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Projects Abroad

From the moment I stepped foot on the wonderful island of Fiji, I knew my dreams had come true. Since I was young, I had always dreamt of travelling around the world. As I got older, I wanted my travelling to have a purpose. By choosing to volunteer with Projects Abroad, not only did I have plenty of time to explore the country (and in doing so I learned about myself), I was able to feel that I had made an impact on the lives of the local Fijians.

While I was in Fiji, I volunteered on the Nutrition Project. This meant that I was able to partake in health screenings at the local villages, create lesson plans teaching the local students about nutrition and healthy lifestyle as well as make cooking videos and homemade gyms. Lucky for me, this was right up my alley with a Nutrition Certificate in my back pocket!

During my stay, Projects Abroad was super supportive whether it be about my project, my homestay family, other volunteers or my weekend plans. The volunteers were all super friendly and I can honestly say I have made several life long friends. Can not wait for another opportunity to volunteer with Projects Abroad!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Mar 5, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

Nepal simply took my breath away and I still dream about going back there one day.
I had done international volunteering once before, high school, to Morocco. But because that was through a school program, I wanted to try something a little more independent and adventurous. A university friend referred me to Projects Abroad who had gone the year before.
I honestly didn’t know anything about Nepal. I saw pretty photos prior, and that was it. I signed up for the program because I was pre-med in college and wanted a chance to see different perspectives of medicine, and Projects Abroad had a medicine program placed in Chitwan, Nepal.
The process before the trip was straightforward. The flight there was very long, a good two days worth, coming from the states. No problems, though. I was taken to Hotel Exelsior first, where I made my first friend in the program – we got to explore Kathmandu together! And then we embarked on the 6 hour bus ride to Chitwan.
Chitwan was HOT. I went in June for a month and it was right around monsoon season, temperature peaked at 120 degrees. This is something you simply get used to.
I could talk about how Nepal is great, but since this review is strictly about the program I was in, I’ll keep my points at that. The medicine program places you in a 5-day a week placement at the Chitwan Medical College, a teaching hospital. You are able to choose where you would like to volunteer. I choose pediatrics and emergency for the first two weeks, and then spent the rest of my time in the Operating Room since my main interest resides in surgery.
You are given a lot of independence in the program. With friends from the program, you learn together how to navigate the village until it becomes second nature. You get to the hospital, and it is your call to talk to the doctors and nurses or not. So this program is entirely what you make of it! You must be forward and vocal. Language barrier is no excuse, because all the staff I worked with could speak great English! The residents there would teach me about taking vitals, detecting symptoms for the various diseases and conditions, what its like doing rounds, what its like going through medical school in Nepal, etc. Beyond medicine, it is also a great opportunity to really share with each other about the cultural differences. If I wasn’t talking with the doctors, I was talking with the patients. I remember distinctly I had a lengthy two hour conversation with a patient about morality and the importance of philosophy, when I told them I was studying philosophy and medicine in school. This conversation holds great memory with me today.
The staff of Projects Abroad is SO friendly and incredibly kind. My host father was actually one of the leaders of the program in Nepal (Binod!) and he was so funny and friendly. In the few weeks I spent in Nepal, I felt so connected to everyone. I miss the program so much, would do anything to go back and relive it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Nepal
Posted: Mar 5, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
10

Frontier

An excellent experience I would recommend to anyone. Good value for money, welcoming staff and volunteers, fantastic location. Anyone looking to make a difference volunteering on either terrestrial or marine projects should seriously consider this project.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Mar 2, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
8

Frontier

I first found this program when I was searching for gap year programs online. It was advertised as a diving course which was one out of the two main reasons (working with whale sharks being the other) that I signed up for it in the first place. Later, once I had paid tuition and all the fees that were somewhat sprung on me it was brought to my attention through an email with the project's coordinator that diving was not part of my specific program. I would have to pay extra if I wanted to participate in diving. This was a very unwelcome surprise. I didn't have much choice but to continue with my plans though considering that I had already paid my full tuition. I choose to not participate in the diving in the end. The information given for preparing for the trip and what was needed was limited. I had to ask quite a bit of questions because the information given was often vague and confusing. Once getting there I quickly became accustomed to life around camp. It is very simple. I knew that coming into this and I found no major issues with it but anyone who chooses to do Frontier Tanzania should be aware and prepared for the simple life. You will be eating beans and rice or rice and beans everyday for lunch and bread that we baked the night before for every breakfast. Dinner is a little more varied. There is a very limited supply of electricity. The people here are all very relaxed and it's best to give yourself away to island time while here. I did get to see a number of whale sharks (I couldn't be happier) while here and helped out with other projects (terrestrial and marine.) Schooling is mostly memorisation. Life here is generally slow and easy going while we aren't doing activities relating to our own projects. You'll get a lot of time to read, play cards, and just hang out with your fellow volunteers and staff. Tanzania has a large Muslim population so girls please bring clothing that goes past the knees (or buy a sarong here.) Bug repellant is gold here. Bring more than you think that you will need.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Feb 28, 2015
Overall:
7
Support:
6
Value:
6

Imire: Rhino and Wildlife Conservation

I am a sixty year old retired attorney, and I was looking for a volunteer program that focused on endangered animals. A friend of mine, also a retired attorney, had participated in similar programs over the past few years. She located the Imire program on-line, and I stumbled upon the video, "There's a rhino in my house." When the two of us saw the video, about a baby rhino being raised by the founders of the program because his mother was killed by poachers, we were hooked. We both have had experiences raising wild orphaned animals, as adults and as children, since we both come from families who respected and loved animals. After all, who could love and cherish wild animals more than these founders, who were raising a rhino, a warthog and a hyena all at once, because the animals were orphaned?

My friend and I spent two weeks at Imire, performing various jobs such as repairing wash-outs in the road (as ex-attorneys, we were thrilled to be part of what we called a "chain gang"), pulling down unsafe watchtowers, removing old fencing, and constructing new platforms needed to climb upon elephants. (Although a program to raise endangered black rhinos, Imire is also the home for 5 elephants.)

Tatenda, the star of "There's a rhino in my house," was housed in a "boma" next to the volunteer house. He is a strapping seven-year-old black rhino, but still enjoys human company. My trusty travelling companion and I would often pull up chairs in the evening and talk about various world problems with him, which would often result in an ear and neck massage for Tatenda.

We also spent a lot of time with four of the elephants (the fifth appeared to be imprinted on buffaloes, so ignored us and the other elephants.) We cleaned their nests each morning, trundling countless wheelbarrows full of elephant manure away. (Being avid gardeners, my trusty companion and I excel at manure trundling.) We were also able to help train one of the elephants, and of course play with them, which consisted of swimming with the elephants.

I never tired of seeing the elephants. Each sighting was magical, since they are such majestic creatures and look like they are moving in slow motion. One evening, while walking Tatenda home with his guard/handler, I glimpsed the elephants and their handlers coming through the woods behind us. Walking between a seemingly contented rhino and four elephants made everything right with the world.

I was also very taken with the group of women who worked at the primary and secondary schools at Imire. These women were teachers and administrators,who devoted themselves to the students and school by working all day and then sewing at night to raise money for the school. They also purchased a drink, like our "ensure," to give the children before they left school, since some families could not afford to pack a lunch. Even though living in the most overwhelming poverty, these children appeared to be happy. It made me feel ashamed of my own privileged lifestyle.

I was never bored at Imire and felt no desire during my two weeks to leave and go somewhere else.

I also failed to mention that I suffer from Parkinson's. My husband was afraid that I might become a target for muggers, etc., because at times my disability is very apparent. However, quite the opposite occurred. I was "targeted" by the kindness of the people around me, even strangers who rushed to help if I had a medication brown-out and fell or became very stiff. Zimbabwe is a nation of care-takers. My greatest wish is to return to Zimbabwe and Imire again some day.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Zimbabwe
Posted: Feb 26, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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