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RCDP International Volunteer Abroad

I spent two weeks in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, staying with a local family, volunteering at the nearby orphanage, and taking Spanish lessons. I could not imagine a better host family. They made me feel at home from the start and were patient and helpful with my fumbling Spanish. Wonderful home cooking, a bustling household with friends and family stopping by, cool and comfortable inside even when the outdoor temps pushed 100 degrees! The neighborhood felt safe and friendly. My Spanish lessons were a short walk away, and the teacher was excellent at tailoring her instruction to each student. The local coordinator lived at the end of our block. She drove me to the orphanage each day and helped with questions or needs. Working at the orphanage was enjoyable, but also challenging. The Tias are busy with laundry, cleaning, bathing kids, changing diapers, serving meals. Volunteers help with playing, outdoor time, hugs. My first week, I was the only volunteer with about 8-10 children ages 5 and under. The second week, there were more volunteers and I was able to be with one or two children at a time. A highlight of each day was the children’s shouts of delight when I arrived and their eagerness to spend time with me. Each of the children became special to me in his or her own way. When I wasn’t at the orphanage or Spanish lessons, my host family took the trouble to include me in family time, outings to church, shopping, and the Poas Volcano. I was glad I had not pre-scheduled weekend outings, because this time with the family was very special and enjoyable.

After looking at several programs online, I chose RCDP International because they claimed that most of the fees paid go into the local community, and I do feel that is true. RCDP was less expensive than other programs, yet I was very satisfied with the support provided.

Program:
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Apr 2, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

It was over five weeks ago now that I arrived on Mafia Island to start the volunteering programme in Marine conservation, and I have had the time of my life. It feels like I’ve only been here days but at the same time I have enough memories to fill a lifetime.

The work is hard but satisfying and everything is an adventure, whether it’s teaching English to the primary school kids on Chole Island which lays the basis for them to go to secondary school and study further, or diving and surveying on the gorgeous coral reefs to collect data which will help to preserve and protect them. And that work is in an incredibly diverse environment which is like nowhere else in the world. I’ve seen dolphins, turtles, and huge reef rays – and a shark! I’ve been caught in a tropical thunderstorm out on the boat, and fallen asleep to the sounds of bush babies in the trees

The locals are friendly and accepting, this is the first time abroad I’ve felt completely free of the tourist bubble and integrated into the community. And if the volunteer lifestyle of living it rough and attempting to break through the language barrier ever gets too much, there’s a picture perfect beach lined with luxurious tourist lodges a couple of minutes walk from camp.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Mar 26, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Treetop Country

I spent three weeks in Thailand in February this year and my only regret is not giving myself longer.

The time at treetops was time well spent. I was well supported and it was nice for me to be able contribute in the making of a grassroots project in such a lovely area with such beautiful people.

The food was amazing. The people welcoming, humble, hardworking and generous.

I stayed in my very own house amongst the trees. It kind of reminded me of being in never never land where the lost boys live. The other volunteers living there became good friends and riding our bikes around the little province up there in Thailand's north country will make up some of my greatest life memories.

I highly recommend treetop country.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Mar 26, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
10

Openmind Projects

I spent about 6 months working in the Openmind Projects Office in Nong Khai.

I found the staff here were very friendly welcoming, and I soon felt at home and able to contribute to the development of the organisation. Working alongside local staff and trainees was a great way to experience the very different culture of Thailand, and learning to adapt to a new and strange workplace was also valuable.

As a small organisation, you truly feel that you are joining the team - whatever type of program you are on. You can see for yourself how highly valued your contributions are. OMP's local expertise and grassroots set up means that you know that volunteers are being sent to projects where they are needed and can help.

I highly recommend the Volunteer & Cross Cultural Training. I learnt a lot through it, and have seen many volunteers come and go who found it equally beneficial. OMP continues to provide a high level of support to volunteers beyond the training, too.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Mar 26, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I have taken part on the Frontier Marine Conservation project for 4 weeks. I am a divemaster and taken part in over 300 dives before coming on this project. I chose this as I felt I could use my prior diving experience to contribute to the conservation and learn more about the reefs that I love to dive and photograph.

My first impressions of the camp were although it is very very basic it does the job and is ok as everyone is very friendly and help each other out to make it run. Catie, the marine PI, gave me a tour of the camp and the surrounding area and village so I could get my bearings and immediately made me feel welcome and part of the team. Throughout my time on the project although she was always very busy with her work and admin of running of the project she was always very helpful, friendly and always interested in the photos i took and eager to ID any species that weren't immediately recognisable.

I was very excited about taking part on the marine project and learning more about the reefs and species that live on them. I can now identify many fish, inverts and coral species that although I recognize from my time diving I could never name. As well as the marine surveys I have also taken part in a beach cleanup of a turtle nesting beach and some mangrove and sea grass surveys.

The local area is very beautiful, the camp is well positioned close to the beach and the village. In the village everyone is very friendly and I have learned some basic Swahili during my time here so can say hello, ask how people are, and ask for items in the shops.

My favorite part of my time on Mafia has unsurprisingly been the diving. Its been made even better with my new understanding of the species and its very rewarding to be involved collecting valuable and useful data for the Marine Park. I will miss taking part in these surveys and not getting to dive everyday once I leave and wish I could have been here longer.

Program:
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Mar 25, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Comments

Hi Catherine. Thanks for the review, and we're glad you had a great time!

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