinations with a set price) or a taxi (ensure you negotiate and barter for a price before you accept the ride).

The IVHQ team in New Zealand was organized and punctual with questions that you may have. Jaime-Lee checked in with you and ensured that you were able to meet your timelines for applications. They assisted you if you needed anything for visas and calmed any nerves or anxiety.

The IVHQ Ghana team in Africa was wonderful with their hospitality!! Edward, Erin (his wife) and the Volunteer Corps team (Gideon, Evans, Benedict, George, Ike and Ruth) take very good care of you. They express genuine concern for your time in Africa and truly commit themselves to making change and improvements where possible. I feel they went over and above my expectations and in hindsight I received more than I was able to give! It is evident that these special people lead with their mind and act upon their hearts with sincere intentions. They are noble men and women and it was an honor to have been in their company.

I met amazing people there who I value, respect and are inspired by. The children uplift you with their endless joy. Unbeknownst to me, Africa was the best thing for my soul.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 16, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
28

Comments

Thanks so much for your review of your experiences in Ghana with IVHQ. We're so pleased to hear you felt well taken care of by Eddie and the team. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ!
Is there a lot of bugs in ghana?

I cannot say enough good things about my experience volunteering in Ghana through IVHQ. When I made the decision to volunteer I did a lot of research which lead me to choose IVHQ so I would like to share my experience so others are encouraged to make the same choice I did!
From the very start I felt completly informed and comfortable - not only does the organization itself supply tons of information and support but there are also pages on social networking sites like Facebook that allow you to connect with past, present and future volunteers. It was wonderful to be able to talk to people that had been in the place I was considering going to because it set me at ease and provided me with firsthand advice and information about the things I was interested in knowing about. In addition, I was able to connect with volunteers who were going the same time as me which lead to me meeting one of my best friends in my program before I even left who I was able to coordinate my connecting flight to Ghana with! So before I even left I had read through a 50+ page booklet with information about the program, the country and what to expect and also felt like I already knew the people who were going to be there with me! The IVHQ staff made me feel at ease from the second I met them at the airport and were a constant source of support throughout the trip. I was placed in the Silver Program (which I also cannot say enough good things about) which is a home-stay and my host family were absolutely wonderful and created a warm and loving environment where I always felt at home. In addition to IVHQ being a great choice, Ghana was also what I believe to be the best choice of location I could have made. Ghana itself is a friendly country with incredibly religious people that make you feel safe because you know their hearts are in the right place. The children in Ghana are unlike any children I have ever met - I don't think I passed one child anywhere the entire time I was there who didn't run up and hug me or atleast acknowledge me from afar screaming "Obruni!" (which means foreigner and if you go there you are guaranteed to hear this word multiple times a day!) The children in the orphanage I volunteered at were so amazing that words do not describe them. I love them so much and think about them every minute of every day. You get to know the kids so well so quickly because you care for them and spend so much time with them and as cliche as it sounds, as much as I did for them they did even more for me. They made such an impact on me that I know I will never forget them and never want to stop helping them. If you are considering volunteering just do what I did and sign up before you can change your mind because I promise you it will be the best decision you ever make. But also remember to come in with realistic expectations because you will "not be in Kanasas anymore" or be as comfortable as you are at home.The fact that I was without the amenities I have at home and was in a climate that was uncomfortable but yet I was still so HAPPY the entire time has shown me what is most important in life and it is helping others and surrounding yourself with love which you are absolutely guaranteed if you make this decision. So bottom line - DO IT and choose IVHQ! :)

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 13, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
23

Comments

Hi Chelsey, thanks for sharing a review of your experience volunteering in Ghana. We're happy to hear you felt well prepared for your program with the support from IVHQ and learnt a great deal from your time in Ghana. Thanks for all your work!

My volunteer trip with IVHQ was amazing. I had never done any form of international travel before and went for 8 weeks to Ghana. From the moment I stepped off of the plane, I knew that I was going to be cared for by the staff. It's was a very personable experience.

Once arriving in Ghana, I was picked up at the airport by a man named Evans that we got to know quite well over the 8 week stay, as he came to visit our specific volunteer placement weekly to check in and make sure everything was okay. For my first night in Ghana, I stayed at the IVHQ volunteer house, which was very nice. They have several rooms with bunk beds, a community room, and a shower. All orientations are done on the first and fifteenth of the month, so you get to meet other volunteers at orientation. Orientation is about half a day long and then you travel to your specific placements. There are opportunities to go shopping/get set up with a phone and SIM card if you desire, especially if you arrive a day earlier- which gives you a chance to visit the Accra Market.

I was placed in the turquoise program with four other volunteers. Turquoise is located in Senya Bereku, a beautiful coastal fishing village about two and a half hours drive west of Accra. IVHQ provides you transportation to your placement.

I was placed in the hospital/orphanage program. I work as a nurse in the US and was very fortunate that I was able to live at the orphanage and work at the local health clinic. The orphanage was amazing. Our accomodations were basic- bunk beds with mosquito nets in a shared room, and a bathroom with a toilet down the hall. There is a shower stall located in the builiding indoors, but there is no running water, so you take bucket showers with well water.

The food was typical ghanian fare- lots of rice, stew, bread, yams, etc. I would reccomend bringing protein bars/shakes and other dry goods if you are a picky eater. I would also reccommend gatorade powder/ electrolyte powder to prevent dehydration. They provide you with bagged drinking water that is safe.

The children of the orphanage are amazing! I loved every minute with them. During our stay, we were able to raise money and purchase them all mattresses, as before we arrived they were sleeping on concrete floors. They range from 2.5 years-14 years old. The orphanage workers and Seth and Vivian, the couple that runs the orphanage, are INCREDIBLE. They are the nicest people you will meet in your whole life, very approachable and receptive to questions/requests. They truly make you feel that you are part of their family and that Becky's Home Orphanage is your home.

Typical orphange work includes taking care of the kids, doing laundry, helping teach at the local school, helping cook food, cleaning, helping the children bathe and brush their teeth, etc. There are about fifty kids there, so there is always plenty to do. However, sometimes the best way to help is just to play!

The health clinic was also a great experience. I would go to the clinic, about a 15 minute walk from the orphanage, monday -friday from about 8am to 4pm, with a break to come back for lunch. It was definitely a challenging experience as we were extremely limited on supplies. I supplied my own gloves. They are limited to basic IV supplies and fluids, basic medications, gauze/tape and that's pretty much it. I spent the first month of my stay in the "outpatient department," where I worked a triage desk and treated primarily malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, hypertension, etc. There was also a good deal of wound care, sometimes traumatic wounds (machete cuts that needed to be sutured, burns, etc) and sometimes just sores/skin infections. The nursing staff are incredible and extremely helpful, as well as a ton of fun! They are very friendly and we hung out occasionally on weekends and after work. The chief medical officer is also very kind, but not always there.

There is also a maternity section, where I worked for my second half of my placement. There, I primarily assisted with labor and delivery and did prenatal and postnatal work ups/assessments with teaching. It was an incredible experience! They offer you a great amount of guidance and independence at the same time.

There was a lot of opportuinty to travel on weekends. We went to a monkey sanctuary, a canopy walkway in the rainforest, and several coastal beach towns. Travel in country is cheap- about 3 USD gets you almost anywhere you want to go, and its about 10USD to stay overnight in the cute bungalow-style hotels they offer.

IF you ever run into a problem, IVHQ staff is there to help. Myself and another volunteer became ill for a little while on our trip, and the IVHQ staff supported us, helped us get good health care, and welcomed us back into the more comfortable volunteer house to recuperate. They are extremely hospitable!!!

All in all I would HIGHLY reccomend IVHQ because it is a real, true cultural experience. You truly do have the opportunity to make a difference in these peoples' lives. Ghana is a great place to go first time as most people speak English and are incredibly friendly and welcoming. You will always be cared for with IVHQ. I plan to return to Ghana some day because two months was simply not enough time.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 10, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
24

Comments

Thanks for sharing your review. We're pleased to hear you felt at ease on your first trip abroad with the support of our local team in Ghana and enjoyed the opportunity to make a difference in the local community. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ!

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