Projects Abroad

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8.9 / 10 after 111 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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After leaving the information evening with Projects Abroad, I was determined to do a project of my own. My friend and I decided to undertake a dentistry project in Ghana.

Soon after leaving the plane in Ghana, we were greeted by a local Ghanaian waving and shouting our names with a projects abroad sign. We were introduced and taken to our host family, who were kind enough to stay awake until late in the night just to greet us. I was shown to my room, which was surprisingly spacious, with my own single bed, wardrobes and dressing table.

The next morning I was awoken to the heat of a Ghanaian summers day, and after breakfast I was greeted by Richard - the medical coordinator in Accra (Ghana's capital city). He took my friend and I out for a typical Ghanaian lunch and also showed us how to get to our placement in a hospital. We were taken by tro-tro, which is the Ghanaian equivalent of public bus transport. It was a great experience, although quite strange to encounter on the first day, because the tro-tro is similar to a small sized UK minibus which somehow managed to cram over 20 passengers in at a time!

Upon returning to our host family after a long, but great day out, we were welcomed to the smell of 'red red' - a popular Ghanaian dish. This also gave us a better chance to talk to our host family along with the other volunteers. We were told that we were accepted as part of the family and should see the host mother as our real mother for our stay in Ghana, which was particularly sweet of her.

A typical day volunteering consisted of observing and sometimes helping in the dental department of the 'Police Hospital'. I was not expecting to do any hands on work with any of the dental equipment as I had no qualifications, so being able to use some equipment was a pleasant surprise.

Also, once or twice a week, the healthcare volunteers all went on outreach projects to places such as orphanages and remote village schools to tend to the first aid needs of young children, which was great as I felt I made a huge impact. Also when on these outreach projects, my friend and I took toothbrushes, toothpaste, sweets (ironically!), books and pens to give out to the children. We also taught them how to brush their teeth, which was great. Even our medical coordinator took on some of our advice!

On evenings, we were able to have some free time, to either sit and relax with the other volunteers, or go out somewhere perhaps to watch a film or go shopping, or just explore the local area. Once a week, a social evening was organized, known as quiz night Tuesdays. This is where most of the volunteers in the city got together at the Accra Projects Abroad HQ and chilled out, played games, had pizza and one week even got taught by professional dancers how to dance Ghanaian style! We also organized weekend outings here.

Although I only had two weekends in Ghana, I made the most of them. The first weekend a few friends went to Cape Coast to visit the National Park. We did a night walk there, and got attacked by African army ants which were really painful! Although we did see the funny side of what happened once it was over. We slept in a tree house and in the morning, we did a canopy walk in the jungle like park and then visited a famous castle and beach.
The second weekend saw my friend and i travel across Ghana, first to Lake Volta, the worlds largest man made lake, and then to another large attraction park when we were able to see the famous 'umbrella rock' and the tree with three heads. The views were amazing at this place.

Projects Abroad were fantastic in organizing my placement. I had special dietary requirements which were all tended to, and the pre departure contact was extensive, giving me confidence that I was to be taken care of very well. The organization of my placement was decided by myself and then implemented brilliantly by Projects Abroad. I would definitely recommend this to my friend and cannot wait until I can undertake another project somewhere!

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 29, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
18

I decided to travel to Chengdu with Projects Abroad for a two week High School Special program after studying Mandarin for a year at school. I felt that it would be a wonderful experience that would broaden my cultural horizons. My time in Chengdu was everything I imagined and more! I arrived nervous, for it was my first time traveling without friends or family who would share in my experience; however, the great Projects Abroad staff really worked to ease my concerns.Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted by an employee and introduced to other students who would be working with me. I was then brought to my home stay, where I was greeted by my cheerful host family, who taught me about traditional Chinese holidays and about everyday life in Chengdu throughout my time with them.
During the first week in Chengdu, our mornings were spent at the Mandarin Club, where we took lessons in language and culture. Although I already spoke some Mandarin, our teacher taught us about the local dialect, which made me even more comfortable speaking in the city. I was also very interested during the lessons about the daily, traditional, and business components of the Chinese culture. After our morning lesson and lunch at a local restaurant, we went to different types of businesses throughout the city. Throughout the trip, we worked on a presentation for China Linguist, one of the city’s major linguistic companies, which we presented towards the conclusion of the trip. We also visited multiple law firms to learn about the Chinese legal system the differences between western and eastern law.
My free time was filled with visiting local attractions and restaurants. We went to a traditional Sichuan Opera show and ate at a hot pot restaurant. My host family took me to their hometown of Leshan to see pandas and the Leshan Giant Buddha. I was able to really immerse myself within the Chinese culture during my free time.
Prior to my arrival, I was uncertain of what to expect from the local food; however, I quickly came to realize, through the urging of both my host family and staff members, that trying the unfamiliar dishes would lead to me finding new favorite dishes. Sichuan food, famous for its spicy Sichuan pepper, is quite unique, and whenever I find myself missing Chengdu, I go out to eat some.
Overall, my experience with Projects Abroad was phenomenal! The staff really helped to make my experience memorable through working to ease all of my concerns, creating interesting daily agendas filled with both cultural and business-related education, and making me feel at home while I was thousands of miles away.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 26, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:

I chose to go to Ethiopia with Projects Abroad because of the support and planning already established within the program. I knew I wanted to volunteer in Ethiopia, but finding the program to go with it was a challenge at first. I heard about Projects Abroad through friends who have used it in the past and it ended up being one of the best decisions I made. They set me up with a really caring host family, fantastic care center for children, and helped me meet other volunteers who I still keep in touch with today.

On the day of my arrival, Projects Abroad offered to pick up from the airport, take me to my host family, etc. Their accommodations to make sure you were settled in were useful for me. After they gave me a tour of the national museum, they took me to my host family. My host family's house was very well kept, clean, and most of all welcoming. My entire host family was happy to have me there and encouraged me to fully immerse myself in the culture. They tried to make my meals according to what I prefer, something not easily done in a common household in Ethiopia. Their family of five lived in one room while they allowed two other volunteers and me to have our own rooms.

My placement was incredible and I couldn't have imagined a better fit for me. I was working with at least four other volunteers at a time but we all worked in different areas-- whether it was helping in the baby room, teaching math or English, or playing games outside. The children ranged from babies to adolescence, and I know they absolutely appreciated our company. My placement was the best part of my Projects Abroad experience.

In addition to all of this, I met some other dedicated volunteers from around the world. In total, we were a group of 10 from 9 countries. The best part of this organization is that you can choose what part of the year you want to go on your trip, so people in the group came and left for various lengths of time. I still keep in touch with my friends overseas today to see how they're doing. We're all planning on going back to our orphanage in Ethiopia one day! My only complaint with the program was that I thought it was a bit expensive. The plane ticket itself is a monstrous amount and to add the extra was not an easy task. However, I absolutely think it was worth it.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 19, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9
Age:
17

I decided to volunteer abroad as every now and then I like to do something that puts me out of my comfort zone, so I chose South Africa as I wanted to go somewhere that I had never been before and somewhere I didn't actually know much about, so I would be in a situation that was unfamiliar to me. I decided to go after leaving college as I believed the experience would help my confidence and independence for going to university – I figured that if I could go to a foreign country by myself and live with a family I had never met before, then moving out and studying for a degree shouldn't be a problem!

I decided to go with Projects Abroad because of the support that was given. Even before I had made my mind up at to exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, they were on hand to answer any questions that I could think of. I also liked the fact that the price covered everything for when you were out there, so once I got to South Africa I was just able to enjoy my time there,without having to worry about budgeting and therefore possibly missing out on certain opportunities, such as social events.

I was actually very surprised when I first came out the airport – people drove on the left hand side of the road and the road signs were familiar! Not too different from home. But the thing that really shocked me, which I think affects all visitors and volunteers, is the very distinct gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. Coming from the UK, this sort of obvious divide between the poor and rich does not exist. People are not living in houses which they have constructed out of whatever materials they could find. When I was driven past the oldest and second biggest township in Cape Town I realised that this was something I had never witnessed before.

I was part of the 2 week special placement, which I really enjoyed – even if it did go too quickly! My host family were some of the nicest people I have ever met. They made me feel so welcome and comfortable, and the food! Sometimes I do find myself wistfully thinking of the delicious meals that Faye used to cook – including homemade foccacia bread, which is probably my favourite food of all time now!

The first week I was there felt like a crash course in getting to know Cape Town and its history in Human Rights, as it included visits to places such as the Slave Lodge, the District Six museum and Robben Island.
I also got to visit several townships where I was able to talk to South African citizens. This included helping out at a soup kitchen, which many of the children attended. Those children displayed a tremendous amount of energy and love, attaching themselves to you at any opportunity! I definitely felt like a piece of my heart was left behind there.

At the weekend I had the opportunity to complete the famous “Garden Route” trip, which, although involving a 5am start, was definitely one of the best parts of my time in South Africa. The two days included a three hour safari, a walk with lions and the chance to ride elephants! My favourite part however was visiting the wildlife centre where I had the chance to interact with lemurs (and by interacting I mean having them clamber all over me!)

The second week was when I was really able to focus on the current Human Rights issues that South Africa is facing. I met people who are currently tackling these issues, such as those involved in the African Scholars Fund and Gun Free South Africa. These groups really made me aware of what exactly were the causes of children not being able to receive education and illegal gun ownership, and what was being done to resolve these problems. I finished the week by presenting to the other volunteers in the Human Rights Office on The Access to Sufficient Food in South Africa. I learnt a lot from researching it and I hope the other volunteers also learnt something new.

It was quite difficult to leave South Africa in the end. Even having been there for a short time, I had made friends who I know will be my lifelong pen pals and totally immersed myself in the new, exciting culture of Cape Town. A few days after I had returned I went to a local music festival which I have been going to for a few years. It felt rather strange to be standing in a muddy field in wellies, when a week before I had been seeing animals such as springbok and ostriches in the wild - which were on sale to eat at one of the food stalls!

I am already planning my next trip to South Africa with Projects Abroad, but it might be more wishful thinking seeing as I am about to become a student! But my advice to those thinking of volunteering is not to think about it too much, obviously planning for your trip is important but try not to get too caught up in what might or might not happen when you're there – just go for it, you won't regret it.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 10, 2013
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
19

After a fabulous and busy trip to Cape Town, I’d like to share my experience and encourage others to volunteer abroad!

Although many people on the teaching project teach English, as a music student I was thoroughly interested in being placed within a school that could use help in that area. I phoned the Projects Abroad head office and they found a placement completely suited to me.

My host family lived just down the road from my placement and 6 other volunteers stayed at the same house (3 of those were placed in the same school as me so we walked together every day). I could not have asked for a better host family to look out for me. They treated me like family from the minute I arrived; giving me advice on where to visit, how to travel around, cooking me fantastic Capetonian meals every night, and of course my 5-year-old host sister keeping me company throughout my stay!

My placement mostly involved taking choir and band rehearsals, as academic music was not taught in most schools due to budget cuts. I therefore made the most of it, arranging a song by Jason Mraz to teach the main school choir. By the end of the month, the choir had learnt the song by heart and performed it to Projects Abroad staff, causing me to well up with pride. (If you would like to have a listen to the end result click, on this link: https://soundcloud.com/jessicanorton14/i-wont-give-up-hyde-park)
Even during break and lunchtimes, myself and other volunteers at the school found that we were never left alone by the kids! They would always be asking us questions about our life back home, how long we were staying, and occasionally I found myself being asked whether I would eventually marry one of the other volunteers.... (it didn’t help that Brian, the other volunteer involved in this rumor, would agree with them and start describing the ceremony...!)

As our placement finished at about 3:30pm each day, myself and the other volunteers in my house would explore Cape Town every afternoon, taking a minibus taxi to the train station. The forms of transport out there were so familiar to us in such a short time, and on our induction we were told an easy way to tell which minibus taxis we should use. They usually came by our road every 10 minutes. Although we didn’t hit the town hard every night, we did go out just before each volunteer left to give them a proper send off, and for this our host family suggested a private taxi driver that they had used for years, so no matter where I went, or when, I always felt safe.

Throughout the planning and the trip itself, Projects Abroad staff really were fantastic. The personal webpage was invaluable, giving me all the information I needed including who I would be living with and a bit about my placement. I was called by a staff member in South Africa the day before I left to make sure I didn’t have any last-minute worries or queries, and at the airport I was greeted by a member of staff to take me straight to my host family.

If you are thinking of traveling abroad, I would thoroughly recommend Projects Abroad; they care about each and every one of their volunteers and will make sure you have the best time on your placement. Not only that but you meet people from all corners of the globe in the same situation as you. You make friends for life on these trips, and will have experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I will always have a place in my heart for the people and places I experienced whilst volunteering, and I hope you grab the opportunity to do the same!

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 8, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
22

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