South Africa

Global Vision International (GVI)

From the moment i stepped off the plane in Johannesburg I was met by smiling, friendly GVI staff, along with the other volunteers who would also be joining me on the program. After a few hours drive and a lot of very nervous conversation between everyone we arrived at our base camp in Karongwe Game Reserve. As soon as we stepped off the mini bus though everyone's nerves soon disappeared. Greeted by fellow volunteers who even took our bags from the bus and made us feel right at home straight away. Instantly i was impressed by the organisation and the friendly manner of everyone. The facility itself also surprised me for the good. It had been described as basic, but it had everything someone would need to be happy. A bed, hot shower (apart from a couple of days), lovely food, friendly people and a view to die for looking into the African Wilderness. After a week of training learning about the area, the animals, and how the research will help with future development of these wonderful creatures, we got underway with the reason I went out there. Going out on two game drives a day provided me with some sightings i will never forget. A particular highlight was a Brown Hyena, only the third to be spotted in a year, and also a sighting of the rare honey badger. However the best part of the entire program was helping when 'Tsavo', a big male leopard was darted and operated on as he was implanted to help with research. Getting that close to these amazing creatures was mind blowing! Of course as I was doing the Lion Research program I had side projects to help with the understanding of them. For example collecting data on movement patterns, and learning about track sizes and calling/roaring etc. Knowing my research was helping these animals was a brilliant feeling. I also found a new found love of birds and the little creatures. It was a memorable time and I wish i was there for longer. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable and I am still in contact with many of them now! GVI were superb throughout and i would thoroughly recommend doing a program like this if you are interested in this field of work or just fancy getting an amazing insight on some amazing animals.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 29, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
8

Frontier

In January 2013 I arrived at Kwantu Private Game Reserve to start my Field Guide Course to become certified as a South African Park Ranger! This project is 56 days long, if you choose to stay later I would highly recommend it! I had so much fun while I was out there. We would start our days at 7:30am and go out onto the reserve and begin our very labor intensive day, usually clearing fence or chopping down trees! We went to breakfast at 9:30, for all of you used to eating as soon as you get up...be prepared for a change! 10am was usually the time we would have class with our wonderful instructor Gerry, we were given a work book and a book to study from. If you are an animal lover you will never be bored with this class. After a lecture lunch began at 1pm until 2pm, if you finished a little early we would all go up to the pool and hang out for a bit. Then the hard work started at 2 because we were getting to the hottest part of the day! Some days it reached 108 and was unbearable. We'd do the same like chopping trees, clearing fence, weeding the garden, going to feed lions, tigers and cheetahs, fix the pred camp fence and much more. And then late in the afternoon you get a game drive! Seeing hundreds of wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, a few kudu, eland, and the most exciting...elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, buffalo, and if you are super lucky a leopard. Dinner started at 6pm and we had the rest of the night to do what we wished. We were allowed to leave on the weekends to go into Port Elizabeth, great parties, food, clubs, beaches, shops and anything else a tourist could want! The hardest part about this program was leaving. I made so many friends that live all over the world. There are very few I'll ever see again. The rangers are the kindest people you will meet and I had the opportunity to help raise a white lion cub. He was a true treasure and he made so much of the life at Kwantu bright. I highly recommend this trip for anyone who isn't afraid of hard work, dedication, and love for animals. Because if you're are, it will be a rude awakening labor wise and not as enjoyable as you predicted. Not all days were like the day I summarized, there would be dawn drives at 5am and night drive from 8pm-11. You'll have the time of your life, trust me! For anyone who is choosing this trip, have fun :)

Program: Gap Year
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 21, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
10

Global Vision International (GVI)

I spent two months volunteering at Karongwe game reserve in South Africa and I loved every minute of it.
The people that I meet on my trip were amazing, the staff were so passionate about what they do, and the friends I have made will be my friends for years to come. Some of the experiences we had on the reserve were once in a life time events that we will probably never get to see again. It was amazing!

I will 100% recommend this program to anyone who loves Wildlife and Conservation to try this program, you will never regret it!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 9, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

My experience abroad with CCS was amazing. This was my first time traveling overseas alone, so I was a little bit nervous about what I was going to experience. As soon as I arrived my worries were gone. The driver was waiting for me at the airport and was taken to the home base and immediately felt at home. The atmosphere of the home base was better than I had ever imagined. Lunch was just prepared for us so after getting off of such a long flight it was nice to have a hot meal and a nice staff waiting for me. Throughout my experience with CCS I came to realize that even in such a short amount of time people really can develop relationships that grow into something similar to a family. Whenever I had a question or concern about my volunteer placement the staff was immediately ready and willing to help me solve the issue. They even came to my placement the next day to check on me and make sure everything was ok. They then followed up with me a few days later and asked me if my placement was still ok. That showed me that the staff genuinely did care about my experience and wanted to make sure that I had a great time. I also felt extremely safe in the home base. There was security on the base 24/7 so I felt at ease at all times. Whenever a taxi would come to pick us up the security staff would talk to the taxi driver first and then come get us, which also made me feel good to know that security cared where we were at all times. All in all, I had a great experience with CCS. The staff at the home base made my time away from home feel like I was at home. I felt comfortable and cared for at all times. It was better than I could have imagined and I would definitely recommend CCS to anyone considering volunteering abroad.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 8, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Vision International (GVI)

I decided to join this expedition to help get some work experience as I have always wanted to do field work. I had always had an idea of what I wanted to do professionally, but I had no idea what jobs would allow me to live and work surrounded by wild animals. This trip, apart from being the most rewarding and exciting experience, helped me realize that field guiding professionally is exactly what I want to after University. The shared, basic accommodation and the mainly vegetarian menu was difficult to get used to, but seeing leopards mating in the wild, cheetahs on kills, and (best of all) the occasional honey badger more than made up for it! I loved every moment of the trip so much that I am already planning my next trip to South Africa and my training to become a field guide. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in the wildlife of Southern Africa and conservation – going is the best decision I’ve ever made!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 8, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Enjoyed every moment. The In-country staff are second to none and take care of any problems you have quickly and effectively. I was coaching in 14 schools a week as part of a team comprising of other volunteers who were all ace. The children in Port Elizabeth are incredibly enthusiastic and more than willing to learn but the language barrier can sometimes be a problem. The accommodation is basic but generally clean and tidy but make sure you keep your belongings in the lockers provided as I had money taken on my first day there! My project ran from July into August which is winter there so the weather is a bit unpredictable and the nights cold so bring plenty of warm clothes as well as shorts etc. Would thoroughly recommend!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 5, 2013
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

African Impact

I spent 2 weeks volunteering for African Impact in St Lucia, South Africa on their Community Project and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! The volunteer house was brilliant and comfortable - absolute luxury compared to some places I have stayed in other parts of Africa where we had cold outdoor showers, long drop toilets and no electricity. The food was great - always enough, extremely varied (definitely not just rice and veg) and able to cater for a whole range of dietary requirements including one fellow volunteer who was both a vegan and ate Kosher! The staff were always very friendly, supportive and knowledgeable as were the other volunteers. The project itself was wonderful because we got to do a whole range of things that not only took into account an individual's skills but allowed them to develop new ones. For example, I never thought I would be able to make concrete and bricks by hand, and now I can! I loved being able to get to know members of the community and the gratitude they showed us for something as simple as weeding their garden was humbling. I truly believe that all the African Impact projects in St Lucia are making a difference in the surrounding communities and I would thoroughly recommend African Impact to anyone, regardless of age or skill. The only thing I would say is that 2 weeks is definitely not long enough!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jul 22, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Askari WCP

I volunteered for 4 weeks in May, 2013. Katie and Joe run a fabulously educational program covering virtually all aspects of game reserve management and wilderness conservation. You will work hard, physically and mentally, and play hard...and see big game up close like you've never imagined. You'll learn about big game, small game, birds, reptiles, and South African creatures and vegetation. You'll learn health and safety practices for being in the wilderness, firearms safety training and driving a game viewer. You'll be up early, all day (with rest breaks) and sometimes into the night...when and where game are active.

There is a terrific week-long orientation as well as continuing hands-on learning and work sessions throughout each day; you'll have Saturday afternoons and Sundays off to rest, relax and see the areas nearby. Weekly trips into nearby towns put you in touch with locals, where you can expereince the culture and cuisine. You'll even campout a night in the wild.

Whether for a gap-year experience, or "simply" volunteering for the sake of helping strengthen local game management and wilderness program actvities, this will be an experience you will not soon forget! I highly recommend it!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jul 12, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Askari WCP

I had an amazing time at Askari. People are very friendly and accommodating. The activities are always fun and game drives are always exciting (especially when an elephant in musth is less than a foot away from you). I hope to come back to Askari again and am glad that I had the opportunity to help work towards their goal of becoming a benchmark reserve.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jul 6, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

ELIabroad Experiential Learning International

I definitely do not recommend ELI. I was in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this summer doing an internship and I returned early because I was so disappointed with the program. The coordinator (Karin Comer) is not organized at all; I really don’t think she even knows what she is doing. Starting with day one, she left me waiting at the airport for a good 15-20 minutes. Of course I started freaking out and was convinced that ELI was a scam. She finally showed explaining that she was late because there was ”confusion” with the airlines and the arrival times. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, but later I found out that she will leave you waiting at the airport so she can park, pick you up, and then leave quickly so she doesn’t have to pay for parking since she was only parked for a couple of minutes (she mentioned this to another intern who happened to tell me about it). If she was planning to be late I would have liked to known ahead of time. It’s just common courtesy. Also, she wasn’t good with paying rent either. Other ELI interns (about 6 of them) had to move out of their house because Karin had not paid the owner the rent. Also, in my house my roommates were without water and electricity for a week and a half because Karin had not paid those bills. We would give Karin the money and she was supposed to pay the owner.

Karin’s “assistant” (Ramon) was a 19-year-old kid who was completely useless. I asked him for help twice and the first time he was too busy playing a racing game (he told me this) and the second time he didn’t want to give me a ride because he was too tired. The first time I had asked him to give me a quick ride to a nearby 7eleven because I had no food and there was no one else to take me (I had only been in Cape Town less than a week and didn’t know my way around yet). The second time I had asked him if he could give me a lift to my house because my friend’s house (who was also an intern with ELI) had been robbed. My friend left quickly because she was obviously very scared and upset. I didn’t have a way to get back home and I was hoping this assistant would help me out. He instead got very upset and told me he was never helping me out again (so much for an assistant). When I had arrived in Cape Town, Karin had told me that if we ever needed anything we could call him, but apparently he thinks otherwise.

The house I was living in was okay, my roommates were nice (I had 8 of them), but the area was not safe at all. I did not feel comfortable there and you could tell it was not the best area. I have lived in other countries (including Mexico City and Lima, Peru) therefore I know what a dangerous area looks like. One of the other interns who I became friends with lived nearby (maybe a 5 minute drive) and her house was broken into. Her area wasn’t the best either. Her house was behind a train track. The coordinator (Karin Comer) did not even bother to show up to my friend’s house after the robbery. We were with the owner and the police but no coordinator. I called her because my friend (other ELI intern living at the house) was really upset and wanted her to come. I called Karin and instead she started arguing with me and saying that she could not come because it was too far for her and there was nothing she could do about the robbery. Basically, you were on your own.

The internship was the only thing I liked. It was also located in an unsafe are, actually it was a horrible area. There were homeless people walking around everywhere. It was horrible. I have no idea why this internship would be placed there (it was an advertising agency). I felt so uncomfortable and so unsafe. Plus, I had to take public transportation to get there and I felt even worse. If the internship would have been paid I would have stayed, but in the end it was not worth it. I was not comfortable in my house or at my internship. I felt so unsafe and after the robbery I had it. I was out of there.

If ELI would just get a new coordinator who was organized, dependable, and empathetic I think the program would be fine. But again, the program was cheap… so I guess you get what you paid for.

If you would like to contact me for any further questions about the program feel free: whalenjillo@gmail.com

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Jul 3, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

It is a great pity i only get to see this mail now, otherwise i would have responded immediately. My first comment is that "i am yet to read more utter nonsense and deliberate lies than what i read here." Here is my response. 1. If this candidate was a local person, i would have taken her to court for spreading lies. 2. She arrived in Cape Town and either slept all day during the first few days, never leaving her home, never mixing with the people in her house or spending time with one other person in another house. The rest of the students in the house always invited her out with them as they were having a great time. She never mixed with any of them. 3. For anyone who has ever been to South Africa and Cape Town - will know, Observatory and Mowbray are two of the most popular area's for young people, young families and students from all over the world. All i can say - this is a totally ignorant person saying something she knows nothing about as she never put her head outside the door. 4. As for me personally - i am a highly organised and professional person. I have my company for 17 years and running it very successfully and secondly, was in business for many years prior to starting my own business. One thing i pride myself on is organisation. 5. When we get flight schedules from the USA - it usually excludes the local flights from either Johannesburg to Cape Town or the international links to Cape Town and we have to guess on which local flight a candidate could possibly be. It was exactly the same with her. No candidate would ever wait more than 5 - 10 min for any of us... NEVER !!! All our correspondence clearly state that the person should wait at the exit point in case they dont see us should anything happen and no one waits usually - unless there are incorrect flight schedules given to us by the airline companies, unless flights are delayed and we cannot get the information on schedules etc. We never make people wait deliberately...NEVER. There are traffic jams around town, incorrect flight information on the flight check sites, etc. It happens, but we make sure people have information about what to do and where to way... always. Luckily we also do not work with children. We work with young adults who understand and know these things. 6. Issue of paying rent elsewhere: Oh my word !!!! That is all i can say. 3 Boys moved over to a new house. (Ramon, Pau +1) not 6. They moved over because my partnership with the owner of another property ended as he wanted to run it himself. He had R30 000 deposit of mine - off-set against the last months rentals... You know nothing about business... so dont say things you were not involved with and that is untrue. The issue of any other house actually had and has no effect on you at all and it is none of your concern either. And correction - you never paid any other owner any money Miss Whalen - you paid the owner of your house, which happens to be me. There were no other owners involved at all. 7. As for the intern in my office - i want to make it clear, we do not drive students from shop to shop for any reason when the shops are literally a few minutes walk from all our houses. We do not offer a free taxi service to anyone. There was no reason why anyone should have given you a ride with their private vehicles for which they paid for for any reason either.... not a single one - other than an emergency or a problem .. not for late night shopping. The area where you were placed is safe, is a fantastic area to live in and is regarded as one of the most popular area's in Cape Town. In fact, we showed you where everything was from the beginning and even took you to the shops and all you had to do was stay with the people from your house, ask them or ask any of our staff to show you again, but as the shops are less than 5 min walk from all our houses, a simple explanation would have been enough. You were not in your own house but visiting a friend and actually had the nerve to call him to fetch you while he was already in bed sleeping. 8. And now my favorite topic - the famous robbery........ Firstly, you were sleeping in a house where you were not suppose to sleep in. If you were in your own house, you would not have had this experience to start with. Secondly, it was not a "robbery". The neighbours of over 20 years of the house concerned actually took a photograph of the security gates you people left open when going out that night. Yes, you did not lock it. As if that was not a good enough warning - it happened again afterwards and we again had the neighbours call us to tell us the same person left the gate open yet again. Someone took the chance and walked into the house and took what they could. Thirdly, you did not switch the alarm system on which was explained to the people who actually lived in the house. You left without alarming the security systems which could have prevented the theft. Fourthly, when i got a call late at night i personally arranged for the owner of the house to be there within a few minutes, for the police to be there in a few minutes and that after 11pm at night time. Staying more then 35km away from the house concerned - there was no need for me to personally be there and also risking driving woman alone at night time. I personally could do nothing that time of the night... All the issues were dealt with immediately by the owner, we put a staff member in the house immediately to stay there permanently and all locks were changed at a high cost due to your negligence of leaving security doors and gates open. The police actually accused your friend of staging the robbery as it was a walk-in. She further gave false information to the police for which she could have been in big trouble for had we not intervened. Let me make it very clear. I am a mother of a daughter as well. I know exactly what one should do in a case like that and i know what is humanly possible. We all did what we could and what we were suppose to have done. No person was "on your own".... never ever -as the owner and police was right there to sort things out. I do not read anything about me arranging all of that? 9. Ah, another interesting topic - your internship. You do not state to the public how many days you actually went to work - was it 2 or 3 days - maybe 4 days? You had a brilliant internship with a brilliant large national company and you disappeared from the company without informing them you were leaving or rather disappearing from the country. Yes, they were looking for you a few days after you left as they were worried about you. It is sad that you discriminate against poor people... frankly they are everywhere in SA... not just in the streets where you worked.... And as for safety, you are the first person ever to comment on that who worked for this firm ..... and there are at least 6 - 8 per year for the past 8 years or more. You were not there a week and you have the nerve to make such uninformed statements? Come on? It is a national advertising company who work for one of the largest companies in Africa....surely they know what they are doing. If they think it is safe to be there - it is safe for everyone else as well. As for public transport - was that the 5 or 10 min you had to use public transport in the 2 or 4 days at work ? All students do that without any complaints or problems. You also failed to mention that there were other interns in the same firm at the same time with whom you could have traveled...just by the way. You should never have come to SA if you were not prepared to accept our city, its people and the incredible beauty it has to offer a foreign students and also live here and experience something that you have clearly never experienced before. That is the exact reason why almost 60 old interns of my company now live here permanently. They loved the people, the atmosphere and the vibe of the city and they made an effort to stay here for more than a week to get to know things first.... You disappeared over-night. I conclude with this. I am over 50 years of age and i am a very responsible and decent business woman. I was one of the first to have an internship company more than 17 years ago here in SA... and we are growing still after all this time. Luckily we do not get many cases like yours as i would loose my mind in that case. People who know our country and who made an effort to walk the streets and meet the people know you have no cooking clue what you are talking about. Cape Town and South Africa, and i include my company and Eli in that as well, are the best possible internship and volunteer partners for students as we are all older, professional people working in one of the most amazing countries in the world. If you dont make an effort to put your head even outside your doors for a week - this is when you write such nonsense on websites as that is exactly what it is. Maybe read more about the experience of people who visit our country and our city and maybe then you will regret what you did and said. Yes, our country has poor people who are also allowed to be in the streets, but when you talk to them, you will learn how fantastic they actually are and how unique your experience could have been. Yes, all humans are not perfect - i gladly am neither, but dont make statements that are uninformed and blatantly untrue. That will remain with you for the rest of your life as you will carry the memories of your actions. I have no time for people who write uninformed letters and post them publicly. It serves no purpose and it merely shows how negative and bitter a person is who dare write such sad reflections. I proudly sign my name as i am proud of my business achievements, the work my interns do and have done, our city and my country !!! Karin Comer
I have never been in an internship with ELI, and I came to this website to look at reviews and see if it's something I would be interested in. I have to say, by the way you reacted to this review and how you represented the company, I will NEVER go through ELI for an abroad trip. Such a shame.
Similar to the other person who commented on this post, I have never done an internship with ELI. After reading this post, I am in total shock. I will never consider ELl and will tell all of my friends and family not to intern/volunteer with this company. What an unprofessional, useless, petty remark you made here. Too bad it is costing you potential candidates. Thank you for making my decision not to use your company that much easier. It would have been a shame to spend all that money BEFORE finding out the true character of the people working at ELI
Totally believe in and agree with people defending their cause and clarifying incorrect information; however, as a professional organization I do think the above comment is a bit out of line and as another reviewer noted quite petty. It'd be interesting to see how ELI responded to their volunteer's comments.. As this feed was posted a while ago I would not necessarily let it keep me away from ELI entirely, though I will follow up with my contact person to see her opinion on this. Is this really how ELI's coordinators treat volunteer feedback?
I don't know what to do anymore, After reading the respond and the way this was handle was just so unprofessional, I really am sad because I was looking at the Marketing internship in South Africa cape town and now i dont even know if I want to go and spend my money with this organization. can someone that took this internship let me know what their experience was this year? or recent? that would be great! but really looking at other places.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - South Africa