Latest Program Reviews

Over 300 Programs and more than 3,000 Reviews

Frontier

I volunteered with the marine program in Madagascar for 6 weeks. My diving experience has been amazing. The aquatic life here is very unique and the dive sites are very beautiful. The diving has been the best part of my time in Madagascar. Be prepared for the absolute minimal accommodations. Bring enough money to buy extra food because it is rice and beans for every meal. For a program that was quite expensive I expected good structure and organization. Unfortunately the Frontier Madagascar project is very disorganized. Simple necessities are unthought of. For example some days the tanks are not filled so we can't dive. Or national holiday isn't taken into account and there isn't enough food for the week. Overall it has been a very unique experience, but I question where my money has gone. Would definitely reccomend traveling to Madagascar Nosy Be area though!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Apr 3, 2016
Overall:
4
Support:
3
Value:
3

Global Crossroad

I spent my two week spring break in Costa Rica, and worked mainly in an Orphanage but on the weekends I was able to travel and see new places. In my past I have traveled to Haiti twice and then travel to Nepal with Projects Abroad. AlthoughI did enjoy Nepal the trip was not what exactly i was hoping for and did not focus on working with children as much as I was hoping for, but Global Crossroads made sure that the focus of my trip was clear and exactly what I wanted to do; which was working with kids in schools and mainly in orphanges. I truly loved this program! The accomidations were perfect, the houses were comforatable and had all the necessities i needed. The host mom and others staying at the house were great company and I loved spending time with them! When traveling I took public transportation and felt comfortable, safe, and never had any issues. Working at the orphanage was a remarkable experience and I loved the kids and loved spending my weeks with them, and they made my experience truly unforgettable. Overall I loved this program and truly with I could have stayed longer! I would highly recommend this volunteer trip to Puntarenas, Costa Rica and I have no negative feed back!:)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Apr 2, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I volunteered at the Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF) in Sri Lanka. I had no problem with the Elephant Foundation itself. However I had major problems with Global Crossroads. When I signed up for the program they offered a one week program. That is the program I signed up for. Months later they informed me the minimum is two weeks. So I had to change my whole vacation around to extend my stay 11 days, but was told I would only pay for one week of volunteering since this whole fiasco was not my fault. When they picked me up from the airport they told me I had to pay an outrageous amount of money that I was not aware of. It was $200 dollars more than what I was told to pay. I later complained and they said they would refund me $200. They emailed me the next day saying that they had changed their minds.
The whole experience with Global Crossroads was them making promises and then changing their minds. I have written documents and invoices that they have not honored whatsoever. So by the end of my trip I ended up working 11 days and having to pay almost $800 when I was originally supposed to pay $230. Very negative experience. But I want to reinstate that the Elephant program itself that I worked at was wonderful.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Sri Lanka
Posted: Apr 1, 2016
Overall:
6
Support:
6
Value:
3

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I completed the Gap Year program with Sankalp from October to the end of November 2015 and was placed in the Orphanage. This experience is unique compared to most travel opportunities in India. In each volunteer program with Sankalp, you experience India in its original state NOT JUST tourist attractions. You are immersed in the culture and community and have the ability to learn how the locals live. Really, by the end of it, you are likely to feel more like a local than a tourist.

Prior to arrival, Sankalp sends you detailed information of things you should/shouldn't bring, rules of the volunteer house and their contact information. I have heard people that went through other organizations like Love Volunteers did not get information prior to arrival. So my FIRST SUGGESTION is to either go on their FAQ section on the Sankalp website or even contact Pranay or Amita (the couple who run Sankalp) via email and ask any questions. Even though I had received information from them, I still had quite a few questions to ask through email that they were prompt in answering.

The volunteer house is situated in a community just outside the main area in Jaipur. Whether you arrive in Delhi, or Jaipur, you are picked up by a car organized by Sankalp. SECOND SUGGESTION is that you keep Pranay andIAmita's phone number handy and some Indian rupees (coins for a pay phone) in the event that the driver is not there. My flight was a bit early so I called them to verify when the driver will arrive and they were very helpful in calming my nerves. This was my first time traveling alone and first time in India.

Upon arrival to the volunteer house you are placed in a room with two bunk beds and each room has a bathroom with shower. This is great because you will only need to share a bathroom with a max of 3 other people. There are 3 floors and a terrace. The main level is where the house mom Puni stays, the kitchen that she cooks lunch and dinner and Pranay and Amita have their office. The other two levels have 3 rooms and 3 bathrooms a kitchen area and living areas. One living area has a tv and books and the other has small individual tables to eat at. The food is vegetarian in the house and primary Indian, however once a week Puni makes western food for the volunteers. I don't eat much Indian food usually but I didn't get sick of Puni's food during my trip, in fact her food was better than most restaurant food.

The Orphanage is the most emotionally draining volunteer placement of them all. The others consist of teaching in different ways but this one is more so providing affection care and smiles to children who don't receive individual attention usually. It is hard to see the kids in their current environments and some people feel that they could be taken care of better. HOWEVER you must keep in mind that Sankalp is NOT RUNNING THE ORPHANAGE it is government run and they don't really have an ability to change the way things are run. They can voice concerns to the supervisors but making real changes is difficult. We are given the opportunity to spend time with the children and this is a unique situation because being government run, they are allowing us to come in when they could easily say no. The situation in this facility is difficult to see especially being from a developed country but you need to keep in mind that this facility takes in as many children who are in need as they can and there is 24/7 care at the orphanage even though there is a negative stigma in Indian society regarding orphans or people with physical or developmental delays. The orphanage provides healthcare, food and a safe environment. Clothes are donated but the kids have clothes appropriate to the weather. Sankalp brings in donated toys and they are locked up so that the children are able to use them when volunteers are there (it is a reality that if new toys/ cloths are given to the orphans and not regulated they could be taken by staff etc. as this has occurred in many other orphanages globally). Thus, the children's time in the Orphanage is NOT LUXURIOUS BUT they are given more than some kids that live in dire poverty within India and honestly, without orphanages the child mortality rate would be even higher because of INDIAN CULTURE. You need to be aware that your work in any program is working with people in need, people in need within India have MUCH less than people in need within developed countries.

There was a post I read stating that the street kid program has kids that don’t speak English, further there are posts stating that the orphanage kids don't wear diapers etc. When I was going to the Orphanage, I can confirm that WE DID take diapers for the children which were provided by Sankalp. Diapers are a cultural thing, there are used in developed countries but in India they don't usually put diapers on children (because of the heat and the waste/cost). The reason Sankalp provides them is for the comfort of volunteers. Though they are becoming more common in India because of influence from other countries, it is still far from the norm. If you are EXPECTING children who are considered to be 'street kids' in India to speak English, that may not be the best place for you. They are given a more formal education due to Sankalp’s program but really, in a country where Hindi is the main language and with EACH STATE so diverse with their own language plus multiple dialects it's not fair to assume the street kids speak a lot of English. Yes they have made great progress since Sankalp was involved but they aren’t very fluent because they don’t use it as often as other languages.
THIRD SUGGESTION, try to learn about India and its culture before going. Learn about their social issues and positive changes that have happened over the years. Learn a few words in Hindi (working with kids it’s great to know phrases like listen, sit, don’t hit etc.). Make more of an EFFORT to understand that you going there and volunteering; whether your intention is to make a difference for your whole trip or just to do some good before traveling somewhere elsewhere, your attitude, effort and participation are what really matter.

Before writing a bad review about your experience, consider how you could have changed the experience for yourself and the kids. If you have questions or concerns talk to someone politely (not in an accusing tone) don’t let your concerns fester inside and diminish your experience in India. I chose Sankalp, as an informed decision after reviewing many options to volunteer in India. My current course on Peace and Tourism really highlighted for me the pros and cons of voluntourism and what a company/tour operator does that are considered best practices in their field. Sankalp is following best practices in terms of the street kid program, orphanage program and women empowerment program (the only 3 I had an opportunity to research and understand). They are working to better the lives of children in India that are in dire need and if you have concerns about where the money is going Pranay and Amita are very willing to explain if you give them a chance in a respectful way. If you do your research, understand voluntourism and INDIAN CULTURE/ CORRUPTION you will see that Sankalp is a great place to volunteer. Please make an effort to immerse yourself in the positive points of Indian culture and don’t let the negative aspects of it deter you from helping.

I was born and brought up in Canada, as I mentioned this was my first time in India and traveling alone. I currently attend university and am in a program that teaches me about world issues, social development and a course in tourism specifically. Also despite my passion regarding the work that Sankalp does, I am not affiliated with Sankalp in any other way but being a prior volunteer.

If you have any questions or concerns that you wanted to discuss prior to your trip feel free to contact me. You can request my email from Pranay or Amita as I would prefer not to post it on here.

*only people interested in volunteering and no spammers or harassment thanks!

Program: Gap Year
Location: India
Posted: Mar 31, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

AFS

We are hosting a German student in Ohio through the AFS program. We have found the program to be a hugely enjoyable experience. Our student has become a part of our family and I will consider him a son of mine for life.

The application was straight forward. The interview was prompt and the printed materials were very helpful. We have no problem providing room and board and even pay for other fees on occasion. We took our student to Florida and New York City. He's been a great student at our local high school and played on the soccer team.

The only thing that hasn't happened on a regular basis is the monthly check-ins. Fortunately, we all get along great and we have not had any issues to manage.

I also wonder why the program is so expensive. They have so many volunteers and outside of the flight and visa....where is all of the money going?

I definitely recommend AFS as a vehicle to experience time abroad as a student.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Mar 29, 2016
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Pages