Volunteer Abroad

4U Arabic Language School

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Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Netherlands
Posted: May 18, 2024
Overall:
8
Support:
6
Value:
10

Green Life Volunteers

Overall, I had a great experience working with Green Life Volunteers and Kuemar Organization. Upon confirming my stay, I received an informational packet from Green Life that had helpful details regarding transportation (from the airport, to the work site), a hostel recommendation for my traveling days, and set some expectations for the volunteer experience. Upon arrival, workers at the site explained to me the typical work schedule and details about the work we would be doing. The workers had so much knowledge and were sure to explain to me why we did certain tasks, answered any questions I had, and really got me involved with the work (filling out documentation, digging in nests, relocating nests). I learned so much about their conservation efforts and the research that is being done. This volunteering experience was also a great opportunity to practice my Spanish, learn about the area, and to meet volunteers from other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, I started to get sick while I was there and had to make the decision to leave early, but the workers at Green Life and Kuemar responded exactly as I would have hoped—offered to reach out to a physician they know, asked if they could assist in any way, and ultimately, were very understanding of my decision to go home.

Aside from the work, I had a pleasant experience in the recommended hostel and received quick responses from Green Life anytime I reached out.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Apr 30, 2024
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Green Life Volunteers

I did a one-month-long internship for GLV in January and February of 2024. I combined this with the Teaching Kids and Community Center project in Puerto Jimenez. I feel really grateful to have worked for someone with such a beautiful organization. I helped strengthen Green Life's presence on social media and different volunteer websites and even though I was there for just a month, I feel like I have been able to make a difference for Janina's organization and that makes me very happy!
Especially the combination with the project at the library was absolutely perfect for me. I was able to fully immerse myself in the Costa Rican culture, by staying with a host family. They were truly my family away from home and I got close with them throughout my stay. I was able to set up an English summer camp for the local kids and apart from that, I got to help out at the library and improve the place.
I had a wonderful time and would recommend both projects to anyone who wants to experience the "normal" work life in Costa Rica. It is super special to feel a part of the strong community the people have built in Puerto Jimenez, I will cherish that feeling for the rest of my life.
Janina helped me out so much during the application process. She helped my prepare my international and national flights. Gave me all the information I needed for traveling to Costa Rica and prepared everything for when I got there. We met up a couple of times for work and she took me out twice, to have lunch outside of work. I got to experience up close that for Janina, every volunteer is special and different. She puts so much effort in every single person, I cannot imagine any other program will give you the same treatment. I don't have anything bad to say, it was absolutely the best experience of my life and i will recommend Green Life Volunteers to everyone that asks.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Feb 25, 2024
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Green Life Volunteers

I volunteered for two weeks at the Mariposa camp in Carate for turtle conservation, and these were absolutely two of the most special weeks of my life. I would recommend the COPROT camps to anyone who wants to experience this beautiful life in one of the most rural and biologically diverse places on earth.
The team at the camp made me feel extremely welcome from the start. I have made connections with the people there and learned things from them (and about myself) that I will never forget.

I am normally a person who likes comfort and city life, but I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone and I am so happy I did!! I saw so many amazing animals, like the scarlet macaws, a baby alligator, different types of monkeys, and of course the mama and baby turtles. Almost every evening I went to the beach to enjoy the breath-taking sunsets. The peace in this place is amazing and is something I will never forget.
Even though the camp has a pretty simple layout, it is super clean and there is enough space for everyone to relax. Waking up in the middle of the night to go on a patrol is definitely not easy, but it is all worth it, when you get to help a mama turtle with her nest or see wild babies hatch. You need to love a bit of hard work, but if you do, the rewards are truly unforgettable.
Once again: I would advise this to anyone. Get out of your comfort zone and do it, because staying at the COPROT camp is an experience you will hold on to for the rest of your life!!

I worked with Green Life Volunteers for this project and I am extremely grateful for all the help I got leading up to and during my volunteer time. Janina was super nice and actually recommended the turtle conservation project to me. She helped me book the national flights, choose a hostel in San Jose, get a taxi to and from the project, and much more. She has become a true friend during my time here and I would absolutely recommend working with Green Life Volunteers to anyone who wants to volunteer in Costa Rica.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Feb 13, 2024
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Globalteer

My Globalteer experience in Peru has been wonderful and I totally recommend anyone who wants to make a difference volunteering in any of the projects. Everyone I have met is kind, lovely, welcoming, and really dedicated to the work, always trying to achieve the best for the kids and for the animals. Particularly, my work is as an NGO Assistant in the Picaflor House, an after-school program for poor and vulnerable children, and I could not be more positively impacted. The project really makes a difference in the life of kids, giving them the support they need on their learning and also providing many leisure through art classes, sports etc. All of the kids love Picaflor and consider it a fun, safe and happy environment.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Jan 26, 2024
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Askari WCP

exceptional...magical...unforgettable...a dream...a unique experience...a human adventure...incredible encounters...magnificent wild animals, these are my 4 weeks spent in the reserve Askari. it was my first solo trip, my first trip to South Africa. I fell in love with the Bush, the landscapes, the animals. the days pass very quickly: animal observations, lessons on fauna and flora, crafts and lots of moments of sharing. daily outings through the reserve day and night, a night under the stars made this experience magical. The staff are adorable, we get attached to Bronwyn, Stuart and Katie. Every day, I think of them. I will definitely come back because we come back from this adventure better.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Dec 26, 2023
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Askari WCP

This is my third trip to Africa to experience wildlife. While I have loved the other trips, this one stands out as being the most integrated. It wasn’t just a wildlife viewing trip. I was submerged into a programme of conservation, preservation, awareness and the day to day management and running of a wilderness conservation reserve. I have come home with a mountain of knowledge gained while also aware I have only touched the surface. My life has been enriched by a dedicated team of staff (Katie, Bron & Stu) who are extremely knowledgeable, passionate and enthusiastic about the reserve and all it has to offer. Their warm hospitality created a family environment and it was wonderful being part of a contributing team. The entire programme is so well organised and run which is a credit to the hard work of the team there. I cannot speak highly enough of them and I am so thankful that I went on this trip.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 27, 2023
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Intrax Study Abroad and AYUSA Study Abroad

Over the years we have hosted a total of six exchange students, five of these we hosted through Ayusa. We reluctantly continued to use Ayusa because we were already established with them. However, we will not use them again. In general, our hosting exchange students has been a positive experience. However, the positive experience was despite Ayusa and simply because the majority of exchange students are serious students who want to experience the United States. After gaining more experience with how Ayusa operates, we would no longer recommend Ayusa to anyone. The main problems with Ayusa center on their true and only motive which is money. They do not properly vet exchange students which increases the risk of students that are not appropriate or ready for an exchange problem to still be accepted. Another big concern is that the pay reps that work for Ayusa receive is tied to how many students they recruit to be exchange students. We have now come across three examples of Ayusa telling complete lies to either us or our exchange students. These lies appear clearly are either because a local rep didn’t want to risk losing a placement and the nice commission that come with it or because a rep didn’t want to be bothered with looking into requested travel dates.

The first lie we discovered was told to the family of an exchange student we hosted from Chile. The local rep in Chile told the family that if our student attended her senior year of high school that she would get a real high school diploma. That was a totally false statement that our Chilean student and her family didn’t learn the truth about until after she arrived. Her father was particularly upset about this because he never would had agreed to his daughter going in the program had he known she would still need to take her last year of high school upon returning to Chile. This lie, along with our student’s parents wanting her to return to Chile, was why she returned back to Chile after the first semester instead of completing the full year as originally planned. The only reason we can tell for Ayusa lying to that family was that the rep didn’t want to lose the commission for signing them up.

Another lie told to both us and the family of a student we hosted from Holland concerned travel dates. What was worse about this is it was actually a regional coordinator for Ayusa that told the lie. We told this student from Holland that our County Fair was be in town and if she could arrive a few days early, she could go to that. When we approached Ayusa about her arriving a few days early, we were told “oh that’s not possible, we can’t do that”. Then about three weeks later, that same regional coordinator contacted us again telling us want a great idea it would be for this student to arrive a few days early. My wife gets the credit for immediately seeing through this. She checked the cost of the airline ticket, and saw that the date we suggested was significantly cheaper than the original date Ayusa was planning on having the student fly. As always, when it comes to Ayusa, it was all about the money, not what is best for the student.

The third lie Ayusa told got wrapped up in a lie a French family told Ayusa when we hosted a student from France. This French girl’s profile said she didn’t want to be placed in a home with pets. Then later in the profile she said she was very allergic to cats. We have dogs, no cats. So we asked Ayusa to contact them to get clarification if the problem was just cats and if dogs would be fine. The response we got back was that the student would love being with dogs. That was a complete lie the girl’s father told Ayusa. Not only did this girl not like dogs, she had a strong fear of them. The student blamed her father for the lie. The father is who was contacted by Ayusa and asked. She said that when her father told them what he had told Ayusa, her mom and her called Ayusa and tried to clarify the situation. However, the rep there in France apparently said it would be fine and never passed on the clarification. Likely this was because the rep was more concerned about getting the commission. Out dogs are mostly inside dogs, so yes it was a big issue. In this case, initially I was not sure if our French student was telling the truth about trying to send a clarification or not. However, when considering the other lies we have seen personnel with Ayusa tell, I concluded the French family was probably telling the truth and it probably all was because of the Ayusa reps concern about losing a commission.

This issue with dogs and our student from France is a good example of Ayusa’s sloppy vetting. Had they been more interested in achieving good placements instead of just money, this likely never would have happened. Also our student from Holland never should have been placed in an exchange program at all. She had never been away from her parents for more than a week and was way too emotionally immature to be in an exchange program. Additionally, she was too poor of a student to be in an exchange program. She dropped out of the program and returned to Holland.

Please don’t let the negative parts of what I discussed here cause you not to host an exchange student. Even with a sloppy exchange program like Ayusa, the odds of it being a positive experience is in your favor. Over the years we hosted students from Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Chile, and Holland. For the most part it has been a great experience. The only negative parts were caused by Ayusa not properly vetting students and lying to students and their families. Your odds of having a positive experience are probably better if you use someone other than Ayusa.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Aug 19, 2023
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
2

Globalteer

Volunteering with Globalteer's Peru Dog Rescue program as a first-time volunteer abroad was an incredibly fulfilling experience. The program provided a safe and supportive environment where I could make a positive impact on the lives of rescued dogs. From walking and playing with the dogs to assisting with their care and socialisation, every moment was filled with love and purpose. The staff's dedication to the dogs' well-being and the sense of community among volunteers created a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This volunteering opportunity not only deepened my understanding of animal welfare but also allowed me to grow personally and develop valuable skills. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this life-changing program.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Peru
Posted: Jun 29, 2023
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

We Volunteer Nepal

- Practical abilities I was able to learn or to improve at the hospital:

1. Daily:

Taking vitals: Blood pressure, Respiration Rate, Temperature, Heart rate, SpO2
12 ECG
Cannulization/opening veins/put an intravenous access
Preparing I.v.-Systems
Setting up Nebulizer
Assisting with Dressing Wounds/Stitching
Drawing medication

2. Sometimes:

Catheterization
Dressing Wounds
Stitching Wounds (once)
Removing stitches (once)
Giving rectal Enema
Assisting with delivery and the examination of the newborns
Fetal Heart Rate

- Interaction with the staff and the patients:

1. Staff:

The staff at the hospital welcomed me warmhearted, open and kind. On the first day Bhagawan (head of We Volunteer Nepal) accompanied me to the hospital, where he introduced me to the manager, who then introduced me to the staff at the emergency unit.

From then on the nurses and doctors took care of me. The manager also checked in sometimes.

After I had introduced myself, the sister in charge showed me around the hospital. No matter, which department we went to, I was welcomed with a smile and a happy "Namaste".

However as my volunteering went on, I as the volunteer was always the one who introduced myself to "new" staff first. They would not come up to me first. Which is totally understandable - I am the new one, so I will introduce myself. So do not be shy about going up to them and be confident: Hey, I am new, this is me, this is what I am doing here, let me know when you need help with anything.

Show interest and they will start to trust you more and more.

The human interaction with them was more beautiful than everything, I have ever experienced at hospitals. They always shared their tea and coffee with me, always asked me if I was fine, provided food for me, when I wanted to. They always let me try their local food. I ate breakfast together with them sometimes, one time we prepared local food together and the whole team gathered together, to enjoy it. It was very special for me, to eat a ton of rice at 10am in the morning.

They always offered me a chair, when there was nothing to do, even though there were not enough chairs for everyone. Mostly we even shared chairs with a second person, in case it was needed.

As I never really understood anything, when the doctors and nurses examined the patients, I always tried to ask even more questions about the case, once they where finished examining. To find out, what they did, what their diagnosis was, how they would continue the treatment and so on.

Some of them were very open and detailed, some others were rather closed. My favorite doctors and nurses always tried to immediately translate and explain everything to me. I was always very thankful for that, but you definitely cant expect all of the staff to do that. Mostly you as the volunteer need to be very active, need to show interest and be motivated. You cannot be to shy to ask questions or to ask, if you can draw the medicine/do the I.v. or any other practical things. Especially at the beginning they were very cautious about what they would let me do. They would always show me everything 10 times, before they allowed me to do it. I did my first i.v. after one week. They want you to observe a lot before doing practical things.

All the notes that doctors and nurses write down in the files are english, so that was also always a good possibility to catch up on the case (if I was able to read all the messy handwriting haha).

The staff was incredibly patient and kind every time I made a mistake. They never got mad, they just told me - practice makes perfect, don't worry and so on. The next time they showed me how to do it again and then I was allowed to try again.

All in all every single staff member was a warmhearted and nice person.

2. Patients:

The interaction with the patients was quite difficult for me. I often felt lost, because the majority of patients does not speak English. So I tried to explain, what I was doing with hands and feet, but often I felt like a robot, not being able to have proper interactions with the patients and just putting a needle in their arms. It takes away one of the things, people in the medical field love the most: The social part, the communication with the people.

That was one of the things, I missed the most during this volunteering experience. Of course that is exactly, what makes you grow the most: How you handle these situations in a foreign country without knowing the language.

Whenever there were patients with english knowledge, I spoke to them even more and every single one of them was super kind, open and curious about my history. They asked a ton of questions and were super happy, that I treated them. In general almost every patient was able to ask the one question: Where are you from? And they always smiled, when I told them that I was a volunteer from Germany.

I also tried to learn and talk Nepali, which was very difficult.

But whenever I tried to talk to the patients in their language, they laughed at me and reacted very kind. Same as for the staff: They taught me new words and whenever I would practice with them, they would all burst out in laughter and encourage me to go on.

3. My advice: 

Confidence is key. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, don't be shy to pepper them with questions. Don't hesitate to ask if you can do practical things. Always be active, show interest, be motivated, open, kind and always have a smile on your face. Always admit when you've made a mistake to build trust, always ask twice if you're not sure about something.

Just try to see it from the staff's perspective: They want you to have a great experience and they are all super happy to teach you.

And at the end your always there to help. You only have good intentions and everyone knows that.

Trust the process. Of course it is difficult to be in a foreign country alone with an unknown language, strange people, different types of treatment and other medical supplies. Give yourself time to get to know everything, to get confident and to grow with it. Sooner or later you will feel confident in the same hospital that seemed so overwhelming at the beginning.

And again: Don't be shy to ask for help. I've done a thousands ECGs before I arrived in Nepal, so I told them that I know how to do it. When I saw the ECG for the first time it looked a bit different. So I asked them to do it together for the first time and they were happy to show me how they use it.

Just be honest with yourself and the staff and you will have a great experience and a huge opportunity to grow.

Also: If you have the opportunity to do so, try to learn a bit of Nepali before you visit the country. It will make the start of your journey a bit easier and also it makes every single local person happy - I promise!

- My way to work: 

As my host family lived quite far away from the hospital, it took me about an hour per day to get to work. That was always an experience itself. No matter if I used the bicycle, the scooter or the bus.

First of all: No matter which type of transportation I used, the way was amazing every time. It was exactly like you would imagine your way to work in a small village in Nepal. It started with going through huge rice fields and bumpy small paths. I passed a lot of people, who were sitting outside eating rice for breakfast, worked in the fields, were  cleaning or completing other tasks around the house. I always saw buffalos, chicken, goats and dogs. And a beautiful mountain range as soon as the sky cleared up (which was rather rare though).

It continued on a bumpy highway with a lot of terrifying, crazy traffic, which then led through a small forest. I always saw a big sign "Careful of tigers and deer". My hopes were up - unfortunately I never saw any ;)

Using the scooter or the bicycle was an amazing, horrifying and daredevil experience at the same time. The traffic was straight up crazy and the first time, I rode the scooter, I thought, I had just signed my death certification. There were so many big trucks, who passed by super closely, people going in all different directions, bumpy roads, who shook my whole body, and just no structure at all. Well - no structure - is what you think at the beginning. The more often I used these roads, the more I realized how this mess works. There was structure in being unstructured. I have no idea, how it works, but somehow it does. At the end of my stay I ended up being the crazy driver who just always went for it. And - what should I say, I am still here. I always said Nepali roundabouts are like Russian roulette: You just drive into it and hope you are not being run over.

I always loved to use the scooter because it just defines Nepal for me.

I always loved to use the cycle, because then I was always able to move my body, before I went to work. As it got closer to monsoon season every day, I always arrived at the hospital super sweaty and hot, which was not as great - but the hospital luckily has good air conditioning. Later in the season I couldn't use the bike as often anymore, as it was about 40 degrees in the noon sun, when I returned from the hospital.

Let's talk about Nepali busses. I loved that experience.

It took me 20 minutes, to walk to the bus station from my home, which I enjoyed, because it makes you take life a bit slower. You just walk through the village and start the day slowly.

When I arrived at the bus station, there was always a Nepali guy, who asked me, where I wanted to go and let me hop on the bus. So even at the beginning I didn't struggle, to find the right way. The bus was always full of locals and played super loud Nepali music. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a nightmare at 7am in the morning. ;)

Taking the bus took quite a while because the locals just stood on the side of the highway, waving at the bus, so it stopped almost every two minutes. It continued along the bumpy highway. No air condition so it was incredibly hot. Then I changed busses to a tiny bus-car called magic. Sometimes I sat on a small stool in the middle, sometimes on a normal seat and sometimes even in on the stick shift platform. They always try to make the bus as full as possible so be prepared for some cuddles. :)

And then they dropped me off 5 minutes away from the hospital and the crazy journey came to an end. I loved it because it is just a pure local experience. You always chat with the other people on the bus an are a real part of the local life.

- Activities besides working at the hospital:

You need to be aware of the fact that Parsa (the town where I lived with my host family) is quite a small town. So it is a bit difficult to do activities after work during the week.
When I was there (April-July) it got hotter everyday so mostly it was too hot to really do anything after work anyways.
Sometimes I felt a bit bored and lonely, especially because I was the only volunteer at that time. I finished work at 2pm, had lunch and went home afterwards. I usually arrived there at 4-5pm and mostly spend the evenings at home. So, if you go to Chitwan, you should settle in for a slow and relaxed life. I think the experience can be a lot different if there is other volunteers as well though!
I mostly used the weekends to explore the areas around my place.
I bought a second hand bicycle, because I wanted to be a bit more flexible and that was a very good decision. I cycled a lot during my stay, because, as Parsa is quite remote, it always took a while to reach the places I wanted to visit. Usually I cycled at least 1-1,5 hours per way.
That was always very hot and exhausting, but very rewarding at the end.
There's two amazing waterfalls around Chitwan called Shaktikor and Jalbire.
I visited each one twice. In Jalbire you can do amazing Canyoning which I can really recommend.

Other than that there's the Chitwan national park, where you can do Safaris and Jungle tours. You start in Sauraha, which is like 45-60mins away from the homestay.
Staying in Chitwan for 3 months - looking back I think I actually wouldn't have needed the Safari.

I often stayed in Sauraha and saw crocodiles in the distance swimming in the river.

I saw elephants while I was riding my bike.

One time some guys on elephants even rode through the river and past me.

My favorite spot on that same river was always crowded by buffalos bathing in the sun and the river. Sometimes I saw a rhino in the distance on the other riverside.
One time even a snake suddenly appeared next to my scooter.

So the nature and wildlife really is amazing in Chitwan.

Other than that there's small shops near Parsa, where you can do some shopping or buy things you need. They also have a drug store, a pharmacy and all the important stores.

If you volunteer in Nepal, I can definitely recommend, to add some time at the end of your stay to explore the rest of the country, do trekking and live a travellers life! It was quite interesting for me to see both perspectives.

- Support from We Volunteer Nepal/ especially from Bhagawan (head of We Volunteer Nepal):

Bhagawan is super flexible and open. He lets you have the opportunity to get to know Nepal outside of work.
I spoke to him about visiting the next big city and he made arrangements with the hospital and got me one week of holiday.
This holiday allowed me to go trekking for a week which was an incredible experience. If you go to Nepal, it is a must to do a trek in these amazing mountains.
I booked my trek privately as I didn't know that Bhagawan also offers to organize a trek for you.
So I can't make any particular statements about it but if you consider going trekking in Nepal after/during Volunteering I am sure Bhagawan is the right one to ask for arrangements.
He always helped me with advice, booked my bus to the next big city, made sure I was okey and so on.
Whenever I felt alone or lost in Nepal, because I had no idea, which bus to take, when to start or where to go, Bhagawan kindly helped me out.
No matter which question I asked, he always replied immediately when I texted or called him.
I've also done some Volunteering in South Africa before I came to Nepal and I can tell you: Bhagawans commitment for the volunteers is very special and not self-evident at all! The amount of effort he makes to make sure you're comfortable and safe really made me feel well taken care of.
He fetched me up from the bus stations, when there were no other possibilities of transport, fetched my luggage as it was super heavy and always helped out whenever there was help needed.
I am so grateful for getting to spend my time here in Nepal with him and his family. And I appreciate every single thing he has done for me.
Especially when you're travelling to a foreign country with different cultures and traditions, it is very nice to have someone, you know you can trust and who is always there for you.

- Summary:
All in all a day at the hospital was always a crazy and exciting experience. Some days were slow, some days were incredibly busy.

The whole package was a wholesome experience; starting with leaving the house, using crazy transportation, learning a lot and helping out at the hospital, using crazy transportation and returning home again.

I was a part of the local life and that was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will always be thankful for.

As said by Maite Bitterlich

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Nepal
Posted: Jun 29, 2023
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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