Original Volunteers

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I spent one month in the Original Volunteers Project in Mexico, two in their project in Peru and six weeks in their project in Ecuador. The first thing I will say is that I had an incredible time. I met some amazing people, had some incredible experiences and overall thoroughly enjoyed the projects.

However, if you are looking into doing any of these projects I would recommend getting in touch with the coordinators in the countries rather than using Original Volunteers for the following reason:

If you book directly with the coordinators out there you will be working on the same projects however it will be much cheaper. For example, in the ELIM orphanage in Peru I was paying much more than volunteers who had come directly and were paying the rate that the coordinator was asking for. Not only that, but the volunteers who had come through Original Volunteers (myself included) had paid the organisation before arrival and this money had not reached the orphanage. I was also told when I arrived in Ecuador that the coordinators there had had the same issue in the past with Original Volunteers not sending them the money the volunteers had paid.

My other issue with Original Volunteers was the vagueness of the descriptions of the projects themselves. I went out to Mexico not really knowing what to expect but assuming I would be working with underprivileged children. This wasn't the case. We were working on three projects there; one in a kindergarten, the second with disabled teenagers and adults and the third in a women's home. The children we were working with three times a week in the kindergarten came from wealthy families and the center itself was well-staffed, clean and catered to the children's every need. It was clear that our help was not needed there and we spent most of our time just sitting in the classroom while the teachers taught the children. The other two projects were great and I would have liked to have spent more time working on those ones had there been a bit more structure.

My time in Peru was excellent and if you do choose that project be prepared to get totally attached to the children in the orphanage (they are so adorable!) I would highly suggest taking part in this project; accommodation is provided and they are happy for you to explore Machu Picchu and all the amazing sights nearby in your spare time. Again, I would suggest you book it directly via their website; I will put the links at the bottom of my review.

Lastly, the projects in Ecuador were fantastic- totally different from anything I had ever experienced. If you like a bit of adventure and being taken out of your comfort zone this would be the place for you. I was working in the jungle with rescued animals for one month and then spent two weeks living with a community and learning about their customs and traditions.

So overall, I would highly recommend the projects I took part in but I would not recommend using Original Volunteers to do them.

Here are the links to the projects themselves:

http://www.fairien.at/english/volunteer-peru/

https://www.ecuadorvolunteer.org/en/

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 23, 2016
Overall:
6
Support:
5
Value:
6
Age:
18

My time with Original Volunteers in Ghana was easily the best few weeks of my life, everything ran smoothly, I met some wonderful people both locals and other volunteers and every day was a new adventure.

First of all I was a little nervous about walking out of the airport into a strange place not really knowing what to expect, but straight away I saw a guy with a big Original Volunteers sign and my name written with it, so I walked over and he explained in good English who he was, showed me his ID and off we went onto a 3 or 4 hour journey into the Hills of Kwahu. It was late when I arrived and the other volunteers were sleeping so after a very warm welcome from 3 more staff members we called it a night. In the morning the other new volunteers and I were given a proper welcome, all the information we need was given and they answered all our questions, we spent the rest of the day getting shown around the local area, gathering supplies, mainly drinking water and snacks.

The next day is when the volunteering began, the days usually begin with a meeting where we all discuss what we will be doing and what we want to achieve. We had a good mix of teachers and builders so we split into our groups and headed off to work. We spent the first couple of weeks building a new class room for a small community in which the school was falling to pieces. As a volunteer builder you don’t need to bring anything special or have any special skills but it is hard work.

I did some teaching at a school called Sunrise where I met so many lovely children and teachers, it was an amazing experience. I had no teaching experience and no idea what to expect. The children have a curriculum but there’s no need to stick to it, the subjects are up to you within reason of course. I taught lessons on planets, simple maths and some simple English lessons. If you plan on teaching for your whole trip I’d recommend thinking of some lesson plans before hand and take any equipment you might need. Most of the schools have little or no equipment so taking stationary is a good idea.

Usually weekends are free time so we travelled to various places around the country, The first place we went was Mole National Park, it was amazing, we stayed in a hotel in the middle of the park surrounded by all kinds of animals, we saw elephants every day and every kind of monkey imaginable, the only crime I saw in Ghana was a Baboon stealing my Hobnobs.
There is also a nice pool and well stocked bar, friendly staff and quite nice rooms.

My other favourite place is Kokrobite, a small beach front community with a few hotels and a very nice atmosphere, this is the place to come to unwind, there Is a western owned hotel called Big Millies, they organise beach parties with bars, live music, Bon Fires and nice food.

Another great place to visit is Cape Coast, we spent two days there and visited the old Slave Castle which was very interesting and taught me a lot. The next day we visited Kakum National park where we had a mini jungle trek followed by the Canopy walk which is a 350 M walkway suspended high in the trees, I highly recommend this as it gave a unique perspective of the rain forest.

There is so much more to do in Ghana it’s impossible to fit it all into one trip but whatever you do you will love it.
I was so sad to leave Ghana I have been back once already and I will going again next year, I genuinely recommend Original volunteers, they are cheap, supportive and reliable.

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 16, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
26

I volunteered in Morocco for just under 2 weeks and I absolutely loved it!! I would highly recommend Original Volunteers! Its cheap, organised and the staff is friendly & amazing!

Before the volunteering, the original volunteers staff were so friendly went contacted and everything was sorted out way before travelling! I went with a group of friends and we all travelled together and shared the same accommodation (which I recommended).

I enjoyed many of the activities from visiting the orphanage home, visiting the Bani nursery, street kids centre and feeding the homeless in Ramadan . Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. At times, the OV coordinators were a little disorganised but most times it was well run and they did apologise.

The accommodation in Morocco was average, its not the best but it certainly is worth the price you pay! Sharing the house with other volunteers was really nice as you make loads of friends and get to know others well. In terms of shopping, buying food and eating out is very cheap in Morocco, so that would never be a problem. I and the group ate out every night but we had some days where we stayed in and just ate food from the supermarket.

Overall, I would highly recommend travelling to Morocco and volunteering! Its cheap and the culture/tradition is amazing there. People can hassle you in the market to buy their goods, but thats just something which makes Morocco's market unique! Most people are friendly!

You also get to go on great excursions- I visited the Atlas Mountains, Ouzoud waterfall, Zagora desert and the Southern Villages. It was a great experience and I loved it! So thank you OV! :)

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 12, 2016
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: shaz123
Age:
20

I joined Original Volunteers Cambodia in August 2013 after graduated from University of Liverpool. I heard about this program from a friend in UK while I was studying abroad. The project that I joined in Cambodia is Hope Agency and it is coordinated by a local guy name Jason Han. I enjoyed my stay there teaching English in the school, doing voluntary paintings on the wall, visiting to nearby orphanage and food bank delivery to the needy families in the village. It was a once in a life time experience I would say. The most satisfying moment was I designed a two wall paintings on occupation and traveled to a local market which is 30 minutes away from the school just to buy paintbrushes, paints, and stationery as well as organizing a small class party during my last day at Hope Agency. I remembered paying GBP 150 as a contribution to Original Volunteers (though I am certain that such contribution goes into the OV Company and not helping the kids directly) and USD 4 per day to Jason Han upon arrival. That USD 4 includes accommodation, food that we can order anytime from the kitchen, clean water for drinking and toilet rolls. I miss my friends that I've made in the local village, the fun times teaching and playing with the kids and little bit of rice planting in the field every morning.

These memories made me to work on a fundraising event so that I can afford to visit back Hope Agency 2 years later. I was so grateful that the managing partner in the law firm that I worked at Malaysia decided to sponsor all 4 staffs (including myself) as a Corporate Social Responsibility Project on behalf of the firm. Thus on 19 October 2015, me and my other 3 colleague managed to outsource stationery, workbooks, 100 toothbrushes, toys, gifts, etc to bring along to Hope Agency. I believe that charity should be voluntary and can be contributed in any form either through time, or money. It should not be "imposed" on the volunteers on the minimum amount of donation in cash that we have to give nor the compulsory helping out with the plantations, construction sites or feeding the animals as according to the work instructed by the Project Director. In 2015, I felt like it's a military program where I must wake up at 8.00 AM to do the extra activity besides than teaching English as the core volunteering work in Hope Agency. In 2013, there's no such mandate on volunteers and I did the classroom painting out from goodwill. I was very disappointed when the Project Director insisted us to pay $250/ person upon arrival as contribution and said that the cash contribution is compulsory whereas all the stationery items donated are "very cheap stuff and can easily obtain from the local market". It was very ungrateful of him to say that as I was a returning volunteer. Besides the students do not brush their teeth everyday after class anymore (they used to have it in 2013). Furthermore, the contribution that we paid do not cover all 3 proper meals that I used to have back in 2013. It has changed into a pay as you order from the kitchen for meals besides dinner. Honestly, the dinner prepared wasn't a proper meal and I can get better food with cheaper price from the local market. I felt that something wasn't right whereby the cost of living has increased that much on volunteers. The Project Director even contacted some of the past volunteers whether they have plans of returning to Hope Agency and keep asking for cash contribution :( I felt pity for the kids as they have not benefit much from the contribution given by the volunteers, instead it was used to build more construction buildings, plantations around and purchase of goat,ducks, chickens in the school which will be sold off in the future. I did not enjoy my stay as much as I do in 2013 and will not recommend this place to new volunteers based on my real experience recently. Many volunteers had shorten their stay in Hope Agency after knowing how expensive is the cost upon arrival.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 7, 2015
Overall:
3
Support:
3
Value:
3
Age:
24

If you are wanting a volunteering experience and help people all across the world... **DO NOT GO THROUGH ORIGINAL VOLUNTEERS!** While on a planned 2 month trip with them to Morocco, Africa I found there programs were **NOT WHAT THEY WERE MADE OUT TO BE** at all! we were meant to be teaching English to these children instead we did colouring in and face painting every single day, and very few of these children we were helping were actually in need of our help in comparison to the homeless children we saw.

Although this wasn't the most shocking, unfortunately I experienced **SEXUAL HARASSMENT** by Original Volunteers own companies employees on many occasions. When I contacted OV about this they told me it was hard to control due to the "cultural difference" and that "this might be a simple case" **NOT ONCE APOLOGISING** for the situations there company had let me experience.

They promised a full refund of any weeks you chose not to stay with them **THIS IS NOT TRUE!** I have contacted them multiple times in concern to my refund for 3 weeks, after paying them $1000 a month which is 100% only for accommodation everything else is **PAID FROM YOUR POCKET**; the equipment for the children, all the transport, paint for renovations, all your meals and even the food to feed the homeless which is a program run by this company everyday during summer adding up to a lot.

I'm only 18 years old but this company has exposed me to situations people should never have to experience let alone when paying and trusting in a company to ensure your safety. **THIS COMPANY IS A FRAUD** and should never be allowed to con passionate, well hearted people into such a **DISGUSTING SCAM!**

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 15, 2015
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
18

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