Indelible experience! I've had the time of my life learning lifelong lessons. It has truly been an amazing experience. I've embraced the culture and fell inlove with it. Jose Garces
Teaching English in Cusco Peru
Submitted by Christine in Cusco - Philadelphia West Chester University | January 21, 2015
Volunteering abroad had always been a dream of mine. It was so hard to find a good company to go through that was also affordable until my friend told me about how she volunteered abroad with IVHQ. She said it was one of the greatest experiences of her life. Once I did some research, I decided that IVHQ was a great option for me because not only was it affordable, but it was also safe and reputable. Any questions I had about programs or safety were answered in a timely manner and they always answered my questions in full. Volunteering in a foreign country can be very scary, but I felt safe with IVHQ. Once I got to Cusco, Peru I was introduced to my local volunteer organization. IVHQ could not have picked a better organization to partner with! The staff was so friendly and willing to help. My preferences of living situation and placement were taken into account and because of that, I had the time of my life! The housing was awesome and the food was great. They made sure I was taken care of the whole time I was there and that I was safe. I would definitely volunteer with IVHQ again!!
Heartwarming and heart breaking.
Submitted by Yesim - Sydney Sydney University | January 21, 2015
I have to admit it, I was skeptical. Compared to other programs I was super anxious as to how big my actual volunteering impact would be. I was prepared for a bunch of no good youngens searching for a party and a bragging right. But the functioning of the IVHQ system itself was totally not set up for that. Embracing the culture and community around it, IVHQ (or at least the CVF house I was placed at in Cambodia) does its best to integrate its efforts into the real people of the area they help. The staff were all hired from within Cambodia, and we were partnered with our placements rather than going off lone horse to do our own 'helping'. And you can really sense that that is the underlying way of the entire organisation. There is always going to be someone doing it for the wrong reasons. But the staff and the system itself is extremely authentic, in my experience. I'm also not going to lie and say that a major attraction was the cheap prices. They allowed me, in my hesitant state, to have a level of security. It was my first time volunteering overseas and paying little to do so was a massive weight off my back if it all went sour. Luckily enough they only sour moment I had was leaving my placement behind. I grew so attached to everyone and felt as though I was a part of something. I was placed at the Happy School in Phnom Penh. The staff there were amazing and the previous work the past volunteers had done created a solid foundation through which i was able to give the children there solid and structured educational support based off a routine they were already accustomed too. I did not immerse myself in the social life of the volunteers but there are many lovely and adventurous people ready to throw themselves into the new culture. The worst part about IVHQ is the lack of 'knowing' beforehand. Since they are so engaged and present in the community around them, it is hard to give vital information (such as placement location and company) before the volunteer program starts. It is usually judged by who needs the immediate help rather than something pre-determined. This is highly unsettling, however I do not know how common it is. All in all, IVHQ gives you a self-driven and organic volunteer experience that has dynamic social opportunities. At the same time, there is nothing unprofessional or unimpressive about their programs and certificates of completion.
Teaching English in Costa Rica
Submitted by Diana - NY SUNY Cortland | January 20, 2015
My volunteer trip to Costa Rica was one of the best experiences of my life. Before my trip, any questions or concerns that I had were responded to in record time by IVHQ. They sent me a comprehensive manual before my trip with tons of information about what my trip would be like, what to pack, and how to prepare. I was extremely impressed once I got there by the diversity within the program. Over my 2 weeks abroad, I met volunteers from the U.S, Canada, Colombia, Australia, and Germany. They made us feel extremely safe and offered us many opportunities to get the most out of our trip. I would definitely volunteer with IVHQ again!
IVHQ Lima Peru
Submitted by Elizabeth Williams - New Mexico ENMU | January 20, 2015
I am a previous volunteer at IVHQ in Lima Peru with the partner organization Tarpuy Sonqo. I had many beautiful experiences with my fellow volunteers and with the special needs children I worked with daily. It was truly a life changing experience and those children will forever be in my heart. The volunteer house was perfect, it was clean, the meals were delicious, the coordinating family welcoming, and it felt like home. Overall the experience was wonderful and I would highly suggest it.
However, I have two negative comments about the program that I feel need to be addressed.
First, when I initially applied and payed my registration I was unaware that Tarpuy Sonqo supported family planning methods. While this may not seem like anything of importance, as a catholic, family planning is against my beliefs. I almost lost all of my funding from my local parish back home upon the discovery. This sort of information, or at least access to the partner organization's information needs to be provided to volunteers prior to committing financially to a program. I would suggest to other volunteers to ask an IVHQ staff for information about the partner organization prior to paying for a program.
My second complaint is that some of the Tarpuy Sonqo staff are overly rough with the children, and some of their methods for controlling the children are inhumane. However, I understand that they are understaffed and underfunded, this causes them to have to resort to other methods. The program is doing good overall for these kids, but some things need to be changed for the children's safety. For example, some of the kids would be strapped into chairs or tied to tables in an effort to control them, one boy actually had scars on his shoulders from being so frequently mistreated. Some of the workers force feed the kids and are very rough with them during feeding. Also some of the workers don't seem to care to much for the children's overall well being. One day when I was working with some of the older boys, there was on child sprawled out on the ground the other children were literally walking on his fingers and limbs. I was genuinely concerned that the boy would be severely hurt. The staff did not attempt to assist the boy to stand or move him so he wouldn't be trampled by the other kids. I was trying to help him up or prevent other kids from stepping on him while the staff sat under a tree and did nothing. Another day one of the staff decided she was going to attempt to feed 7 children at once and would not accept help from the volunteers. One of the children she was feeding I had fed almost every lunch period since I had come, but yet she still refused to accept my help or anyone else's. The little boy I had been feeding was blind, so he would often use his sense of touch to know who was near him, the staff had shoved him in a corner in very close proximity to other kids. When the boy used his hands to feel who was next to him the other children started to hit him as a reaction to his touch. I tried to move the boy out of the situation, but the staff grabbed and angryly shoved him against the wall. She did this multiple times when ever the boy attempted to move. The woman feeding all of the children became so frustrated that she did not finish feeding them.' The little boy I typically fed only received a bite or two of his food before the staff threw it out and took him back to the room where he belonged. Not only was the very wasteful, the kids were left with empty bellies when the volunteers would have been glad to sit there patiently and finish feeding the children but the staff refused.
Not all of the staff had this negative approach with the kids, some had genuine love for the children. However I hope that the staff that does not have love for the children are either let go or reprimanded for their actions.
Overall this program was wonderful and I would suggest it to others, I may even return again. I just hope that some of the issues will be addressed.Most of the Tarpuy Sonqo staff have a genuine love for the children and are thankful for the volunteer's help.
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review January 21, 2015 at 2:52 PM
Thank you for sharing your feedback about your volunteer experience in Lima. We also appreciate that you have shared your concerns around the treatment of children at your placement and raised these with our local team while you were in Lima. Please be assured that our partner organisation is taking steps to rectify and improve this by working directly with your placement director and staff.
IVHQ and our partner organisation in Lima are not religiously affiliated and the medical placements we work with including the Clinibus do not actively advocate family planning, however as healthcare providers they are obligated to answer patients' needs as they arise - we apologise that you were not aware of this. We encourage volunteers to ask IVHQ as many questions about the organisation they will be placed with prior to registering, to ensure they have all the information they need to make an informed decision before committing to a program.
Thanks again for your feedback Elizabeth and if you would like to discuss anything further, please feel free to contact your IVHQ Program Manager Chelsea directly via email.
Exceeded my high expectations!
Submitted by dreamcatcher33 - | December 09, 2014
I've been trying to think about where I could knock off points for this review so it wouldn't just be 10\10 for everything, but I'm honestly struggling to find something. From the beginning, I was lead through the whole process with every question being answered and being made to feel like I had someone to turn to if I needed. Coming into the country I felt very prepared and continued to feel supported by the in-country organisation. I loved my homestay and was also very lucky to have running water and electricity most days. When we'd run out or have a power shortage, I just accepted it as part of the experience and actually loved it because of that. You definitely shouldn't be expecting a 5-star resort doing this because that's not the point of this accommodation or this trip. Instead you should enjoy the beautiful quirks and differences of living in a third-world country home for a while. It was always very clean, food was delicious and I quickly started calling it home. Social life was also very easy and great. Made friends with both locals and fellow volunteers and met loads of like-minded people who I'll be in touch with for a long-time. You'll typically stay in a homestay that has at least a couple other people, so you're never alone and in general, opportunities for forming connections are endless. And last but not least, I felt like I was able to give something to the community I was working in. It's important to know that you're not going to magically "change the world!" and you shouldn't expect that, but your small contributions can\will have great significance, even if it's on a smaller scale. I felt very satisfied working in my community and I'm glad that I could help where I was needed. My advice to anyone who's contemplating is to do your research and then just start planning and doing. I don't regret any part of this experience and I'm already dreaming of future volunteer trips. This could be the best thing you ever decide to do.
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review January 08, 2015 at 11:11 AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on volunteering abroad with IVHQ. It sounds like your 4 weeks in Kenya on our Music project was definitely a rewarding one. We hope to have you volunteering with us again soon.
The great escape
Submitted by Martin Moolman - Brisbane Queensland University of Technology | December 29, 2014
The greatest experience one can have in this reality is the feeling one experiences by helping those less fortunate then oneself. Peru is certainly filled with those in desperate need of help and I am proud to say that I took the journey to put others above myself. However this could never have happened without the selflesness and love shown to me by the workers at Maximo Nivel. These beautiful people with generous hearts spend EVERY day trying to make sure that the volunteers who come here have the best experience. Never was there a day when I felt alone or abandoned by the program. It was always made clear to me that I was a respected volunteer. Never did I feel like a cog in a machine simply grinding away until my program expired. My work was always appreciated and any troubles I had were dealt with right away. If there was a problem there wasn´t any tedious paper work that made me feel ignored. I was pulled into the office and I could freely explain my situation to someone I know would care. I was put in a good homestay, I was constantly fed and any advice I sought about Cuzco was immediately given to me. IVHQ definitely put me in contact with the most caring and compassionate volunteering agency in Cuzco, and I know for a fact that I will definitely use them again.
IVHQ - Costa Rica - Childcare
Submitted by Nicholas Carrigy - Edmonton University of Alberta | December 22, 2014
We worked at a daycare for underpriviledged children within San José. Our day began in the morning with Spanish lessons, followed by a bus ride to the daycare. At the daycare, the afternoon often started with nap time, followed by an arts and crafts period, possible play time outside at a soccer field or a playground, and ending with free time with the kids inside. The daycare staff and children did not speak any English, but we were able to communicate with them through the Spanish we learned during our lessons. We were responsible for occupying the kids with activities during arts and crafts and free time. This involved preparing projects for the kids beforehand. The children sincerely appreciated projects such as drawing and painting, making Christmas cards, and "all about me" booklets. They also loved playing with the gifts we brought such as hula-hoops, bubbles, toy cars, fingerpaint, tattoos, and a soccer ball. I felt safe throughout the project and Maximo staff were friendly and able to help with any questions I had. The homestay was with a very nice family who prepared excellent meals for us. Evening activities organized by Maximo were enjoyable and well-organized.
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review January 13, 2015 at 5:45 PM
Hola Nicholas! Thanks for sharing details about your experience in Costa Rica on our Childcare project. It sounds your two weeks were well spent, especially as you took advantage of the Spanish lessons before your Childcare placement each day. We hope to have you volunteer with us again with us again soon!
Finding myself in Nepal
Submitted by Jack Gunns - Hampshire Bournemouth University | September 25, 2014
After completing my two month volunteering trip in nepal I can confidently say that IVHQ delivered an affordable, safe and rewarding program for me. I felt tduly integrated into the family, village and childrens lives. I'm leaving nepal feeling like I made an impact on the children. Whilst they also affected my life too. I would highly recommend this programme and organisation!
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review September 30, 2014 at 5:20 PM
Hi Jack, It is so great to hear that your 2 months volunteering on our Childcare program in Nepal was such a rewarding experience for you. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts about IVHQ and our Nepal program. We hope to have you volunteer with us again in the future.
Submitted by Rebecca B - Sydney | September 17, 2014
I spent 5 weeks in a small village in Ghana helping at an orphanage and teaching maths. I've been to Africa before but I feel like volunteering has given me a real African experience rather than just being a traveller. I have had no safety or health concerns. The people are lovely and the IVHQ programmes in Ghana are great.
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review September 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM
Hi Rebecca, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience about your volunteer experience in Ghana through IVHQ. We are so glad that you enjoyed your 3 weeks teaching in Ghana. We hope to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future.
Submitted by Jose Garces - Edmonton | September 18, 2013
Indelible experience! I've had the time of my life learning lifelong lessons. It has truly been an amazing experience. I've embraced the culture and fell inlove with it.