Projects Abroad

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8.8 / 10 after 125 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

Established in 1992, Projects Abroad is the world’s leading short-term international volunteer organization. Over 8,000 people a year join our programs in over 25 amazing countries around the world.  All participants receive unparalleled in-country support from our full-time, professional staff to ensure that the experience is safe, worthwhile, and fun.

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Getting to the island was so scary. I was put on a bus with no other English speakers and told my trip would be 3 hours long, 8 hours later with no food we got to a beach where I was told to get out and ushered onto a small wooden boat that looked like it would sink. Luckily I survived the trip to the island.
The accommodation and bathrooms were so unhygienic I got sick almost immediately. There's no septic system so you have to put all of your used toilet paper in a opened bin beside the toilet which is in the same room as the shower facilities. There's nowhere to wash your hands and to flush the toilet your pour water down the bowl.
I also have a pre-existing medical condition that I was told I would be able to manage over there until I arrived and found the medical facilities on the island were very basic and almost non existent. I was apparently not the first person worried about this as diving is a dangerous activity and can require medical attention. I was also worried when I found out not one staff member knew first aid.
The staff are very friendly at first then become immediately standoffish on the second day. The only time they lighten up is when they are drinking which is most nights.
I'm a young person and enjoy a drink or few but not every night. I also felt very out of place because some of the people in charge were younger than I was and were almost only interested in sleeping with the volunteers. Even though most of the volunteers were already sleeping together or had done in the past.
There are posters all over the accommodation that state no drugs on the program. This couldn't be further from the truth. Almost every volunteer was smoking marijuana and taking pills every day and would come back to the house out of their brains. Not to mention certain staff felt it okay to supply the volunteers with drugs and were happy to do it with them.
There was also very little conservation work happening at all. Volunteers could work on their "own projects" which mostly consisted of us watching movies or reading each other's books. Only a few volunteers had actually collected any relevant data while most of them had not even researched anything, we just tagged along on the dives.
I also didn't even see a seahorse in my time on the island. I was told they'd seen 4 seahorses but I find that hard to believe.
The food was very mediocre to poor quality. If you don't like rice, don't go. That's what I survived on and occasionally ate fish. The chicken was disgusting and pork often still had skin and hair attached as well as parts of bones. There were so many times when no one even knew what the meat was. There are so restaurants on the island that do amazing food though so I recommend those.
There is no interaction with the community other than the children saying hello every time you walk by. I was advertised that we would be teaching and interacting with children as well as teaching them about conservation only to find this was never a part of the program.
When I left not one person from projects abroad contacted me or even saw me to the airport. I was simply put in a taxi and dropped off.
Two weeks after I returned home the project manager emailed me and asked how I was as they hadn't heard from me, they weren't even aware that I had returned home.
For the amount of money you pay it's definitely not worth it. Apparently a girl left before I got there, she changed her flights home. I wish I was fortunate enough to do that because I would have gotten out of there in the first week.

On the plus side:
I made some amazing friends who were equally as disgusted as I was at the organisation and overall let down of the program.
I also enjoyed the experience of seeing another country and culture.

I would not however recommend this to anyone unless they are into 'cheap drugs and alcohol' and watching movies every day and going for the occasional dive.

Program:
Location:
Posted: March 18, 2015
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
24

A spur of the moment decision to volunteer led me to find Projects Abroad and a nutrition project in Fiji. I spent a few days researching different organizations. Many were appealing, however, Projects Abroad seemed to be a very reputable organization that had nearly everything that I was looking for.
From my initial submission of the application I was receiving emails and assistance on how to efficiently finish the other requirements. With the guidance of a volunteer advisor I was assisted on the application process, all of the required documentation, flights and itinerary, visa questions, travel insurance as well as, general advise for travel.
I spent 4 weeks on the nutrition project. I took part in the early stages of the project and was given the opportunity to experiment and implement programs. Although I was unable to make any major contributions to the project in terms of new ideas, I played a role in the existing program. Much of my time was spent going into the public schools around Nadi and providing free health checks to the teachers. This included taking and recording their name, height, weight, waist and him measurements, blood pressure, and blood sugar readings. From there we would consult with them on their lifestyle and health and introduce to them the ‘kana vinaka/healthy eating challenge” and exercise programs.
My experience volunteering was so much more than just the project itself. These 4 weeks would not have been the same without the influence of my host family, the other volunteers, and the PA staff. I was so welcomed by my host family and was grateful for the experience and opportunity to learn about their culture. I was also so glad to have met the other volunteers. We were able to spend a lot of time together in the evenings and on the weekends and I can now say that I have many new friends (from all over the world!). Vinaka vakalevu to the Projects Abroad organization and more importantly to the wonderful PA staff of Nadi, Fiji.

Program:
Location:
Posted: March 11, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
7
Age:
23

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:
Location:
Posted: March 5, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10
Age:
19

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:
Location:
Posted: March 5, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
10
By: domi428
Age:
20

My name is Hannah Elliott-Higgins and I am currently a junior studying psychology and art/art history at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. During my senior year of high school, I spent some time debating the idea of taking a gap year and volunteering before heading off to college but eventually decided against this idea as the excitement of starting college set in. However, half way through my sophomore year of college I began to think again about how wonderful it would be to be able to take some time to simple volunteer and experience the world through my own eyes and not through a strictly scholarly lens.

I worked with a gap year/semester coordinator to decided what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with children and if possible work with those with developmental disabilities. I was put in contact with Projects Abroad South Africa (Cape Town) and I could not be happier with the way everything went. From my first email contact with Projects Abroad I could tell it would be a wonderful experience. They were prompt to respond, answered every question I had, and provided me with all the information regarding my placement and living situation in a very timely manner.

During my time in Cape Town, I volunteered at the Sunrise Special Care Centre 5 days a week and had the weekends to myself. I absolutely loved the work, which consisted of basic occupational therapy and physical therapy as well as care taking. There was a bit of an age range with the majority of the children being between the ages of 6 and 14 and then a few young adults (early 20s). Everyone I worked with was kind and welcoming and spoke very highly of being there past Projects Abroad volunteers. Every week, I would meet with volunteers from other projects to talk with one of the volunteer coordinators from Projects Abroad. If there were any issues, they were always available to help out.

I lived with a host family who lived one street over from the Sunrise Special Care Centre and I cannot speak highly enough of them. They were wonderful and made me feel completely at home.They gave me and the two other volunteers I lived with breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the mother was a wonderful cook. I have certain dietary restrictions and they were wonderful about making accommodations for me.

Overall, this was an incredible experience for me and I would strongly recommend Projects Abroad for anyone who is looking to take a gap year, semester, or even just a few weeks off doing service work. It is an unforgettable time and I would do it over again in a heartbeat.

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 9, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
21

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