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RCDP Nepal

My experience here in Nepal has been one of the very best of my life. RCDP was very helpful and very accommodating with everything that I needed. I did a health education internship - one week in Chitwan and three weeks in Kathmandu working with Nepal Mary Child Help Center. The children were amazing and my project was amazing. I switched from Chitwan to Kathmandu after one week and RCDP was so helpful and kind in making my switch. There is so much to gain and learn traveling abroad and RCDP made the experience very pleasant and affordable. I will definitely come back and would recommend this organization to anyone. Feel free to email with any questions! Namaste!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Nepal
Posted: Jun 20, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Frontier

I spent two and a half weeks volunteering with Frontier in Sri Lanka after hearing about the organization from a previous participant in Thailand. Gene had spent three months with Frontier and was full of great stories and enthusiasm for the project. I had wanted to visit Sri Lanka since my teenage years and after returning home from Thailand, Gene's tales stayed with me. As a keen photographer of elephants I also wanted the opportunity to photograph them in the wild and see them roaming freely.

I was met in Negombo by the very friendly Aravinda and Sampath and immediately felt at ease in their company. We set off on the 7 hour journey it would take to arrive at the project site near Wasgamuwa National Park and we chatted easily, with me bombarding them with questions! About Sri Lanka, the elephants I would see, the project. Aravinda was very knowledgeable and answered all my questions good-naturedly. The journey went quickly, stopping for a delicious lunch and a bit of sightseeing in Kandy on the way.

Arriving at the project site late afternoon, the sky was a dusty pink and the view from the house did not disappoint. Overlooking a grassy plain with a thin river running through it, usually a full lake during the wet season, and distant mountains we feasted on wonderful curry and rice and turned in for an early night, tired after our long journey. The house had five simple rooms with which to house volunteers but as the only volunteer I had a room to myself!

Aravinda and I set off early the next morning down onto the plain for our first bird watching session and I was immediately amazed at the varied bird life. We wrote down each bird we saw, also recording our GPS location and weather conditions and after just an hour had recorded a staggering 27 different types. Bird watching fast became one of my favorite activities and looked forward the daily, early morning twitching.

We also did transect in various locations recording the signs and movements of elephants. We reordered elephant dung size, its location and age, also measuring footprints to determine the approximate age and size of its owner. As well as recording elephant signs we also did a long trek up into the mountains through beautiful jungle searching for other mammal signs such as those from leopards and sloth bears. Some of the immense trees we passed were awe inspiring and the stories of leopards passing closely to meditating monks at the hut high up the mountain fascinated me.

But by far the most enjoyable activity was afternoon time in the tree hut, a surprisingly comfortable structure high up in a tree which creaked and moved with the branches in the wind. It was the perfect spot to view the elephants as they made their way from the forest to the lake and made it easy to record their movements and behaviour. Monsoon rain became a regular afternoon occurrence and provided incredible lightning storms, also filling the surrounding water catchments with much needed water. Because of the wet some of our tree hut time became jeep time but also gave us a couple of very close encounters with the elephant herds. On one rainy occasion we observed a large herd being followed by a number of males, some of the females obviously in estrous. One large male approached us from behind sending Siriya clambering to the front of the Land Rover! But he turned to return to the females. It was absolutely exhilarating seeing them up close and being able to observe their behaviour, I felt very privileged.

We also did fence monitoring, recording any posts that may have been broken or wire that had become slack. It was interesting to see the electric fences at work and even greater to know that they were doing their job by dramatically reducing the instances of human/elephant conflict.

Visiting the local school was also a great highlight. The kids were so gorgeous, with friendly, open and curious smiles. Aravinda showed them some nature videos as well as one about the work that Frontier does. The headmaster seemed very pleased the whole exercise and was also keen to have the children exposed to things outside of their daily lives. He became very interested in my practice of yoga and so we decided I would teach about 50 of the students a thirty minute yoga practice. Aravinda and I put together a short video presentation about yoga, its history, connection with Hindu and Buddhist religion, etc., to show them before the practice. On the day the kids were great, although the girls remained in their skirts which meant a quick rethink of poses! But they were very enthusiastic, and eager to please, and did really well. It was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to give something to the school.

Everyone on the project was so accommodating and friendly and I felt very well taken care of. Leela's food was absolutely delicious and I don't think there was a single dish that I didn't love. Siriya provided ample entertainment! Sampath and Aravinda were also kind enough to take me on an excursion to Dambulla and Sigiriya which were both staggeringly beautiful. And our trip into the lovely Wasgamuwa National Park provided lots of great elephant and bird viewing.

All in all it was an unforgettable experience and I leave feeling that I have contributed just a little to the great work that Frontier does. I will definitely be back.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Sri Lanka
Posted: Jun 19, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

tenerife whale an dolphin these people take money off you and send you to unclean unsafe accommodation when you complain they tell you that you dont have to be here when asking for refund you get nothing they ignore you and do nothing about it these people do not care on bit about putting 2 young girls in a unsafe area for 2 weeks not even an offer of half the money back they didnt even stay for one night

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Spain
Posted: Jun 19, 2017
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Connect-123

Beware before signing up with this program!

In my experience, the program is unorganized and promised me things that they could not deliver. I was looking for an internship in graphic design which they assured me they could find a placement for me that I would be happy with.

I started out with one point-of-contact person, and midway through my application process, I was reassigned a different point-of-contact person with no explanation given. I was given my first "offer" which included incorrect information on the official offer. However, the agency they pitched me only had four employees and was a 40-minute bus drive every day from where I would be staying.

I told my point-of-contact person that I was not happy with the offer, and to please show me something else. Weeks went by and there was no other official offer given to me. Every time I inquired about it, I was told "Oh, we have many great opportunities to show you!" but I never was. This started to make me feel uneasy, so I asked my contact person about the refund policy. After flat-out ignoring my question several times and telling me that I "didn't need to worry about that because they had opportunities coming" for me, I began to worry.

After expressing my concerns and recapping my experience with a program director, I was told they were going to "get direct with me" and told me that I shouldn't be working with them if I didn't trust them. Given the fact that I had paid them, I would have expected them to take the opportunity to reassure me or make me feel better in some way. They did not, but instead took no responsibility for not doing what they promised.

All in all, I had to back out of the program due to their false promises. I had planned my entire summer around being gone with the program, and missed out on many opportunities as home that I didn't think I would be around for. HORRIBLE customer service.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jun 16, 2017
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1

Original Volunteers

Ghana was the ideal "first time volunteering" destination in Africa; a safe, politically stable, friendly country steeped in West-African culture and tradition. The project I attended was based in a rural village some 5-hours drive North from the capital. The volunteer house was a great place and had a good community-spirit. All individual rooms, with communal outdoor area, kitchen and a lounge (which has a TV and DVD player!!) It also had electricity, running water, showers and western-style toilets.

Original Volunteers were a fantastic organisation in the UK, and they people I spoke to were always very helpful (including during my time in Ghana when I had to email them - they got straight back and solved my problem!). Original Volunteers definitely were very helpful and friendly! :)

The organisation in Ghana which Original Volunteers sent me to was a local NGO involved in Education, Construction, Healthcare and Outreach work in the villages. The NGO was ran by a local politician, who had 3 members of staff below him.

I had the opportunities to teach in local schools - both primary and senior high schools. The schools have wonderful, enthusiastic, positive children who are very eager to learn and love the fact that Westerners are there teaching them. Some tips would be to bring pens, pencils, crayons and as much coloured paper as possible (the local shops sell bland stationary like white paper and standard pens and pencils, but the kids love anything coloured which has "luxury" value!). As for jotters and ordinary pens and pencils, these can be bought extremely cheap in the local stationary shop. The kids absolutely LOVE crayons, colouring-in pens, stationary, picture-books (especially ones teaching English) and school jotters. Also, the local schools are very deserving of things like chalk, blackboard dusters, teaching material, etc. (even simple things like pretend-clocks to teach kids the time, etc).

In addition to teaching, we also had a fantastic opportunity to do construction work and (if you're a healthcare professional) you can do nursing and medical-related volunteering with the local hospital too. Very good opportunities.

In our spare time, we had amazing trips with the other volunteers. Most people came on their own as solo-travellers, and we went in January-March when it was quieter, which was great because we bonded very well as a group. There's plenty places to explore locally, but at weekends it's cheap to hire a minibus + driver and drive down to the Coast. Although it's a 5-hour journey, it's amazingly cheap and the road-trip is an experience in itself!

All in all, a great experience, met great volunteers, the locals are really nice, and Original Volunteers in England were very helpful to me, including whilst I was in Ghana. :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Ghana
Posted: Jun 16, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

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