Peru

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Since I had no international volunteer experience and knew I was going to be traveling alone, I wanted to be sure I chose a very reputable organization with which to partner. Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) exceeded my expectations. Immediately after registering, I received my initial packet of information, followed soon after by a welcoming phone call. Regular communication continued by either email, phone, or through the CCS website until my departure. Although I don't think you ever entirely know what to expect, there were no surprises.
From the moment I was met at the airport, I felt safe with the CCS staff. Transportation was reliable, the house staff was excellent providing security, and meals were home cooked fresh daily. Although tentative schedules were prepared for the week, the staff proved very flexible with special requests by many of the volunteers.
My experience at the designated volunteer site was amazing. We were warmly welcomed and made to feel a part of the site "family." I was fortunate to work with seniors as requested, and after a very quick week, actually felt sad to be leaving. The thank-you received by the volunteers was personal and sincere.
A day of volunteering with CCS is not just about "working." The volunteer experience is completed in the morning, and following lunch, there is an opportunity for a cultural experience in the afternoon and/or evening. Staff, along with other volunteers, also had suggestions for free time activities.
My experience was positive in every way. My only regret is that my Spanish was not good enough to converse with everyone involved, and saying a mere Gracias when leaving just didn't seem sufficient. Somehow I feel that I got more out of my one week abroad than I was able to give. I hope that wasn't the case.
If someone is at all hesitant about an international volunteer experience, I highly recommend registering with Cross Cultural Solutions, placing your trust in their organization, prepare as necessary, and then just relax and allow the experience to unfold.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Mar 22, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I worked with Angelika Schmidt. She helped make the transition to Peru so enjoyable and easy. She constantly looked after our group and made sure we had activities planned weekly as a group. She is a selfless and cheerful organizer. The Medical clinic I worked at was great with great up close and hands on activities. Peru is an amazing location. I highly recommend this program.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Mar 17, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Volunteer Network (GVN)

The Global Volunteer Network has given me no reason to post any positive feedback regarding their program on this forum.

I would like to state that I was a great volunteer, I worked very hard at making sure my experience was documented and lived to its fullest. It was, but it was all due to the partnering agency, Maximo Nivel and due to my own attitude. I was not going to allow the GVN to make my experience a bad one. Unfortunately for them, this review is going to detail what they did to me, and how they have done nothing to resolve it, how they have not provided me with requested documentation, and showed nearly no appreciation for their volunteers.

I want to be very clear - my volunteer mission was the most rewarding and eye-opening experience I have ever had. I would not take it back for any amount of money. However, I would have used a less expensive and more volunteer friendly organization. Like a previous reviewer said "You know those glowing reviews on the GVN site? Will you see a review from me? No. The organization doesn't want to hear 'bad news'. Give a bad review and you are obviously a disgruntled volunteer."

That is precisely how I feel I was treated. My blogs were not rainbows and butterflies while handing cookies to orphans. I saw criminal child neglect, drug abuse, and abhorred sanitary conditions. So? They censored my blogs. I was a patient volunteer until my questions or concerns went unanswered or avoided. So? I am now a disgruntled volunteer. I want them to know that I'm not disgruntled. My experience was priceless. The GVN had nothing to do with me except collecting my money, and making themselves look good.

My blogs were edited (which they deny, but they cannot get their stories together) for 'foul language.' Well, that's fine. It is a blog and all, so I agreed that if there was language they deemed 'unfit' they could edit it. They deleted one whole entire day of my blog. Whether it was accidental or intentional, THEY DID IT. My blogs were real, emotional, and factual. Many of my friends were following it. I took it down after they called me "culturally superior" and "offensive." Obviously, they don't want anyone investing any time or heart into their experience.

Am I wrong here, or am I volunteering? Did you just insult your volunteer who was not being either of those things, but just writing what they honestly saw? They did. Apparently, the staff was 'followed up with' and that is all I have heard.

I asked for an official monetary breakdown of what my funds went to. I was given this (yes, copied and pasted from the CEO's official e-mail):

**Mark Amero - online fundraiser (Peru)

Total Raised $2,704 (Gross) = 2,599.53 Net
USD
2,599.53

Peru Program Fee
-2,097

AHI Insurance (35 days)
-272

Flights (Star Peru)
-194.22

Remaining funds - donation to GVN Charitable Trust
36.31 (tagged to 'greatest need')

You will find a breakdown of your Program Fee in your Peru Program Guide: http://guides.globalvolunteernetwork.org/vloe7dug5/program/program-fee

Program Fee Breakdown

This graph represents a program fee breakdown for 1 month in the Peru volunteer program.**

This is not a proper breakdown of financials.

Maximo Nivel, my contracted volunteer placement provided me with a financial breakdown, and it doesn't add up. There is quite a bit of money that doesn't fit into the pie chart.

I want an official response from the GVN on company letterhead stating what fees I fund-raised, what they paid their contracted agency Maximo Nivel, and where the rest of my funds were placed.

I know that there will be a quick response from the GVN because that is their typical behavior when anything negative reaches these forums.

It's too bad that I had to take this approach to get answers from them.

My advice, go through IVHQ. They are less expensive, more volunteer friendly, and transparent.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Mar 11, 2014
Overall:
7
Support:
4
Value:
2

Comments

GVN is always open to receiving feedback (both the good and the bad), and we continually seek ways to improve our services to our volunteers, partner organizations, and the communities we work with. Yes, there are times when we’ve got it wrong, when we could have done things better - we are quick to own up to that. In correspondence with GVN, this volunteer has raised some good points on things we could improve on, and as in our messages to him, we intend to do so. We would like to address this posters comments regarding censorship: We removed one swear word from one of the volunteer’s posts (as per our Terms of Use for our journal site). A different post that the volunteer had written was no longer showing on their page – the timing of this led the volunteer to believe that we had intentionally removed it. This belief may have been formed due to the ‘raw and honest’ nature of the posts written by the volunteer. The staff member this volunteer accused of deleting the posting doesn’t actually have administrative authority via the online system to delete posts. While there is a fine balance between freedom of speech and protecting the rights and advocating on behalf of the communities where volunteers are placed, we do not delete posts unless they are well outside of our Terms of Use, and in fact, we’ve never had need to do this.

United Planet

Had an incredibly life changing and eye opening experience with United Planet. I have done some previous travel to different countries, but never for longer than two weeks so a month seemed scary at first. The Boston office staff was extremely helpful and made me feel comfortable and supported throughout the process. The in-country support was also great. I loved cooking with my host family, learning recipes and songs in Spanish and really getting a honest look at life in Peru. I also liked that we had time on weekends to hangout and really explore the area. I felt safe the entire time. I really enjoyed working with the kids and liked that United Planet had long standing relationships in country so the programs were sustainable. Overall very very rewarding and I’ll take this time abroad with me in life forever.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Mar 11, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

I volunteered at the Main Hospital in Cusco Peru January 9th to the 27th, 2014. My recommendations are bring Green Scrubs! Specially seafoam/mint green colors. The nurses only wear these colored uniforms so it will be confusing if you’re not in the right color. Also bring red & blue pens because the charting is done a certain way with these colors. At the beginning of every shift, introduce yourself to the other nurses so that they know who you are & that you are ready to help wherever they need you. Ask the charge Nurses “when” you should work, because different shifts are busier & need more help than others. For example, I started out working in the mornings, until I asked when they needed the most help & the nurses told mainly the evenings. Since I was working in the Emergency Department, the number of patients varied from then on, I started to come at 7pm & stayed as long as they needed me each night. There was a significant difference at the time of day & they really did need the extra help then. Some nights it would calm down by 11 or 12 so I would leave then. Other nights there would be so many critical patients & not enough nurses so I would stay & help until the next morning. My best advice is to be willing to absorb & adapt to the different hospital environment. The quicker you learn how they do things there & accept that it’s not as clean & pretty as the hospital you’re used to at home, the quicker you can really jump in there & help.
Essential supplies that you should try your hardest to bring include:
-Stethoscope
-BP Cuffs(s)-There was only 1 for the whole ED
-Pulse Oximeter – Also only one for the whole ED & several patients needed close monitoring so try to bring a small one (US$50) that you can wear around your neck.
-Gloves – As many boxes as possible 3-4
-Hand Sanitizer – enough to last your self the entire time, keep a small one in your pocket at all times.
-Honestly any other supplies.. They need it!!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Jan 31, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

IFRE was such a great program! My 11 weeks in Cusco were the most incredible weeks of my life. The coordinators were extremely helpful and quick to answer questions I had. Angelika also sent emails to check up on me throughout my time there. It was also great because Angelika would set up really cool trips to touristy places in Peru for the volunteers with safe and trusted companies so we did not have to worry about it ourselves. The orphanage was a lot of fun with all the other volunteers there. The kids were great and they really helped my Spanish skills to advance. All the volunteers and coordinators became such good friends and it made the experience so much better. I would DEFINITELY recommend this volunteer program to anyone. It was an amazing experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Jan 13, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

This program is wonderful, and I have had my eyes opened to something I’ve never even dreamed of before. It helped me further my decision about what I want to do in college, and I met a very special guy during the trip and we are very close now thank you abroaderview!
Bring LOTS of jackets/coats if your going when its summer here, but winter there. But also remember it gets hot during the day even in the winter, so make sure you have short sleeve shirts.

Program:
Location: Peru
Posted: Jan 12, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

The ABV support in the USA was extremely helpful and responsive. I did not have many direct interactions (having booked with my medical student association group SNMA), but when I did send an email, someone responded almost immediately each time. I appreciate the timeliness and willingness of the staff to answer all of my questions.
I had my own room in the host family’s house, which was about 15min driving from the clinic. I was able to take a cab for a reasonable price to each place I had to or wanted to go. Based on my personal experience and comments from people living in Cusco, I felt like it was pretty safe. I still would not suggest walking around alone at night, but during the day I had no problems and never felt unsafe. There is police everywhere at all times. The only thing to be aware of is large crowds, celebrations and night time. Lunch is the main meal of the day and the only true meal. You may have something small for breakfast or dinner. If you are hungry during these times however, getting food is not a problem. The clinic is likely very different than what you are used to in the US so be prepared for that. Our procedures and protocols are very different as well as our access to materials and equipment. Be open minded, flexible, understanding and willing to learn a new way of doing things.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Jan 8, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

This program in Cusco Peru is wonderful, and I have had my eyes opened to something I’ve never even dreamed of before. It helped me further my decision about what I want to do in college, and I met a very special guy during the trip and we are very close now thank you abroaderview!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Dec 30, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I was overdue for a trip abroad and decided that I wanted to add some type of volunteer experience to get immersed in the culture. I chose Cross Cultural Solutions and decided to go to Lima, Peru since they have a one week program there. The experience was amazing! I took my mother with me as her 70th birthday present and she was never disappointed. The home base is located in very nice neighborhood. The living quarters are dormitory style so you do sleep in bunk beds. It did get chilly in the house because they don't have central heat in Lima so we had to bundle up at night. We were in between summer and winter seasons. The water doesn't get hot like we are used to back in the states but it is not bad. Breakfast, lunch and dinner (Peruvian style) are provided. A housekeeper takes care of making the beds and cleaning the bathrooms. After you finish your assignment for the day, the driver will take you on excursions to see the local attractions and you are also encouraged to go out on your own. We never felt unsafe as long as we followed all of the safety precautions discussed in our meetings. My mother and I were assigned to Los Martincitos, a senior day care in Villa El Salvador. There we prepared food and also did home visits two days out of the week. The home visits were an eye-opening experience and one we will never forget! The seniors were all so sweet and happy we were there to serve them. Everyday we were greeted with hugs and kisses. Without the volunteers, most of the seniors don't get any visitors. I had so much fun and so many memories to bring back home with me. I'm thinking about doing Brazil with CCS in a year or so. Yes, I would recommend CCS to anyone thinking of volunteering abroad.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Dec 15, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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