Volunteering through this organization in Ghana was a great experience that I will positively reflect on for years to come. It provided me with the opportunity to emerge myself in a foreign culture and lend a helping hand. I was able to interact with the kind people of Ghana, explore the country, work with children and expand my horizons. Although I initially started in the hospital setting they did not have enough work for us to do for the duration of the trip so I moved to a local orphanage where I greatly enjoyed spending time with the children. The volunteering was a very humbling experience and I sincerely hope that I made a positive difference with the children . In addition we were cared for by Franklin's generous hospitality and the enjoyable home atmosphere he provided. His family assisted us and openly helped us make the most of our stay. This trip was an eye opening experience and one that I hope to repeat. I would recommend this organization and volunteering in Ghana for anyone who wants to see the world, make a change and try new things at the same time.
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Rustic Volunteer and Travel
This has been a wonderful opportunity to get a better understanding of the Ghanian culture and at the same time feel like I am helping in some small way. The people are very friendly and I have made friends with some of the local boys in the neighborhood who play soccer over the road and are full of questions about my life. The children at the orphanage are a lot of fun and really appreciate what we bring to their lives when we play, do crafts or read to them. I have received lots of support from Franklin who is our care taker where I live. I have also enjoyed getting to know the volunteers who pass through here from all over the world. I would recommend to anyone to follow in my footsteps.
I would like to warn other potential travelers that Rustic Volunteer may not be the best program to use if you or a family member wants to volunteer abroad.
My husband and I did a huge, extensive fund raising program to send our sixteen year old daughter Maya to Xi'an, China to volunteer in a Chinese orphanage. Maya's sister was adopted from a Chinese orphanage, so she really wanted to volunteer in an orphanage to make a difference in the lives of children like her sister. A lot of our friends who had adopted Chinese children gave their own money to help Maya achieve this goal of helping Chinese orphans.
Surprise!! Maya never set foot in an orphanage. Instead, she was placed in two different schools for mentally challenged children. The experience was somewhat rewarding but not at all what Maya dreamed of doing and not at all what we paid for. Not only did these dear children have parents, but in one school, the parents accompanied their children to school every day, all day. This was not an orphan environment.
During Maya's trip, my husband and I tried contacting Rustic Volunteer to ask for Maya to be placed in an orphanage, but it never happened in spite of repeated promises that it would. Maya was in Xi'an for five weeks.
Also, none of Maya's transportation was provided, as promised in the contract. She had to take 3 city buses to work every day and then back home, and she had to pay for them herself. She walked through a neighborhood teeming with prostitutes and men hanging about leering at her with no one to accompany her. Maya is only sixteen years old, so this was a very bad situation for her to be in, and her program director did not care.
No one even drove my sixteen year old daughter back to the airport at the end of the trip. She had to hire a taxi, figure out what time to leave, figure out what terminal to go to and give instructions to her taxi driver in Chinese. She had basically very little support on this trip.
Maya was told to arrive a day or so early to allow her body to adjust to the time change before beginning work, but when she arrived, she was charged for a hotel room, and we had no idea that would happen. We couldn't really afford another expense with the airfare being so incredibly high. We had assumed that Maya would be put up in the volunteer house, but she wasn't.
I did complain and ask for my money back, but the owner of Rustic Volunteer said that the money had been spent on Maya's food and (get this) transportation. He said that if I tried to bring legal action against Rustic Volunteer, he would cite a clause in the contract that stated that substitutions could be made.
So, if it is your heart's desire to volunteer in a particular capacity, do not go with Rustic Volunteer. They feel no need to live up to their promises. They did not have my daughter volunteer in an orphanage. They did not take her on the promised sight seeing opportunities. They did not drive her to and from work. They did not even drive her to the airport! It's simply not a good program, and for younger people, I think it's actually dangerous.
Please be careful if you decide to have anything to do with this travel company. Read your contract carefully. Get them to specify everything very clearly, and then travel with your contract with you at all times so you don't end up like my daughter, spending thousands of dollars to have an experience that was not what she signed up for.
This program was a very enlightening and culturally enriching experience. If you've never been to Ghana you must absolutely experience this country! We had great support from the program staff and the friendly locals also added to the much enjoyed time spent in Ghana. During my program I volunteered at general clinics doing screening for the prominent illnesses of this region and also at orphanages teaching English, Math and Sciences to the children during school hours. If you're of age, the bars are great as well. Our team routinely enjoyed our breaks with the locals at the bar after long days in clinics. The beaches are wonderful and exploring the Volta region is definitely a must. Many places in Ghana are so amazing they just feel surreal. I often got the feeling of being in a National Geographic episode! Overall, this trip was a great life altering experience and I'd highly recommend it to anyone. A+
This program was absolutly amazing. I an 19 years old and was going on my first trip abroad. I am very nervous myself not to mention my family. thanks to the great staff at rustic i felt more assured before leaving on my trip. once in guatemala i have a fantastic ground support staff that helped not only with my program but also help-ed me find other activities during my free time such as visiting san pedro and the hot springs -good fun time. this trip would not have been the same without rustic's amazing ground support! Thanks to Oscar and Jillian i felt comfortable, safe, and still had a great time volunteering and finding other things to do in Xela!
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