International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

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9.4 / 10 after 414 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is the trusted volunteer organization, providing safe, quality and extremely affordable volunteering placements in countries all over the world. Each year they place over 5000 volunteers abroad and have a wide range of volunteering opportunities in Argentina, Bali, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia - Bogota and Cartagena, Costa Rica, Ecuador, FijiGhana, Guatemala, India - Delhi & DharamsalaItalyPortugal, Spain, New ZealandKenya , Laos, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Peru - Cusco & Lima, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, ThailandRomaniaUganda, Victoria Falls, Vietnam - Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City and Zambia.

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This past September my son, Jake, went to Ghana. A trip originally planned as 3 weeks turned into 5. Jake went to Ghana a little nervous and I have to admit that, as a mom, I was nervous also.

There had been a few countries he was interested in visiting but I pushed him towards Ghana because friends had visited a few years back and were in awe of how welcome they felt by the people. They described a country in which they felt safe and welcome no matter where they went. It wasn’t just the safety but the love in which they described Ghana upon their return that stuck with me.

So after looking over a few IVHW programs, all which seem wonderful, Jake decided on Ghana as well. It just seemed to call to him. He had never been away from home before and even for a 20 year old leaving home to go to another continent alone can seem daunting.

My son fell in love with Ghana and through him; I fell in love as well. From the time he was picked up at the airport until the time he left, he felt cared for by the people of Ghana. It was an amazing experience for any young person and one I highly recommend all young people do.

The family Jake stayed with treated him wonderfully. He enjoyed going to the market with Patrick or just being at the house with the family. His time spent with the kids meant a great deal to him. They amazed him and when we spoke by phone he was incredibly impressed by children who were so happy for even the smallest things. It was an education for my son but also a chance to give of himself in a way that mattered.

The other great part of his experience was the travel he did on the weekends. My son can be a bit of a couch potato at home but in Ghana he was constantly traveling. He rented a phone there and texted me every day or called. I was always able to reach him which eased any separation anxiety I may have had. My little couch potato was now navigating the travel system in Ghana whether it was during a lunch break or a weekend away. He visited a monkey sanctuary, swam in waterfalls, walked a canopy walk, stayed in a beachfront resort, and walked around villages. It is an experience any parent would want for their kid.

The IVHQ staff was fabulous. At one point Jake called me to say he needed a phone number. He had taken a wrong turn while walking and didn’t know how to get back. First, I want to point out that he was able to call home, here in New York, while lost in Africa. I sent a message on Facebook to some former volunteers asking them what I should do and within minutes I received a message from Edward Adeli telling me that Jake was back at the orphanage. The response time was minutes, something I never would have expected from any organization. I never even had a chance to panic at the thought that my son made a wrong turn somewhere.

The support system is wonderful. I joined a group on Facebook that the volunteers all joined. I joined it as a concerned mom who wanted to be sure that this was the right organization and right country to send my son. I spent weeks talking to people who had been there and felt at ease by how many young women had traveled alone and spoke of the safety and the love of Ghana. Those same people kept in touch with me throughout his trip asking how he was enjoying it and are still in contact now that he is home. I could not ask for a better support system than that.

For any parents who are worried about safety...I won’t poo poo safety concerns but I will say that the world we live in is a big place. Things can happen anywhere including our own home towns. Everywhere my son went he was welcomed. People sought him out on the street to talk to him and offer him tips on what to do and where to go. Never once did he ever feel unsafe. He did not want to come home and it was only because the airfare change a second time was too expensive that he came home.

He is home for a month now and told me yesterday that he misses Ghana and wants to go back. I don’t know many 20 year olds that would pay for their airfare, program fees, change fees to change airfare, travel expenses, and then come home and want to do it again. That alone should tell you what a wonderful program IVHQ has in Ghana.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 8, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
45

Comments

Thanks for sharing a review of your son's time in Ghana. We're so pleased to hear Jake had such an enjoyable experience and that you felt confident your son had excellent support from our local staff. We hope to have Jake volunteer with IVHQ again in the future and you're more than welcome to join him :)

I volunteered in Hanoi in August, 2012. It was an awesome experience. The airport pickup was great and we had someone waiting for us at our accommodations to make sure we got settled in. I stayed in Peace House 2. The simplicity of the rooms took my friend and me by surprise. We hadn't traveled before and so we didn't expect just a shower-head and a bucket rather than a full shower like we were used to. But it wasn't too bad. We had a nice house and each bedroom had its own bathroom. From what I heard, Peace House 2 was the best volunteer accommodations in Hanoi. We were also right in the city so we were just a quick bus ride away to our volunteer work and attractions/things to do. This is compared to Peace House 1 where you were more on the outskirts of the city so it was harder to do things and get around. The food at our house was also good. I learned to master chopsticks. Our cook didn’t speak English but she was still super nice and her cooking was amazing.

I volunteered with disabled children at the Morningstar Clinic. I was in a classroom with two other teachers and ten boys between the ages of 5 and 10. The class was very structured. Each day had a certain order of lessons that all the boys knew. Often they would break into two groups based on their ages and then go over certain lessons or activities. Sometimes I would get to lead a group (one teacher would lead the other group and the other teacher would do one-on-one lessons with the boys). It was really fun when I got to do this, but it was also very difficult if the boys weren’t in a mood to focus. The language barrier between us was a bit of a problem. During the afternoon, the boys were taught lessons about food, clothing, hygiene, or addressing people. This was a rough part of the day for me. Because I don’t speak Vietnamese I couldn’t do much other than sit beside the teacher and watch. So while some times at the Morningstar Centre were good, there were other times when I felt pretty useless. I really did enjoy my time there though. Both of my teachers were really nice (one could speak English, the other could not) and tried to get to know me. The boys were awesome. Even though we couldn’t speak to each other, they all had their way of communicating with me and establishing a relationship. It was very special.

IVHQ partners with an organization called VPV. They are the ones who you are in touch with in Vietnam. They were great. A lot of the VPV volunteers are university students. It was really cool to talk to people my own age and sort of compare our lives. They were the ones who gave us our Vietnamese lessons (which really did come in handy) and took us on our tour of Hanoi. They were so accommodating too. After our city tour, my friend and I expressed interest in seeing another museum and two VPV volunteers quickly agreed to take us the following day. I also had a VPV volunteer help me at my volunteer placement. Hang was awesome. She picked us up from our house in the morning, walked with us to the bus station, and took the bus with us to and from our volunteer placement. She did this for the first few days until we felt comfortable enough to do this on our own. She would also come into our classrooms at the Morningstar Centre to make sure we were doing fine and understood what was going on. She would even translate a conversation between me and the children sometimes. Hang also took us out for lunch, accompanied us to a museum, and took us shopping at the Big C. She was so nice and really helped make our experience more comfortable.

The other great thing about Hanoi is that there is so much to do and see. The volunteers in Peace House 2 would often go out together. We tried different bars, restaurants, and markets. On the weekend we did tours. VPV has partnered with a tourist agency in the Old Quarter so that we can get good deals on weekend tours when we aren't volunteering. It was a great way to experience other areas of Vietnam.

I had a great volunteer experience and would really recommend volunteering in Vietnam.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 28, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9
By: SLMC2166
Age:
22

Comments

Thanks for your review and sharing some insight into your time in Hanoi. We're happy to hear you enjoyed your volunteering placement and exploring Hanoi with the other volunteers. We trust you saw some incredible sights on your weekend tours too! Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ.

I joined the street kids program which is located in Faridabad. I got to teach some of the smartest kids I know at a slum school, called Morning Star School. There is no real classrooms, it's basically like a tent, which sits 83 children ranging for pre nursery to class 5. There are no rooms to divide the classes, so the kids are learning whilst other classes are in progress, and most of these kids are brighter than some kids I know back home. To actually study and learn hindi and english is just amazing and to learn from us volunteers from all over the world with different accents is totally inspirational.

I have been here 2 months, and I don't want to leave. In the short time I have been here, they have learnt so much, and to be apart of their growth is god sent. 5 year olds know their times tables, spelling and they are all so polite, a great reflection on the couple that founded the school, the husband, Rakesh (a christian pastor) started the school, and his lovely wife teaches the kids with the help of volunteers. i love this program that much, that I will be coming back next year. I will be going home to also start a foundation for this school so that the kids have the best opportunity to hopefully improve their lives when they grow up.

The host family (the Raj's) are one of the most humble and beautiful family in India and they made me feel so at home, that I didn't even get homesick, not once. The host family class all volunteers as family, (brothers and sisters), and they truly treat you like family. They both cook amazing meals and a variety. Only ever had Indian food twice and that was just before I left to come here, and I love it. Definitely won't lose weight in India with this family. Their little boy is cute and speaks very good english and loves to play. He also can get annoying but aren't all brothers at some stage, but he is a very smart little boy and fun to be around.

This was the first trip I have been on overseas alone and was very nervous, I didn't know what to expect but IVHQ is very professional to their word, did not have one hip-cup whilst being here. THe coordinators for the project are also great and all call 24 hrs and are very helpful.

I fly home on Saturday, so to any volunteers coming to this project all I can say, is that you are in very safe hands and will love the RAJ family and the kids, it's hard not too. And please look after my kids class UKG and LKG. They will not only learn from you but you will also learn from them.

God bless the kids of the slums and god bless the Raj family and god bless for IVHQ for their outstanding work and support. A+

Oh and if your thinking about bringing supplies over with you them, don't you can get them here and so much cheaper, so you will be able to get more for your money. Thank you IVHQ and the RAJ family for a life changing experience.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 25, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
42

Comments

Thanks for sharing your experience on our India program. We're grateful for all you hard work and the education and inspiration you have provided for the children. We trust you had a safe trip home and we hope to have you volunteering with us again one day :)

Hi Guys!

I returned from the teaching and sports program in Ghana back in July and Eddie has asked that I put together a belated testimonial for others to hear how incredible, memorable and beautiful my experience was, so here it is!

Seven months ago I was exactly where I am writing this now, my living room in a cold, dark and wet London. I had a bad day in work where I got a call from a close friend (Luke). He mentioned how he had decided to go to Ghana in one month on a random jaunt to see if he can help and get away from this world to a completely different one! He invited me to go along for the journey...

A month later (30 April 2012) we arrived into the city like no other... Accra and before I knew it I was on a Tro to the most beautiful place I've ever known, Frankadua!

We rolled up in some little minivan packed with a load of strangers a fridge and some food to be greeted by the shy town folk who were a little reluctant to come over at first. We retrieved a Tennis ball and a rugby ball out of our bags. The smiles then came and from then on they never ceased!

I spent 8 of the best weeks of my life in the best country I have visited, filled with smiles, laughter and gratefulness. The people of Ghana are second to none, friendly and welcoming in every possible way. Your family might be worried that it's not safe, but I have never felt safer anywhere on this planet.

On the first night we all smelt pretty bad so straight away I decided to try and find the shower... not knowing that a bucket was required! This probably sounds crazy to most of you I know but Until you're in amongst the trees under nothing but the moonlight and stars you won't realise how memorable it is!

I was on the sports programme where the kids ran rings around myself and anyone else. You will think they drink 10 coffees every morning but in fact they simply love playing anything. From clapping games to football to volleyball and frog football (you may find out) the kids are exactly what kids should be... the purest souls in the world.

Teaching; Random Goats, Massive storms, outdoor classrooms, willingness to learn and dedicated amazing teachers are the words best to describe it!

I can't make this too long so feel free to send me emails but in summary;

Ghana changed me for the better. It will change you even if you think it hasn't. I have already said it but this country is filled with the finest people in the world and you will meet the finest people of our world in your group. I have friendships from continent to continent that mean more to me than anything and to think that I may not have met them had I not gone to Ghana is one heck of a thought.

This is a country of hope, smiles, hot weather, lovely beaches (cape coast) and tears (for when you leave). I look forward to going back more than anything else and say all those that go make the most of it and those who are considering going... Stop considering and GO!!

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 24, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: JJM236
Age:
22

Comments

Great to hear from you Joshua, thanks for sharing all your memories from Ghana! Awesome to have you as an IVHQ volunteer :)

Going to Ghana for 3 months with IVHQ was the best decision I have ever made. I did the orphanage program in Ghana over the past summer. I had never traveled outside of the United States before, and I was traveling alone. IVHQ answered every question I threw their way and helped me prepare for the trip in countless ways. There facebook groups helped me find other volunteers that were heading to Ghana at the same time I was, which helped ease my nerves as well.
Benedict and Eric picked me up from the airport and to the volunteer house and were super friendly and helpful as I started to adjust to the new place. I was placed in the Silver Program in Kasoa. My host family was unbelievably amazing. I will remain in contact with them for a long long time, and I am already planning another trip back. The IVHQ Ghana staff was wonderful at staying in contact and coming for site visits often. One of the other volunteers in my program contracted Malaria at one point, and our host dad was instantly in contact with the staff. They came out for a visit and were always looking out for the volunteers. The staff gave excellent weekend travel advice and ideas, and were always willing to help us out if we had a problem or question to be answered.
The children at the school I spent the summer at were incredible. They taught me so much about love and life and happiness. I think about those 42 little kids every single day and can't wait to go back and see them again. Volunteering in Ghana changed my life. I would volunteer with IVHQ again in a heartbeat. The program was an excellent value, the staff and placement were incredible. You will not regret volunteering with this company.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 15, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
22

Comments

Thanks for sharing your review Katie. We're grateful to have you as an IVHQ volunteer and happy to hear you felt at ease and well looked after on your first trip abroad! We hope to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future.

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